Herbert Lee Kokernot, Sr. was born in 1867 to Levi Moses and Sarah Littlefield Kokernot. Levi had been born in 1836 in Louisiana and lived most of his adult life in Gonzales County where he was a cattle rancher. Levi had first married the former Sarah E. Littlefield with whom he had a number of children including Herbert Lee. Sarah died in 1878 at around the age of thirty. He later married Hulda Jane Carnes. Hulda had also been born in Louisiana and lived most of her life in the Gonzales area with Levi and her family.
Herbert’s grandfather was David Levi Kokernot, who was born in Amsterdam and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was a youth. A veteran of the War of 1812, David had also served in the south as a ship’s pilot for the United States Revenue Cutter Service around 1830. He was involved early on in the fighting leading up to and including the Texas Revolution under James Fannin and later under Sam Houston. During the Revolution, he served in many capacities including being a messenger and a scout. He settled his family near Columbus, Texas. He later served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. In his latter years, he moved his family to Gonzales, Texas. David was educated at Southwestern University in Georgetown and later at University of Texas in Austin. His family had a mercantile business and a large cattle ranch. David Kokernot acquired the Kokernot 06 brand in 1837. When he died, he was referred to as a Texas patriot for his service to the area, including the Texas Revolution.
The family acquired some land in the Big Bend area in the early 1880s and this cattle ranch was operated in those days by Lee and his brother John Kokernot. Herbert Lee, Sr. took over management of this ranch in 1897. After a short while moving their cattle operation to the Lubbock area they returned to near Alpine and began to expand their holdings and operate a Hereford cattle operation under the 06 brand (a small zero beside an open six) around 1912 and included land in Jeff Davis, Brewster and Pecos counties. Herbert Lee Kokernot, Sr. served as president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the Alpine-Marfa Highland Hereford Association, and the Texas Livestock Marketing Association. By 1939, the Kokernot Ranch amounted to some 300,000 acres.
Herbert Kokernot, Sr. was also a large benefactor of Baylor University in Waco, contributing the main funds for the construction of a men’s residence hall named in his honor. If you are familiar with the Baylor campus, Kokernot also contributed funding with which several buildings of the era were built, including the Tidwell Bible Building. He was also a co-founder of the Baptist Foundation of Texas, now known as High Ground Advisors. He served on the board of trustees for both Baylor University and Texas A&M University and as President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Herbert, Sr. died in 1949 and is buried at Mission Park in San Antonio.
Herbert Lee Kokernot, Jr. was born in 1900 and succeeded his father to manage the ranch. He supported the old Bloys Cowboy Camp Meeting and helped to establish the Paisano Baptist Encampment at Paisano Pass and was a long time supporter of the Cowboy Revivals held in the summers out there in the Big Bend. In addition, he was a great baseball fan and in 1946 he started a semi-pro team known as the Alpine Cowboys that produced some great college players. He also built Kokernot Field in Alpine for his team and since then, semi-pro and some minor league games have been played there. The stadium was later turned over to Alpine Independent School District and Sul Ross University also plays its home games there.
Herbert Kokernot, Jr. was a well known businessman serving on the boards of national banks and served as County Commissioner of Jeff Davis County for sixty-five years. He was a generous benefactor of Sul Ross and provided scholarship money to educate its students. Kokernot successors still run the ranch today.
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