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In 1890 Jim Patterson helped establish the Bar X Ranch, one of the oldest continuously operating ranches in Oklahoma, near the banks of Flying V Creek. The founders used the name of a previous ranch on the site. Patterson worked as a foreman for the Bar X Cattle Company based in Young County, Texas. In 1892 three cattle drives up the Western Trail brought six thousand of the Bar X stock to its new site headquartered in present Roger Mills County. At its largest, the ranch encompassed as much as sixty thousand acres and eight thousand head of cattle. According to a National Register of Historic Places document, the bend in the Canadian River provided the northern, eastern, and western boundaries, and a drift fence that stretched from one side of the bend to the other served as the southern boundary. In 1892 sixteen of the hired hands built a ranch house six miles northwest of present Leedey.

As the land opened to farmers and other homesteaders, the ranch constricted to 320 acres. Patterson and his brother filed for the property and operated the ranch until they sold it to Walter Massey in 1900. Prior to 1900, ranchers and incoming settlers had a tempestuous relationship, as the law recognized open range. Grazing cattle created havoc with the agriculturists' crops. However, by 1897 the territorial government enacted a "herd law" that allowed a land owner to confiscate stock and sell it after thirty days to collect for damages. This law did not encompass far western Oklahoma, including Roger Mills County, unless the citizens of the area petitioned to have the law effective. This they did around the turn of the century. During the territorial period the Bar X served as a midway point for the journey between Woodward and Cheyenne, both of which housed United States courts. The ranch hosted many travelers, including court officials and lawyers such as Temple Houston. In 1918 George Harrel acquired the ranch from Massey, and the Harrels have owned it through the twentieth century, still using the brand. Many ranches in Oklahoma have also applied the Bar X brand to their cattle, and this ranch has sometimes been confused with the large 1880s Bar X Ranch in old Greer County.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Charles Brooks, "Bar-X Ranch House," National Register of Historic Places Nomination, State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Melvin Harrel, "The Bar X Ranch," Northfork Sparks and Flashes (Sayre, Okla.), June 1951. "Historic Bar X Ranch of Roger Mills County Rapidly is Becoming Mere Shadow of Western Glory It Once Knew," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 17 February 1924. Nat A. Taylor, "The Old Bar X Ranch," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 49 (Spring 1971).

Larry O'Dell

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