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CRESSWELL, HENRY WHITESIDE

CRESSWELL, HENRY WHITESIDE (1830–1904). Henry Whiteside (Hank) Cresswell, range cattleman in the Texas Panhandle, the son of John Cresswell, was born at Fairfield House, Lancashire, England, in 1830. At sixteen he immigrated with his father and brothers to Huron County, Ontario. In Canada, by his own account, he was engaged twice before he was twenty-one. That seemed to have ended his romantic history, as he remained a lifelong bachelor. In 1856 he left Canada, stayed for a time in Missouri, and then spent about twelve years prospecting in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. During that time he became increasingly interested in cattle. About 1870 he purchased 100 cows and started a dairy farm near Pueblo, Colorado. This enterprise was occasionally beset with attacks from hostile Indians until Cresswell returned from a visit to his brother in Canada with a breech-loading gun he had bought in New York City for $300. This new weapon proved effective against the Indians, who did not bother him again. In 1874 Cresswell first registered his Bar CC brand in Colorado. His success under adverse conditions won him many friends, including Charles Goodnight, and attracted the attention of several wealthy, influential businessmen. In 1877 he formed the Cresswell Land and Cattle Company with the brothers J. A. and M. D. Thatcher and O. H. P. Baxter.

That same year Cresswell established his Bar CC headquarters in Ochiltree County, Texas, with a foundation herd he drove south from Colorado. As his acreage and cattle expanded, he became a favorite among ranchers and their families throughout the upper Panhandle. He had a benign attitude toward homesteaders who came into his range, and his employees likewise benefited from his generosity, as he encouraged them to start their own herds. His word was said to be as good as some men's oaths. The town of Cresswell, founded by the Klapp brothers, was named for him.

After British investors reorganized the Bar CC as the Cresswell Ranch and Cattle Company in 1885, Cresswell stayed on as head of the ranch until 1889. In the meantime he entered into a partnership with A. J. (Tony) Day and ran cattle in the Indian Territory, using a Turkey Track brand different from that of the Turkey Track Ranch. For fifteen years Cresswell and Day operated there and near Grand Rivers, South Dakota, and Billings, Montana. When nesters began crowding into these northwestern states the partners moved their operations to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, where they leased a large tract for two cents an acre. They stocked it by buying herds from various ranches in New Mexico and West Texas and shipping on four consecutive railroads. In 1896 they moved a herd of 10,000 cows to Canada from the F Ranch, on the head of the Pease River, which Cresswell purchased from L. R. Moore of Kansas City.

While engaged in this expensive but successful Canadian cattle operation Cresswell suffered an infection in his foot that became gangrenous. Despite three operations at the hospital in Medicine Hat, Alberta, he died, on January 29, 1904. Tony Day carried on the business until 1908, when he sold the Canadian ranch to Gordon, Ironsides, and Fares of Winnipeg. Hank Cresswell is remembered in the Panhandle as a "range cattleman with few equals and no superiors."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

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). Wheatheart of the Plains: An Early History of Ochiltree County (Perryton, Texas: Ochiltree County Historical Survey Committee, 1969).

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, "CRESSWELL, HENRY WHITESIDE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcr66), accessed October 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.