The Bar 96 Ranch was established on the northeast range of the Shoe Bar Ranch by the Finch, Lord, and Nelson cattle firm in 1886 to breed purebred bulls. Orville H. Nelson represented the company in the Panhandle, and the ranch became the area's major source of Hereford cattle. The bull ranch, which used the Bar 96 brand, covered 43,000 acres in Hall County. It included 30,000 acres in Lesley, north of the Red River, land purchased from the Shoe Bar in 1885 and subsequently fenced. Headquarters was established on twenty additional sections located on the Red River ten miles south of the site of present Memphis. Nelson, who managed the enterprise from 1886 to 1889, began with 1,500 blooded Herefords. These prize animals were soon in great demand, and the Bar 96 supplied bulls for ranches in the Panhandle, New Mexico, and Arizona.
After Nelson's departure from the Bar 96 in 1889, the Finch, Lord, and Nelson firm was reorganized as L. E. Finch and Company. Nelson's share was purchased by Alfred Ogden of Brooklyn, New York, who used an O Bar brand. Ogden soon sold his interest in the firm back to W. H. Lord, but he bought a number of cattle from the ranch and moved to Childress County, where he developed one of the state's largest herds of registered Herefords. J. A. Finch took over active management of the Bar 96 in 1890 and brought his family from Kansas to the headquarters. Fred Lord brought his bride out to the ranch through Wichita Falls. Roundups, dinners, and dances at the ranch became major social events.
Economic recession in 1892–93 resulted in the demise of the Bar 96. Finch and Company was liquidated. J. A. Finch subsequently laid claim to several sections of land in Hall County on which he ran cattle until he sold his claim to his sons about 1904. Alfred Ogden purchased a controlling interest in the rapidly shrinking Bar 96. By that time settlers had crowded in on the east side of the ranch until they left only eight sections for grazing. In 1913 the ranch ownership was transferred to D. A. Neeley and W. B. Quigley; the latter married Finch's daughter, Winnie. The ranch name was changed to Red River Hereford Ranch. Although most of the original 43,000 acres had been parceled out to farmers, a portion of the former Bar 96 Ranch continued to be operated by Neeley and Ogden, who used the O Bar brand.
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Inez Baker, Yesterday in Hall County (Memphis, Texas, 1940). Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). Jo Stewart Randel, ed., A Time to Purpose: A Chronicle of Carson County (4 vols., Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1966–72). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).
Ranching and Cowboys
Ranches Established After 1835
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
H. Allen Anderson,
“Bar 96 Ranch,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 7, 2011