Carson County Biographies -- 3
KEY-NO RANCH -
1881 - D. C. Cantwell
The Key-No (Keno) Ranch was started in 1881 by D. C. Cantwell, who obtained choice grazing land on White Deer Creek in Hutchinson and Carson counties and registered his peculiar brand at Mobeetie, in Wheeler County, on June 18, 1881. By September 1882 he had an estimated 1,300 cattle, including sixteen imported shorthorns. For his headquarters he built a three-room house of cottonwood logs, complete with chimneys and a dirt roof. It was located on White Deer Creek about twenty-two miles west of the site of present Pampa. In September 1882 B. B. Groom, acting on behalf of the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company, bought Cantwell's holdings and added them to his own.
The purchase included
"all the corn, millet, hay, plows, mowing machines,
rake and harrow, ranch and house fixtures." Although
the cattle became a part of the Diamond F range, the
Francklyn company reportedly continued to use the Key-No
brand for this herd as long as the syndicate was in
operation. In a letter Groom wrote, "I like
[Cantwell's] cattle.... They are exactly where we want
them at home on our range ready to become the nucleus
around which to build our herd." Groom's son,
Harrison, and daughter-in-law occupied the Cantwell cabin
until they could build more suitable quarters. The
Key-No's White Deer pasture thus became the nucleus of
the Diamond F. The Key-No brand ceased to be used after
the syndicate was reorganized as White Deer Lands in
The N Bar N Ranch was established in 1886 by William F. and Frederick W. Niedringhaus. During the 1850s the Niedringhaus family had immigrated to St. Louis from Westphalia and established a hardware store and tin factory. Soon they accumulated a fortune after discovering a unique process for making enameled kitchenware. Graniteware, as this product was called, caught on rapidly, and the brothers founded the Granite City Steel Company in Illinois. The Niedringhaus brothers invested part of their fortune in the "beef bonanza" and were among those utilizing state grasslands in Northwest Texas as free grazing lands.
When the newly reorganized White Deer Lands Trust offered 650,000 acres for lease, the Niedringhaus brothers contracted for the land in Carson and neighboring counties for their Home Land and Cattle Company of St. Louis, and operated it under the N Bar N brand in connection with their main holdings in Montana. J. L. Harrison was hired to manage these Panhandle leases and moved his headquarters from near Clayton, New Mexico, to Carson County, Texas, where he operated from a ranchhouse near the site of White Deer built in 1887.
A wooden frame house in
Panhandle City, built of lumber hauled in by oxcart from
Dodge City, was also used as a headquarters by the N Bar
N. Henry L. Niedringhaus made frequent trips to Texas to
look after his brothers' interests. In the 1890s the
Niedringhaus cattle were among the large herds ordered
off the range when the reorganized White Deer Lands
decided to sell. With ranch manager Harrison in charge
and T. L. (Tom) Coffee as drover, N Bar N personnel moved
25,000 head in 1892 and 40,000 head in 1893, in the last
big cattle drives north from Texas. It took five months
to make the drives to their Wolf Creek, Montana, range.
After crossing the Canadian River at Adobe Walls, they
received news of the quarantine in Kansas that compelled
them to skirt that state. The herds were divided into
groups of 2,500, each with ten cowboys.
Orville Howell (Bull, Judge) Nelson, cattleman, was born on October 9, 1850, in Lebanon, Ohio. His father died when Orville was six, and the boy attended the public schools of Lebanon and Southwest Normal School. In March 1868 Nelson left Ohio and settled at Burlingame, Kansas, where he tried his hand at farming, handled livestock, and worked as a clerk in a hardware store. In 1870 he married Flora Lord; three sons and three daughters were born to them. Nelson put a carload of scrub Texas steers, which he had bought, on his farm in the late 1870s but lost most of them to severe northers.
Afterward he concentrated his efforts on developing high-quality stock. In 1877 he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, W. H. (Hank) Lord, to deal in livestock. Two years later they joined the brothers L. E. (Lue), H. C., and John A. Finch, who likewise dealt in livestock and general merchandise. The new firm of Finch, Lord, and Nelson, based in Burlingame, turned its attention to the Texas cattle trade, and in 1879 Nelson made his first journey to the Panhandle over the old buffalo trails from Dodge City.
He bought several
thousand steers for the firm from Thomas S. Bugbee,
Robert Moody, Henry W. Cresswell,q W. E. Anderson, and
others. This venture proved profitable, and as both agent
and independent operator, Nelson confined his activities
to this area. His ability to spot and pick out the best
cattle in a herd became legendary. In the next fifteen
years Finch, Lord, and Nelson moved thousands of
high-grade Durham and Hereford cattle into the Panhandle.
They took out calves and yearlings for Kansas pastures,
the Corn Belt, and much of the East Coast.
In the fall of 1886
Nelson sold his shares to Bugbee and, as the agent of his
firm, started his Bar 96 bull ranch in the northeast
corner of the Shoe Bar. The registered Herefords he
raised there earned him the sobriquet "Bull"
Nelson; it was estimated that in seven years he sold
10,000 bulls. He left this enterprise in 1889 to devote
full time to a new firm, the Finch, Lord, and Nelson
Townsite Company, formed to start townsites ahead of the
Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway. Under his leadership, the
company platted Higgins, Canadian, Miami, and Panhandle
City. Nelson was elected the first county judge of Carson
James Christopher Paul, Panhandle banker, son of James M. and Susan (Kiger) Paul, was born on September 19, 1852, in Fairfield, Rockbridge County, Virginia. He attended Illinois State Normal University at Bloomington and became a teacher at Waynesboro, Iowa, and at Nunda, Illinois, where on September 1, 1886, he married a student, Nina Darby. They moved to Wichita, Kansas, which was then experiencing a boom, and Paul engaged in the real estate and insurance businesses. The boom in Wichita collapsed, however, and in January 1888 Paul moved to the frontier town of Panhandle City, Texas.
Panhandle City (now
Panhandle) was the new terminus of the Southern Kansas
(Santa Fe) Railway, which was intended to build onward
through New Mexico. At the same time the Fort Worth and
Denver City Railway was proposing to intersect the
Southern Kansas at Panhandle City. The prospect of these
rail connections, in Paul's words, "gave to Carson
County a greater prominence than any other Panhandle
county then enjoyed." Paul arrived in the small town
as treasurer of the Southern Kansas. He held this
position for the next twenty years, moving with the rail
headquarters to Amarillo in 1900.
He and his son Howard
organized the Paul Bank in Slaton in 1911. In 1917 they
had it chartered as the First State Bank of Slaton and
then sold it to other investors. Father and son purchased
an interest in the Guaranty State Bank in Amarillo in
1919. They soon acquired a controlling interest in this
bank, which the Paul family maintained until the 1970s.
Meanwhile the bank itself evolved into the American State
Bank and then the American National Bank. Paul was also
one of the organizers of the First National Bank of
Panhandle, which opened in 1926 in response to an oil
boom in Carson and Hutchinson counties. The Panhandle
Bank closed in 1942 and merged with the First National.