Kit Carter Cattle Company [RG4067.AM]


RG4067.AM: Kit Carter Cattle Company

Records: 1883-1903
Seymour, Baylor County, Texas and Stratton, Hitchcock County, Nebraska: Ranch operation
Size: 6.0 cu.ft.; 3 boxes & 9 oversized volumes


C.L. “Kit” Carter was a pioneer cattlemen of northern Texas. He served as a founder and first president of the first cattlemen’s association of that state. In January 1883, Carter, his relatives, and several neighbors incorporated as the Kit Carter Cattle Company. Of the 3,599 shares of company stock, members of the Carter family owned all but 638 shares. Although the company’s business headquarters were located at Seymour, Baylor County, Texas, its cattle were scattered throughout several counties. The original Carter ranch, and the ranch headquarters were located at Palo Pinto.

A series of unfortunate business decisions doomed the Kit Carter Cattle Company. The company over-invested in Texas land, purchasing parcels so scattered so as to be of little value. Virtually all of the land was mortgaged, leading the company’s directors to borrow large amount of money at high interest rates. After a short time, small stockholders began to sell back their shares.

When the bottom fell out of the cattle market in 1886-1887, the Company found it impossible to meet financial obligations. An offer proposed by Edward M. and William J. McGillin of the Harlem Cattle Company, owners of the first high-grade stock farm in southwest Nebraska, gave the Kit Carter Company some hope. The McGillins agreed to buy the entire Carter herd for $15.00 a head in order to stock their Fairmont Cattle Company ranch located in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. The Carter interests believed that as the Fairmont Company’s payments were received, they could pay off their own debts. They hoped that the Carter ranch could then be restocked and rebuilt on a more stable basis.

Unfortunately, the Fairmont Cattle Company defaulted after only a few payments and was put into trust. Creditors took over that company, removing Edward McGillin from office. Since the Fairmont Company was insolvent, the Carters sued the Harlem Cattle Company, which was also owned by the McGillins. The Carters won their case by proving that Edward McGillin was responsible for purchases made by both the Fairmont and Harlem Cattle Companies.

The Harlam Cattle Company went into receivership. In 1891 the Kit Carter Cattle Company sent Isham R. Darnell to Stratton, Nebraska, to salvage what he could. Darnell, secretary and treasurer of the company was married to Carter’s eldest daughter. The Darnells hoped to sell what they could and return to Texas. However, as lawsuits continued, they found that all they could obtain was the Riverdale Ranch at Stratton. Here they settled and became farmers and ranchers. Eventually, Isham Darnell obtained a land abstract business in Benkelman, where the family moved in 1911. He served two terms there as postmaster and two terms as judge of Dundy County, dying there on December 28, 1933.


This collection consists of three boxes and several volumes of oversize materials arranged in four series: 1) Minutes, 1883-1890; 2) Correspondence, 1883-1903; 3) Financial Records, 1883-1895; and 4) Miscellany. This material relates primarily to business conducted by the Kit Carter Cattle Company of Seymour, Texas, and to the legal strategies adopted by the company in order to continue operation.

Series 1 consists of the Minutes of the company, 1883-1890, which appear in one volume. Entries include information on formation of the company, by-laws, stock shares held, number of cattle and value, land purchases and leases, plans of operation, and sales of property and livestock. A typescript of minute entries for the years 1883-1887 is also included.

The correspondence of Series 2 consists almost entirely of incoming letters written by Isham R. Darnell as manager of the Kit Carter Cattle Company. The correspondence was received during the years, 1883-1903. During the early years, many of the letters relate to land sales and propositions, cattle grazing reports, land survey results, loans, farm location inquiries, and livestock purchase prices. Legal and financial problems plaguing the company are reflected in letters from the middle 1880’s on as letters from lawyers and creditors appear with regularity. The material is arranged by year and then alphabetically by individual correspondent or, in some cases, name of company. Much correspondence from the years 1893-1895 and 1898-1900 appears to be missing.

The financial records of Series 3 include journals, 1883-1891; ledgers, 1886-1894; a cash book, 1890-1891; sales books, 1886-1890; a bank draft register, 1885-1887; and stock certificate registers, 1883-1887. These records provide information on money spent and money brought in by the Kit Carter Cattle Company. Many of the volumes in this series are oversized and are shelved separately.

Series 4 contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings, contracts, notes, land sale information, and certificates. Also included are plat maps and a volume relating to the case of the Kit Carter Cattle Company vs. the Harlem Cattle Company.


