A Guide to the James Evetts Haley and XIT Lawsuit Scrapbook, 1930-1936
Established in 1882, the XIT Ranch was owned by members of the Capitol Syndicate, a group of investors who received land in the Panhandle region in return for financing the construction of a new capitol building. The syndicate created the ranch in order to make a profit from the land before it would be sold. The previously unsettled land of the XIT Ranch spanned nearly 220 miles. Herds of longhorn cattle were raised on the ranch, and the name "XIT" is derived from the brand that Abner P. Blocker designed that could not be easily changed if any cattle were stolen. At its peak, the XIT Ranch reportedly had over 150 cowboys who rode over 1000 horses and branded 35,000 calves a year. The members of the ranch had considerable influence in local politics, and its reputation and size earned the ranch a prominent place in western histories.
In 1927, the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company hired James Evetts Haley (1901-1995) to write a history of the XIT Ranch. Two years later, he published The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado. Although the book gained a great deal of popularity, it incited several libel suits against Haley due to his depictions of various cowboys, ranchers, and events at the ranch. In 1931, the first suit was tried in Lubbock, and although Haley was acquitted of all charges, he agreed to withdraw the book from the market and paid the remaining plaintiffs $17,500.
Anderson, H. Allen. "XIT Ranch."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed December 17, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apx01.
Price, B. Byron. "Haley, James Evetts, Sr."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed December 17, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhahj.
Comprised of newspaper clippings and an issue of The Saturday Evening Post, the James Evetts Haley and XIT Lawsuit Scrapbook, 1930-1936, documents the libel lawsuits filed against James Evetts Haley after the publication of his book on the history of XIT Ranch. Newspaper clippings concern the libel suits and plaintiffs as well as the controversy over the book. In addition, The Saturday Evening Post article from December 8, 1934, contains Haley’s article "Cow Business and Monkey Business," which describes the ranching culture in Texas.
This collection is open for research use.
James Evetts Haley and XIT Lawsuit Scrapbook, 1930-1936, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers