Motley County By: Grayson Williams

EST. 1876


First of all, I would like to think you for taking time out of your own busy life to help me with my county project. I appreciate everything you sent me very much. Everything you have sent me will let me get to know your county's history. Again, thank you very much.

A Cowboy's Life

During the late 1800s, the wide open landscape of the Texas Plains Trail Region lay ripe for development. Cattlemen like Charles Goodnight established ranches and soon much of the terrain changed from raw frontier into a rancher's domain. Goodnight's JA Ranch, established with his partner James Adair, was the first privately owned ranch in the Panhandle, while the XIT ranch was the world's largest fenced ranch in the 1880s, covering three million acres and portions of 10 counties.

The success of early corporate ranching also attracted excessive investment, leading to overstocking, bad management and depressed prices. Though many ranches failed, well-managed ones survived, and a far better- organized industry emerged. It became the foundation for today's ranching industry that remains integral to the economy and culture of the region. Numerous historic ranches are still in operation including JA, XIT, SMS, 6666, Pitchfork and Matador.