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Donley County Biographies

MADDEN, SQUIRE H. (1860-1927)
EVANS, JOHN F. (1849-1935)
ROWE, ALFRED (1853-1912)
ATEN, CALVIN GRANT (1868-1939)


Leigh Richmond Dyer, Panhandle pioneer and rancher, one of eight children of Henry Joel and Suzan (Miller) Dyer, was born in Dyersburg, Tennessee, in 1849. His father, former attorney general for the West District of Tennessee, moved his family in 1854 to Fort Belknap, Texas, and later to Fort Worth, where the elder Dyer resumed his law practice.

After the death of both his parents in the mid-1860s, Leigh Dyer and his remaining two brothers were left in the care of their only sister, Molly, who taught school at Weatherford. Dyer began working as a drover for Charles Goodnight in 1867 and made several drives over the Goodnight-Loving Trail to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and beyond.

In the fall of 1875, when Goodnight began moving his herd from Colorado to Palo Duro Canyon, Dyer and his brothers Sam and Walter were among the drovers. When winter came, Goodnight left Dyer in charge of the herd. The following year the Dyers helped Goodnight and John George Adair establish the JA Ranch. In 1877 Leigh and Walter Dyer, in partnership with Samuel Coleman, filed on a 320-acre tract in Randall County near the site of present Canyon.

Here the Dyers developed a quality herd of shorthorn cows, which they crossbred with registered bulls from the JA. Their brand was DY. In 1878 the Dyer ranch was sold to Jot Gunter, William B. Munson, and John S. Summerfield,q as part of a vast spread they had bought. Dyer was hired as range boss by the GMS (later the T Anchor Ranch). Later, Dyer and L. C. Coleman established what became the Shoe Bar Ranch on the Red River in Hall County.

When Dodge City opened as a cattle market, Dyer trailed the first JA herd there. When Donley County was organized in 1882, he was designated a commissioner. He was also active in the Panhandle Stock Association. After Goodnight bought the Quitaque (Lazy F) Ranch, Dyer was appointed its manager. In 1883 he married Willimena Cantelou of Weatherford.

A few years later he turned the management of the Quitaque over to Walter and established his own ranch on Mulberry Creek in Armstrong County. Dyer was known as a superb and humane breeder of horses. In the 1890s he and his wife sold the Mulberry Creek Ranch and, with Molly Goodnight, purchased several tracts west of the Goodnight community. The Dyers had two children.

Dyer died on May 4, 1902, at his home near Goodnight and was buried at Goodnight. A log ranchhouse that he and his brother Walter built in 1877, later the T Anchor headquarters, is now on the grounds of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. It is the oldest extant in the Panhandle.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949). C. Boone McClure, "A Review of the T Anchor Ranch," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 3 (1930). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).

H. Allen Anderson


Squire H. Madden, attorney, son of William Madden, was born on October 3, 1860, on the family farm near Knoxville, Tennessee. He had little formal schooling but educated himself and in June 1884 graduated from Carson (later Carson-Newman) College.

Shortly afterward he moved to Texas and taught school for a year at Pilot Point before reading law in the office of Alvin C. Owsley at Denton. There he was admitted to the bar on July 22, 1887. Soon afterward, Madden moved west to the new railroad town of Panhandle City in Carson County and opened a law office, which he shared with Orville H. Nelson.

A few months later, however, he moved to Clarendon, in Donley County, and formed a partnership with James N. Browning. Appointed attorney of the Thirty-first Judicial District, Madden was among those presiding at the opening session of the first district court at Amarillo in June 1888. In 1891 he represented the Wisner interests in the celebrated lawsuit over ownership of Block 88 in Amarillo. In Clarendon he married Orie Hendrix, and they had a son and two daughters.

In January 1894 the Browning and Madden law firm moved its offices to Amarillo. Two years later J. J. Hagerman's Pecos and Northern Texas Railway began construction of its line, which was slated to extend from Roswell, New Mexico, into the Texas Panhandle and connect with the Southern Kansas line at Washburn, in Armstrong County.

