Monday, February 20, 2006

The Armstrong Ranch and the Estate Tax

The Armstrong Ranch has a long history. It was founded by Capt. John Barclay Armstrong. According to the Handbook on Texas Online, Armstrong was a:
second lieutenant of the Special Force of Texas Rangers under 1st Lt. Leigh Hall, on January 26, 1877. . . . He was assigned to the Eagle Pass area, where he operated on both sides of the border, assisted in the breakup of several bands of outlaws, and helped arrest John King Fisher in April 1877. While recovering from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered at Goliad, Armstrong asked to be allowed to arrest the notorious gunman John Wesley Hardin. The ranger pursued Hardin first to Alabama, then to Florida, then confronted him and four of his gang on a train in Pensacola. In the affray that followed, Armstrong killed one of Hardin's men, rendered Hardin unconscious with a blow from his handgun, and arrested the remaining gang members. After considerable delay in the execution of extradition papers, Armstrong returned Hardin to Texas, where he was tried and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison in September 1877.
The ranch is generally described as being approximately 50,000 acres. Let me try to put that in perspective. The City of Baltimore (which, unlike most cities, is not a part of a county, but is, in effect, a county unto itself) is, including both land and water, 55,674.97 acres. In other words, the Armstrong Ranch is only slightly smaller than a major city.

Query: If the estate tax poses such a threat to family farms, how has the Armstrong Ranch managed to remain in the hands of the same family for over 100 years?

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