T Anchor Ranch

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: April 27, 2019

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The T Anchor Ranch originated in the fall of 1877, when Leigh R. Dyer, a brother-in-law of Charles Goodnight, drove his herd of about 400 cattle to Spring Draw in Randall County near the junction of Palo Duro and Tierra Blanca creeks. He and his brother Walter cut cedar logs in the canyons, hauled them by the old Timber Creek Indian trail, and constructed a two-room log cabin for their headquarters. The Dyers' only claim to land was that of priority, and they sold that claim to the surveying firm of Gunter, Munson, and Summerfield in 1878. Operating from their home office at Sherman in Grayson County, Jot Gunter, William B. Munson, Sr., and John S. Summerfield obtained title to the acreage by locating land certificates and by surveying on a partnership basis for land companies. Using money borrowed in Illinois to supplement their own funds, they were among the state's outstanding purchasers of land certificates. They began their ranching activities in 1880 by bringing in mostly poor-grade cattle from Louisiana, Arkansas, and East Texas and herding them together in Kaufman County. These cattle, which numbered more than 3,600 head and bore the partners' GMS brand, were then sent west under Jud Campbell, who occupied the log cabin on Spring Draw. W. H. (Harry) Ingerton and Vince Terry were among the cowboys who accompanied Campbell and who stayed to help build line camps and corrals and round up strays during the winter of 1880–81. The severe winter weather killed some of the cattle, but in the spring of 1881 Campbell trailed another GMS herd from Grayson County and fenced in about 240,000 acres to prevent them from drifting too far; this was said to be the first extensive fencing operation in the Panhandle area. That fall Jule Gunter, Jot's nephew, bought Summerfield's interest, and the firm became Gunter, Munson, and Gunter. In addition to the GMS, the firm started using a Crescent G brand. However, when Jule Gunter brought a herd branded T Anchor from his Burneyville ranch in the Indian Territory, the company dropped the other two brands and formally adopted the T Anchor. According to Jim Wright, foreman of Gunter's Grayson County holdings, Joe Harris had originated the brand on the head of Ellum Creek in Montague County near Saint Jo.

Early in the summer of 1882 Jim Wright and Vas Stickley drove another 3,500 cattle from Grayson County to the T Anchor. This herd was allowed to drift south with the other stock to the summer pasture in Tule Canyon. On August 24 the T Anchor men began combing the canyons and rounding up the cattle to drive them back to the home ranch. Though Gunter had planned to divide the herd into two groups, a chance decision resulted in the largest single cattle drive in history. Sixteen cowboys with a remuda of 125 horses herded 10,652 cattle to Big Lake and took half a day to run them through the fenceline gate while Vas Stickley and Jule Gunter counted them. That night the cattle were bedded down over an area so large that it took over an hour for a horse to circle them at a fast trot. In the fall the T Anchor men made their first drive north to the railhead at Dodge City, Kansas. On the trail there were two divisions, each with a chuck wagon and 1,050 cattle. At about the same time, in October 1882, Munson and the Gunters began leasing more grazing lands on Dixon Creek, east of the home ranch, and putting up more fences. Jule Gunter continued to act as manager, with Jot as trader and buyer until 1883, when they sold out to Munson. Blooded stock was introduced to the T Anchor in the spring of that year, when Vas Stickley brought in its first herd of Hereford cattle from Dodge City. Munson continued as sole owner of the ranch until 1885, when he sold about 275,000 acres in Randall and Deaf Smith counties to the Cedar Valley Land and Cattle Company of England for $800,000. Included in the transaction were 25,000 cattle and 325 horses. The new owners retained the T Anchor brand, leased additional lands, and were the first to hire outside help (from the JA Ranch) to tally the cattle. Sam Dyer, Jim Moore, Hank Siders, and Lee John Hutson served successively as foremen. In 1895 the forfeiture of the syndicate's leases marked the end of the T Anchor as such. Nevertheless, the Cedar Valley Company operated the remaining lands until 1902, when the ranch was broken into blocks and sold to farmers and smaller ranchers. Later, the state purchased the old headquarters and the surrounding 200 acres to use as an experimental farm for West Texas State College. The T Anchor brand was discontinued in the Panhandle, but between 1906 and 1910, J. G. Hardie, a grandson of Jot Gunter, used the brand on his cattle in Duval County. Subsequently he ran it in Maverick and Zavala counties and in Coahuila, Mexico. For several years an annual reunion of former T Anchor employees, known officially as "The Old Time Cowpunchers' Roundup of Each Other on the T Anchor Range," was held at the old log headquarters near U.S. Highway 87 north of downtown Canyon. In 1975, however, the building, which was the oldest surviving Anglo structure in the Panhandle, was moved to a site near the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and fully restored.

Laura V. Hamner, Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). C. Boone McClure, A History of Randall County and the T Anchor Ranch (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1930). C. Boone McClure, "A Review of the T Anchor Ranch," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 3 (1930). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).


  • 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, “T Anchor Ranch,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 19, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/t-anchor-ranch.

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April 27, 2019