Sanford, James McEuin (1864–1933)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Font size: A / A reset

James McEuin (Mack) Sanford, rancher and Hutchinson County pioneer, one of ten children of John Thompson and Nancy Theodocia (Hay) Sanford, was born on September 26, 1864, in Burnet County, Texas. His parents had moved to Texas from Williamson County, Tennessee, a few years before. At the age of eighteen Sanford began working as a cowboy on a trail drive from South Texas to the Canadian border; then he worked at the old Bar X Ranch in the disputed Greer County. In 1883 he went to the Panhandle and worked two years for Frank Latchman's DBL ranch, twelve miles west of Adobe Walls. Afterward, he worked for the Hansford Land and Cattle Company and for the Turkey Track Ranch for ten years. During that time Sanford hunted wolves for bounty and earned ten dollars for each pelt taken. By 1895 he had built up his own cattle herd of 100 head.

He was the first to file under the provisions of the Four-Section Act, which allowed settlers living in semiarid regions to acquire large parcels of land to make stock ranching possible. He claimed land in Carson and Hutchinson counties. He built a dugout home and ranch headquarters on the first four sections in northern Carson County. Then he expanded his operations, often on borrowed money, and purchased several tracts of former Turkey Track land after that ranch broke up. By keeping his home herd intact and shipping steers to the Kansas markets, Sanford was able to net as much as $12,000 in profits. Eventually he owned over 2,000 head and expanded his Panhandle ranch holdings to some thirty sections.

Sanford helped organize Hutchinson County in 1901. The same year he married Garland S. Whiteside, daughter of Judge J. A. Whiteside. W. H. Ingerton, the first county judge issued their marriage license, the first in the county. Sanford formed a partnership with Lee Bivins the following year and handled steers until 1906. The Sanfords had a son and a daughter.

Sanford was among the Panhandle cattlemen who profited greatly from the oil boom of the 1920s. The region's third well, the Whittington-Sanford No. 1, was spudded on his land. As a result the town of Sanford was established, in 1927. On numerous occasions Sanford led Panhandle oil operators in battles both in Austin and Washington, D.C., for improved conditions. The drought of 1930 compelled him to seek additional pasturage, and he bought 25,000 acres near Wagon Mound, New Mexico. He died on August 24, 1933, and was buried in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. His son, Harrison, took over management of the New Mexico ranch, while the properties in Carson and Hutchinson counties fell to his daughter, Effie, and her husband, Richard P. Coon. Sanford Dam, which forms Lake Meredith on the Canadian River, bears his name.

Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Jo Stewart Randel, ed., A Time to Purpose: A Chronicle of Carson County (4 vols., Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1966–72).


  • 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, “Sanford, James McEuin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995