The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
one did not get the particular tract he admired at the time, he was
not disturbed; for there were many more tracts from which he
might select. But suddenly, just at the close of the nineteenth
century, people began to realize that public lands were becoming
scarce, and a feverish scramble ensued for what remained.
Numerous conflicts took place among various groups struggling
for the possession of the last of the public school lands, but the
most important conflict was that of ranchmen versus settlers. The
cleavage between these two groups was marked and clear cut. The
decade following 1875 had witnessed the transformation of that
part of Texas west of the hundredth meridian from an open range
into cattle ranches. A few ranches were located on lands obtained
by land scrip. The state had from time to time, especially during
the days of the republic and early statehood, met its obligations by
issuing land scrip. The holder had the privilege of selecting the
amount of land designated by the scrip anywhere within the public
domain of the state. Many of the original holders sold their scrip
before locating lands. Several individuals and corporations pur-
chased considerable quantities of scrip and located the lands in a
body. The S M S Ranch of Throckmorton County is an illustra-
tion of a ranch which came into existence by this method.
Other ranches had their origin on railroad lands. To encourage
the building of railroads, the state, prior to 1890, had given rail-
road companies sixteen sections of land for each mile of track
laid. The railroad companies located their lands in as compact
bodies as possible. The state reserved every alternate section
within the railroad block for public school land. During the 80's
many of the railroad land blocks were purchased by individuals or
corporations for ranch purposes. The alternate school sections
were leased from the state and enclosed in the same pasture as the
purchased railroad lands. These public school lands, enclosed by
ranchmen's fences, were the last of the state lands to be opened
to settlement. With practically all other possibilities for securing
cheap public lands gone and with the amount of school land lim-
ited, settlers became desperate in their efforts to get a homestead;
and ranchmen were confronted with the problem of having every
alternate section in their pastures purchased by "nesters," as
ranchmen contemptuously called the settlers. Such a thing meant
ruin for the ranch industry. The interests of the settler and the
ranchman were diametrically opposed; the settler was fighting for
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931, periodical, 1931; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101091/m1/6/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.