OUR FAMILY’S TEXAS LONGHORN HISTORY
Following the Civil War, beef was in short supply north and west of Texas. But in the brush country of the southern and western parts of the state, Longhorn cattle had been growing wild and plentiful. As a result, while steers might sell for $2/head here, north of the Red River prices as high as $100/head could be had.
Back six generations in our family, Andreas Polnac, Sr. owned—and with his wife and six sons—operated a cattle ranch in Snyder, Scurry County, Texas, on the MacKenzie Trail where Longhorn cattle were the staple of his herd. Taking advantage of the marketing opportunities provided by the War, Andreas and his boys would drive their cattle on the MacKenzie, then due east to cross over the Western Trail near Abilene. Continuing east, they would ultimately reach the stockyards at Fort Worth where the cattle would then be taken north on the famed Chisholm Trail with so many other Texas herds. Having no desire to leave Texas and also having a ranch to operate, our family would return to Snyder after selling our Longhorns to the drovers headed north from Fort Worth. Each time, the 460-mile round-trip would take roughly one and a half months, with the trip from Snyder taking much longer than the return trip from Fort Worth, so as to afford the cattle with ample time to graze and keep up their weight along the way.
In the late 1800s our girls’ Great-Great Grandfather Andreas “Andy” Polnac, Jr., was 12 years old when he was first allowed to go with his father and older brothers on the great cattle drives. From the ages of 12 to 15, he walked the twice annual 230-mile trek from Snyder to Fort Worth on foot. If their camp cookie was feeling especially kind, he might allow Andy to ride on the chuck wagon in exchange for dish-washing duty later in the evening. In his later years, Andy Polnac recalled to our girls’ grandfather (who was then a young boy), how excited he was to turn 16 years old, because that meant that he could finally ride a horse rather than walk during the drives east! He recounted how his excitement was short-lived, however, when he realized that as the youngest cowboy in the outfit, he had to ride drag until he got more years under his belt…
While each subsequent generation of our family has raised various breeds of cattle throughout west, central, and the Hill Country areas of Texas, at Gang of 5 Longhorns we proudly honor those pioneering men and women who’s respect for the land, fear of God, and love of cattle first blazed the trails and laid the firm foundations that we build upon today. We are grateful for them and for all of those in the Texas Longhorn business who continue these great traditions.