LX Ranch

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: August 6, 2020

The LX Ranch was established in Potter County in 1877 by W. H. (Deacon) Bates and David T. Beals, two enterprising Bostonians who had already started a ranch in 1875 on the Arkansas River near Granada, Colorado. By the following year that range was crowded, compelling Bates and Beals to send an employee, John Ray, down to look over land along the breaks of the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle. Subsequently Bates and Beals, in partnership with Henry J. Rosencrans and Erskine Clement (Beals's son-in-law), drove their first herd to the new headquarters on Ranch Creek, a tributary of the Canadian. This site, about a mile east of Pitcher Creek in Potter County, was the center of a vast spread of free grassland teeming with wildlife. While Bates returned to Colorado to move the remainder of their cattle and horses to the new range, Beals and Clements went to Dodge City to buy more longhorn cattle. Among the trail hands they hired was Charles A. Siringo, who worked off and on for the LX during the next several years.

At first the LX brand was alternated with several others, including the X Bar and V Bar, which were used on the Colorado range. After 1883, however, the LX became the ranch's permanent brand. By 1878 a large bunkhouse of stone and adobe, complete with an attached kitchen and spacious storeroom, had been added to the headquarters. Later, stables, corrals, a blacksmith shop, and wagon sheds were built. A post office was opened in August 1879 and called Wheeler. The first herd from the LX went up the trail to Dodge City in the fall of 1878 for shipment to Chicago. For the next seven years two or three herds annually were driven to Dodge. The ranch's first foreman was Bill Allen of Corpus Christi, who came with the first herd. He was succeeded in 1879 by William C. Moore, former manager for the Swan Cattle Company in Wyoming. Although reputedly a fugitive from the law, Moore proved a capable range boss for the LX. Other notable employees included Cape (C. B.) Willingham, later sheriff of Oldham County, and Marion Armstrong, who later rode the mail line between Tascosa and Mobeetie. Henry McCarty (Billy the Kid) was an occasional visitor to the LX during his cattle-rustling forays. In 1882 Beals, who had become the ranch's principal figure, bought 23,680 acres of land from the Houston and Texas Central Railway Company. Over the next two years he added 100,000 acres, mainly from the firm of Jot Gunter and William B. Munson, Sr. The ranch owned 187,141 acres, not counting school land, and extended from the Palo Duro Canyon and Chalk Hollow in Randall County to the drift fence near the site of present Dumas in Moore County, taking in the entire eastern half of Potter County. Allie Bates, reportedly the son of W. H. Bates, established a line camp on the south bank of the Canadian, in the northeastern part of the range, and grazed a few head of his own cattle east along the river.

The second phase of the LX began in 1884, when Bates and Beals sold it, along with 45,000 cattle and 1,000 horses, to the American Pastoral Company of London. The new owners hired James Wyness, a Scottish immigrant, as the ranch bookkeeper. Nineteen-year-old John Arnot came from Angus, Scotland, in the fall of 1884 to work at the LX for seven years and stayed to become an influential citizen. Wyness's wife, who died in childbirth in 1887, was the first person buried in the LX cemetery. At that time the American Pastoral Company effected a five-year lease of some 250 sections of school land next to the ranch, which by then totaled some 320,000 acres. John Hollicott, William C. Clarke, and Henry C. Harding served successively as foremen for the British syndicate, which in 1900 moved the ranch headquarters to a site south of the Canadian River on Bonita Creek. The post office was closed early in 1901 and mail routed through Amarillo.

In October 1910 the LX Ranch began its third phase when it was divided by sale to Joseph T. Sneed, Jr., Lee Bivins, and Robert Benjamin Masterson; the latter two acquired the larger portions. Bivins then bought additional tracts south of the Canadian and in 1915 acquired the LX brand. In 1911 Masterson and his sons consolidated their purchase of LX holdings (100,000 acres in all) north of the river. Huge gas deposits discovered in 1918 on the lands of both men triggered gas and oil development in the Panhandle. Since that time, both the Bivins and Masterson properties have been subdivided among various heirs and are no longer ranched as a single unit. Most of the land around Lake Meredith, impounded by Sanford Dam in the 1960s, was formerly owned by the LX. The Alibates Flint Quarries bears the contracted name of the mysterious cowhand who ran the area line camp on behalf of his father, Deacon Bates. Remains of his dugout shelter are still there. The old LX cemetery, fenced in by the county in 1936, stands just west of U.S. Highway 287.

Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). Della Tyler Key, In the Cattle Country: History of Potter County, 1887–1966 (Amarillo: Tyler-Berkley, 1961; 2d ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1972). Margaret Sheers, "The LX Ranch of Texas," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 6 (1933). Jesse Wallace Williams, The Big Ranch Country (Wichita Falls: Terry, 1954; 2d ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1971).

  • Peoples
  • Scots
  • Business
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranches Established After 1835
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “LX Ranch,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/lx-ranch.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 6, 2020

Currently Exists
Place Type
Town Fields
  • Has post office: No
  • Is Incorporated: No
Belongs to
  • Potter County
  • Latitude: 35.43810480°
  • Longitude: -101.94907550°