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SHOE BAR RANCH

SHOE BAR RANCH. The Shoe Bar Ranch, noted for its frequent changes of ownership, began in 1879 when Leigh R. Dyer, after the sale of his Randall County ranchhouse, moved his herd to Deep Lake, between the Little Red and Prairie Dog Town forks of the Red River in Hall County. On Oxbow Creek, near its junction with the Little Red, he built a rock house, probably for a headquarters. Afterward, part of Dyer's herd was reportedly lost to Texas fever caught from cattle that had recently arrived from South Texas. In 1880 L. G. (Uncle Luke) Coleman, who had ranched in southern Colorado north of Raton Pass, formed a partnership with Dyer after wintering his herd near the site of present-day Canyon. In September of that year they bought acreage along Antelope Creek in Hall and Briscoe counties. About this time Leigh's brother, Walter, and sister, Mary Ann Dyer Goodnight, brought from the JA Ranch their joint herd of Flying T cattle. Although there was never a written agreement, they shared the Dyer-Coleman range and secured a one-third interest in Coleman and Company. The Shoe Bar brand probably came into use as early as 1882, when Thomas S. Bugbee and Orville H. Nelson bought the 2,500 Flying T cattle and the one-third interest for $110,000. After adding another 15,000 head, including 8,000 from the JA, Bugbee and Nelson were able to buy enough interest from Coleman and Dyer to give them half interest in the ranch. Coleman officially registered the Shoe Bar brand on August 7, 1883. Bugbee built an adobe headquarters on Oakes Creek, two miles north of the site of present-day Lakeview, with lumber hauled in from Dodge City. From there he ran his and Nelson's share of the herd, while Coleman operated from a dugout on Oxbow Creek.

At its peak the Shoe Bar range covered 350,000 acres of leased land and 110,000 acres of land bought in Donley, Hall, and Briscoe counties. The cattle numbered around 50,000 head, with an annual calf crop of 14,000. Both underground and surface water were always plentiful. Although Coleman was initially opposed to fencing the ranch, he later relented and supervised the erection of 100 miles of fence over a seemingly limitless sea of grass. John Pope served as foreman from 1881 to 1898, and other outstanding ranch employees included Bob Crabb, Joe Merrick, Roy Allard, and Joe Horn. In 1886 Chris Rudolph and James E. Southwood helped drive the Shoe Bar's first Herefords from Dodge City to their new range. In 1886 Nelson sold his interest in the Shoe Bar to Bugbee in order to devote more time to his townsite-company projects. Soon afterward Dyer sold his share to Coleman. Although Uncle Luke's family lived in Kansas City, he spent much time at the ranch and became a favorite among the cowboys. When the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway was built through the Panhandle in 1887, Giles became the Shoe Bar's main shipping point. The final details of organizing Hall County were completed in the Oakes Creek headquarters on May 4 of that year.

After Coleman died in 1894, his widow sold her share of the Shoe Bar to J. K. Zimmerman, an eccentric bachelor of about sixty who was said to have made a fortune in mining and had large ranch holdings in Oklahoma. Andrew J. Snyder purchased the Bugbee interest, but the following year he was taken "to a hundred-thousand-dollar cleaning" when Zimmerman bought him out in a "give-or-take" proposition. Although he was extremely nearsighted, Zimmerman spent much time at the ranch living at the Oxbow headquarters. He encouraged Shoe Bar employees to become financially independent and often helped them purchase land and stock of their own. After Zimmerman's death in 1898, F. P. Neal, of the Union National Bank of Kansas City, managed the estate and kept the Shoe Bar going until 1906. That year he sold the ranch to Edward F. Swift of the Chicago packing company (see SWIFT AND COMPANY) for about $1.5 million. William H. Craven, who made the deal for Swift, became manager and built a large ranchhouse east of Lakeview, where he lived for several years. Almost immediately after the Swift purchase, Craven began shipping the Shoe Bar cattle out and selling the land in individual tracts to farmers and smaller ranchers, a process he completed by 1913. The largest sale was made in 1910 to William J. Lewis of Clarendon, about 43,000 acres south of the Red River. Lewis ran the Shoe Bar brand from the old Oxbow Creek headquarters. After his death in 1960, the brand was continued by his daughter-in-law, Vera Lewis. The Oakes Creek headquarters and the land surrounding it were sold by Craven to W. D. Beck in 1907. After 1928 this historic ranch dwelling was owned and occupied by the family of J. H. Barbee.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Inez Baker, Yesterday in Hall County (Memphis, Texas, 1940). Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "SHOE BAR RANCH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/aps16), accessed September 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 13, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.