Tres Molinos Ranch is built on a Family Ranch in Harper, Texas. The Ranch has been in the family and used as a homestead for close to 100 years. In 2024 the ranch will be eligible to qualify for Historic designation as it will then be 100 yrs old. Patrick began building a new house, the Events Center and B&B of Tres Molinos Ranch & Resort, in 2017. He named the entry road after his grandmother Wanda, who he has always thought highly of.
Story has it that Wanda’s grandfather Klaehn came over directly from Germany in 1893, following shortly after a friend, Mr. Filter, who brought four daughters with him. Further, grandfather Klaehn settled near the Filters and those girls were mighty industrious…baking bread and keeping house and washing clothes. Although 20 years older than those girls. He picked one that “qualified”, married her and they subsequently had 9 children. Wanda’s father was the oldest boy. Grandfather Klaen was industrious in his own right, for in 1899 he purchased a little over 200 acres and then another parcel of 365 acres in 1901. After that, in 1924 he purchased 320 acres (current game reserve) and 640 acres in Harper.
Wanda grew up on that land. Her father, Karl Klaehn, paid $9,000.00 for the 1 section (640 acres is 1 section) from his father in 1929 (Tres Molinos). He had married Wanda’s mother in 1926. It was raw land and he cleared it and built a barn and house and began working the land. It was mostly “sheep and goat” country.
Wanda met her husband (Patrick’s grandfather Moellendorf) when she was 13 yrs old. “The Moellendorf Boys” would go around shearing sheep for ranchers and they came to the ranch at that time to shear Mr. Klaehn’s sheep. Wanda relates how they would feed the workers lunch, albeit to serve up one of the older hens that didn’t lay any more. They did include fresh vegetables from their garden. She was in charge of cleaning up the wool (Mohair) and keeping it out of the way while the boys were shearing the sheep. As she bent over to gather some Mohair off the floor, young Moellendorf whacked her on the behind with the heavy shearing handle, “and that was that!” she says. They’d attend dances in Luckenbach, Spring Creek, and Caines City. They weren’t allowed to go to Mason nor London dance halls. After five years of dating and as they became “of age”, they married and started their own family.
Wanda had two siblings and they all had chores to do after walking home each evening from school. They grew vegetable gardens for their food “right over there behind the old house”. Cabbage, beets, okra, beans and of course tomatoes. Irish potatoes were planted in the field and of course they planted crops to feed their animals as well. There weren’t many deer back in those days in this part of the country so they weren’t worried much about deer eating up the gardens. She remembers Turkey being plentiful back then, though.
Part of the chores included taking care of the goats they raised and when the nannies came up with their newborn “kid” in tow, they’d use paint to mark numbers on the Nannie and matching Kid. If the “kid” tried to nurse and a “nannie” wouldn’t let it, then they knew it was not the “kids” mother and they had to go looking for the mother. Although not worried with coyotes in this part of the country back in those days, they knew the nannie might yet be in trouble or disoriented and could not be left to wander around. They would place the “kids” in those “old traps over by the old house across the road”. They still exist and are in use today.
They did have milk cows and Wanda recalls that milk equated to “money”. They used a hand cranked “milk separator”. They made the cheese, butter, and cottage cheese. But you won’t ever catch Wanda eating Yogurt! Ever! Her father and her brother used a combine to work fields of wheat and oats. They shelled corn with a hand crank sheller. Then her father bought a corn sheller.
When asked about parents and “punishment” back in those days, Wanda enlightened us pretty quick: “A hand on the backside can cover a lot of territory”. She acknowledges her mother as a remarkable seamstress. Everything was sewn with a foot peddle sewing machine and by hand. Wanda’s talents are equally as remarkable but she accepts compliments with a shrug “mother inspected every stitch…it better be straight or you ripped it ALL out and started over”. They were raised on “do your best” and “complete your tasks”, nothing less.
They had their coldest winter in 1948-49. The trees were a sight with all the ice and no power for two weeks. Not to worry, they just returned to the good old days of kerosene lantern and firewood. “It wasn’t a big issue, we just cooked on wood stove and were nice and warm too”. One good thing they thought as kids that winter, with the heavy rains they couldn’t get to school as Doss Rd ruts were too deep. Rah.
Doss Rd or 783 that you see right here at Tres Molinos, was only a one lane dirt road until the 50’s. Her father had the Doss-Harper mail route in the 40’s and 50’s and drove an old Model A car, no rumble seat. There were many flat tires and a lot of gates and this was before there were any cattle guards. Wanda believes that electricity brought in around 1935-36 was probably the biggest change in her lifetime, around World War II. There was a bus of sorts; the seats weren’t like today. No heat, no air conditioning and pretty much “raggledy-shaggle” bus with seats lined along the outer walls and one row down the center. Wanda was 5 yrs old when they sent her off to school. They had 1st and 2nd grade students together at the old “pocket school”. She was in 3rd grade when the School later consolidated to Harper School.
Back in the late 60’s Wanda and Henry were at the lockers working and were told there were people up on the hill (where the B&B’s are now located). He promptly went to investigate but could not get any sensible information from them. After a period of time he was told the FBI had discovered the hill was a vantage point to monitor an airplane that was trafficking drugs…west toward Kraemer Rd.
Wanda reports that her mother died before her father did. In 1975 her father’s health was failing and he gift deeded property to Wanda and her two siblings.
Wanda’s son, David Moellendorf is now the Tres Molinos Ranch Consultant. His son, Patrick Moellendorf, is the current owner of Tres Molinos Ranch & Resort.