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Hutchinson County Biographies

Source: The Handbook of Texas Online




James McEuin (Mack) Sanford, rancher and Hutchinson County pioneer, one of ten children of John Thompson and Nancy Theodocia (Hay) Sanford, was born on September 26, 1864, in Burnet County, Texas. His parents had moved to Texas from Williamson County, Tennessee, a few years before. At the age of eighteen Sanford began working as a cowboy on a trail drive from South Texas to the Canadian border; then he worked at the old Bar X Ranch in the disputed Greer County. In 1883 he went to the Panhandle and worked two years for Frank Latchman's DBL ranch, twelve miles west of Adobe Walls. Afterward, he worked for the Hansford Land and Cattle Company and for the Turkey Track Ranch for ten years. During that time Sanford hunted wolves for bounty and earned ten dollars for each pelt taken. By 1895 he had built up his own cattle herd of 100 head.

He was the first to file under the provisions of the Four-Section Act, which allowed settlers living in semiarid regions to acquire large parcels of land to make stock ranching possible. He claimed land in Carson and Hutchinson counties. He built a dugout home and ranch headquarters on the first four sections in northern Carson County. Then he expanded his operations, often on borrowed money, and purchased several tracts of former Turkey Track land after that ranch broke up. By keeping his home herd intact and shipping steers to the Kansas markets, Sanford was able to net as much as $12,000 in profits. Eventually he owned over 2,000 head and expanded his Panhandle ranch holdings to some thirty sections.

Sanford helped organize Hutchinson County in 1901. The same year he married Garland S. Whiteside, daughter of Judge J. A. Whiteside. W. H. Ingerton, the first county judge issued their marriage license, the first in the county. Sanford formed a partnership with Lee Bivins the following year and handled steers until 1906. The Sanfords had a son and a daughter.

Sanford was among the Panhandle cattlemen who profited greatly from the oil boom of the 1920s. The region's third well, the Whittington-Sanford No. 1, was spudded on his land. As a result the town of Sanford was established, in 1927. On numerous occasions Sanford led Panhandle oil operators in battles both in Austin and Washington, D.C., for improved conditions. The drought of 1930 compelled him to seek additional pasturage, and he bought 25,000 acres near Wagon Mound, New Mexico. He died on August 24, 1933, and was buried in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. His son, Harrison, took over management of the New Mexico ranch, while the properties in Carson and Hutchinson counties fell to his daughter, Effie, and her husband, Richard P. Coon. Sanford Dam, which forms Lake Meredith on the Canadian River, bears his name.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Jo Stewart Randel, ed., A Time to Purpose: A Chronicle of Carson County (4 vols., Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1966-72).

H. Allen Anderson



William (Billy) Dixon, scout, plainsman, buffalo hunter, and Indian fighter, was born in Ohio County, West Virginia, on September 25, 1850. He was orphaned at twelve and lived with his uncle Thomas Dixon in Ray County, Missouri, until the fall of 1864, when he worked in woodcutters' camps along the Missouri River until he secured employment from government freight contractors in Kansas as a bullwhacker and muleskinner. Except for a year (1866) spent working on the McCall family's farm near Leavenworth, when he obtained some formal schooling, Dixon followed this occupation until the fall of 1869.

He was a skilled marksman and occasionally scouted for eastern excursionists brought out by the railroads for buffalo hunting. In November 1869 he joined a venture in hunting and trapping on the Saline River northwest of Fort Hays. In 1870 buyers offered a dollar each for buffalo cow hides and two dollars for bull hides, and Dixon's marksmanship made hide hunting highly profitable. He invested in a road-ranch or supply store, a merchandising venture that was successful until 1871, when, during Dixon's absence, the store manager, Billy Reynolds, sold out and departed with the proceeds.

At one time Dixon probably had as many as four or five skinners in his employ. He had scouted Texas as far south as the Salt Fork of the Red River when the buffalo hunters moved into the Texas Panhandle in 1874. He and his group hunted along the Canadian River and its tributaries in the vicinity of the new Adobe Walls, the supply post established by businessmen and buffalo hunters near the South Canadian about a mile and a half from the remains of the old Adobe Walls trading post, built about 1843 by William Bent.

