LA GRANGE, Texas -- A-haw-haw-haw-haw.
Forty-one years ago today, the legendary brothel outside of La Grange, Texas shut down.
True to the nickname "the world's oldest profession," Texas' most famous brothel, the Chicken Ranch operated for more than 130 years, according to Experience La Grange.
According to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), the brothel that came before the Chicken Ranch opened in 1844 when a widow named Mrs. Swine brought three young women from New Orleans and settled in a small hotel near a saloon, carrying on a lucrative business until she was ran out of town sometime around the Civil War.
Around the turn of the century, Miss Jessie Williams bought a shack on the banks of the Colorado River and opened up shop -- on good terms with the local sheriff. Miss Jessie's patrons included politicians and lawmen, and her employees sent packages to local men fighting in World War I.
The sheriff visited Miss Jessie's establishment daily to pick up gossip and get information on criminals who had visited the Chicken Ranch and bragged about their crimes.
Legend has it, that shack outside La Grange got its name from the lack of cash during the Great Depression. Patrons of the Chicken Ranch would trade -- yep, you guessed it -- chickens for services rendered. Miss Jessie also supplemented her income by selling chickens and eggs on the side.
Miss Jessie died in 1961, handing over the reigns of the brothel to Edna Milton, who arrived at the Chicken Ranch from Oklahoma just nine years before. She bought the ranch from Miss Jessie's heirs and befriended the local sheriff. The ranch became so popular in those years, there was often a line out the door. TSHA says a visit to the ranch even became a part of freshman initiation at Texas A&M University.
Perhaps because of its symbiotic relationship with the community, Chicken Ranch was widely tolerated despite its illegality until Marvin Zindler, a TV reporter at KTRK in Houston, ran a week-long series on the ranch. Dolph Briscoe, the Texas governor at the time, was forced to meet with the La Grange sheriff and demand the ranch be shut down.
The sheriff informed Edna, and by Aug. 1, 1973, the Chicken Ranch shut down.
The brothel was closed, and Edna got married and moved to East Texas, but the story didn't end there. Customers showed up for more than two years searching for the place.
Part of the original building was moved to Dallas, where it opened as a restaurant named the Chicken Ranch.
The story became a musical, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," and the musical became a movie. The same year the ranch shut down, ZZ Top penned the song "La Grange" about the Chicken Ranch, and the brothel is still La Grange's claim to fame.