The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935

THE
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL
QUARTERLY
VOL. XXXVIII JULY, 1934 No. 1
The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed
by contributors to THE QUARTERLY
TIHE GRASS LEASE FIGHT AND ATTEMPTED IMPEACH-
MENT OF THE FIRST PANHANDLE JUDGE
J. EVETTS HALEY
So long as Western ranchmen were "few and far between" and
the carrying capacity of their ranges untaxed by their scattered
herds, the question of tenure caused little or no concern. But
when it became evident that free grass and water were a pass-
ing bounty of the frontier, the more conservative began to buy
land and fence their established ranges, though their neighbors
may still have lived a day's ride away.
This period of transition was beginning when, in the late
seventies and early eighties, the Panhandle-Plains of Texas were
being claimed by men who rode in the dust o herds. When
fever-bearing longhorns from the south began streaming across
their ranges, they organized the Panhandle Stock Association in
1880, and, looking toward the problems of control, sent a repre-
sentative to Austin to lobby for a lease act so that they might
legally maintain their lines and avoid intrusion of the infectious
herds.
Already some of them were buying their ranges and fencing,
but a lease bill failed of passage because of the opposition of
the free-grass element, and extralegal measures were invoked--
"The Winchester Quarantine." With the boom of the cattle in-
dustry in the early eighties, and a growing conviction in the
older portions of the state that the cowmen were becoming
wealthy from the public domain, the Legislature enacted a law

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/. Accessed July 29, 2014.