The founder of El Capote Ranch was Jose De La Baume (1731-1834), a French army officer who came to North America with the Marquis De Lafayette and fought in the American Revolution. He later joined the Spanish Army and for his services received title in 1806 to 27,000 acres of Texas land - the original El Capote Ranch. De La Baume's grant was reaffirmed after Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821. Virginia-born Michael Erskine (1794-1862) acquired the property in 1840. He raised cattle here and drove his herds to California and New Orleans. Since the San Antonio to Gonzales Road forded the Guadalupe River on El Capote land, many travelers passed this way.
The Erskine family hosted several eminent visitors, including William Bollaert (1840), Ferdinand Roemer (1845-1847), and Frederick Law Olmstead (1857). After the Erskine family sold the ranch in the 1870s, part of the land was deeded to Edith Kermit Carow, the second wife of Theodore Roosevelt. During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt rode an El Capote horse, "Seguin", at the Battle of San Juan Hill (1898). The ranch was acquired in 1897 by Judge Leroy Gilbert Denman (1855-1916), a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and is owned by his descendants.