Series 1 – Minutes, 1883-1890

Box 1

  1. Minutes, 1883-1890 (volume)
  2. Minutes, 1883-1887 (typescript)

Series 2 – Correspondence, 1883-1903

  1. 1883, A-G
  2. 1883, H-Z
  3. 1884, A-E
  4. 1884, F-J
  5. 1884, K-Te
  6. 1884, Th-Z
  7. 1885, A-B
  8. 1885, C
  9. 1885, D
  10. 1885, E-F
  11. 1885, G-H
  12. 1885, I-Li
  13. 1885, Lo-M
  14. 1885, N-Ra
  15. 1885, Re-So
  16. 1885, Sp-Te
  17. 1885, Th
  18. 1885, Ti-Z
  19. 1886, A-Ci
  20. 1886, Co-Da
  21. 1886, De-F
  22. 1886, G-I
  23. 1886, J-K
  24. 1886, L-M
  25. 1886, N-Sa
  26. 1886, Sc-Te
  27. 1886, Th
  28. 1886, Ti-Z
  29. 1887, A-B
  30. 1887, Ca-Ci
  31. 1887, Cl-Da
  32. 1887, De-G
  33. 1887, H-L
  34. 1887, M-N
  35. 1887, O-P
  36. 1887, S
  37. 1887, Ta-Th
  38. 1887, Ti-Z
  39. 1888, A-B
  40. 1888, C
  41. 1888, Da-Dar
  42. 1888, Das-Fi

Box 2

  1. 1888, Fl-Ha
  2. 1888, He-I
  3. 1888, J-Li
  4. 1888, Lo-Mi
  5. 1888, Mo
  6. 1888, N-Pa
  7. 1888, Pe-Se
  8. 1888, Sh-Te
  9. 1888, Th-V
  10. 1888, W-Z
  11. 1889, A-Be
  12. 1889, Bi-Cam
  13. 1889, Car-Cau
  14. 1889, Ce-Cz
  15. 1889, Da-Dar
  16. 1889, Das-Fle
  17. 1889, Fli-Go
  18. 1889, Gr-Ho
  19. 1889, Hu-J
  20. 1889, K-Lof
  21. 1889, Log-Mi
  22. 1889, Mo-Mon
  23. 1889, Moo-Pa
  24. 1889, Pe-Po
  25. 1889, Pr-Se
  26. 1889, Sh-Ta
  27. 1889, Te-V
  28. 1889, W-Z
  29. 1890, A-Ca
  30. 1890, Ce-Da
  31. 1890, De-G
  32. 1890, H-K
  33. 1890, L-Mi
  34. 1890, Mo-Ph
  35. 1890, Pi-Ra
  36. 1890, Re-S
  37. 1890, T-Z
  38. 1891, A-B
  39. 1891, Ca-Cl
  40. 1891, Co-D
  41. 1891, E-Go
  42. 1891, Gr
  43. 1891, H-J
  44. 1891, K-Leh
  45. 1891, Lew
  46. 1891, Li-Ma
  47. 1891, Me-Pi
  48. 1891, Pl-Sh
  49. 1891, Si-Z

Box 3

  1. 1892, A-Bo
  2. 1892, Br-Dar
  3. 1892, Das-Gl
  4. 1892, Go-Hi
  5. 1892, Ho-L
  6. 1892, M
  7. 1892, N-Se
  8. 1892, Si-Z
  9. 1893
  10. 1894
  11. 1895, A-Da
  12. 1895, De-Z
  13. 1896, A-C
  14. 1896, Da
  15. 1896, De-F
  16. 1896, G-J
  17. 1896, K-P
  18. 1896, Q-Z
  19. 1897, A-B
  20. 1897, C-D
  21. 1897, E-O
  22. 1897, P-Z
  23. 1898
  24. 1899
  25. 1900
  26. 1901, A-Bl
  27. 1901, Bo-Bu
  28. 1901, C-F
  29. 1901, G-M
  30. 1901, N-Z
  31. 1902, A-Bl
  32. 1902, Bo
  33. 1902, Br-Bu
  34. 1902, C
  35. 1902, D-G
  36. 1902, H-M
  37. 1902, N-Z
  38. 1903, A-Bo
  39. 1903, Br-C
  40. 1903, D-H
  41. 1903, I-O
  42. 1903, P-Z

Series 3 – Financial Records, 1883-1895

  1. Journal, March 1883-January 1886
  2. Journal, January 1886-January 1895; September 1891-November 1892 (see oversize)
  3. Journal, June 1890-April 1891 (see oversize)
  4. Ledger, January 1886-November 1888 (see oversize)
  5. Ledger, June 1890-April 1891 (see oversize)
  6. Ledger, September 1892-June 1894 (see oversize)
  7. Cash Book, June 1890-April. 1891 (see oversize)
  8. Sales Book, July 1886-June 1895
  9. Sales Book, September 1889-April 1890
  10. Bank Draft Register, December 1885-November 1887 (see oversize)
  11. Stock Certificate Register, March 1883-July 1886 (see oversize)
  12. Stock Certificate Register, October 1886-May 1887 (see oversize)

Series 4 – Miscellany

  1. Brief of Complainants: Kit Carter Cattle Co. vs. Harlem Cattle Company
  2. Plat Maps
  3. Clippings, Contracts, Notes, Land Sales Information, Certificates
  4. Charter of Incorporation, filed in Texas, 1883 (added 05-02-1990)

Subject headings:

Cattle industry
Darnell, Isham Randolph, 1851-1933
Harlem Cattle Company
Hitchcock County, Nebraska
Kit Carter Cattle Company
Livestock trade
Stratton, Nebraska

AIF/pmc 04-03-1987

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