University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Duke-XIT Ranch Collection, [ca. 1900-1960]



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Duke-XIT Ranch
Title: Duke-XIT Ranch Collection
Dates: [ca. 1900-1960]
Abstract: Comprised of correspondence, drafts of historical sketches, newspaper clippings, printed material, maps, and notes, the Duke-XIT Ranch Collection, [ca. 1900-1960], documents the history of the XIT Ranch from the perspective of Robert L. and Cordelia J. Duke.
Accession No.: 90-292
Extent: 24 ft.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Historical Note

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. Consisting of seven divisions, 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.

During the 1890s, the Capitol Syndicate began selling land from XIT Ranch in order to pay creditors. Robert L. Duke (d. 1933), the foreman of the Buffalo Springs division of XIT, became the general manager of the then 3,000,000-acre ranch in the early 1900s. After the ranch halted its cattle operations in 1912, as one of the last cowboys of XIT, Duke remained the chief overseer of land sold to John M. Shelton and Dave Trigg. Duke’s wife, Cordelia J. Sloan, also worked at XIT, and recorded her reminiscences of the ranch, which were later published in 6,000 Miles of Fence (1961).

Sources:

"Duke, Cordelia Jane Sloan."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed February 9, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdu11.

Anderson, H. Allen. "XIT Ranch."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed February 9, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/apx01.


Scope and Contents

Comprised of correspondence, drafts of historical sketches, newspaper clippings, printed material, maps, and notes, the Duke-XIT Ranch Collection, [ca. 1900-1960], documents the history of the XIT Ranch from the perspective of Robert L. and Cordelia J. Duke. Printed material concerns the ranching industry and the ranch, such as circulars for the annual XIT cowhand reunion, while newspaper clippings include excerpts of Cordelia Duke’s diary and also discuss notable events and people in the Panhandle region. Handwritten notes and typescripts of historical sketches contain reminiscences of life on the XIT Ranch, describing its founding, history, and the daily activities of its workers, such as surveying the land, horse wrangling, and branding cattle. Furthermore, the sketches relate the activities of the various managers of the ranch, including the experiences of Robert Duke. Business correspondence pertains to the ranch and the XIT Cowboy Association, of which Cordelia Duke was the head historian, while personal correspondence relates to the familial affairs of the Duke family. Additionally, maps outline the XIT lands, including its seven divisions: Buffalo Springs, Middlewater, Rita Blanca, Bravo, Escavada, Spring Lake, and Yellow House.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

This collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.


Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Duke, Cordelia J., 1877-1966
Duke, Robert L., d. 1933
Duke family
Subjects (Organizations)
XIT Cowboy Association -- History
XIT Ranch (Tex.) -- History
Subjects
Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas -- History
Ranching -- Texas -- History
Ranch life -- Texas -- History
Places
Texas Panhandle (Tex.) -- History

Related Material

See also Cordelia Sloan Duke Papers

See also Haley and XIT Lawsuit Scrapbook

See also XIT Ranch Records


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Duke-XIT Ranch Collection, [ca. 1900-1960], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

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

 

Inventory

box
4B15 Duke-XIT Ranch Collection
box
4B29 Duke-XIT Ranch Collection
box
4B46-4B71 Duke-XIT Ranch Collection