White Deer Land Museum

Cattle Brands Tell Story Of Early Ranches

A painting in the White Deer Land Museum at Pampa shows cattle brands used by some of the early ranches in Gray County. Darlene Birkes, who painted the picture in 1976, also included the brand of her husband, Wallace Birkes.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

U-U (U Bar U). In 1878, Nick Eaton brought a herd from the Fort Griffin area and established the U Bar U Ranch 25 miles west of present Wheeler. Eaton was a charter member of the Panhandle Stock Association formed in Mobeetie in 1880.

The U Bar U, which included one third of Gray County, had headquarters on Hackberry Creek, a tributary of McClellan Creek. This was six miles northwest of present McLean near the North Fork of Red River. Eaton ran 3,000 head of cattle. Eaton’s U Bar U was one of the first ranches to close after the unusually severe winter of 1885-86 when many cattle froze to death. Ranchers referred to this period as “the big die-up.” It is believed that Eaton went to Kansas City after he sold his remaining cattle.

Z-Z (Z Bar Z). The brand was recorded by C.E. (Tobe) Odom, at Mobeetie in 1882. However, some sources refer to this ranch as T-T (T Bar T). Just north of the U Bar U, Odom’s ranch was on the North Fork of the Red River and McClellan Creek, straddling the Gray and Wheeler-County line. The headquarters was in the-area of the future town of Lefors . The ranch was managed by George Henry Saunders, who came to the Panhandle in 1875.

In 1884, Odom brought 10,000 “dogie” steers from South Texas. By the spring of 1887, he had only 1,500 head. This was the result of drought and “the big die-up.” It is thought that, in 1887, Odom sold his remaining cattle and any land claim he might have had to a larger adjoining ranch.

(RO). Alfred Rowe was an Englishman who arrived in Donley County in 1879, The next year, through the purchase of script, he began his ranch-north of Skillet Creek. His first headquarters was a two-room adobe house, and his first herd consisted of Longhorns trailed up from South Texas. Charles Goodnight helped him choose his first cattle, and one of Goodnight’s men was loaned to be Rowe’s first foreman.

The RO was located below the Caprock on rolling prairie land watered by the Salt Fork of the Red River and its tributaries. It extended from east of the Rockledge switch in Gray County through the present town of McLean to Lela on the north, from here to the present town of Quail and to within five miles of Clarendon. Mrs. Rowe’s diary showed that, in 1900, the ranch covered 100,000 acres and ran 10,000 head of cattle.

A town was named for Rowe but was moved and renamed Hedley when the Fort Worth and Denver came through Donley County in 1887. About the beginning of the twentieth century, Rowe built the town of McLean. Alfred Rowe died when the Titanic sank in April, 1912. His widow sold the ranch in 1917 to W.J. Lewis.

(Bow and Arrow Cross). In 1880, the first and only horse ranch in Gray County was established on McClellan Creek by S.V. Barton and Jesse Wynne. The first headquarters was in a dugout; later a rock house was built. Barton, who had made surveys for the state in 1873 and following years, had received nine sections of land at 30 cents an acre in preference to pay of $3.00 a day.

Wynne, who helped herd Barton’s 1,000 head of horses, was paid $45 per month including room and board; he furnished his own bed.

In 1883, Frank Houston purchased the Rockwall school grant, a block of about 20,000 acres in southern Gray County. This bordered the Barton ranch which controlled much of McClellan Creek. Houston bought Barton out and stocked his range with a herd he branded with a Bow and Arrow Cross.

(Quarter Circle Heart). Lewis Henry Carhart, who came to the Panhandle in 1878, was the founder of the Christian colony which became Clarendon (called Saint’s Roost” by derisive cowboys). Like most newcomers to the Texas Panhandle, Carhart invested in a few hundred head of cattle which he branded with a Quarter Circle Heart. With the financial help of his brother-in-law, Alfred Sully, Carhart formed the Clarendon Land and Investment Company. In 1884, this company purchased the entire holdings of Frank Houston. By this purchase, the Quarter Circle Heart extended north into Gray County for 11 miles to McClellan Creek. The Quarter Circle Heart was another of the early ranches to close in 1886.

(Diamond F). The brand was filed in October 1882, soon after the organization of the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company. Managed by B.B. and H.T. Groom, the ranch consisted of 631,000 acres in Hutchinson, Carson, Gray, and Roberts counties. In 1886, the Francklyn company was unable to pay bonds due and was reorganized as White Deer Lands. The Francklyn cattle were sold to Alfred Sully who owned the Clarendon Cattle Company.

White Deer Lands then made short term leases to various cattle companies until its property could be sold for agricultural purposes.

N-N (N Bar N). William F. and Frederick W. Niedringhaus of St. Louis were two brothers, originally from Germany, who made a fortune by the manufacturing of gray speckled granite-ware. They invested their profits in cattle ranching in Montana and New Mexico. From 1888 to 1892, the Niedringhaus brothers leased a range in Carson and neighboring counties from White Deer Lands. The headquarters of the N Bar N was about two miles southeast of present White Deer. The first sucessful water well on the high plains was drilled near the ranch headquarters in 1887. Previously B.B. Groom had drilled unsuccessfully in 1886.

The N Bar N left White Deer Lands in 1892 because the land company wanted the range cleared of large herds. From April to September, one hundred cowboys drove ten herds, each with 2,500 cattle, or a total of 25,000 beeves, to Montana . This was the last great cattle drive from the Texas Panhandle. A state historical marker commemorating the event is on the south side of Highway 60 about one mile east of White Deer.

(Flying V). The Matador Cattle Company was established in Motley County in 1879. Three years later, the company was sold to a group of stockholders from Dundee, Scotland, and the name was changed to the Matador Land and Cattle Company. The new company adopted the Flying V brand.

After a period of drought in 1892, the Matador company leased 348,000 acres in Carson and Gray counties from White Deer Lands. During the period from July 1, 1893 to July 1,1895, more than ten thousand Matador steers were kept on White Deer grass. When the lease expired, no effort was made to renew it since good rains and fine grass on the home range made leasing unneccessary.

In 1897, a new law threw open to settlement all the lands within the Matador range. Again, from 1899 to 1902, the Matador herds occupied a portion of the White Deer pasture. Although the Matador company attempted to renew the lease when it expired in 1902, the White Deer company was unwilling to renew. The refusal was due to the fact that the owners of White Deer Lands had decided to start a town at Pampa and to reserve all the land around Pampa to sell to settlers.

David Somerville, for whom Somerville Street in Pampa was named, was the manager of the Matador lease on White Deer Lands from 1899 to 1902. The headquarters was in the White Deer Lands boarding house built by George Tyng in 1891-92. This was approximately the location of the gazebo in McCarley Park (1988).

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

Closed Accordian Default Hidden

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

error: Content is protected !!