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Anne Leslie Fenstermaker

MAVERICK RANCH. The Maverick Ranch, in Bexar County twenty-five miles northwest of San Antonio on the old San Antonio-Fredericksburg road, comprises approximately 850 acres of Hill Country covered with native oaks, grasses, shrubs and madrona trees. A walled spring on the site feeds a tributary of Leon Creek. A written account reports an Indian raid in 1870 or 1871, and several early Indian campsites on the location have been documented. The ranch was established in 1869 when Ernst Hermann and Emma (Murck) Altgelt built the main house of Fachwerk and limestone (see GERMAN VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE), a portion of which burned in 1916, and a separate kitchen with bedrooms, limestone schoolhouse, and log blacksmith cabin. The ranch was their summer home, and Mrs. Altgelt named it Wassenberg, a name used by subsequent owners. Both Altgelts are buried on the ranch. Another site on the ranch includes the stone foundation of a house and high stone pens of George and Maria Obert's homestead. In the late 1860s cattle driven north were penned here overnight, and Maria Obert served meals to the drovers. The Obert land was sold to Emma Altgelt in 1883, and later the whole ranch was sold to Gustav Schmeltzer.

In January 1907 George Madison and Mary Vance Maverick bought the ranch for a summer home to escape the heat of San Antonio. Maverick added several barns and a cottage and planned pens for efficient handling of livestock. He stocked the ranch with angora goats and a few cattle, and Mary designed the ranch brand. James Vance, Mary's brother, served as ranch manager for years; later the Mavericks' grandson, George Maverick Green, was manager. In 1985 the ranch raised longhorn cattle and continued to be run by the family. In the 1870s the ranch's stone schoolhouse provided the first school in the area for students who walked from neighboring farms and ranches. For several years in the 1970s it held a Saturday-morning country school for San Antonio children. The ranch has served as a regional center for cultural development, and its land and buildings have often inspired visitors. Members of each Maverick generation have been writers, historians, educators, or artists. Their works are found throughout the houses, and a wall of the kitchen house is devoted to ranch scenes. Visitors to the ranch have included artist Julian Onderdonk, historians Frederick C. Chabot and Charles W. Ramsdell, and the Yanaguana Society. Mary Rowena Maverick Green made the ranch her home for several years. As president of the Texas chapter of the National Woman's party, she met with other members at the ranch to work for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. In 1979 the ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with a neighboring farm belonging to the family. The large area is designated the Maverick-Altgelt Ranch and Fenstermaker-Fromme Farm Historical Archeological District.


Guido E. Ransleben, A Hundred Years of Comfort in Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1954; rev. ed. 1974). Ida Altgelt Schweppe, "Ernst Hermann Altgelt, Founder of Comfort," Frontier Times, August 1936. James Wright Steely, comp., A Catalog of Texas Properties in the National Register of Historic Places (Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1984).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Anne Leslie Fenstermaker, "MAVERICK RANCH," accessed July 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apm07.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 6, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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