Working the Range: Essays on the History of Western Land Management and the Environment

By John R. Wunder | Go to book overview

DAVID J. MURRAH


6
A Rancher's Response to Revolution: Charles K. Warren's Investments in Mexico, 1909-1947

The story of the twentieth-century cattle industry in northern Mexico is complex. Torn by revolution, embargoes, invasion, and land confiscation, Mexican and American ranchers witnessed from 1910 to the 1970s the destruction and painfully slow reconstruction of what historically had been a vast and important industry. 1 The Mexican Revolution and its aftermath was especially difficult for American ranching investors; throughout the period, they faced problems unequaled in the annals of American ranching history. For one such investor, Charles K. Warren of Michigan, the lessons learned from his venture into the Mexican ranching industry proved to be difficult and expensive.

Charles Warren was the son of Edward K. Warren, an enterprising Michigan manufacturer and inventor of Featherbone. In 1883, the elder Warren had devised a method of producing from the quills of discarded turkey feathers an effective substitute for whalebone, which had been the principal supportive substance in ladies undergarments, particularly in corsets. Glued and stitched together, the quills, or Featherbone, assured the Warren family of a sizeable fortune. 2

Young Charles Warren, much to his father's dismay, did not readily show interest in the family business. In late 1890, while selling his father's product in Texas, the 20-year-old

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