It was said that after the spring migrations occurred, Dixon could shoot enough buffalo to keep ten skinners busy, and he found Adobe Walls a convenient place to store his wagonloads of hides hauled in from the field. He was one of the twenty-eight men who with one woman participated in the second battle of Adobe Walls in 1874, fighting from inside James Hanrahan's saloon. The story of how he became a hero two days into the battle, when a bullet from his Sharps buffalo rifle knocked an Indian off his horse nearly a mile away, is perhaps exaggerated. Dixon himself never claimed credit for his "long shot."

Despite a partnership proposal from Hanrahan, Dixon did no more hide hunting after the battle. While he was in Dodge City early in August 1874, Gen. Nelson A. Miles enlisted his services as a scout in the detachment commanded by Lt. Frank D. Baldwin. In September the command was on McClellan Creek when Miles sent Dixon, Amos Chapman, and four enlisted men with dispatches to carry to Camp Supply. Near Gageby Creek on the second day out they encountered a large war party of Comanches and Kiowas, who surrounded them in the Buffalo Wallow Fight. Dixon was among the five survivors awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in that engagement.

He was present at the rescue of the German sisters from the Cheyennes on McClellan Creek on November 8, 1874. He was with the party that selected the site of Fort Elliott in the spring of 1875 and was attached to that post for duty when he guided the Nolan expedition in pursuit of the Comanches in August 1877. His knowledge of the country saved the command when he led the men to water at Double Lakes on the Llano Estacado.

Dixon returned to civilian life in 1883, worked on the Turkey Track Ranch, built a home near the site of the original Adobe Walls, planted an orchard and thirty acres of alfalfa that he irrigated from Bent's Creek, and became postmaster at Adobe Walls, a position he held for twenty years. In 1901 he was elected the first sheriff of the newly formed Hutchinson County but resigned in disgust at the political strife aroused in connection with the organization of the county. In addition, he served as a state land commissioner and justice of the peace for the area around Hutchinson, Gray, and Roberts counties. He and S. G. Carter operated a ranch-supply store at the house. On October 18, 1894, he married Olive King Dixon of Virginia, who for three years thereafter was the only woman living in Hutchinson County. They had seven children.

The family moved to Plemons in 1902 to provide schooling for their children. Small-town life proved irksome to the former scout, and in 1906 he went to homestead in the open spaces of Oklahoma. During his last years Dixon reportedly lived near poverty, and friends tried to obtain a pension for him. On March 9, 1913, he died of pneumonia at his Cimarron County homestead; he was buried in the cemetery at Texline by members of his Masonic lodge. On June 27, 1929, his remains were reinterred at the Adobe Walls site. Dixon Creek in southern Hutchinson County is named for him, as is the Billy Dixon Masonic Lodge in Fritch. Personal artifacts from his scouting days are housed in both the Hutchinson County Museum in Borger and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Olive K. Dixon, Life of "Billy" Dixon (1914; rev. ed., Dallas: P. L. Turner Company, 1927; facsimile of original ed., Austin: State House, 1987). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Mrs. Sam Isaacs, "Billy Dixon: Pioneer Plainsman," Frontier Times, June 1939. John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

T. C. Richardson



Olive King Dixon was born on January 30, 1873, on Bent Mountain, eighteen miles southwest of Roanoke, Virginia, the eighth of ten children of Robert Woods and Mary Jane (Blankenship) King. The family estate had been given by the king of England to Gen. Andrew Lewis, Olive's great-grandfather, for his role in Lord Dunmore's War (1774) and was thus known as the Lewis grant. When Olive was seven her father, a Civil War veteran, succumbed to an outbreak of smallpox. Olive and her sister Margaret were sent to Decatur, Alabama, to live with a cousin, Dora King Wade, and her husband Miles, who had two sons of their own. Olive remained at the Wade home and attended school in Decatur until she was sixteen, when she returned to Virginia.

In the meantime two of her brothers, Albert Richard and John Archie, had gone to the Texas Panhandle in the 1880s to work for the Seven K and Cresswell ranches.q Albert subsequently married and settled in Lipscomb County, and Archie settled in Roberts County; both were doing well as ranchers on their own. In 1893 Olive visited her brothers and spent most of her time at the home of Archie, who had married Sena Walstad on Christmas Eve, 1890, and now had an infant son, Woods. While Olive was there, James A. Whittenburg offered her the job of teaching at Garden Creek School, between Tallahone and Reynolds creeks, organized for the children of the Whittenburg and Newby families. She accepted, and soon afterward Olive met and was courted by the veteran plainsman William (Billy) Dixon.

