The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968

John Thomas Lytle: Cattle Baron
JIMMY M. SKAGGS*
T HE TERM "CATTLE BARON" IS USUALLY USED IN REFERENCE TO
ranchers who amassed large landed estates, and countless Texans
could be included within that classification. Yet there were many who
built considerable personal fortunes either without acquiring huge
tracts of land or by subordinating that activity to other aspects of the
cattle trade. John Thomas Lytle was such a man. From 1867 to 1907
Lytle was one of the leading figures in the cattle trade, first as a small
rancher, then as a trailing contractor, a land and cattle speculator,
a ranch developer, a ranch executive, and finally as a pillar of the
influential Texas Cattle Raisers' Association.
John Thomas Lytle, the son of Francis and Margaret Collins Lytle,
was born on October 8, 1844, at McSherrystown, Adams County, Penn-
sylvania. His parents, along with his uncle, William Lytle, had mi-
grated in the early 1830's from southern Ireland to Pennsylvania where
Francis secured a position teaching school. William soon moved on to
join friends in Maryland, and, a few years later, he migrated westward
to Texas. In 186o, at his brother's encouragement, Francis moved his
family of eight, in which John was the third child and the only son,
to William's Atascosa County ranch. Not long thereafter, the new-
comers relocated at San Antonio where Francis obtained a teaching
job. Sixteen-year-old John readily went to work in the Bexar County
clerk's office, but after a year poor health compelled him to resign.
Lytle accepted his uncle's offer of work on the ranch. For fifteen
dollars a month young Lytle worked from dawn to dusk, slowly re-
gaining his health and developing his ability as a cowboy. Possibly
because of the shortage of manpower caused by the Civil War, but
probably because he was the boss's nephew, in 1862 he was named
foreman. The War, however, was more exciting, and the young fore-
*Mr. Skaggs is assistant archivist of the Southwest Collection, Texas Technological
College.
1Alice Lytle Gidley to J. M. S., August 12, 1965; San Antonio Daily Light, January 11,
1907; Helen Lytle, daughter of J. T. Lytle, to J. M. S., interview, April 2, 1966; John
Marvin Hunter (comp.), The Trail Drivers of Texas (2nd ed.; Nashville, 1925), 322;
Leonard Lytle, "Outline of the Lytle Families of America" (Public Library, Cincinnati,
Ohio; copy in the possession of the author), 94, hereafter cited as "The Lytle Families";
Gus Ford (ed.), Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas, 1936), 212-213.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed December 19, 2014.