Our Story

Walter Houlu McPhail was born February 21, 1901, in Sandy Springs, South Carolina to John Augustus and Mary Stevenson McPhail. When Houlu was a year old, his father bought the home place in Oconee, where WH lived until his death in 1979, and where the home-base for Tokeena Angus remains today.
Houlu’s interest in cows began very early with the purchase of a yearling heifer and in 1922, after a year at Clemson College, he walked home to begin his life-long profession as a cattle farmer.
As a farmer who believed in progress and innovation, Houlu saw the changes being brought about by the decline of the cotton economy and the loss of top soil across the upstate. He believed that cattle, not cotton, would be the crop of the future. Soon after his marriage, he established the first registered Angus herd in South Carolina.
Mr. McPhail also had the foresight to recognize the importance of a cool season grazer and began planting fescue grass on his farm. He gradually helped established this grass throughout the area, planting acreage on his own farm and selling extra seed to neighbors so that they could increase profits through forage rather than feed. He eventually provided certified seed to such companies as Pennington and was acknowledged as helping significantly improve the agricultural economy of the area. For this reason, the farm is recognized today by the National Register of Historic Places.
“Grand-daddy” was also very interested in showing off his beloved Angus cattle so one or more of his children entered the Anderson County livestock show every year. His entrants won numerous championships and, from that first year when daughter Mary showed until the youngest grandchild Daniel stopped showing in 2003 there were McPhail cattle being shown by McPhail children or grandchildren at the Anderson County Fair for over 50 continuous years.
Today, the cattle herd is managed by Neil and his wife Gwen. Each year, Tokeena holds a performance-tested bull and female sale on the last Saturday in January. Many of the females are Tokeena-sired heifers that were bought at weaning from our customers. All animals are raised on a forage-based ration from weaning until sale day. The bulls are ultra-sounded and given a breeding soundness exam and females are pregnancy checked close to sale day. All are guaranteed breeders.
Our business philosophy hasn’t changed from the one “Grand Daddy” held over 80 years ago – produce sound breeding cattle utilizing good quality forage that work in the real world. You won’t find extremes here. We grow beef not hair.
Neil selects sires that are moderate framed and positive for traits like scrotal circumference and yearling weight while trying to keep as much calving ease as possible. Foot problems and bad dispositions are culled from the herd whenever they turn up. Carcass traits are key criteria for selection, but performance and reproductive efficiency are top priority.