Our LaManchas have, perhaps, the most obscure history of any of the popular breeds. References were made to short-eared goats as far back as ancient Persia.
The exact background is as yet, however, unknown.
As the Spanish missionaries were colonizing California, they brought with them a short-eared breed of goat suitable for either milk or meat production. If not true
LaMancha's these animals were very close to them. Referred to as "cuties," "monas," and monkeys."(1) As each new mission was established, seed stock from the former
herd was transplanted to the new location, spreading the population through the West. This strain is usually thought to be the forerunner of our present LaMancha.(2)
In more recent history, a crate of the short-eared goats was sent to the Paris World's Fair for exhibition (1904). The inscription was unclear, but the words,
"LaMancha, Cordoba, Spain," were easily read. The name "LaMancha" stuck and became the accepted term for the American version as well. Phoebe Wilhelm is reported
to be the first to establish a herd comprised of Lamanchas. She owned approximately 125 in the 1920's. As few true-type bucks were available, those of the other
breeds were used to propagate the race. Even after years of hybridization, however, the true LaMancha characteristics continue to dominate.
The present American LaMancha was accepted as a breed for registry on January 27, 1958 with the first true LaMancha being Fay's Ernie, L-1. Approximately 200
animals were accepted as original stock. Since then, the tiny-eared dairy goats have spread throughout the country and are enjoying a surge in popularity, due largely
to their dairy character, adaptability, and, of course, their most well-known feature, or should we say lack of it -- no ears.
(Reprinted from the Dairy Goat Journal, January 1978
from "American LaMancha Club" brochure)
(1)"...a designation used affectionately by the Spanish for their "freaks." "The Curious LaMancha ear, Barbara Backus, Dairy Goat Journal, January 1980.
(2) "Some descendants of the imported goats became the herd of Miss Phoebe Wilhelm, Monkelumne Hill, CA. Miss Wilhelm reportedly used only purebred Toggenburg bucks to propagate her herd.
In the 1920's when other accepted breeds became available in the U.S., Alpines, Nubians and some Saanen bucks were bred to the short-eared does. But until the late 1930's, few serious attempts were made to
develop a true LaMancha by breeding type-to-type." "The LaMancha Look: All in the ears," Dairy Goat Journal, January '78.
In his article, "As I See the American LaMancha" S. Tachera refers to Miss Wilhelm as "Sophie." Article printed in Dairy Goat Journal, January 1975, with note "Barrowed from the British Columbia Dairy Goat News."