Billy and Olive were married on October 18, 1894, at his Adobe Walls homestead on the Turkey Track Ranch. Rev. C. V. Bailey, a Methodist minister, came a hundred miles from Mobeetie to perform the ceremony. Later Olive stated that for three years after her marriage she was the only woman living in Hutchinson County. The Dixons lived at Adobe Walls until 1902, when they moved to Plemons. By then they had four children; three more were added after their move to Cimarron County, Oklahoma, in 1906. Before her husband's death on March 9, 1913, Olive carefully recorded his recollections of his younger years as a buffalo hunter and army scout. These she compiled and published as the Life of Billy Dixon, an important source of Panhandle history, in 1914. Frederick S. Barde, an Oklahoma western writer, helped her edit the manuscript.

Mrs. Dixon and her children moved briefly to Texline, then in 1915 to Canyon. They continued to farm the Cimarron County homestead until 1917, when they sold it and moved to Miami, in Roberts County. There she wrote sketches of Panhandle history for area newspapers, and several of her pieces also appeared in various magazines. In 1923 she made a memorable trip east to visit relatives and interview Gen. Nelson A. Miles and others who had known her husband and who attested to the truth of his exploits. As a charter member of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, Mrs. Dixon led the successful effort in 1924 to place historical markers at the Adobe Walls and Buffalo Wallow battle sites. In 1929 she moved to Amarillo and was hired as a part-time staff writer by the Amarillo Globe-News. She was made a salaried reporter in 1937 and was in charge of preparing the Globe-News Golden Anniversary Edition of August 14, 1938. She remained with the Amarillo newspapers until her death, on March 17, 1956. She was interred in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. Dixon heirs live throughout much of West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, March 19, 1956. Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955).

H. Allen Anderson



William Thomas Coble, rancher and oilman, was born on October 18, 1875, in Douglas County, Missouri. After his parents died, he was brought to Texas at age twelve by his grandfather, T. M. Johnson, who settled at Henrietta in Clay County. Coble earned fifteen dollars a month working as a farmhand for E. W. Grogan and over a period of five years saved $400. With this money he purchased twenty-five two-year-old steers in November 1896. He grazed them with the herd of John William Dunn on the Canadian River near Cheyenne, Oklahoma, and shipped them for $1.50 each to the Kansas City market. That venture, along with his earnings as a farmhand, netted him over $1,000.

Coble decided to stay in the cattle business and moved to the Panhandle in the spring of 1899. There he bought forty-five cattle from Charles Goodnight and ran them on a leased section ten miles north of Clarendon. After this herd doubled during the winter, Coble brought four sections of land on Moore Creek, just west of the Turkey Track Ranch in Hutchinson County. Shortly afterward he made further land purchases. On November 16, 1905, he married Maud Roberts, daughter of James R. Roberts, former foreman of S. Burk Burnett's Four Sixes Ranch.

The Cobles, the first couple to be married at Amarillo's new white frame Baptist church, established their home on North Julian Boulevard in Amarillo. They had a son who died young and a daughter, Catherine Elizabeth, who later married a grandson of James A. Whittenburg. In the meantime Coble continued supplementing his Hutchinson County holdings, and in 1916 he bought the original Turkey Track headquarters after the lease on it had expired. At that time he revived the famous Turkey Track brand. In all, he built up a vast ranching empire amounting to 105 sections of choice grazing land divided into thirty-two pastures and stocked with thousands of high-grade cattle. Later he acquired interest in several cotton farms in Hockley County.

He was also among the Panhandle ranchers who profited greatly from the oil boom of the 1920s. In 1918 the geologists Scott and Alba Heywood explored the Turkey Track lands and found that they had oil potential. Subsequently, the Coble-Heywood Oil Company was organized with $75,000 capital. Coble served as president and Scott Heywood as general manager of the syndicate, which leased 10,000 acres of Turkey Track land and was among the first to pay a dividend. Phillips Petroleum drilled thirty consecutive producing wells on Coble's properties. Coble later formed the Coble-Whittenburg Oil Company with his in-laws and let out contracts for wells in the south Hutchinson County oil pool.

