Legend has it that rancher Samuel Burk Burnett won the ranch in a high stakes poker game and that another player, out of money, had bet his ranch on his poker hand, only to lose to Burk Burnett’s hand of four sixes. It makes a great story, right? Burnett denied the story more than once. Nevertheless, the legend has endured and 6666 has been the ranch brand.
The Matador Ranch is unique in that for the first 70 years of its existence it was owned either by a number of people or a syndicate, rather than having been owned by one family or a partnership. The Matador Cattle Company was founded 1879 by five individuals: Col. Alfred Markham Britton, Henry Harrison Campbell, Spottswood W. Lomax, John W. Nichols, and a brother in law of Britton known only by the name of Cata. The ranch’s name was coined by Lomax, who is said to have had a keen interest in Spanish literature.
Mary Ann “Molly” Goodnight was the wife of Charles Goodnight and was highly involved in the Goodnight ranching operation. She was born September 12, 1839 in Tennessee to John Henry and Susan Lynch Miller Dyer and her grandfather was the first governor of Tennessee. The Dyers were well established in Tennessee but her father, noted for his service in the Battle of New Orleans and a former Attorney General of the state, moved the family to a settlement near Fort Belknap in North Texas in 1854. Ten years later, her mother died shortly to be followed by the death of her father in another two years, after which Molly became the head of her family for her younger brothers. The oldest, Leigh, went to work for Charles Goodnight in 1867 while Molly continued to raise the younger brothers, several of whom also went on to work on the Goodnight ranches. Molly served as a teacher in Young County though she had no formal education. Continue reading Molly Ann Dyer Goodnight
The Scharbauer Cattle Company is well known in West Texas. Clarence Scharbauer, Sr. was born August 18, 1879 in Albany County, New York to Christian and Jennie Scharbauer and was also the grandson of Ferdinand Scharbauer who had come to America from Holland. Christian’s brother John had come from New York to Eastland, Texas in 1880 where he established a sheep ranch. A few years later, John moved further west to the Abilene area and then in 1884 he moved again to Mitchell County in the general vicinity of Colorado City. His sheep business prospered but John became interested in raising cattle, purchasing his first bulls and cows in 1888. Encouraged by his success, by the mid to late 1890s, he had shifted his production entirely to cattle and become one of the leading cattlemen in the state.