Today is a day in history that may only matter to those of us in southeast Colorado, northeast New Mexico, the Oklahoma Panhandle and the Texas Panhandle. An event in in an office in Edinburg Scotland change the course of the afore mentioned areas, the American west and the American cattle industry.
You see, 140 years ago Dec 29 the Articles of Association for the Prairie Cattle Company Limited were signed.
Albert W. Thompson was the Sam Konkel (if you hang around this blog or the Plainsman Herald long you will hear the name Sam Konkel) of Clayton NM. He was editor and publisher of the Clayton Enterprise Newspaper. He wrote “The Early History of Clayton New Mexico” in 1933. That document is the equivalent of JR Austin’s 1936 “A Early History of Baca County.” His early writings also record much of a different part of the Prairie Cattle than we are used to hearing about in Baca County, but it gives perspective of how large the Prairie outfit really was. The Prairie had 3 divisions. Division No 1 was the headquarters at the JJ Ranch in Higbee Colorado. Division 2 at the Cross L in Clayton New Mexico and the 3rd at the Littlefield Ranch at Channing Texas. There is quite a bit written on the separate divisions of the Prairie, but not really a comprehensive review of the combined operation. The Brand Listing below also shows the brands of many ranches the Prairie Company began buying in the early 1880s
Among the corporations launched in Scotland in 1881 was one known as the Prairie Cattle Company Limited. The corporation had voted, raised, and appropriated for the purchase of land and cattle in America, no less than 650,000 pounds sterling, over $3,000,000 American dollars. It was called the Prairie Cattle Company, Limited. Its American headquarter office was located in Kansas City Missouri, its registered office and principal place of business, in Edinburgh, Scotland. If indeed in 1881 you had cared to look up the gentlemanly directors of The Prairie Cattle Company Limited, some of whom had been knighted, you would have found them dressed in loose-fitting Scotch tweeds within Dowell’s Rooms, 18 George Street Edinburgh.
To further break it down, a deed on record in Colfax County New Mexico, gives insight into the organization of The Prairie Cattle Company. The deed recites in part that John Guthrie Smith and James Duncan Smith solicitors before the Supreme Court, Scotland and William A. Clark, Muscatine, Iowa were trustees of the Prairie Cattle Company, Limited.
Clark and a Mr. Underwood of Kansas City were bankers and established the firms based in Kansas City that operated under the name of Underwood, Clark and Company. This firm during its early years was delegated almost unlimited power in the purchase of lands and cattle. Their acts were approved by a board of directors in Edinburgh. All of the general managers of the Prairie company, except one were natives of the British Isles. The purchases of all the ranches in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, however, was left to the discretion of the American’s, either Underwood Clark & Co., or their lieutenants.
That’s all for today. Here’s wishing you a great 2021.
Other Baca County History blogs connected to the Prairie Cattle Company.