Coble was a member of the First Baptist Church in Amarillo and president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association from 1934 to 1936. He was also a benefactor of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and supported that organization's museum in Canyon. In December 1938 Coble's wife died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He married Gladys Marion Martin on September 18, 1952, and moved into a house on Crockett Street in Amarillo. He died on June 13, 1958, and was buried in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. His Turkey Track Ranch became part of the Whittenburg family's ranching empire.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], The Early Days of the Oil Industry in the Texas Panhandle, 1919-1929 (Borger, Texas: Hess, 1973).

H. Allen Anderson



James Andrew Whittenburg, cattleman, the son of George and Sarah (Jarvis) Whittenburg, was born on May 7, 1857, in Chillicothe, Missouri. After the Civil War Whittenburg's imagination was fired by reports of the cattle trade, and at the age of twelve he devised plans to join his older brothers in Texas. When his mother sent him out for wood one morning, he caught a freight train that took him as far as the Indian Territory. After selling various trinkets for meals, lodging, and passage on the Red River ferry to Texas, he spent the next five years working with his brothers on Ben Slaughter's ranch in Parker County. In four years he had his own herd of twenty head.

When he arrived back at his home at age seventeen, he walked in the door carrying a load of wood. After attending school for a year, he returned to Texas and went to work for John Proffitt at Fort Belknap, in Young County. During the next four years Whittenburg made several drives over the Western Trail to Dodge City; on one drive he suffered from heatstroke, which affected his eyes and left him almost blind for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, by 1878 Whittenburg owned over 100 cattle. At that time he filed on eighty acres of land in Young County. There he met Tennessee Ann (Tennie) Parham, whom he married on July 3, 1879. They had three children, one of whom died in infancy.

The Whittenburgs lived and ran their cattle for a time in Lamar County. However, a severe drought compelled them to parlay their holdings into a larger spread in Wilbarger County. After purchasing a wagon and team, the couple peddled groceries and supplies, bought at Doan's Crossing, to the Comanches and other tribes in western Oklahoma. They soon won a reputation among the Indians as shrewd traders, and husband and wife took turns standing, shotgun in hand, on night guard over the team and supplies. During one venture the Comanche chief Big Bow became impressed with their son George's blond hair and offered from seventy-five to a hundred horses for the boy, promising to make him a chief.

In 1887 Whittenburg filed claim on land in Roberts County near Miami. Here he carried the mail from Miami to the Adobe Walls post office, then run by William (Billy) Dixon. George became one of Olive King Dixon's five pupils at Garden Creek School. Whittenburg was instrumental in the organization of Roberts County and served as a commissioner. When Oklahoma was opened for settlement in 1889, he grazed cattle in Kay County and for four years carried mail on a star route.

Whittenburg continued his operations in Oklahoma until 1898, when he filed on four sections of land in the center of Hutchinson County. Panhandle, in Carson County, was the family's banking and supply center until 1901, when the townsite of Plemons was platted on land donated from the Whittenburg homestead section. Because of his father's failing eyesight, George took charge of the physical labor and growing management responsibilities of the Whittenburgs' MM Ranch, which accumulated 25,000 acres and over 3,000 cattle by 1920.

In 1924 oil was discovered on the Whittenburg holdings. After the death of his wife in 1927, Whittenburg moved to Amarillo and rented rooms at the Amarillo Hotel. On October 19, 1936, Whittenburg died of injuries he received when the car in which he was riding collided with a freight train in Amarillo. He was buried in the Dreamland Cemetery in Canyon. The family's MM Cattle Company, headed by Roy Robert Whittenburg, still operated the ranch in Hutchinson County in 1986. One of his grandsons, S. B. Whittenburg, founded the Amarillo Times, which he merged with the Globe-News after buying an interest in the company in 1951.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, October 20, 1936. Garland H. Bell, "Willis P. Hedgecoke," in Amarillo Genealogical Society, Texas Panhandle Forefathers, comp. Barbara C. Spray (Dallas: National ShareGraphics, 1983). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). John L. McCarty, Adobe Walls Bride (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Thomas Thompson, North of Palo Duro (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1984). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

H. Allen Anderson



Albert Sidney (Sid) Stinnett, West Texas developer, was born on a farm near Belton, Texas, in 1863 and named for Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. He grew up in the turbulent Reconstruction era and married Cornelia M. Cobb, daughter of Maj. Robert Cobb, a Confederate Army officer. The couple had three children. In 1905 Stinnett moved his family from Fort Worth to Amarillo, where he became the first in the Panhandle-Plains area to engage in the cottonseed oil and cake business and later operated a seed and grain distributing agency. He allied himself with area cattlemen and farmers in their battle for lower freight rates and better rail service. After enlisting support throughout the region Stinnett carried the farmers' and ranchers' demands to the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, D.C., where he was successful in obtaining favorable rates and other concessions, particularly for the area beef-cattle industry.

