Cattlemen John M. Bennett (1831-1920) and George W. West (1851-196) began buying ranch land here in Jackson County in 1875. Bennett was born in Alabama, moved to Texas in 1837, and earned his capital by driving cattle herds up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. West was also from Alabama and settled in the Sweet Home area of Lavaca County (about 50 miles NW) near Bennett's family.
The partners acquired 35,375 acres between the Garcitas and Lavaca rivers, rich with prairie grasses before the invasion of brush thickets. In 1882 West sold his half interest to his brothers Ike and Sol. By 1902 the ranch was running 7,000 head of cattle, bred from longhorns and herefords. That year Ike withdrew from the partnership and sold off his one-fourth interest in the land and cattle herd.
Neither Bennett nor the Wests lived at the ranch. The nearby frame house dates from 1902 as the ranch headquarters and foreman's residence. When Bennett and Sol West died in 1920, the land was divided between the Bennetts on the Garcitas River, and the Wests on the Lavaca River. From 1924 to 1978, three generations of the James family, beginning with Daniel Arthur James (1886-1943), served as foremen of the Bennett Ranch.