After learning of that proposition a group of Amarillo citizens led by Henry B. Sanborn sent Madden to Chicago to persuade the Santa Fe railroad officials to reroute the line through Amarillo. The success of that mission ensured Amarillo's future as the "Queen City" of the Panhandle.

Madden subsequently became attorney for the Southern Kansas (later Panhandle and Santa Fe) Railway, and during his career Charles Goodnight, Robert B. Masterson, Lee Bivins,q and many other prominent area cattlemen were numbered among his clients, as were several corporations, including the Rock Island line after it built through Amarillo in 1902.

In 1906, after Browning became district judge, Madden formed a new partnership with Otis Trulove. Other attorneys who were partners in the firm at one time or another over the next seventeen years were W. H. Kimbrough, F. M. Ryburn, and H. C. Pipkin. By 1924, after Trulove retired, the firm had been reorganized as Madden, Adkins, and Pipkin.

Madden was one of the original stockholders of the American State Bank, the Panhandle Pipeline Company, and the Amarillo Gas Company. Over the years members of his family accumulated substantial property and were heavily involved in community affairs, including a tree-planting project in Ellwood Park.

In 1923 Madden suffered a nervous breakdown that affected his general health and prompted occasional visits to a sanitarium in San Diego, California. There, on January 7, 1927, he died suddenly from a heart attack. His body was brought back to Amarillo for interment in Llano Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, January 8, 1927. Amarillo Sunday News-Globe, August 23, 1987. J. R. Hollingsworth, "Trail and Travail of an Editor, or `I'll Do Anything for Block'," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 48 (1975). Della Tyler Key, In the Cattle Country: History of Potter County, 1887-1966 (Amarillo: Tyler-Berkley, 1961; 2d ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1972).

H. Allen Anderson


Cornelia Wadsworth Adair, diarist and rancher, the second of the six children of Gen. James Samuel and Mary Craig (Wharton) Wadsworth, was born on April 6, 1837, in Philadelphia. She spent her early years at Hartford House, her father's country estate near Geneseo, New York.

In 1855 the family left for a two-year sojourn in France and England. Soon after their return in 1857 Cornelia married Montgomery Ritchie, a grandson of Harrison Otis of Boston. Two sons were born to them. Her father and her husband died in 1864. The widowed Cornelia took her two small sons to Paris, where the older son died a few years later.

In 1867, while attending a ball in New York City given in honor of Congressman J. C. Hughes, Cornelia Ritchie met broker John G. Adair of Ireland. They were married in 1869 and afterward divided their time between America and their estates in England and Ireland.

In the fall of 1874 they left Ireland to see the American West and to experience a buffalo hunt along the South Platte River in Nebraska and northeastern Colorado. Her brother had served as an aide to Philip H. Sheridan, and Cornelia Adair probably used the general's influence to obtain a military escort under Col. Richard Irving Dodge to accompany the party, which departed from Sydney Barracks in Nebraska Territory.

She kept a detailed diary of the two-month journey, which included attending a council of cavalry officers and Oglala Sioux, near the South Platte. In 1918 she had it published.

In the summer of 1877, when her husband and Charles Goodnight formed a partnership to found the JA Ranch, Cornelia accompanied the party from Pueblo, Colorado, to the new ranch headquarters Goodnight had established in Armstrong County, Texas.

Because the Adairs lived at the ranch only sporadically, Goodnight became its manager and, under orders from Cornelia Adair, paid high salaries for experienced, law-abiding ranchhands. After Adair died in 1885, Cornelia became Goodnight's partner. In 1887 she traded a second ranch for his one-third interest in the JA, a share that comprised 336,000 acres, 48,000 cattle, assorted mules, horses, and equipment, and rights to the JA brand.

Although she was a naturalized British subject and spent most of her time in Ireland, Cornelia Adair also maintained a home in Clarendon and contributed generously to various civic projects in the vicinity of the JA Ranch, which by 1917 covered half a million acres.

