The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Esta-
cado. By J. Evetts Haley. Norman (University of Oklahoma
Press), 1953. Pp. xiv+;258. Illustrated. New edition. Dedi-
cated To my Cowhorses. $4.00.
The XIT ranch was the outgrowth of a contract by which
Texas sold three million acres of land in the Texas Panhandle to
a group of Chicago financiers, valued officially by the state at
$3,000,000, to be paid for by construction of the present Capitol.
Authority for the contract goes back to the constitution of 1876,
in which the designated amount of land was reserved from gen-
eral sale and set aside for the purpose of paying for the Capitol.
A law was passed February 2, 1876, for survey of the land by
the state, and subsequent laws fixed details for transfer of the
land to purchaser with free title. The Board of Survey reported
January 1, 1881; bids for constructing the building were opened
in January, 1882; excavation for the foundation was begun in
February, 1882; the cornerstone was laid March 2, 1882; and the
Capitol was delivered in April, 1888. The total expenditure by
the syndicate that bought the land was $3,224,595. Titles were
delivered in parts as building progressed. This method of liquida-
tion was made necessary by requirements for putting the land
Expensive preliminary work was required in preparation.
Bonds had to be sold in England by a British company organized
for that purpose and maintained until the Capitol was delivered
by the builders and all titles were received by them. A railroad
had to be built to haul granite from the quarries in Burnet
County to Austin. This was known for many years as the Austin
Northwestern and is now a part of the Southern Pacific System.
And much money had to be spent in utilizing the land.
From the beginning, the Chicago owners planned ultimate sale
to farmers and ranchers, but investigation proved that the time
was not ripe for colonization and that they must prepare for their
own utilization by fencing the whole grant, subdividing it into
large sections, and equipping all with cattle, buildings, windmills,
and tanks. The amount of barbed wire required for exterior and
interior fencing was greater than ever existed before on a single
ranch. The west line, "with all its 'jogs,' was 260 miles long. It be-
gan at the northwest corner of the state and ran south 150 miles
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/. Accessed January 30, 2015.