PRIOR to 1880, the late Richard Sellman left his birthplace
in the state of Maryland and drifted southwest into
McCollough county, Texas. Here he acquired a foothold
and, being industrious, prospered. In the early days
of the present century, when the writer first met him,
Mr. Sellman said that he had 40,000 acres of good Texas
land, every acre paid for. He was carrying 8,000 sheep,
4,000 registered black polled Angus cattle and 400 registered
Morgan horses. In fact, he was, even at that date, the
largest breeder of registered Morgan horses in the world.
He was soon able to ship Morgan mares by the carload,
with a stallion of suitable Morgan blood to mate with
them. He stated in his 1912 catalog that he could show
more genuine equine beauty and quality in his herd of
registered Morgan horses than any breeder in the United
Dick Sellman was alive to the fact that Morgan breeders
were rapidly losing the original type of Morgan horse.
He informed the writer that the Morgan horse breeders
had for years been infusing too much of the larger,
coarser blood of the Standardbred. They were thereby
losing the original type of Morgan horse, according
to Mr. Sellman, who was always looking for stallions
of the original true type and blood.
He purchased, in the north and east, the best representatives
he could find, shipping them to his Texas ranch for
breeding purposes. Among them were the handsome stallions
Red Oak, Major Gordon 4924, Gold Medal 4840, Golden
5691, Golden Rod 6674 and Major Antoine 4776.
Then came the Admiral 4871, his top stud. This fine
chestnut stallion was sired by Jubilee De Jarnette,
then invincible in the show ring. The Admiral's dam
was by the show stallion Winnebago Chief 16585 by Mountain
Chief. Admiral's second dam was Olive by Monegram 1378
by Fearnaught. Admiral's third dam was a daughter of
Drew, a Thoroughbred. His fourth dam traced through
Sherman to old Justin Morgan. Benjamin Thurston, who
owned old Vermont Black Hawk 5, the great, great, great,
grandsire of the Admiral, considered the Admiral as
having all the good qualities combined in old Black
Dick Sellman raised many fine Morgan stallions from
the Admiral, including Texas 5889, The Corporal 5991,
Dexter 6004 and Red Bird, who was the top stallion at
the Swenson SMS ranch near Stamford, Texas. Other noted
sons of the Admiral were: Sunny South, Admiral Gordon,
The Raven, Mazeppa, Black Prince, Red Boy, Mountain
Vale and many others.
From Gold Medal 4840 came Golden 5691, Medal 6675, Golden
Rule and others. His beautiful band of Morgan mares
and fillies were by the above stallions. Morgan horses,
at this time, became a great hobby with Dick Sellman.
He loved the Morgan horse and was then financially able
to buy the best representative stallions.
Previous to 1911, the Morgan Horse club of America had
selected Hales Green Mountain as nearest to the original
Morgan type, giving him the silver cup. About the turn
of the century there appeared another outstanding stallion,
Headlight Morgan 4863, in the New England states. He
was awarded the silver cup as the best living representative
of the original Morgan type. Headlight Morgan was sired
by Ethan Allen 2nd 406. His dam was by Hales Green Mountain
by Gifford by Woodbury by Justin Morgan, founder of
the Morgan family.
Hales Green Mountain was the true type of old-time Morgan
horse which Dick Sellman was trying to save for posterity.
Headlight Morgan was an inbred Green Mountain, and almost
an exact replica, in form, of old Justin Morgan.
It was remarkable how the true Morgan type held through
the Green Mountain branch of the family. Headlight Morgan
was the last winner of the silver cup as the best type
of original Morgan. He was often referred to as King
of the Morgans.
This famous stallion was purchased by Dick Sellman and
taken to the Mountain Vale ranch when 21 years old,
but he was well preserved, strong and active. Mr. Sellman
then selected a band of his choicest fillies and broodmares
for Headlight's harem, and the next spring was delighted
with an excellent crop of fine Morgan foals. At this
time the health of Dick Sellman was failing fast, and
a short time later, his death ended his efforts to preserve
the Morgan breed. His Mountain Vale ranch was broken
up, and his fine Morgans were scattered, California
absorbing the greater part of them. Today the Golden
State produces more Morgans than any other state in
the Union. While the Morgan horse family originated
in 1789 near the Atlantic Coast, today its its stronghold
is on the Pacific Coast, 3,000 miles away. It is reported
that Headlight Morgan lived to be 32 years of age.
It was in the early 1920's that Mr.Sellman passed away.
Sad it is that this fine Southern gentleman could not
have lived to enjoy the fruits of his many years' labor.
With the passing of Dick Sellman from the ranks of Texas
stockmen, the Nation lost an able, far sighted and accomplished
ranchman, a man of executive ability. His beautiful
Mountain Vale ranch, with its fine Morgan horses and
black polled Angus cattle, once the pride of central
Texas, is today no more.