She provided funds to build the Adair Hospital and the first YMCA building in Clarendon and strongly supported that community's Episcopal church. She also vigorously promoted the Boy Scout movement since she knew Lord Baden-Powell and many other of its British organizers.

She died on September 22, 1921, and was buried next to her husband in Ireland. In 1984 the Adairs' Glenveagh Castle, which sheltered Belgian refugees during World War I, became an Irish national park.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cornelia Adair, My Diary: August 30 to November 5, 1874 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965). Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876-1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). Harley True Burton, A History of the JA Ranch (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1928; rpt., New York: Argonaut, 1966). J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949).

Nancy Baker Jones


John F. (Spade) Evans, pioneer cattleman, was born on May 1, 1849, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. About 1860 he moved with his family to Jefferson, in Marion County, Texas, and later to Parker County. After his father's death in 1861, John quit school and went to work to help support his family.

He soon became one of the free-range cowmen of the Northwest Texas frontier. After the Civil War he ran a supply store at Palo Pinto and later traveled for a saddlery house in St. Louis, Missouri. He became associated with such cattlemen as Charles Goodnight and William S. Ikard.q In 1872 Evans marketed his first herd at Wichita, Kansas.

In the 1870s he formed a corporation known as J. F. Evans and Company with Judson P. Warner, Joseph Glidden's co-agent for the sale of barbed wire in Texas. In the summer of 1880 they purchased twenty-three sections of land in Donley County from J. A. Reynolds.

They then gathered a herd of cattle in Lamar County and moved them west to the Panhandle, along with necessary supplies. At the suggestion of a friend, Dave Cummings, Evans adopted a Spade brand in 1883 and was known thereafter by the nickname Spade.

He erected a dugout on Glenwood Creek, but later built a log house on nearby Barton Creek, which he designated as permanent headquarters for his Spade Ranch. Although Evans had his business offices at Clarendon during the 1880s, his wife, Elizabeth (Lizzie), and four children remained at the family home in Sherman throughout the winter months and went out to Clarendon and the ranch during the summer.

Furthermore, other business interests downstate took up much of his time, prompting Evans to turn the Spade operations over to resident managers.

Evans helped organize and write the bylaws for the Panhandle Stock Association in 1881 and served as its first president for two years. He also chaired that organization's Protective and Detective Committee, composed of Hank Cresswell, Nick Eaton,q Goodnight, and Evans.

Backed by the association, the committee was a vibrant force in maintaining law and order on the Panhandle frontier. In 1881 and again in 1883 Evans attended sessions of the Texas legislature in Austin as a lobbyist for the Panhandle cattlemen's interests.

Apparently J. F. Evans and Company was affected by the droughts and blizzards of the late 1880s, for in December 1888 Evans sold his ranch and cattle to Isaac L. Ellwood, who subsequently developed the Renderbrook and Spade operations in the South Plains area.

Afterward Evans ran a hardware store in Gainesville and bought cattle and real estate. He was a partner in the Smith, Reed, and Evans firm in Clay County. He also joined the Northwest Texas Cattle Breeders' Association and served, along with C. C. Slaughter, Samuel Burk Burnett, and John N. Simpson, on its twelve-man executive committee. His influence helped bring about cooperation between the Panhandle and Northwest Texas associations.

During the 1920s Evans lived for a time in Lubbock before retiring to a farm four miles east of Altus, Oklahoma, in 1929. On January 11, 1935, he was struck by a car on the highway near his home and apparently killed instantly; a passing motorist found his body and severed leg shortly afterward.

He was buried in Altus. At the Texas Centennial celebration in Dallas in 1836, Evans was among the cattlemen portrayed in the Hall of Fame exhibition.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, January 12, 1935. Gus L. Ford, ed., Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas: Cockrell, 1936). Willie Newbury Lewis, Between Sun and Sod (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1938; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976).

H. Allen Anderson


Alfred Rowe, rancher, one of seven children of John James and Agnes (Graham) Rowe, prosperous English merchants who had business connections and a home in South America, was born on February 24, 1853, in Lima, Peru. As a young man he served two years in the family business, Graham, Rowe, and Company of Liverpool.

In 1876 he went to the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, England. Two years later he moved to the United States with a capital of 500 pounds to invest in western grasslands. He arrived in Donley County from Colorado in 1878 and spent a few months learning the cattle business from others and starting his own herd, which he purchased from James Hughes, on Glenwood Creek, a tributary of the Salt Fork of the Red River.

Rowe then established the RO Ranch on Skillet Creek through the purchase of state scrip and expanded the ranch over the next few years. He was thus one of the few foreign investors actually to settle for a time on his Texas ranch properties.

In 1882 he formed a ranching partnership with his brothers Vincent and Bernard, who had been engaged in the manufacture of chemicals in Kansas City. They helped plow a fire guard and often hunted antelope and other game. During the next few years they made several improvements on the ranch's facilities. The partnership lasted until 1898, when Alfred bought out his brothers' interests.

As a rancher Rowe became well-liked among the cowboys and stockmen for his honesty, high business principles, and genuine interest in the community. However, his habit of suddenly disappearing and reappearing puzzled many and reflected the extent of his desire to keep his affairs private.

The railroad town of Rowe, which was moved to nearby Hedley, was named for him. He also laid out the town of McLean in Wheeler County, about five miles north of his first headquarters on Skillet Creek.

In 1901, at the age of forty-seven, Rowe married Constance Ethel Kingsley, a cousin of the British author Charles Kingsley, and brought her from England to the RO. Good-natured and adept at horsemanship, Mrs. Rowe often entertained eastern guests at the new ranch headquarters near Clarendon.

Over the following decade the couple had four children, one of whom died in infancy. In 1910 Rowe moved his family permanently to England, leaving Jack Hall to manage the ranch and keep its records. However, Rowe returned at least twice a year to check up on the RO.

On one of these trips in April 1912 Rowe booked passage on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. When the ocean liner struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, Rowe, a strong swimmer, refused to enter a lifeboat until others were saved. Consequently, he died from exposure to the ice-cold water. His body was recovered and interred in Liverpool.

Five months after the Titanic disaster, his fifth child, Alfred, Jr., was born to his widow in Liverpool. The Rowe family continued to run the RO until 1917, when it was sold to W. J. Lewis.

Alfred Rowe's memory in the Panhandle is preserved by the RO Ranch and its buildings, by Rowe and Kingsley streets in McLean, and by the old Rowe Cemetery, located on ground given by Rowe to the now-extinct town.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). Willie Newbury Lewis, Between Sun and Sod (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1938; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981). J. N. Weaver, History of the Rowe Ranch (MS, Interview Files, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas, 1934).

H. Allen Anderson


Thomas Sherman Bugbee, cattleman, the third of the five children of John Brewer and Hannah (Sherman) Bugbee, was born on January 18, 1842, in Washington County, Maine. After limited schooling he left home at the age of fourteen to work on a farm and later at a sawmill.

In 1860 he secured an eighty-acre homestead in western Maine, but service in the Tenth Maine Infantry during the Civil War kept him away from home from 1861 through 1864. Since their home state was heavily affected by the postwar recession, Thomas Bugbee and his brother George made their way west, working as teamsters.

Hearing of the money to be made in the cattle market, Bugbee visited Fort Worth and formed a partnership with George Miller and M. M. Shea. In 1869 they purchased 1,200 cattle from John A. Knight for $11 a head and sold them in Idaho for $45 a head. The following year Bugbee and Shea bought 1,500 head and drove them to Colorado.

In 1871 Bugbee drove 750 steers to Rice County, Kansas, west of Abilene, where he wintered them in order to get a better price. There he met Mary Catherine (Molly) Dunn, whom he married on August 13, 1872. The newlyweds then loaded their wagon and drove the steers farther west. Near Lakin, Kansas, they built their first dugout home and spent four years building up the herd.

