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IOA Ranch

W. C. Holden General Entry

The IOA Ranch belonged to the Western Land and Livestock Company, which was organized in 1884, at Davenport, Iowa, with a capital stock of $800,000. The company was composed of businessmen residing in Davenport and Moline, Illinois. J. S. Keater was president, but the active management was largely in the hands of the vice president, S. W. Wheelock. A branch office was opened in Fort Worth with David Boaz as superintendent. Boaz found available land in Lubbock County and established headquarters on Yellow House Canyon, nine miles southeast of the site of later Lubbock. In all, a tract of land fourteen by thirty miles, practically the south half of Lubbock County, was acquired by purchase and lease. The land was fenced with two cross-fences, which cut the tract into the east, middle, and west pastures. Twenty thousand stock cattle were purchased at high prices in 1885. J. K. Millwee, the first resident ranch manager, was followed in 1888 by Rollie C. Burns. The IOA Ranch was never profitable. The selection of the IOA brand was unfortunate; cattle rustlers found that it could be easily changed into a score of variations. To stop brand burning, the IOA was dropped in 1886, after the company bought 1,500 cattle from the neighboring Brigham brothers and adopted the Brighams' Cross C brand. However, the drought of 1886 caused a heavy dry-up. Before the ranch had a crop of calves ready for the market, cattle prices had dropped severely and did not recover until the company had disposed of its land and cattle. In 1891 another drought began, and in 1893 when S. W. Wheelock died, the directors decided to liquidate the assets of the company. Under the direction of Rollie Burns, the last cattle were sold to J. M. Daugherty of Abilene in March 1896. A considerable portion of the land was sold to J. W. and Herbert L. Kokernot of San Antonio. The remaining lands were sold in smaller tracts to stock farmers.

Donald R. Abbe, Paul H. Carlson, and David J. Murrah, Lubbock and the South Plains: An Illustrated History (Lubbock: Windsor, 1989). William Curry Holden, Rollie Burns (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; rpt., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986).


  • 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.

W. C. Holden, “IOA Ranch,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 13, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 6, 2020