McAllister, Jordan Edgar (1846–1929)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

Updated: January 24, 2020

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Jordan Edgar McAllister, rancher, was born on a farm near Martinsville, Indiana, on March 17, 1846. At the age of fourteen he left home in search of work and made his way to Independence, Missouri. There he secured employment as a bullwhacker and spent the next seven years hauling freight on the Santa Fe Trail. His early contacts with several Plains Indian groups proved valuable; in 1867 he scouted for Gen. George A. Custer, and on November 27, 1868, he took part in the battle of the Washita. Disgusted with Custer's rash methods and cruelties to Indians, McAllister signed up as a wagonmaster for the freighting concern of William McDole (W. M. D.) Lee and Albert E. Reynolds that operated out of Fort Supply, Indian Territory. He remained with Reynolds and Lee for the next decade, save for one year. In 1876 Gen. George Crook persuaded McAllister to join his band of scouts for his campaign against the Sioux from Fort Dodge, Kansas, to Montana. McAllister thus saw action in the battle of the Rosebud and accompanied Crook's command to the Black Hills. Afterwards he returned to Fort Supply and resumed his freighting job with Reynolds and Lee.

After Lee built up his cattle herd at Fort Supply, McAllister was hired to supervise it. In 1879 he trailed the herd to Trujillo Creek and Romero Canyon, near Tascosa, and was thus instrumental in establishing the LE Ranch. Later he succeeded Mose Tate as foreman of that outfit. In 1881, after Lee dissolved his partnership with Reynolds, McAllister went with Lee and Lucien B. Scott to become general manager of the LS Ranch and establish its first two headquarters on Rita Blanca and Alamocitos creeks. "Mister Mac," as McAllister was called by the cowboys, soon proved an effective organizer in the handling of range cattle. He was appointed commissioner for Oldham County. In 1883 he helped break up the Cowboy Strike and was instrumental in appointing Patrick F. (Pat) Garrett leader of the Home Rangers; consequently, several threats on his life were made by former blacklisted strikers. When a dishonest clerk at the land office in Santa Fe swindled some LS cowboys out of money in exchange for invalid homestead claims, McAllister went to the New Mexico capital to testify in their behalf.

On January 26, 1886, he married Luanna (Annie) McCalister, whom he had met in Iowa in December 1884. After a brief honeymoon the couple returned to the Alamocitos headquarters on the heels of the blizzard that caused the Big Die-up farther north. Annie McAllister helped make arrangements for the burial of the three LS cowboys killed in the "Big Fight" of March 21, 1886, at Tascosa, and also started the annual LS Christmas balls. Since 1884 McAllister and a partner, Kim Ritter, had grazed their own cattle on grass around Red Rio Springs, adjacent to the LS range near the site of present Endee, New Mexico. There they kept a remuda of 150 saddle horses for the LS men to use. In the summer of 1886, when Lee and Scott decreased their range, McAllister warned them that such a move would result in overgrazing and cause serious losses in the winter. When they ignored his warnings rather than take the "responsibility of a winter die-up," McAllister resigned his position. His predictions came true, and the LS suffered its worst cattle losses that winter.

He discontinued his New Mexico operation with Ritter and, taking his share of the herd, valued at $75,000, started a ranch near Walsenburg, Colorado. He ran this operation until 1893, when his wife's delicate health prompted him to sell it and move back to the Panhandle, where he bought a house in Tascosa. Charles N. Whitman persuaded him to resume his old job as manager of the LS, and under McAllister's management the LS was pulled out of debt. After two years he resigned his position and moved to Channing, where he operated a livery stable and, along with several stockholders, organized the Channing Mercantile and Banking Company. Later, with Judge H. H. Wallace as a partner, McAllister began building up a purebred Hereford herd near Tascosa; it subsequently become one of the finest in the Panhandle area. In the 1920s he and his wife moved to Amarillo to spend their declining years with May, one of their three children, and her husband, R. T. Weills. There McAllister died in September 1929. He was buried in the Llano Cemetery, Amarillo.

Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). John L. McCarty, Maverick Town: The Story of Old Tascosa (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946; enlarged ed. 1968). Donald F. Schofield, Indians, Cattle, Ships, and Oil: The Story of W. M. D. Lee (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Dulcie Sullivan, The LS Brand (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).


  • 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, “McAllister, Jordan Edgar,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995
January 24, 2020