In the fall of 1876 the family departed for Texas. After losing half of their herd and possessions to the raging Cimarron River, the Bugbees arrived with their trail hands and 1,800 cattle at the Canadian River breaks in Hutchinson County. There they established the Quarter Circle T Ranch, the second oldest in the Panhandle, with headquarters on Bugbee Creek.

In 1882 Bugbee sold his land and cattle and moved his family, which eventually included eight children, to Kansas City, where they could live more comfortably. During the next fifteen years, operating out of Kansas City, he established cattle ranches in Texas, Kansas, and Indian Territory.

In 1883, in partnership with Orville Howell Nelson, he established the Shoe Bar Ranch in Briscoe, Hall, and Donley counties, Texas. At the same time, he formed the Word-Bugbee Cattle Company with Charles W. Word of Wichita Falls.

They grazed 26,000 steers on 250,000 acres of fenced range in the Cheyenne country of Indian Territory. Word and Bugbee were forced to sell out at a loss after President Grover Cleveland evicted all white cattlemen from the reservation grasslands in 1885.

In addition, Bugbee owned an 800-acre farm near Bonner Springs, Kansas, and, with William States, operated a 6,000-acre ranch near Dodge City. In 1886 he bought out Nelson's interest in the Shoe Bar and with another partner, L. C. Coleman, formed the Bugbee-Coleman Cattle Company.

They remained partners until Coleman's death in 1894, at which time Bugbee sold out his own interest to A. J. Snyder. Afterwards he started the 69 Ranch in Knox County with 3,500 cattle for breeding purposes.

In 1897 Bugbee moved his family from Kansas City to Clarendon, Texas, where he continued with his ranching interests and served as president of the Panhandle and Southwestern Stockmen's Association from 1900 to 1908.

He introduced maize, kafir, and many other grains and grasses to the Panhandle and also brought in some of the first harvesters and tractors. As a civic leader, Bugbee led in the founding and supporting of schools and other civilizing institutions.

He died at his home in Clarendon on October 18, 1925.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959). John Thomas Duncan, "The Settlement of Hall County," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook 18 (1942). Helen Bugbee Officer, "A Sketch of the Life of Thomas Sherman Bugbee, 1841-1925," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 5 (1932). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981). Lester Fields Sheffy, "Thomas Sherman Bugbee," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 2 (1929).

H. Allen Anderson


Calvin Grant Aten, Texas Ranger and Panhandle lawman, the third of four sons of Austin C. and Kate (Dunlap) Aten, was born on December 7, 1868, in Abingdon, Illinois. He was a younger brother of Ira Aten, in whose steps he followed as a lawman.

Cal remained on the family farm until April 1, 1888, when he enlisted in the Frontier Battalion and was assigned to his brother's Company D, then commanded by Capt. Frank Jones. He later recalled how conspicuous he felt as he walked into the ranger camp near Realitos, in Duval County, without weapons. Ira handed him a gunbelt with a six-shooter and instructions to put it on.

Aten served with distinction throughout the Rio Grande border country. His most noted escapade occurred on Christmas Day 1889, when he accompanied John R. Hughes and two others on a manhunt to Bull Head Mountain, in Edwards County. There they killed Alvin and Will Odle when the two wanted rustlers resisted arrest. Pressing family responsibilities caused Aten to resign from the battalion on August 31, 1890.

He returned to Round Rock, where he served for several years as a constable and sheriff and, on May 2, 1894, married Mattie Jo Kennedy. The couple later moved to the Panhandle, where Ira was section foreman for the Escarbadas Division of the XIT Ranch and head of the ranch's police force.

Cal Aten remained in the XIT's employ from 1898 to 1904 and afterward established his own farm and ranch near Lelia Lake, in Donley County, where he spent his remaining years. He died there on April 1, 1939, and was buried in the Citizens Cemetery in Clarendon.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jack Martin, Border Boss (San Antonio: Naylor, 1942). Robert W. Stephens, Texas Ranger Sketches (Dallas, 1972).

H. Allen Anderson

(information from The Handbook of Texas Online --
a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture.)