As a leading Panhandle booster Stinnett served as industrial manager of the Amarillo Board of City Development and in June 1919 was elected president of the Panhandle-Plains Chamber of Commerce, which he had helped organize; by that time the chamber represented thirty-one counties. In November 1920 he persuaded voters to approve a bond issue supporting a proposed new city library and auditorium. He likewise envisioned a railroad line connecting Amarillo with the northern plains states. He sold his grain business in 1923 and spent the next two years researching and persuading the Rock Island Railway officials in Chicago to approve such a project.

After securing the permit and right-of-way in 1925, Stinnett personally financed the first three months of construction on the new Rock Island branch line from Amarillo to Liberal, Kansas. Then, at the suggestion of Lee Bivins, the city of Amarillo started a department to handle the financing through the Board of City Development. In Hutchinson County Stinnett and a partner, Joseph Williams, platted a townsite on a 960-acre tract just north of the Canadian River breaks, formerly owned by rancher W. A. Starnes. In 1926, with the Rock Island officials and several others, the partners began selling lots and attracting people to the new town, which was named after Stinnett and shortly afterward became the new Hutchinson county seat. For the next three years Stinnett was active in promoting other townsites on the new Rock Island branch lines, including Sunray in Moore County.

Stinnett simultaneously worked toward the fulfillment of the Canadian River Project, which called for the construction of a dam on the upper Canadian in eastern New Mexico. As a member of the Arkansas River Basin Commission, he felt that such a dam would greatly benefit the High Plains area. With the backing of Vincent Jones, a civil engineer responsible for the building of several reservoirs in New Mexico, Stinnett presented his case before the president and other federal officials in Washington with favorable results. After a preliminary study in January 1924 construction on the Conchas Dam, near Tucumcari, New Mexico, was approved.

In addition Stinnett pushed for construction of a short-cut highway from Amarillo across Hutchinson County, complete with a combination rail and highway bridge across the Canadian at Sanford, to connect the North and South Plains. He also considered the possibility of using natural gas to generate electricity and produce a sufficient water flow from the South Plains shallow-water belt for irrigation purposes. Stinnett was plagued with failing health during his last year. He fell seriously ill and died at his Amarillo home on January 5, 1935. He was interred in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. The Conchas Dam was completed a few months later.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Daily News, January 6, 1935. Amarillo Genealogical Society, Texas Panhandle Forefathers, comp. Barbara C. Spray (Dallas: National ShareGraphics, 1983).

H. Allen Anderson



Asa Phillip (Ace) Borger, town builder, was born to Phillip and Minnie Ann (West) Borger on April 12, 1888, on the family farm near Carthage, Missouri. His father, a veterinarian, died when Ace was six, and the Borger children were raised by their mother and two grandmothers. Borger attended school in Carthage and graduated from business college. Around 1907 he married a classmate, Elizabeth Willoughby. The couple spent their first years in a rented farmhouse near Carthage, where Borger opened a lumberyard; they had three children.

Borger began his career as a town promoter when World War I broke out in Europe. In 1915 he and his younger brother Lester Andrew (Pete) sold real estate in the mining town of Picher, Oklahoma, in the center of valuable lead and zinc deposits. Much lead was produced from Picher for the war effort. In 1917 the Borgers, in company with the noted wildcatter Tom Slick, laid out the oil town of Slick near Bristow, Oklahoma. At each town the Borgers and their associates built hotels, filling stations, and lumberyards, sold real estate, and pushed for the building of railroad lines to the sites. In 1922 they successfully launched Cromwell, Oklahoma, as a boomtown. Though Borger and his family maintained a home for a time in each of these towns, he continued to use Carthage as his main base.

