A Guide to the Matador Land and Cattle Company Records, 1882-1951
In 1878, Texas cattleman Henry H. Campbell sold a herd of longhorn cattle in Chicago, formed a partnership with Chicago banker A. M. Britton, returned to Texas, and established a ranch in Motley County near the Upper, Middle, and Lower Pease Rivers. The partners reorganized the venture as the Matador Cattle Company in 1879. In 1882, they sold the company to a group of businessmen from Dundee, Scotland, who organized the endeavor as a joint-stock company and incorporated it as the Matador Land and Cattle Company, Limited. Henry H. Campbell remained at the company as the ranch superintendent and oversaw a program of land improvements, including fencing, windmill and tank construction, and the purchasing of additional land. Alexander Mackay served as the company’s longtime secretary from 1882 to 1936.
In 1890, Murdo Mackenzie, a well-known Scottish cattleman in Colorado, became the manager of the company and improved the herd by introducing purebred strains. Mackenzie resigned in 1912 to manage a cattle company in Brazil, and his nephew, John MacBain, became his successor. Land sales in the Texas panhandle were suspended in 1919 due to the possible presence of oil and reinstated in 1921 after unfavorable geological reports. By 1933, Matador’s holdings totaled almost 900,000 acres in Texas, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, and Canada. After surviving the lean years of the Great Depression and dust bowl, the company was sold to a number of individuals and groups.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Matador Land and Cattle Company Records," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/MM/aqm1.html (accessed July 26, 2010).
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Mackenzie, Murdo," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmabf.html (accessed July 26, 2010).
Correspondence, news clippings, and reports comprise the Matador Land and Cattle Company Records, 1882-1951, and relate to the company’s business operations. The records contain transcripts of the correspondence of Alexander Mackay, Secretary to the Board of Directors, 1890-1907; Henry H. Campbell, Ranch Superintendent, 1890; Murdo Mackenzie, General Manager, 1890-1912; John MacBain, General Manager, 1912-1915; and the American National Livestock Growers Association, 1905-1907. Additionally, a small portion of the correspondence consists of photostatic copies. The records also contain transcripts of company reports, 1882-1918. A scrapbook and news clippings compose the remainder of the records.
The collection is open for research.
Matador Land and Cattle Company Records, 1882-1951, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers