Halff, Henry Mayer (1874–1934)

By: N. Ethie Eagleton

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 1, 1995

Henry Mayer Halff, rancher and farmer, the son of Rachel (Hart) and Mayer Halff, was born in San Antonio, Texas, on August 17, 1874. He attended Staunton Military Academy, Virginia, and Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York. He married Rosa Wechsler on January 1, 1905, and they became the parents of two sons and two daughters. Soon after their marriage they moved to Midland, where Halff engaged in the operation of ninety sections of rough semiarid land on which he ran cattle bearing the brands Circle Dot, Quien Sabe (see QUIEN SABE RANCH), and JM. The range lay east of the Pecos River in Crane, Crockett, Midland, and Upton counties. Halff moved the headquarters for his cattle business to the old George W. Elliott rock house in Upton County. He advocated improvement in cattle breeding, and on the Quien Sabe Ranch alone he had 3,000 top Herefords. Bulls from this herd were widely sought and sold throughout the Southwest.

Halff also imported Belgian stallions to improve his draft horses and bought thoroughbred stallions from racing stables to breed with local mares, producing wiry horses used as polo ponies. His polo teams competed at Fort Bliss, Texas, at Aiken, South Carolina, at Newport, Rhode Island, and at Dedham, Massachusetts, where he won an international championship. The ponies were trained on the H. M. Halff Polo Farm in Midland and shipped from there to other parts of the United States, Canada, and England.

A pioneer in irrigation on the plains, Halff drilled his first irrigation well on his Cloverdale Farm, five miles southeast of Midland. The wells drilled there became a source of Midland's water supply and yielded sufficient water to enable him to produce an excellent quality of grapes, melons, grain, and cotton. As early as 1908 water was hauled by ox team from his farm to use in drilling wells at East Upland, a part of his ranch in Upton County. Because of poor health, Halff moved to Mineral Wells in 1923. He died in Richardson on March 20, 1934, and was buried in Emanu-El Cemetery in Dallas.

Grace Miller White, "The Activities of M. Halff & Brother," Frontier Times, January 1942.
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
  • 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.

N. Ethie Eagleton, “Halff, Henry Mayer,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/halff-henry-mayer.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995