Texas Land and Development Company

By: B. R. Brunson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: August 4, 2020

The Texas Land and Development Company was an operating company for a series of parent companies chartered in Canada and organized in Plainview, Texas, in 1912. It carried out the idea of Milton Day Henderson, a local real estate agent, who, in foreseeing the great agricultural potential of the South Plains, conceived a plan to bring prospective settlers to land already developed and ready to operate. The development involved buying a large tract of land, dividing it into individual farms, and preparing each farm for occupancy. Preparation included the erection of appropriate dwellings, cultivation of at least one-quarter of each farm for alfalfa culture or sorghum culture, and the installation of an irrigation system. Since his plans were too extensive to be financed locally, Henderson interested Frederick Stark Pearson, an eastern financier and engineer, in the project. Pearson's acquisition of funds for the enterprise, through a series of complex financial maneuvers between May 3 and December 3, 1912, brought $1,557,000 to Plainview for Henderson's use in buying the land. Cyrus Halbert Randolph and his son, Peyton Beaumont Randolph, local attorneys, examined and cleared land titles and wrote checks for the land that Henderson wanted to buy. From May 12, 1912, until the end of his buying, Henderson purchased 61,360 acres of land in Hale, Floyd, and Swisher counties, of which 18,175 acres was already under cultivation.

By the end of November 1914 the Texas Land and Development Company had expended $618,561 on the development of its lands. In order to promote sales the company advertised in the Hale County Herald and in such national magazines as Sunset and Country Gentleman. Land salesmen were sent to cities throughout the Midwest to conduct prospective buyers on excursion tours to the Texas lands. Ninety-two contracts totaling 12,038 acres were sold between the beginning of 1913 and July 1916, when sales of developed farms were suspended due to a shortage of operating capital caused by World War I. The amount of money that the company would have received if all of the contracts had been paid in full was $1,090,127. The company sold 2,621 acres of undeveloped dry farm land valued at $82,498 between October 1916 and the end of 1919, when a plan for reorganization of the company was put into effect. Even though the attempt to develop and sell irrigated farms was not entirely successful, the company demonstrated on two experimental farms that a large variety of grains, fruits, fibers, and forage, as well as hogs (see SWINE RAISING), could be grown successfully on the South Plains. Under a reorganization plan in 1919, the company leased its lands to tenant farmers on a year-to-year basis and urged its tenants to purchase company land when possible. The company did not sell all of its lands until 1946, however. Ten years later, on January 31, 1956, it officially closed.

Billy Ray Brunson, The Texas Land and Development Company (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970).

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

B. R. Brunson, “Texas Land and Development Company,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-land-and-development-company.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 4, 2020