The operation that later evolved into the Box T Ranch began in 1879 when James Monroe Day arrived from Austin and began grazing cattle on Camp Creek, a tributary of Wolf Creek in southeastern Lipscomb County. His brother Tony had a homestead on Wolf Creek near Fort Supply, Oklahoma, and a brother-in-law, Alexander Young, started the YL Ranch in Beaver County, Oklahoma. In the 1880 census the Day brothers were listed as large operators in Lipscomb County, with livestock valued at $100,000, including 10,000 cattle and 100 horses. Their hired cowhands were paid a total of $6,000 that year. In addition to the Wolf Creek range, the Days also owned grazing land in the disputed Greer County, Oklahoma. Cattle on both of these ranges carried their DAY brand.
In the summer of 1882 the Days sold their Wolf Creek holdings, including 18,000 cattle, to the Dominion Cattle Company of Canada for $450,000. The new owners moved the headquarters to the Cherokee Outlet in what is presently Ellis County, Oklahoma, and began using the Box T brand and running cattle on range leased from the Indians. That arrangement continued until 1885, when President Grover Cleveland ordered all white ranchers out of Indian Territory. A new headquarters was then constructed on Camp Creek, but until fences were erected grazing continued across the line into the territory. The twin brothers John and Sam Douglas were among the first to arrive and work for the Dominion Company. Lishe Stevens, Gaston Smith, James F. Bryson, and Frank Biggers served successively as foremen. The Box T employees helped sponsor the organization of Lipscomb County in 1886 and attempted to make their proposed townsite of Dominion, in the heart of their range, county seat. That honor went instead to Lipscomb, near the boundary of the neighboring Seven K Ranch. Higgins became the Box T's railhead and supply center. By 1887 the Dominion Company owned roughly 30,000 cattle and 400 horses.
In 1888, after settlers began coming into the area, the Dominion Company sold the Box T to a man named Dameron, who hired Patrick Doyle as range manager. Doyle purchased an interest in the ranch the following year and brought his bride, Harriet, back from his native Canada. By 1900 the Doyles had purchased the remainder of the Box T; they continued to run it on a reduced scale. Their most famous cowhand was George Sennitt, who became legendary for his wild shenanigans. A favorite story with the Doyles' three sons was that Sennitt once challenged Will Rogers, who was working for Perry Ewing's Little Rob Ranch in Oklahoma, to a horse race in Higgins. Bets were quickly made and exchanged among cowboys and townspeople; Rogers won the race by a head. Later, Rogers immortalized Sennitt as the "Irish Lad" in his newspaper columns and radio broadcasts.
After her husband's death, Harriet Doyle married John A. May, who managed the ranch until 1940, when he was killed in an accident in Amarillo. Her sons, Frank and Robert Doyle, then took over management of the Box T. In 1955 Vester L. Smith and Willis Price bought most of the ranch, and Smith became the manager. In 1986 the Doyle family still owned a share of the Box T, the only pioneer ranch extant in Lipscomb County.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gus L. Ford, ed., Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas: Cockrell, 1936). Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). A History of Lipscomb County, Texas, 1876–1976 (Lipscomb, Texas: Lipscomb County Historical Survey Committee, 1976).
H. Allen Anderson
The Cochrane Cattle Company, of which Hon. Mr. Cochrane, of the
Hill Hurst Farm, Compton, is the president, owns very extensive grass
lands near the Rocky Mountains in the British Northwest, where the
company is breeding and grazing large numbers of cattle. With these
herds the managers are now using Polled Angus and Hereford bulls to
produce the best crosses with the native stock, and grades of Shorthorn
and native parentage, which constitute the base of the herds. Expe-
rience has established it as a fact, they think, that the grade cattle produced by this crossing of the Aberdeeus and Herefords with the rank
and file of the herds, endure the rigors of the climate better and fatten
more easily than any grades that they have been heretofore able to secure. The Dominion Cattle Company now has a lease from the Cherokee Indians of 284,000 acres of pasture lands, and also of a large body of
land near the former in the Pan Handle of Texas. Upon these lands the
company has located forty thousand head of cattle, mostly grades of
native Texas and Shorthorn parentage, and not a few of them the children of second crossings of these grades with Shorthorn sires. The managers say that this continued crossing of grades of Shorthorn and Texan
extraction with Shorthorns produces coarseness and legginess to an extent that renders the cattle harder to fatten and slower to mature. That,
in short, the third or fourth generations produced by that kind of cross
ing will now become sufficiently fat for butcher's use upon grass alone,
and that herdsmen who have followed that line of crossing persistently
are now only able to sell cattle to the feeders. To correct this tendency
Polled Angus and Hereford bulls have been introduced, and the results
in the herds of the Dominion Cattle Company give promise of being
The methods of this company are perhaps worthy of a short digression from the main subject in hand. It occupies a breeding farm of 7,000
acres, near Emporia, Kans., which is used not only to breed the best
lines of pure blooded cattle, but also to thoroughly acclimate imported
stock before it is sent forward to the herds. To this farm the thoroughbred stock from Cookshire and other Canadian breeding establishments,
and the imported cattle from Scotland and England, after coming from
the ninety days' quarantine at Point Levi, are sent in the autumn, and
remaining there over winter, are supplied to the herds in the spring.
Thus an effectual quarantine of seven to eight months is provided
against the possibility of sending diseased animals to the herds. For
first crosses with native cattle in the West and South nothing is superior to the Shorthorns. But for additional crosses the hardihood, compactness, and been'ness of the Aberdeens and Herefords greatly commend
them. Another point in their favor is that they are what herdsmen
call " good rustlers;" that is to say that they are active feeders and will
find the grasses and assimilate them with a readiness that makes them
superior for grazing cattle to most other breeds.
The growing favor with which these cattle are received by breeders
in the United States indicates that they regard them much in the same
light in which they are looked upon by the Canadian breeders. Sales
were made during the past fall from two eastern township herds. One
by Mr. Cochrane, in Chicago, from the Hill Hurst Farm herd, of sixty
Polled Angus bulls and heifers, all of which brought prices that appear
almost extravagant, and the other by W. B. Ives from the Cookshire
herd. This latter took place in Kansas City, Mo., where forty Polled Angus bulls and heifers were sold at prices which averaged $540 each.