Borger became interested in the discovery of the Panhandle oilfield. Early in 1926, after personally checking out the reports, he purchased 240 acres from rancher John Frank Weatherly at fifty dollars an acre. He next obtained a grant from Texas secretary of state Emma Grigsby Meharg to organize the Borger Townsite Company, with capital stock of $10,000 divided into 100 shares of $100 each. In addition to Borger himself, the company's stockholders included C. C. Horton of the Gulf Oil Company and John R. Miller, an old friend from Oklahoma boom days who became the new town's first mayor. The company proceeded to lay out the town and opened the sale of lots on March 8, 1926. By the end of that first day, it had grossed between $60,000 and $100,000, and after six months Borger sold out completely, for more than a million dollars.

He established a lumberyard in the town named for him and opened its first bank. Often he took out full-page ads in area papers promoting settlement in Borger and other oil-rich sites throughout West Texas and eastern New Mexico in which he had bought an interest. He also owned a string of Panhandle wheat elevators and 19,000 acres of farmland in Hansford County. In 1927 Ace and Pete Borger, in association with Albert S. Stinnett, established the towns of Stinnett and Gruver and were influential in making Stinnett the Hutchinson county seat. In 1929 Borger built a spacious two-story family home, the first brick residence in Borger. From the start he had set aside building sites for churches and schools. His wife, Elizabeth, became active in community affairs; her love for beauty and culture was reflected in the antiques with which she decorated their home. Visiting dignitaries were lavishly entertained there.

Borger's overt generosity with friends and acquaintances caused hard feelings among certain of the town's populace, however, particularly Arthur Huey, the Hutchinson county treasurer. Huey's dislike for Borger intensified after the Borger State Bank, which Borger had established in June 1930 with himself as president and his son Phillip as vice president, failed, causing a minor panic among local businessmen and small depositors. The elder Borger was later convicted of receiving deposits in the insolvent bank and assessed a two-year prison term, a judgment that he appealed. Meanwhile, Huey was jailed for embezzlement and reportedly asked Borger to help bail him out.

When Borger refused, Huey made threats against his life. On August 31, 1934, Borger was getting his mail at the city post office when, according to witnesses, Huey walked in with a Colt .45, shouted obscenities, and shot him five times. Huey then took Borger's own .44 and fired four more shots with it. Lloyd Duncan, farm boss for the Magnolia Petroleum Company, was severely wounded by the shots and died five days later. At his trial, which was held in Canadian, Huey claimed that he had shot in self-defense, arguing that Borger was gunning for him. The jury believed him and acquitted him. Three years later, however, he was sent to the state penitentiary for theft of county funds. Funeral services for Ace Borger were held in Borger, and his body was shipped back to Missouri for burial in the family plot at Carthage.

Borger's sons, Phillip and Jack, left the area soon after their father's death. However, their sister, Helen, remained and occupied the brick house with her husband, Fritz Thompson. Ace Borger's dream house, now a Texas historical landmark, has remained a family treasure.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Jerry Sinise, Black Gold and Red Lights (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982).

H. Allen Anderson



Cornelius Taylor (Neal) Herring, rancher and businessman, one of eight children of Jesse and Sarah (Friend) Herring, was born on November 13, 1849, in Grayson County, Texas. He was devoted to his mother and was devastated by her death when he was about ten years old. His father remarried, but the boy apparently disliked his stepmother and went to live with a neighbor. His father enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 and served with honor throughout the Civil War.

At the age of thirteen, Neal, who never worked for hire, began farming near Hillsboro, in Hill County, and started buying, selling, and trading cattle. Within two years he had acquired 100 head. After the war he and his younger brother, Emerson, formed a partnership, bought cattle in Navarro County, drove them to Shreveport, Louisiana, and shipped them to market in New Orleans. On one of these drives through Smith County, the Herrings met Richard Lawrence, who had two daughters. On February 23, 1869, Neal married Sarah Jane Lawrence at her hometown, Starrville; Emerson married her sister a short time later. In 1872 the brothers purchased two farms totaling 500 acres in Smith County. There C. T. and Sarah Herring spent their first years. They had two children.

