My name is Clay Mowdy and in 1886, my great grand father, Frank Mowdy left Tyler, Texas, driving a herd of cattle north to the Choctaw Nation. He had heard there was open range in the “Nation” where a person could graze cattle. In the early summer of 1886 he swam his cattle across the Red River and made his way north to what is now Coal County . With the help of a local Choctaw, whose name was Judge Keel, Frank found land where he could run his cattle in the northeastern part of the county between Keel Creek and Salt Creek. In 1886 the land was tall grass prairie, with native bluestem so tall, “it would get your knees wet when riding in the morning on a tall horse”. The only trees grew in the creek bottoms and the great oak trees grew on the rocky tops of the hills.
Frank grazed his cattle for almost 18 months, enduring grass fires and cattle thieves. In the fall of 1887 he drove his cattle to market in Fort Worth and then went back home to Tyler. Once back home in Tyler, Frank spent his time recruiting his three brothers to return with him to the Indian Territory. In 1893, Frank and his three brothers, Mike, Charles and Albert, drove another herd of cattle and horses back to Coal County.
On one of his trips, Frank met Viola Alexander who lived with her uncle and aunt near the Red River in the Indian Territory. They married in Coal County and soon built a large two story house on the land currently part of the Mowdy Ranch. They farmed, ranched and raised Morgan and Percheron horses. They also raised 12 children, 8 boys and 4 girls. John, Ollie, Claude, Clyde, Leslie, Ruby, Coy, Charles, Frank, Pauline, Jo and Bill. Viola Mowdy was part Choctaw Indian and the current ranch includes the original Indian Land Allotments to Viola and her children under the Dawes Act. My grandfather was Clyde Mowdy. My Grandfather and Grandmother Grace had two sons, Bob and Norman who was my father. I grew up working on this ranch with my father, my mother, Imogene and my two sisters, Lisa and Tracy. We did everything on horseback. My mom is 83 and still works and helps on the ranch.
My wife Kit and I have three children, Matt, Caitlin and Ty, who are the 5th generation of the Mowdy family to live and work on the ranch.
In the fall of 1996, photographer Janet McCoy came to the ranch and took our family photo. Our son Matt was 8, Caitlin was 4 and Ty was 1 year old (being held by my mother in the original photo). The Horse on the left, Doc, was my Dad's horse, he was 16 at the time. 18 years later, Janet took our picture again. Understandably my mother was not able to hold Ty this time. Old Doc is now 35 and still ornery as ever. We are thankful for our family and our friends and always realize that we have been blessed beyond measure. From Left: Clay, Ty, Imogene, Caitlin, Matt and Kit Mowdy.
Mowdy Ranch was the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM)’s second wild horse eco-sanctuary in the United States. We are now one of four wild horse sanctuaries designated as "Public Off Range Pasture" which is open to the public. Located 12 miles NE of Coalgate in the hills of southeastern Oklahoma, Mowdy Ranch is now offering daily photographic tours and lodging facilities for wild horse enthusiasts. Mowdy Ranch comprises 4000 acres of wooded hills and open valleys in southeastern Oklahoma, the historical home of the legendary Choctaw ponies. The Choctaw ponies were famous for their toughness and endurance which was showcased in the film “Hidalgo”. Mowdy Ranch has now dedicated the ranch as a wild horse sanctuary and currently houses over 350 wild horses on a long term basis. Mowdy Ranch is owned by Clay and Kit Mowdy whose children are the fifth generation to live and work on the ranch. The ranch has two lodges which are capable of sleeping up to 32 people and has kitchen and dining facilities which can accommodate larger groups and special events.