Claude Kerry McCan, Jr.


July 22, 1930 - April 8, 2016
Role: Rancher

Kerry was born in San Antonio. His great-grandfather was the original James McFaddin and his father was Claude McCan. Kerry spent his childhood in Victoria, but every weekend and every summer he was at the ranch. Kerry was an officer in the Marine Corp heading for a career but ultimately he changed his mine and came back to the ranch. His father was a strong influence and taught him how to handle cattle and how to handle men. However, the most important lesson he learned from his father was an abiding respect for the land. “If you accept the fact that you’re not going to make money, then the main job of the of the rancher is stewardship, to continuously improve and protect the land.” When he inherited the ranch from his father, a bunch of the old guys came with the ranch. Many of them practically raised Kerry. “The patron system is like a commune with a dictator. You didn’t pay much, but you took care of them. This system is like feudalism, and it works best where there is isolation. That’s why it doesn’t work too well any more. It’s not the best of all systems, but it worked well here for both sides.” Kerry has written several book on the culture and history of ranching in the Texas Coastal Bend.

Introduction to Kerry McCan, Jr.

Louise S. O'Connor
00:01:59
Voice of Kerry McCan, Jr.
00:01:30
Kerry McCan – The idea was that you took care of 'em. You didn't pay 'em much, but you took care of 'em and made damn sure they didn't go hungry or didn't freeze or they always had enough to eat and their families did. It's kind of like a commune with a dictator. Really where it works the best is where you have very little communication; no roads, no railroads, no stuff like that. It's not the best of all systems. We like it because down here because you're able through that system to carry more power with you. They say, "Well, people aren't loyal like they used to be," but were they ever, really? It's too close to feudalism for me, really. But, you're still able to get people to work. If you let 'em do it horseback, they'll work for less and they work in unsavory conditions 'cause they can do it horseback. If all they did around these ranches was build fences, you couldn't get 'em to do it. Not for the wages we pay. It's sort of a mystique. You're taller than a man that's on foot. And here you are, 150 – 200 pounds, you're controlling a 1,100 pound companion. And you're using him to control a big bunch of cattle.

Documents

“I’m a flatlander. I understand flat country. It’s an awesome feeling out on that prairie. You see a lot of sky. ”

Cryin' For Daylight: Ranching Culture in the Texas Coastal Bend