A Guide to the XIT Ranch Records, 1885-1889, [ca. 1936-1937]
In 1879, the Sixteenth Texas Legislature appropriated three million acres of land to finance a new state capitol building and established the XIT Ranch to utilize the land until its sale. The $5 million dollars necessary to develop the ranch were provided by wealthy British investors and largely managed by the Capitol Syndicate. Though ultimately intended for piecemeal sale, an initial survey of the acreage recommended immediate fencing and stocking with cattle. The syndicate appointed Colonel B. H. “Barbecue” Campbell, an experienced rancher and breeder from Wichita, Kansas, as the XIT's first general manager. In 1887, reports of inconsistencies in the ranch’s management, including inferior cattle and the presence of outlaws on the range, led to an investigation by state senator Avery L. Matlock. Consequently, Campbell resigned and returned to Kansas. In January 1888, Albert G. Boyce became general manager and insisted on strict adherence to the syndicate’s prohibitions against gambling, drinking alcohol, abusing stock, and killing cattle without permission. Under his management, the XIT reached peak production with 150 employed cowboys, who branded 35,000 calves in one year. In the 1890s, the Capitol Syndicate began selling off the land to purchasers including George W. Littlefield, William E. Halsell, and John M. Shelton. The last parcel sold in 1963.
Anderson, H. Allen. “XIT Ranch.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed March 15, 2011.
Transcripts of letters, receipts, and legal documents as well as literary productions compose the XIT Ranch Records, 1885-1889, [ca. 1936-1937], documenting the history of the ranch from the 1880s to the 1910s. The transcripts, 1885-1889, testify to problems at the ranch under B. H. Campbell’s management that included cattle losses in the summer of 1887, his alleged swindling of W. O. Woodley, the ranch’s employment of outlaws, and its production of mediocre cattle. Reminiscences of men employed by the XIT Ranch from the late 1880s to 1910s, [ca. 1936-1937], compose the literary productions, describing the ranch, its horses and cattle, and the living conditions and experiences cowboys W. W. Parks, Ed Jeffries, Goldie Thomas, T. A. Turnbow, W. E. Price, Mike Tafoya, and Albert Roberts.
This collection is open for research use.
XIT Ranch Records, 1885-1889, [ca. 1936-1937], 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