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GOD & TEXAS: Herding hogs

History records that James Wulfjen provided much of the finances to build every church in Mitchell County, Texas, regardless of denomination. Though James was a highly successful rancher and businessman, his utmost priority was advancing the Kingdom of God.

Born in 1845, James Durham Wulfjen was a working cowboy by the age of 13. As a teenager, James drove herds of cattle from Texas to Montana and Wyoming. On one occasion, he and another teenager drove a large passel of hogs from Williamson County to Houston (about 200 miles). Can you imagine herding hogs? His stories about combating renegade Comanches and stormy weather could fill a book.

In 1884, James obtained 640 acres of land for his cattle business in Mitchell County, 12 miles southeast of Colorado City. Known as the “Mother City of West Texas,” Colorado City was the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso, with a population of 7,000. The only minister in town had to preach in saloons because no church was constructed yet. Sometimes his sermons were delivered to convicts who were in “jail,” which was just a chain attached to a mesquite tree.

After several failed business ventures, James made a success of his ranch and eventually owned 12,160 acres. His “96” ranch and brand was recognized in the industry for fine Durham cattle and saddle horses. He helped organize the national bank in Colorado City and served as president for a long time, remaining on the board until his death in 1933 at 88 years.

In 1874, James married Mary Jane Cockerham, and together they had 4 boys and a girl. Mary lost her sight at an early age, but still reared her children, managed the ranch, and participated in the Methodist church and civic affairs. She was a member of the Daughters of the King Sunday school class, and founded and led a weekly prayer group that met for almost 50 years.

James was also active in the Methodist church for over 75 years and realized the need for churches in Mitchell County. With a deep commitment, James added his funds to the building of every church in the county until his death. He also was a generous financial contributor to building schools in both Mitchell and Scurry counties, and supported outreach to needy families.

As devoted Christians, this pioneer couple in Texas kept their love of God their priority. Though their life was a challenge, they knew that their neighbors needed Christ, and sacrificed precious time and hard-earned finances to minister to others.

The Wulfjen family understood that the Bible encourages generosity to others. Proverbs 22:9 NIV, “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” And Jesus taught in Matthew 5:16 NIV, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Who can you help today?

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