As early as 1878 "Colonel" Herring (an honorary title given him by boyhood friends) began running cattle in Archer County, where he reportedly introduced his Chain C brand. Though he had established his reputation as a cowman and entrepreneur throughout central and eastern Texas, he felt that better opportunities lay in the West. He made Fort Worth a center for his operations in the early 1880s and leased rangeland from the Comanche and Kiowa tribes in the Indian Territory. At about the same time he secured contracts to build portions of both the Texas and Pacific and the Cotton Belt railroads. By 1884 Herring owned about 3,000 steers that grazed north of the Red River. In 1887 he and a partner, Bill Stinson, began using the Chain C brand on their herd of about 12,000 longhorns grazing on 150,000 acres in the disputed Greer County. Their headquarters was south of Navajo Mountain. Among the cowboys working the ranch were Allen Stagg, Herring's brother Emerson, who ran his own herd, and their half-brothers Bud and Dick Herring.

Sarah Jane Herring apparently never shared her husband's ambitions and would not leave her mother and family. Their marriage ended in 1888, and she subsequently "took to her bed" for nearly two decades. On September 23, 1889, Herring married Elizabeth (Birdie) Smithey of Fort Worth. Shortly afterward they moved to Vernon in Wilbarger County. They had no children. There Herring cemented his friendship with Quanah Parker, who became so impressed with Birdie's cooking that he reportedly once offered Herring twelve Indian ponies for her. When his cattle began disappearing on a regular basis, Herring made the Comanche chief a partner and the losses were stopped.

In the summer of 1890 Herring was driving a herd across the Red River at Doan's Crossing during a thunderstorm when lightning knocked him from his horse. Though his felt-lined hat saved his life, he was ill for several months and was temporarily paralyzed. By 1894 Herring had 20,000 cattle and was leasing 175,000 acres in Oklahoma. In 1895 he opened the C. T. Herring Banking Company in Vernon and became its first president. He also built the Wilbarger Hotel in Vernon and owned thirteen lumber companies throughout North Texas. By the late 1890s he and his son Will were ranging cattle all the way from the New Mexico border to the Red Box Ranch near Emporia, Kansas.

Herring's interest in the Panhandle began in 1904, when he purchased the Seven-Up Ranch in Castro County from L. D. Green. He operated this spread for about twenty years as the Flagg Ranch before dividing it into farm tracts in 1925. In 1907 Herring and his son bought 100,000 acres of the L S Ranch in Oldham County near Tascosa and stocked it with 10,000 Herefords. He moved to Amarillo at that time and two years later built a three-story mansion in a wheat field south of downtown Amarillo. The seventeen-room home featured pillars and a balcony and contained imported chandeliers, rugs, tapestries, marble fireplaces, oak woodwork, and a parquet floor.

An eastern artist was commissioned to paint frescoes in the interior of the house, a summerhouse was constructed on the back lawn, and the grounds were formally landscaped. From this showplace Herring proceeded to expand his cattle operations. In 1915 he purchased the Kit Carson Ranch on Big Creek, so named because the famous scout Christopher H. Carson had reportedly camped there during a buffalo hunt in Hutchinson County. Other holdings included the Y Ranch near Paducah, the H-Anchor Ranch near Crowell, a ranch in the Big Bend country, and farming interests in Hartley and Moore counties.

Herring was the first president of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce, which encompassed all of the Panhandle, and president of the Tri-State Fair Association. He erected the five-story Palo Duro Hotel in 1923 and the fourteen-story Herring Hotel three years later. He was among those who financed the construction of the Amarillo Building, helped draw up the city's first charter, and owned stock in the Amarillo Gas Company, forebear of Pioneer Natural Gas. He was president of the Panhandle Livestock Association and was involved with such organizations as the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, Odd Fellows, and Elks Club.

Herring died on June 29, 1931, and was buried in the Llano Cemetery. Birdie subsequently sold the house and moved into a suite in the Herring Hotel, where she died on March 12, 1953. The Herring mansion at 2216 Van Buren Street, Amarillo, became a part of Amarillo College but was razed in 1970 for a parking lot near the Amarillo Art Center. The Herring (Kit Carson) Ranch near Stinnett and the Herring National Bank in Vernon were both still operated by family heirs in the 1980s.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Amarillo Genealogical Society, Texas Panhandle Forefathers, comp. Barbara C. Spray (Dallas: National ShareGraphics, 1983). Castro County Historical Commission, Castro County, 1891-1981 (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Gus L. Ford, ed., Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas: Cockrell, 1936). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson