BAILEY COUNTY RANCHES





XIT RANCH

The Texas Constitution of 1876 set aside three million acres of land to erect a new State Capitol. In 1879, Texas made a contract exchanging the three million acres, including Bailey County, for the construction of the present Capitol in Austin. The three million acres eventually became part of the sprawling XIT Ranch from which the Y-L and Muleshoe Ranches of Bailey County were formed in 1902. The first recorded cattle drive took place in 1882 when Tom Lynch drove his cattle from New Mexico to Spring Lake.

The XIT ranch covered 3,050,000 acres and ran 150,000 head of cattle. The first cattle were Longhorns.

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "SNEED, JOSEPH TYRE, JR," (accessed August 6, 2005).

Originally part of the vast XIT Ranch,qv the Muleshoe Ranch was begun in 1903, when Edward K. Warren and his son Charles, owners of the Warren Featherbone Company (a manufacturer of women's corsets in Three Oaks, Michigan), bought the YL Ranch, consisting of 40,000 acres, from J. L. Clark of Tennessee for $100,000. It became part of the Muleshoe Ranch, to which the Warrens added even more former XIT acreage from the brothers W. D. and F. W. Johnson in 1907, thus doubling their holdings. Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "MULESHOE RANCHES. (accessed August 6, 2005).

 

LAST KNOWN XIT COWBOY

On Thursday, July 29, 1999, in The Laredo Times was the following article.

Ira L. Taylor, the last known living cowhand from the legendary XIT Ranch, has died at age 102. Services were held Wednesday at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Amarillo. Taylor, who was born Oct. 3, 1896, died Saturday at Olsen Manor Nursing Home of natural causes. Taylor told the Amarillo Globe-News in 1996 that he thought it was 1912 when he went to work for the 3 - million acre panhandle ranch where his father also had been a ranch hand.



YL RANCH

The XIT had its origin 1879 when the legislature set aside three million acres in Dallam, Hartley, Oldham, Deaf Smith, Parmer, Lamb, Bailey, Cochran, and Hockley counties to fund the building of the Capitol.qv In 1892 the XIT Ranch was organized with British backing; its landholdings included northern and southeastern Bailey County.

Fencing in the county was done between 1883 and 1886, and the first cattle reached the ranch in 1885.

Among the eight major divisions of the XIT, Bailey County land fell within the Spring Lake, Yellow House, and Bovina divisions.
Even after the XIT sold lands in 1901, other large ranches (The VVN the Snyder, the Bovina Cattle Company, the YL, and the Muleshoe) dominated the region.

As late as 1900 the United States census counted only four people living in Bailey County.

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "BAILEY COUNTY


 


MULESHOE RANCH

The most famous Muleshoe Ranch, however, was the one that gave its name to the town of Muleshoe in Bailey County.

Originally part of the vast XIT Ranch,qv the Muleshoe Ranch was begun in 1903, when Edward K. Warren and his son Charles, owners of the Warren Featherbone Company (a manufacturer of women's corsets in Three Oaks, Michigan), bought the YL Ranch, consisting of 40,000 acres, from J. L. Clark of Tennessee for $100,000.

It became part of the Muleshoe Ranch, to which the Warrens added even more former XIT acreage from the brothers W. D. and F. W. Johnson in 1907, thus doubling their holdings. Within the next two years the Warrens had nearly $500,000 invested in Texas land and cattle. By 1910 subsequent purchases and leases had enlarged their empire to 150,000 acres along Blackwater Draw, covering portions of Bailey, Lamb, Castro, and Parmer counties.

The headquarters for this operation was established west of the future townsite. One building, dating from the 1890s, was moved from Bovina to the headquarters and made into a combination bunkhouse and mess hall.

The origin of the Muleshoe name for this enterprise is obscure; it was said that Charles Warren, as he was pondering a name, came across an old rusty muleshoe. Even so, the Warrens for the first five years referred to the ranch as the YL; the muleshoe brand was allegedly used first by the Johnson brothers on their Borden County ranch, and after buying land from them, Warren perhaps used the muleshoe brand briefly.

However, after acquiring the 200,000-acre Ojitos Ranch in northern Mexico from Lord Beresford of England in 1910, he began applying that operation's U Bar brand to all of his herds; Beresford reportedly had designed that brand in 1889 as a warning to cow thieves (see CATTLE RUSTLING), meaning "You are barred." Nevertheless, the resemblance between the U Bar and muleshoe brands was close enough to perpetuate the latter name for the Warrens' Texas ranch—and ultimately for the new Bailey County seat.

The Muleshoe Ranch prospered when the Santa Fe's Clovis cutoff line was built through its property, increasing area land values and launching the town of Muleshoe at the site of the ranch's loading pens in 1913.

Charles Warren thus began selling tillable real estate to incoming farmers. After the death of his father in 1919, Charles and other family members incorporated their holdings as E. K. Warren and Son, with Charles as president and chief stockholder. By then he also owned the Alamo Hueco Ranch in southwestern New Mexico, as well as the Ojitos, which was subject for a few years to frequent depredations by insurgents under such revolutionaries as Ynez Salazar and Francisco (Pancho) Villa.qv

Whatever losses Warren sustained in Mexico were made up in part from the profits of the Muleshoe, which sold cattle for as much as $9.08 an animal in 1915. At one time some 10,000 head of cattle grazed the Muleshoe range. Tom Clayton managed operations there for several years, and William H. Kramer was elevated from office boy to the ranch's secretary-treasurer and unofficial manager. By 1924 the Warren corporation had reached its zenith.

After Charles Warren's death in 1932, his ranching interests were maintained and expanded by other stockholders, largely under the direction of his brother-in-law and longtime associate, George Lackey.

Charles Warren's son, E. K. Warren, assumed the company's presidency in 1940, while William Kramer served as its secretary-treasurer and acting manager. In 1944 and 1945 two more ranches—in New Mexico and Colorado—were obtained. The Ojitos properties, however, were lost, as the corporation was compelled to sell out its Mexican interests in 1947 at a third of the 1910 purchase price.

By 1954 the older Warren family members no longer retained a controlling interest in the company. The Muleshoe, along with the other remaining ranches, was sold, thus bringing to an end the once-vast Warren cattle empire.

In the late 1980s the old Muleshoe Ranch cookhouse and bunkhouse stood near Farm Road 1760 west of Muleshoe. Surrounded by farmland, the building had been designated a historic landmark and had received a Texas Historical Commission marker. Records of the Muleshoe Ranch and other Warren company interests are housed in the Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Early Bailey County History (Muleshoe, Texas, 1978). David J. Murrah, "From Corset Stays to Cattle Ranching: Charles K. Warren and the Muleshoe Ranch," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 51 (1975).

H. Allen Anderson Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "MULESHOE RANCHES. (accessed August 6, 2005).

 

Whisenant Ranch

Other Ranches in early Bailey Co included the  Whisenant Ranch where Alton Wilbanks COKER , age 20,  twin son of Joseph James COKER, noted Cooke & Montague county stockman; worked as a cowboy in 1912 .
He later became a Wholesale Gasoline Dealer in MULESHOE and PORTALES N. M.  before his retirement about 1957.  The A. W. Coker  family were active members of the  First  Baptist church .
His twin brother, Valton Coker , soon moved from Childress County TX and Harmon County OK area to set up farming operations and rear his children near Erath, Lamb  Co.  his son, Victor operates a land management company in both Lamb and Bailey Counties. The Coker Twins descendants remains  in the area. 

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Evie Crocker


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