Lee John Hutson, Panhandle rancher, was born on November 9, 1850, in Herefordshire, England. Little is known of his parentage or early life. After immigrating to the United States, he was involved for several years with the Armour Packing Company and lived in Kansas City, where he represented an English loan company. Having managed a ranch in Kansas, he was employed in February 1889 by the Cedar Valley Land and Cattle Company as foreman of the T Anchor Ranch, headquartered in Randall County, Texas. His primary task was to close out the company holdings as a result of the losses that the T Anchor had suffered from the drought and blizzards in 1885–86. After arriving at the ranch on February 16, however, Hutson urged the syndicate not to sell out. He argued that more profits could be made by buying and selling steers, improving the herds with blooded stock, and drilling wells in pastures where water was not easily accessible.
Since he desired to keep the ranch intact, he initially opposed the organization of Randall County and the selection of a county seat, Canyon City, so near the headquarters. However, he soon became a leading booster of the county. He began buying land for himself and raising cattle on his own. After the Cedar Valley company "threw up" its leases in 1895, Hutson formed a partnership with Emmett Powers and leased several blocks of land on which he ran cattle under the Crescent G brand. He sold out this interest to Vinson Roe in 1900 but continued as foreman of the T Anchor until 1902. Thereafter he concentrated on his own properties and built up an exceptionally large herd of registered Herefords. Adept as a dealer in high-bred cattle, he won numerous blue ribbons and other prizes at stock shows in Fort Worth, Denver, Chicago, and Kansas City. In April 1907 he was one of thirteen ranchers who met at the old Amarillo Hotel to form the Panhandle Hereford Breeders Association; in 1910 he was elected vice president of that association. By 1909 Hutson was the owner of two large ranches in Randall County, one on Palo Duro Creek northwest of Canyon, and the other on Tierra Blanca Creek south of Umbarger. He also owned a ranch in Arkansas and land on the future townsite of Texico, New Mexico, some of which he sold for $30,000.
As a civic leader, Hutson dedicated himself to Canyon's growth. At one time he was said to have owned at least half of the property in town, including the Victoria Hotel, which he bought from Lincoln G. Conner in 1896. In 1898 he used his influence to get the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway routed through Canyon. Hutson helped organize the First National Bank and served as its vice president and on its board of directors. He also donated land to build an Episcopal church, gave money for the establishment of West Texas State Normal College (now West Texas A&M University), and helped establish the German Catholic community at Umbarger.
On February 2, 1909, Hutson married Mrs. Katherine Hewins Gamel, a widow with three children. Two years later, on January 14, 1911, he suffered a fatal heart attack while conducting business at the Amarillo Hotel. He was buried in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo.
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C. Boone McClure, A History of Randall County and the T Anchor Ranch (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1930). Mrs. Clyde W. Warwick, comp., The Randall County Story (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1969).
Ranching and Cowboys
Ranchers and Cattlemen
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
H. Allen Anderson,
“Hutson, Lee John,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 30, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
February 1, 1995