From A History of Coleman County
and Its People, 1985 edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and
Vena Bob Gates - used by permission --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
for its 2000 years of recorded history,
has been a prize much coveted by
adjoining countries in Europe. Constant
battling for its possession by France
and Germany led the sheep-producing
Becque family to migrate to the United
States in the mid 1800's. Henri Becque
married Melanie Etiene in 1845 in
France. Black Walnut, Missouri, a small
place near St. Charles, was their next
home. They continued to raise sheep, but
Americanized the name to Beck. They had
twin daughters who died in infancy and
three other children; Mary, born October
16, 1848; Henry Charles, July 22, 1851;
John Louis Firmin, October 3, 1853. The
family spoke French and German as well
Mr. and Mrs.
Richard Overall, who were in Texas,
wrote their friends, the Becks, that
good grassland, suitable for sheep, was
available in Coleman County; and the
winters were milder than those in
Missouri. In the spring of 1877, Henry
Beck sent his two sons young Henry and
Firmin, on their way to Texas with 1500
sheep.Their father intended to be in
Texas before them as them as they were
driving the sheep; but the elder Henry
died before he could start the journey.
Mr. Ezra Overall, brother of Richard and
administrator of the Beck will, brought
the news to Texas. When Firmin reached
the Overall Ranch with part of the herd,
he was amazed at how thinly populated
the country was. He told Mr. Overall he
did not "meet a house" from Santa Anna
to the ranch, a distance of over nine
miles. The first land Firmin purchased
was Section 100, about 7 miles southwest
of Valera. This section had and still
has one of the best and prettiest
waterholes in West Texas, on Elm Creek.
After the sheep had been moved to their
permanent home, three men rode into camp
and suggested that this was not sheep
country, and they best move on. Firmin
told the men that he wanted to get along
with his neighbors, but he had bought
that land and intended to stay on it.
There was never any serious trouble,
though these were the first sheep in
this part of the country.
were not only instrumental in getting
Firmin Beck to Texas; they also
introduced him to his future wife,
Malinda Elizabeth Pauley, oldest
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Pauley,
born in Boone County, Missouri, January
1, 1860. They were married in Coleman,
December 16, 1880 (see Pauley family).
As the children came along and the sheep
increased, so did the size of the ranch,
until there were 14 sections. With the
exception of one section, this is still
owned by the Beck heirs. During the
first years, wool had to be hauled to
Fort Worth by wagons. After the railroad
came through, San Angelo became a sheep
and wool center for West Texas. Firmin
believed in quality rams for his
fine-wooled Delaine-Merino sheep. He
preferred they have clean faces and
wide-spread horns. There was ''Old
Sensation, a 1904 St. Louis World's Fair
award winner, valued at a thousand
dollars; ''Old Premier,'' some of whose
offspring brought nearly two hundred
children became school age, a house was
bought in Coleman. It was a small
Victorian style house on South Colorado
St. where the Rob O'Hair family now
lives. Malinda and the children moved in
for the school year, with Firmin riding
in for the week-end. The whole family
went back to the ranch for the summer.
Firmin, a Catholic, believed in the
importance of religious education. Each
of the children was sent to finish his
or her high school education at a
Catholic institution- Ursuline Academy
and Dallas University in Dallas; St.
Edwards in Austin. No matter where they
were in school, the boys were always
eager to get back to the ranch. Malinda
(Pauley) Beck died January 12, 1916,
Firmin, December 28, 1923, both buried
(1) Mary Louella, June 1, 882-May 1,
1971, married James Arthur Home, August
28, 1904 (see James D. Horne).
(2) John Charles, January 22, 1884--May
(3) Oscar Eugene, October 11,
1885-December 9, 1957 (see Oscar E.
(4) Margaret Malanamus (Maggie), April
17, 1889-in December, 1983, married O.
H. Davenport and went to El Paso, where
they lived until his retirement. Both
are buried in Coleman. There were no
(5) Louis Firmin, August 15,
1891--December 25, 1971, married Leah
Croom February 14, 1925. They lived in
the old Beck home on Section 100. They
had no children.
(6) Joseph Edgar (Ted), December 9,
1893-May 25, 1959, never married. He
served in the Army in Europe in WWI,
then lived the rest of his life on the
ranch. Ted was a shy and gentle man,
much loved by all who knew him.
(7) George Julius (Shorty), May 10,
1895- August 7, 1965, married Maude
Mitchell, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. H. H.
Mitchell of Valera, September 1, 1921.
George was a member of the Coleman Rodeo
Assn. and served as Arena Director (see
Dr. H. H. Mitchell).
(8) William Curtis, November 11, 1900-
January 30, 1975, married Alta White of
Bartlett, October 10, 1921. Their ranch
was the northwest comer of the Beck
holdings, five miles southeast of Talpa.
Curtis was a Coleman Rodeo Association
member. Continuing to raise sheep and
cattle, during his later years he also
enjoyed raising registered Quarter
horses. There were two girls: Marjorie
Mayes, October 21, 1922 and Rosemary,
August 27, 1927, both graduated from
high school at Talpa. Marjorie attended
college at Tarleton, at Southwest Texas
State Teachers College in San Marcos,
and Texas Tech. She married John W. Cox,
December 5, 1942 (see John W. Cox).
Marjorie and Rosemary were Queens of the
Coleman Rodeo. Rosemary attended Texas
Tech and graduated from Sul Ross. She
represented Sul Ross as Duchess to the
Sun Carnival at El Paso. She taught
school in Andrews; married R. L. Bland
of Abilene, August 20, 1948. After
having ranched in Coleman and Crockett
counties and in South Dakota, they now
live in Trent, where they own and
operate the Cal-Tex Feed Yard. Rosemary
and R. L. have five children (Rex,
Diltzie, John and Becky (twins), and
Steve) and eleven grandchildren.
Marjorie and Rosemary own the ranch at
Talpa; Rex Bland operates it.
Henry Charles Beck, brother of
Firmin, was known as "quite a character"
around Coleman, and also within the
family. He had ranched separately from
Firmin. When Henry moved into Coleman,
he bought a city block in the vicinity
of Hufford Field. His small house,
chicken house, barn, and several other small
outbuildings were all painted barn red.
His pride and joy was his team and small
wagon, also painted red. Although his
death was not until June 6, 1930, he never owned a car, continuing to
contend with downtown traffic, signal
lights and all, with his team and wagon.
The Beck Family – 1896
Joseph Edgar “Ted,” Louis Firmin,
George Jullius “Shorty,” center:
Firmin, Malinda Elizabeth (Pauley),
Margaret Malanamue “Maggie,” rear: