Drawing Inspiration from the Past
The life of Cíbolo Creek Ranch founder Milton Faver, also known in his time by the honorary title “Don Meliton”, is one steeped in legend. Although he would grow to be one of the most important individual contributors to Big Bend history, he was born into a modest family and as a result his birthplace is not known with certainty. In fact, he was most likely born and raised in Missouri. Local lore contends that while in his teens, he fought a duel. Believing he had killed his opponent, Faver fled South in search of a new life. Along the way, he became an early pioneer of the Texas cattle drives we remember today, and is thought by some to be the inspiration for the television character Gil Faver on Rawhide.
Faver made his way to Meoqui, Chihuahua, Mexico, where he married Senorita Francisca Ramirez and began a freighting business. It was a modest beginning, with a single cart of Mexican goods which he transported to and sold in Texas. He would then bring the cart back filled with American goods to sell in Mexico. He soon established regular trade with Fort Davis, the U.S. Army cavalry post founded in 1854 in the Davis Mountains to protect the Overland Trail to California.
The Fort Builder
Recognizing the business opportunity that Fort Davis offered, Faver acquired land along Cíbolo Creek nearby. In 1857, he built the first of his three forts, El Fortin del Cíbolo, as a defensive measure against the native Apaches, Comanches and other bandits of all kinds.
“The Fort on Cíbolo Creek was Faver’s stronghold, where he operated a sizable agricultural enterprise fed by nearby springs. Faver later built El Fortin de la Ciénega – “The Fort at the Marsh” – where he headquartered his cattle operation, and El Fortin de la Morita, “The Fort at the Little Mulberry Tree”, which became the center of his sheep and goat operations. His vast enterprise not only supplied beef but also farm produce and his famous peach brandy. Troops occupying Fort Davis, settlers in the region and (after silver was discovered) the miners in the town of Shafter, began to rely heavily on trade with Milton Faver.
Although he faced difficult circumstances, his ranch withstood the withdrawal of federal troops during Civil War times and the resulting onslaught of Native American tribes until the return of Union forces in 1867. Even during the tumultuous times of the latter 1800s, Faver managed to keep the inhabitants of his colony faithful and active in the defense of his settlements. Continued trade with Fort Davis supplied Union troops at the fort, supporting their stay in the region, and ensured continued settlement of the area until the advent of the railroad.
By the 1880s, Faver’s ranching empire boasted as many as 20,000 longhorns and herds of sheep and goats, making him the preeminent pioneer of the region.
Upon his death in 1889, Faver left his estate to his wife, Francisca, and his only child, Juan. Juan died in 1913, followed shortly by his mother.
Cíbolo Ranch After Milton Faver
After being passed through several owners over the following years, the Cibolo Creek Ranch finally succumbed to picturesque ruin. It was, however, purchased and fully restored to its former glory in 1990 by John Poindexter, a third-generation Texan, war veteran, and successful businessman.