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MORRISON BROTHERS

MORRISON BROTHERS. Ranchers Tom W. and James Newton Morrison arrived at Old Clarendon with their father from Pike, Illinois, about 1878. They began running cattle in Donley, Hall, and Childress counties, with headquarters located about halfway between the sites of present Memphis and Hedley on Berkley Creek, a tributary of the Red River. Known as the Doll Baby Ranch after the Morrisons' peculiar brand, this free-range operation soon came to be surrounded by those of other outfits, including the Shoe Bar, the Diamond Tail, the RO, and the Spade.qqv Supplies were purchased at Doan's Store, where dances were often held; Fred Estes, who went to work for the Morrisons in 1879, reported that there were "not fifty women in fifty miles of the Doll Baby." In the 1880 census James N. Morrison and his father are listed as farming and herding cattle. Tom Morrison apparently was the chief partner of the venture. He was among the charter members of the Panhandle Stock Association, which convened at Mobeetie in July 1880. At Old Clarendon he built a sumptuous home on Carroll Creek from native rock; he was active in local and area civic affairs. Donley County was organized in 1882, and Tom Morrison, along with Charles Goodnight, Leigh R. Dyer, and S. B. Nall, was appointed to the first slate of county commissioners. In 1883 Morrison and Goodnight certified the first Donley County election for sheriff, which had been held in November 1882.

By 1882 the Morrisons had around 2,000 cattle on their Doll Baby range. That year they reportedly sold this herd to Alfred Rowe of the RO Ranch for approximately $45,000. The land was sold to William Riley Curtis, who annexed it to his Diamond Tail range, and the Doll Baby brand was discontinued. In 1883 the Morrisons moved south to devote full time to developing a new tract of land they had purchased in 1881. They adopted the Cross L brand on the 81,000-acre "free-grass" range, located on Running Water Draw where the corners of Lamb, Hale, Swisher, and Castro counties join. They formed a partnership with W. D. (Ramrod) Johnson, manager of C. C. Slaughter's adjoining Circle S or Running Water Ranch. Headquarters was located in Hale County northwest of Plainview. Johnson and the Morrisons formed the Runningwater Land and Cattle Company in 1883, when they traded half interest in 10,000 acres of land for half interest in 10,000 cattle belonging to Slaughter. The name of the ranch then was changed from Cross L to Circle. On September 1, 1883, R. W. O'Keefe arrived with the first of Slaughter's cattle and became the Circle's first foreman. The Runningwater Land and Cattle Company continued operations until 1890, when Johnson and the Morrisons traded their half interest in the lands to Slaughter for his half interest in the livestock, cattle, and horses. J. N. Morrison subsequently made his home in Dimmitt, where he died in 1896 and was buried in the Castro County Cemetery. His son Lucian L. Morrison helped organize the Castro County government and was county surveyor. A grandson, Lucian, Jr., opened a law practice in San Antonio. Almost nothing more is known regarding the later activities of Tom Morrison.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Castro County Historical Commission, Castro County, 1891–1981 (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Mary L. Cox, History of Hale County, Texas (Plainview, Texas, 1937). Willie Newbury Lewis, Between Sun and Sod (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1938; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). David J. Murrah, C. C. Slaughter: Rancher, Banker, Baptist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). 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, "MORRISON BROTHERS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmoah), accessed August 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.