My Grand Father, Joseph Robert Mims (Uncle Bob, or Bob as everyone called him) was the oldest of six children born to David Henry and Molly Richmond Mims in Holly Springs, Mississippi. In 1884 when the family moved to Texas to get rid of or away from cotton, Carpetbaggers, and chills, my Grandfather was twelve years old. The family first settled in Hayes County, Texas and on to Tom Green County in 1890. At the age of 17 Bob went to work for Joe Funk on his ranch which was located about 30 miles from San Angelo, Texas. Bob went to work as a regular hand but by the time he was 24, he was the wagon boss or ranch foreman making $35.00 a month rather than $30.00 a month.
In those days ranchers had use of "free grass". There were not any fences, so the cattle were free to roam. The Funk Ranch had about 8,000 head of cattle at the time which would graze from 75 to 100 miles away from the ranch house. The spring round-up would begin in April and continued through December. Cattle were either shipped or driven to market. In January and February, the wild horses were rounded up, broken and shod.
Bob roped as part of his job but also roped for fun. He reached the peak of his career by capturing and holding the world's record for 7 years. He won the world championship in 1899 in San Angelo, Texas. He helped organized the Stanford Rodeo and broke records roping in the rodeo when he was 70 years old. Bob and Will Rogers were friends. A month before Will Rogers was killed in an airplane crash, Bob and Will visited under the bleachers at the Stanford Rodeo.
Walnut Creek Ranch is located on the land that my Grandfather bought from the Knapp Estate in 1916 for $60,000.00. When he bought the ranch, grass was stirrup-high on the slopes and formed an unbroken turf in the valleys. Only an occasional large mesquite tree broke the grassy expanse. There were two springs on the ranch. One was called the Knapp Springs, named for the previous owner. It flowed out of a gravel bank into the valley dotted with oak trees. Shelving Rock Springs once had crystal clear water flowing beneath the limestone ledge and collected in a 12 foot pool where good fish lived. The water flowed down Walnut Creek until it disappeared into the gravel beds. Indians used this area for a camping site and later it was a favorite picnic site for family and friends but the springs have not flowed since the 1916-1918 drought. It is only after a heavy rain now that water flows down Walnut Creek.
My Grandfather moved from the Rocky Ranch to the Knapp ranch in 1920. By the late 20's the livestock numbers were staggering: 4,500 Delaine ewes, 100 bucks, 400 Herford cows and bulls, 800 Angora does, 200 bucks, 25 brood mares, 1 stallion, plus saddle horses, and several milk cows.
In 1946 my Father, Paul Coulter and Mother Lonnie Mims Coulter moved to the ranch. My father and Uncle (Elton Mims) formed and partnership and ranched together until my Uncle retired in the early 80's. After my Uncle retired, my Father and two cousins, Wade and Craig Demere formed a partnership that lasted until 1990 when my father retired at age 90. Now, the Demere brothers lease the land from the third generation and hopefully the fourth generation will carry on the ranching tradition.
The years of neglect took its toll on my Grandparents home and the other two buildings after my parents moved to San Angelo. In 1998 the decision was made to remodel the houses to make them livable again. The renovation was complete in time for 1999 hunting season. Now, Walnut Creek not only welcomes hunters, but is a place for retreats, weddings, anniversaries, and a get-away for folks to enjoy the peace and quiet of the country.
J. R. Mims Married Ara McManus in 1902 and they had three children. Robbie Mims Skeete, Lonnie Mims Coulter, and Elton Mims. Ara died in 1910. In 1914, he married Mary Agnes (Dobbie) Demere and they had one daughter, Helen Demere Mims Sprague.