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Sunday, October 26, 1997

Bentsen ranch to go on the auction block

MISSION, Texas (AP) -- Arrowhead Ranch, the 10,000-acre ranch put together by South Texas Democratic patriarch Lloyd Bentsen Sr., is going on the auction block Nov. 20, Bentsen family members say.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley spread has been known over the years for its family gatherings, Democratic Party strategy sessions and hunting by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Texas Gov. John Connally.

Alabama-based National Auction Group Inc. will offer the property next month to any interested party that submits a certified check for $25,000 to qualify for the auction. Prospective bidders will be given tours of the property.

Donald Bentsen, the rancher's son and brother of former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen Jr., called the auction a "liquidation" that is the only feasible way to divide his father's property among his heirs. Officials did not estimate Friday how much the auction might bring.

"We've enjoyed it very much," he said of the ranch, "but it's the right thing to do."

Donald Bentsen now lives in McAllen. Lloyd Bentsen Jr., also a longtime U.S. Senate Democrat from Texas, now lives in Houston.

The ranch originally made up part of the Rincon de en Medio Ranch, a 146,000-acre range scouted by Texas Rangers in the early 1900s. Lloyd Bentsen Sr. bought the Arrowhead Ranch in 1946.

The ranch is part of the extensive holdings Bentsen gathered over the years in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Besides the 10,000 acres of prime farm and ranch land, the ranch has a 5,000-foot airstrip and a 7,700-square-foot ranch house. Two additional houses on the property will be included in the auction.

Wild game like whitetail deer, turkey, quail, dove and wild hog roam the ranch.

"We have excellent quail hunting," Donald Bentsen told The (McAllen) Monitor for its Saturday editions.

He said he has many fond memories of the historical ranch.

"One of the most enjoyable things was getting together in Christmas, Thanksgiving and the holidays," Donald Bentsen said.

The ranch house, airstrip and about 3,200 acres will be sold in one tract. Most of the remaining land will be offered in tracts of 640 acres or larger, auction officials said.

National Auction Group officials said the Bentsen family may lease back property on Arrowhead Ranch for grazing and farming to give the new owners time to determine their needs.

"Arrowhead Ranch is truly one of the most desirable properties in South Texas," said William Bone, National Auction Group's president. "Rich in history and with great potential for future development, this is an unparalleled opportunity to buy a truly remarkable property."

The winning bidder must submit 10 percent down on auction day, officials said. The closing will be in 30 days.

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