The George Ranch Historical Park is an internationally-recognized living history site that authentically preserves and interprets the four-generational storyline of a remarkable Texas family beginning in 1824 and spanning more than 100 years. Just 30 miles southwest of downtown Houston, the Park is located on a 20,000-acre+ working ranch featuring historic homes, costumed interpreters and livestock. The Park aims to educate people of all ages about Texas history and the region’s unique heritage through programming that connects and inspires learners of all ages. We believe that understanding the past is a key to succeeding in the future!
Visitors to the George Ranch Historical Park leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of everyday family life stretching from frontier Texas to the World War II era. Informal immersive experiences provide an environment that allows each guest the time and opportunity for personal reflection. The thought-provoking timeless story of the personal struggles and triumphs of this multi-generational family resonates universally with both native Texans as well as visitors from overseas.
Created in 1988, the Park is a partnership of the Fort Bend History Association and The George Foundation. The Fort Bend History Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization chartered in 1967 with the mission of preserving and sharing Fort Bend County history. The Association is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in recognition for exacting standards of excellence in every aspect of operations. (Fewer than 5 percent of museums/living history sites nationwide have received this distinction!)
Legacy of the George Family and George Foundation
Mamie and Albert George had a great love for Fort Bend County and its people. Their compassion for others and concern for the less fortunate were extraordinary and became a part of their daily lives. During their lifetimes, the couple spent inordinate amounts of personal time and money helping people to help themselves.
Before their deaths, Albert and Mamie created The George Foundation to ensure that their wealth would continue to benefit the citizens of Fort Bend County. Their generous philosophy and determination to see Fort Bend County thrive led to the establishment of The George Foundation.
The deaths of two people closest to the Georges were also factors in the Foundation’s establishment and mission. Albert and Mamie’s only child, Davis George, died in 1899 of infant cholera at the age of 22 months. In 1943, Mary Jones, daughter of Mamie’s cousin, was killed in an automobile accident while returning from Houston with Albert. Mary, along with her parents, had lived with the Georges at the George Ranch throughout most of her childhood. These two tragic events left the couple without immediate heirs, and in 1945, they created The George Foundation to carry on their charitable endeavors.
The Georges came from pioneer stock. Albert’s grandfather came to Texas in the 1830s, and Mamie was a descendent of one of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300″ colonists. She was the fourth generation to own the land Austin originally deeded to Henry and Nancy Jones in 1824—land that was passed from one generation to the next through the women of the family. Family lore states that Nancy Jones, at the beginning of the family history, planted the oak tree that was to serve as a playhouse for future generations and ultimately, became a landmark of the George Ranch.
Albert and Mamie George married in 1896 and established a thriving ranch on additional land inherited from Mamie’s father and grandmother. Albert had been a close friend of the Davis family before the marriage having worked in the family’s bank in Richmond beginning in 1892. In 1899, the couple hired famous Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton to design a home for them on the ranch. The one-and-a-half story house was completed in 1900 and was built on the same site Henry and Nancy Jones had chosen for their prairie home in the 1850s. The Georges remodeled the home in 1911, which is the two-story home still on the ranch today.
The Georges were industrious people who worked hard to improve the crops and livestock on their ranch lands. Together, through inheritance and acquisition, they amassed over 20,000 acres of land. The discovery of oil on a portion of this land in the 1920s contributed greatly to the George’s wealth. Today, oil and gas royalties and leases provide considerable revenue for The George Foundation.
Albert was an excellent businessman active in cattle, ranching and banking associations. He was a Fort Bend County Commissioner and Master Mason, but his main interest was raising livestock. He expanded the Ryon/Davis operation into one of the largest ranches in southeast Texas developing his own breed of cattle called Brahorn, a Brahman/Shorthorn mix. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and many of his trophies are on display at the George Ranch House.
Mamie was active in her church and the community, often providing vegetables from her garden to people in need. Never one to put herself above others, Mamie was well known for treating everyone like family, regardless of social status or race. She was also focused on church. Not just her church—any church in Richmond that had a need. In fact, it was Mamie’s study of area churches and their financial needs, that some say was the true origin of The George Foundation. In every example of Mamie’s charitable gestures, two things stood out: that the giving was done very quietly and with careful study.
Albert George died in 1955 at the Rice Hotel, where he often stayed on business trips to Houston. Mamie continued to live at the George Ranch until 1961, until she moved to a house in Richmond close to her childhood home. She lived there until her death in 1971. Both Albert and Mamie are buried alongside their infant son in Morton Cemetery in Richmond.
The ranch home where the Georges lived for most of their lives has been restored by The George Foundation and furnished with much of the family’s furniture and personal belongings. The tree house that the couple built for Mary Jones has been duplicated in the large oak tree for the enjoyment of visitors touring the George Ranch. The restoration of the home was symbolic of the couple who focused on preserving the heritage of Fort Bend County.