Among the first ranchers in the New World were the Franciscan Fathers. While they came to save souls, they first had to feed bodies. They brought livestock and taught their Indian converts to handle and tend the horses, cattle, sheep and goats, and to use modern techniques to raise crops.
In 1849 the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to the Rio Grande from France to spread the word of God to Catholics on the scattered ranches and in little towns throughout South Texas and Northern Mexico. The priests traveled vast distances on horseback with only what they could carry in their saddlebags. They became known as the Cavalry of Christ, hearing confessions, performing marriages and baptisms, ministering to the sick and dying, and officiating at funerals before heading on to the next destination.