When you hear of a "company town," it's a term usually meaning a factory, oil company, or coal mine that employs just about everyone in the community. But in Texas the reference to "company" can just as easily refer to a big ranching operation. Taft, a Tropical Trails town in South Texas, owes much of its existence to the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company, an enterprise fully engaged in cattle raising, farming, and shipping—specifically shipping cattle by boat from company wharves—during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Coleman-Fulton partnership ended with Fulton's financial problems when the controls were handed over to his primary lender David Sinton. After Sinton's death, the holdings transferred to his daughter Anna Sinton-Taft, wife of Charles P. Taft, the communities namesake who renamed the enterprise the Taft Ranch.
Taft's Blackland Museum, housed in Coleman-Fulton's final headquarters, tells the full story in exhibits—some interactive—that capture the history and heritage of Taft and its benefactors. In the company's heyday, the Blackland Museum building, a handsome red brick, two-story construction built in 1923, housed two banks—the company bank on one end and one in private hands on the other—with a drug store and a barber shop in between. The second floor held the company offices. As "company towns" go, Taft, a pleasant rural ranching and farming community located in a balmy coastal region of the state, offered ranch employees a brief and pleasant commute to work. In other words, no sitting in the saddle for hours waiting for the left turn arrow to turn green.