Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations
By David K. Langford and Lorie Woodward Cantu
In 1885, San Antonio architect Alfred Giles began buying the land that would become Hillingdon Ranch, eventually accumulating 13,000 acres near the town of Comfort in Kendall County. As the property passed to succeeding generations, the holdings got smaller, and more family members shared a stake in the ranch. Today, dozens of Giles descendants own pieces of it, ranging in size from ten to several hundred acres.
Yet Hillingdon remains a working ranch, with day-to-day operations managed by Robin Giles, grandson of Alfred Giles; his wife, Carol; their son, Grant; and Grant’s wife, Misty. The cattle, sheep, and goat business they built has become a model of stewardship and sustainability. While managing family relationships can often be as complicated as managing livestock and forage, the ranch would not exist without the commitment of the large extended family, now in its sixth generation on the ranch.
Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations chronicles how one family has worked together over many years to keep their ranch intact. It is also a beautifully photographed portrait of a ranching family and their life in the Texas Hill Country, where work is guided by the seasons, increasingly influenced by technology, and inevitably affected by drought.
In learning about the family’s successes and challenges, readers will gain a greater appreciation of what the Giles family’s efforts mean to the rest of us: food, fiber, clean air, wildlife, healthy land, peace and quiet, and, perhaps most important of all, clean and plentiful water.