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XIT Ranch Photo Scrapbook

 Item — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll.-31

This collection contains 51 black and white photographs of the XIT Ranch. The photos, originally contained in a scrapbook, depict ranch life in the panhandle of Texas and on cattle drives to Montana from 1898 to 1909.


  • 1898-1909


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for assistance with citations and images of publication quality should be directed to


51 Photographic Prints


The XIT Ranch was a massive cattle ranch covering ten counties in the Texas Panhandle. It was owned by a syndicate led by Charles and John Farwell and funded by British investors. The Texas Legislation appropriated the land to build a new state courthouse in Austin after the original one burned. The ranch operated from 1885 to 1912 and at its peak ran 150,000 head of cattle per year. The photographs are dated from 1898 to 1909 and depict ranch life on the XIT Ranch.

Biographical / Historical

The creation of the XIT Ranch started in 1879 when the Sixteenth Texas Legislature appropriated three million acres of land to finance a new State Capitol building in Austin and appointed a Capitol Board composed of the governor, comptroller, treasurer, attorney general, and land commissioner to sell the land in the panhandle and contract for the building. It was owned by a syndicate led by Charles and John Farwell and funded by British investors.

Comprising over 3,000,000 acres of land the decision to establish a cattle ranch was made until the land could be sold for agricultural purposes. It was divided into eight district headquarters. At its peak 150 cowboys were employed who utilized 1000 horses and branded 35,000 calves a year. The British bonds that had helped start the enterprise were redeemed in full by 1909. The capitol building in Austin was finished and the XIT Ranch land was sold in parcels to cattle ranchers by the Capitol Reservation Lands a trust formed by the Farwell estate.

Cordelia Sloan Duke is believed to be the original owner of the scrapbook. Born near Belton, Missouri, Cordelia "Cordia" Jane Sloan Duke (1877-1966) was the daughter of A. R. C. Sloan and Belle Wingert. Raised in Overbrook, Kansas, Duke taught school in Oklahoma to members of the Cherokee Nation. Around 1906, Duke moved to Sherman County, Texas, where she taught school near the northern border of the XIT Ranch. In 1907, she married Robert L. Duke (d. 1933), the foreman of the Buffalo Springs division, and later the general manager, of the XIT ranch. The couple had three daughters, whom they raised at XIT. Duke recorded in a diary her experiences at the XIT Ranch, excerpts of which were published in several newspapers and magazines as well as 6,000 Miles of Fence (1961), which she co-wrote with Joe B. Frantz. In addition, Duke became the first woman in Texas to serve as a game warden when the lands surrounding her ranch were selected as a wildlife sanctuary in the 1920s. Source: "Duke, Cordelia Jane Sloan."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed February 9, 2011.


The photographs were kept in the same order as they were in the scrapbook.

Custodial History

Cordelia Sloan Duke is believed to be the original owner of the scrapbook. Dr. Joe Frantz is presumed to be the donor of the XIT Ranch Photo Collection. He had spent time with Cordelia Sloan Duke when they collaborated in writing Six Thousand Miles of Fence. Dr. Frantz was a history professor at Corpus Christi State University (now Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi) and donated many items to the archives. Dr. Tom Kreneck, previous archivist found the scrapbook in the stacks and accessioned it the first year he became director.

Related Materials

Duke-XIT Ranch Collection, [ca. 1900-1960], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

The XIT Ranch Scrapbook was originally processed in May of 1992 by Sherri Harris and Mona DeVoe. In 2020 Lori Atkins created the finding aid and prepared the metadata for digitizing the photographs, Nicholas Vela digitized the materials. Ed Warga added the files to DSpace and the digital objects to ArchivesSpace.

XIT Ranch Photo Scrapbook
Lori Atkins
May 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository

6300 Ocean Dr.
Unit 5702
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States
361-825-5973 (Fax)