John McCrabb was born in Ireland in 1798 and came to America at an early age when his family settled in Tennessee. In April of 1825, Empresario Green C. Dewitt secured a grant from Mexican government to settle the region between the Guadalupe and Lavaca rivers. Over the next decade DeWitt’s colony formed and land titles were granted to 39 settlers, including John McCrabb. Being a single man, McCrabb’s first land grant was the usual ¼ sitio (1,107 acres) and he moved to DeWitt’s colony in Coahuila y Tejas. Before long he returned to Tennessee to see the sweetheart he had left there. In 1830, Mary Miller agreed to join John McCrabb on his return to Texas to become his wife. As a newly married man, McCrabb received his entitled additional 3,498 acres in 1830.
On April 1, 1836 John McCrabb joined General Sam Houston’s army and just 20 days later he fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. McCrabb received 640 acres for fighting at San Jacinto and an additional 320 acres for serving in the Texas Army under General Houston. His first son, Joseph Alexander McCrabb, was born in 1836. In early 1838, the McCrabbs moved to Victoria where John served as the Victoria County District Clerk. On February 2, 1838, John McCrabb received an augmentation certificate for ¾ league (3321 acres) and a labor (177 acres) in Victoria County. When Victoria was incorporated in 1839, he served as the first city treasurer. In 1841 McCrabb was appointed Victoria County Road Commissioner and helped to plan the road from Victoria to Gonzales, passing through present day Cuero. In 1846, John and Mary's second son, John Frederick “Buck” McCrabb was born and the family moved back to their land in present day Thomaston. After their return, John McCrabb became the first tax assessor and collector for the newly formed DeWitt County. He served faithfully until his health failed. On September 9, 1848, he died peacefully in his home in Thomaston. He left all land on the Guadalupe to his beloved wife during her lifetime and their sons at her death. His body was laid to rest in the McCrabb Cemetery on the Dietze family's present day "farm" just outside of Cuero. Other members of the McCrabb family, along with several members of the Taylor family, are buried at this small cemetery near the Guadalupe River. Perhaps the most notable grave at the McCrabb Cemetery belongs to, William P. "Buck" Taylor, who was killed on Christmas Eve 1868 in the Sutton-Taylor Feud.
At age 17, John Frederick “Buck” McCrabb left school to enter the Confederate Army in S.H. Hudson's Company of Independent Scouts and served in the Rio Grande Valley until the close of the war. Buck then returned to DeWitt County where he engaged in raising cattle on the extensive land he inherited from his father. He married Cora Augustine in 1883 and the couple moved to the McCrabb Home in Thomaston where they had two children, John Samuel McCrabb(b. 1885) and Mary Elizabeth McCrabb (b. 1883). Buck was a rancher of means with a recorded 7,000 acres and 1,200 head of blooded animals in 1894. He continuously increased and improved his stock and is remembered in DeWitt County to this day as one of the pioneer ranchers along with Jim Bell, Miles Bennet, William A. Blackwell, John Milam Taylor and others. Buck McCrabb came to his death accidentally on August 23, 1909. He was driving a team of young horses that ran away and overturned the wagon breaking his neck. After her husband’s death Cora Augustine McCrabb with her son John Samuel and daughter Mary carried on the ranching interests.
John Samuel, married Gladys Estelle Brown on June 6, 1906. The couple later had three children: Jessie Estelle McCrabb (b. 1907), J.F. McCrabb (b. 1909) and Mary Lee McCrabb (b. 1911). Following Buck McCrabb's death, John Samuel's oldest daughter, Jessie, went to live with Cora in Thomaston. After Cora’s death in 1929, John Samuel’s sister Mary Atkinson assumed management of the Buck McCrabb Estate and began leasing their land shares to stockmen. Jessie attended school at Southern Methodist University and married Eugene Henry Houchins, Jr. J.F. McCrabb fought in World War II and married Louise Boothe when he returned. In 1934, Mary Lee McCrabb, married Francis "Penny" Asbury Mood, named for his grandfather who founded Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. Mary Lee and Francis had two daughters – Marilynn Mood (b. 1937), and Penny Lee Mood (b. 1944).
John Samuel McCrabb died August 29, 1947 at the medical center in Houston, TX. John Samuel's sister, Mary McCrabb Atkinson never had any children, and the McCrabb family land passed down to John Samuel’s heirs. Jessie and J.F. never had children, but Mary Lee's daughters and their children owned all family land following her death in 2000. Marilynn Mood married her high school sweetheart, Norvan George "Buzzy" Dietze in 1956 and Penny Lee Mood married Frank Fitch Henderson in 1964.
Marilynn and Buzzy Dietze had two sons, John Frederick "Jeff" Dietze and William Kyle Dietze who grew up in both Cuero and Rockport, where the Dietzes still have deep ties today. Jeff and Kyle were avid outdoorsmen who spent most of their free time on the water or in a deer blind. As young men, they hunted with Texas artist John P. Cowan, famous for painting sportsmen scenes across Texas. In many Cowan paintings Jeff and Kyle were the men behind the fishing reel or trigger. Jeff Dietze was a scholar and athlete, who played football for the University of Texas and received a law degree from St. Mary’s. In 1981 Jeff married Elizabeth Waggoner, and the couple had three children; John Frederick “Dos” Dietze, Jr. (b. 1983), Weldon Waggoner Dietze (b. 1985) and Caroline Elizabeth Dietze (b. 1987). Kyle Dietze also attended the University of Texas and later worked in real estate and as a landman. Kyle married Claire McCarter in 1986 and had two daughters; Alexis Estelle Dietze (b. 1988) and Christin Nicole Dietze (b. 1989). Kyle died February 9, 1995 at the age of 32. Jeff died August 14, 2012, at the age of 53. All of their respective land was inherited by their children.
The Dietze and Henderson families divided their property interests in 2013. This division left John Frederick "Dos" Dietze Jr., Weldon Dietze, Caroline Dietze Bradford, Alexis Dietze and Christin Dietze with 2,487 acres east of the Guadalupe. On a trip to the property on February 24th, 2013, the five Dietze cousins decided to put the family land to use and honor their heritage by building a meeting place for family and friends. Construction on the cabins and main lodge at Dietze McCrabb Ranch began immediately, coming to completion in 2017. With the five cousins spread across Texas, DMR now serves as their place for gatherings and a new family business. Their grandmother, Marilynn Mood Dietze, still lives in Cuero and enjoys their regular visits to DeWitt County. She is the namesake for Mood Pond at Dietze McCrabb Ranch. In the main lodge at DMR, the McCrabb family history is on display along with several paintings from Jeff and Kyle's Cowan collections.