George Austin Clegg, quarter horse breeder and horse-show judge, son of Austin and Dower (Powers) Clegg, was born in Thomaston, Texas, on April 22, 1872. He attended the public schools of Thomaston, St. Joseph's College in Victoria, and Baylor University for a short while. He took a commercial course in San Antonio and at the age of eighteen began managing the large horse and cattle ranch owned by his uncle in DeWitt County. Clegg considered himself a riding, roping, and racing expert by 1895. He married Letetia Margaret Nichols of Cuero on July 12, 1897, and the couple had two children. They moved to Alice in 1904. There Clegg managed the 1,400-acre Taylor Brothers Farm and his own two 300-acre farms. In 1905 he laid the foundation for fine quarter-horse breeding when he bought a yearling colt, Little Joe, from Dow Shely (co-owner of Traveler) and four racing mares in Del Rio. In 1911 he began racing their offspring, with Pap Rebo as jockey. Clegg bought Hickory Bill, a racer, and two mares in 1911. His top quarter horses began with the breeding of Little Joe and the Hickory Bill mares. Old Sorrell, sired by Hickory Bill and sold in 1913, was the foundation stallion of the King Ranch remuda.
By 1916 Clegg owned ranches in Live Oak, Duval, and Jim Wells counties. By the early 1920s he owned about 300 pedigreed brood mares and large herds of beef and dairy cattle. With help from his son he ran a dairy near Alice. In 1929 Clegg was injured and his wife killed in an automobile accident. He gradually left his cattle management to others and focused exclusively on quarter-mile horse racing. Among famous Clegg horses were Jodie Click and Cotton Eye Joe (sires); Hickory Bill, Rondo, and Little Joe (racers); and Jiggs and Medina Sport (roping horses).
During the Great Depression Clegg lost his horses, cattle, and extensive ranch properties. He ran for sheriff in Jim Wells County in 1934 and lost. He then started working for the King Ranch, handled its race horses for several years, and in June 1952 delivered a boatload of King Ranch cattle to Cuba. He became a judge at horse shows and was nationally recognized for his knowledge of horses and his integrity. He died of cancer at the home of his daughter in Alice on January 10, 1959. In appreciation of his many accomplishments in horse breeding, the King Ranch donated the George Clegg Memorial Trophy to be presented annually to the grand champion of the Quarter Horse Show at the Jim Wells County Fair.
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Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Texas Development Bureau, 1925?; 4 vols. 1929?). Robert M. Denhardt, The King Ranch Quarter Horses, and Something of the Ranch and the Men That Bred Them (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976). Robert M. Denhardt, Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967). Agnes G. Grimm, Llanos Mesteñas: Mustang Plains (Waco: Texian Press, 1968).
Ranching and Cowboys
Horse Breeders and Trainers
Sports and Recreation
Sports (Horse Racing and Polo)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Agnes G. Grimm,
“Clegg, George Austin,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 11, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
September 26, 2019