M4 Ranch Group Blog

Building a Ranch, a Brand, a Life

As seen in Terra Firma (Winter 2023) land real estate magazine is the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land.”

By: Dan Murphy, ALC, 2022 RLI Colorado Chapter President and 2023 RLI Vice President

I was asked to write a story about our family ranch, the family brand, the history of how that came to be, and how the ranch and brand built a life and a thriving business throughout the west today. Being asked to write your family history is a real honor, and I had no idea until I started this tale.

As many of you know, building a family brand and growing that into a productive establishment in today’s world is not an easy task. It takes history, generations of commitment, and dedication. It honestly takes great and real determination. Our story is quite different in some ways and in other ways a very common tale. See, our story started a long, long way from the mountain valleys of the San Juans.

We have been blessed with having an addicted historian in our family, tracing our family lineage from Europe to New America. From the earliest settlers hitting the shores of the new world to today, our family has always had the drive to be a part of the western pilgrimage. Our family was awarded one of the very first land grants in the Republic of Texas. Texas is where this Colorado Story of the Stralight Mountain Ranch and M4 Ranch Group begins. The Texas part and its relation to what is NOW Colorado took shape in 1838. Many greats ago, my uncle Mirabeau B. Lamar became the second president of the Republic of Texas, inaugurated after Sam Houston on December 10, 1838. For M4 and the Murphy family, this is a bit of real pride. At that time, the northern boundaries of the Republic of Texas reach far north of current boundaries, including all of New Mexico and what is today’s, Western Colorado.

Mirabeau worked long and hard to keep the northern boundaries of the Republic of Texas. over time and with accumulated debt, these boundaries became what is now Colorado and New Mexico. At M4 Ranch Group, this story is often repeated. It is not uncommon to hear, “we have been trying to help buy it back ever since”.

Our family continued the drive west, eventually leading us to the alpine valleys of the Rocky Mountains. We found our home in one of the west’s highest valleys of the San Juans, nestled just south of Gunnison, Colorado, on the banks of the Powderhorn Creek. The ranch sits in a mountain valley backed fenceline to fenceline with over 62,000 acres of what became the Powderhorn Wilderness Area. Here on Stralight Mountain Ranch was born the Rocking M4 Ranch brand. Named after the four family members, the brand was born in the depth of Gunnison, Colorado winter. Here, where -25 degree nights are common, our history as Texas Cowboys transformed to Mountain Men.

In the decades that passed, the valleys have become a bit tighter, the neighbors a bit closer, the wildlife more plentiful, and the streams are as full of trout as they ever were. These legacy ranches have now become highly sought after, not only for the raw beauty but for the lifestyle they still provide. The yesteryear ranches where families fought to eke out an existence while experiencing a wholesome life. Like so many others, our family eventually sold the ranch to the encroaching demand, the change in time. Older principal members needed a simpler life where those -25 degree nights were spent with more time by the fire than out feeding livestock.

While our family ranch has remained a special place, now under a conservation easement protecting this natural asset for other families, we have passed on the legacy of the family brand for generations. The ranch brand lives on still today, still seen on the belts of rodeo participants and on the hind quarter or front shoulder of well-bred livestock. The M4 Ranch brand is still a part of the mountain west. To this day, grandfathers hand down a handmade Rocking M4 belt buckle to grandsons on their 18th birthday.

While ranches and families change, people age and grow in new directions, and the legacy of the western lifestyle, that drive to be a part of the mountain west, lives on. M4 Ranch Group grew into a spectacular place representing and selling some of the finest ranches in the west. At M4 Ranch Group, our ranching and outfitting history has led us to a new position in the west. That dedicated history is growing into a new opportunity, an opportunity to serve those searching for the passion and pride the west has to offer.

Our story is like so many families; their generational history from West Texas to the Northern plains of Montana is one of tenacity, a spirit of commitment and dedication carried on for generations.

That hard-fought, proud western heritage lives on generationally, creating some of America’s greatest assets.

Read the latest Terra Firma here: https://m4ranchgroup.link/Terra-Firma-Winter-2023

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