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Established by Ezra C. Dudley and his son John circa 1878, the Anchor D Ranch had its headquarters on the Beaver (North Canadian) River in present Texas County, Oklahoma. Dudley, a native of Newton, Massachusetts, near Boston, had operated a livery stable before moving west to try cattle raising in Kansas. He eventually controlled a range that extended from Kansas to Texas across the central Oklahoma Panhandle. The northerner became well known because of his "Yankee" mannerisms, including the way he dressed. He bought his first large herd of cattle in south Texas. He hired experienced cowboys, and his ranch grew into one of the region's largest. At its peak it pastured thirty thousand head on an estimated 960,000 acres. Dudley operated the ranch when the Panhandle was known as the Public Land Strip or No Man's Land, and he capitalized on the free grazing available there. As settlers clamored for homesteads in the public strip after it became a part of Oklahoma Territory in 1890, and as a national economic depression struck in 1893 and in 1896, Dudley sold his rights to T. C. Schumaker and returned to Massachusetts.

Schumaker enlarged the ranch, purchasing several surrounding outfits. At the turn of the twentieth century he had financial difficulties, and Howard M. Stonebraker invested in the venture. By 1904 Schumaker had left and the operation was known as the Stonebraker and Zea Cattle Company, using the Anchor D brand. Edwin Zea, a Kansas City banker, provided capital, partnering with Stonebraker. In 1911 the Oklahoma secretary of state granted a charter to the Stonebraker-Zea Livestock Company, with John H. Lucas listed as one of the incorporators.

In 1918 and 1919 unusually severe winters resulted in the deaths of a large number of cattle. Stonebraker and Zea scaled down the ranch and had a substantial amount of land platted into small farms, selling them through the Oklahoma and Texas Land and Loan Company. In 1937 the ranch comprised approximately sixty-five thousand acres. In 1939 Zea's widow sold the Anchor D to R. S. Coon. In 1970 the R. S. Coon Memorial Foundation broke up what was left of the ranch, with Jack Freeman and Lewis Mayer purchasing most of it. The Freeman Ranch added 28,200 acres, expanding it to approximately sixty-five sections and making it one of Oklahoma's largest ranches.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Anchor D Ranch," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Harry E. Chrisman, Lost Trails of the Cimarron (2d ed.; Denver, Colo.: Sage Books, 1964). Donald E. Green, Panhandle Pioneer: Henry C. Hitch, His Ranch, and His Family (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1979).

Larry O'Dell

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