Key-No Ranch

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: February 1, 1995

The Key-No (Keno) Ranch was started in 1881 by D. C. Cantwell, who obtained choice grazing land on White Deer Creek in Hutchinson and Carson counties and registered his peculiar brand at Mobeetie, in Wheeler County, on June 18, 1881. By September 1882 he had an estimated 1,300 cattle, including sixteen imported shorthorns. For his headquarters he built a three-room house of cottonwood logs, complete with chimneys and a dirt roof. It was located on White Deer Creek about twenty-two miles west of the site of present Pampa. In September 1882 B. B. Groom, acting on behalf of the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company, bought Cantwell's holdings and added them to his own. The purchase included "all the corn, millet, hay, plows, mowing machines, rake and harrow, ranch and house fixtures." Although the cattle became a part of the Diamond F range, the Francklyn company reportedly continued to use the Key-No brand for this herd as long as the syndicate was in operation. In a letter Groom wrote, "I like [Cantwell's] cattle.... They are exactly where we want them at home on our range ready to become the nucleus around which to build our herd." Groom's son, Harrison, and daughter-in-law occupied the Cantwell cabin until they could build more suitable quarters. The Key-No's White Deer pasture thus became the nucleus of the Diamond F. The Key-No brand ceased to be used after the syndicate was reorganized as White Deer Lands in 1886.

Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981). Lester Fields Sheffy, The Francklyn Land & Cattle Company (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963).


  • 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, “Key-No Ranch,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 26, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995