Cattle and cowboys have been on the Matador Ranch
ever since 1877, when Henry H. Campbell established a ranch about 80 miles northeast of what would become Lubbock, Texas. Campbell enlisted the help of Fort Worth investors, and the group began to build a cattle herd.
Calling their ranch the Matador Cattle Co., the partners first branded their cattle with a “50M.” They bought 1,500 head of cattle all branded with a Flying V, and in 1881, they bought 8,000 more head. Changing their brand to the Flying V, the partners added even more cattle during the next couple of years. In 1883, the four partners sold out to Scottish financiers.
The Scots called their new acquisition, which involved approximately 100,000 acres and 40,000 head of cattle, the Matador Land & Cattle Co. The new owners purchased another 203,000 acres and 22,000 head of cattle.
By 1910, the Matador Land & Cattle Co. owned 861,000 acres in Texas and had 650,000 acres leased in South Dakota and Canada. Later, the company leased 500,000 acres in northern Montana and 300,000 acres on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
In 1951, Matador Land & Cattle Co. sold to Lazard Frères and Co. Frères – whose purchase from Matador included approximately 800,000 acres, 1,400 horses and 46,000 head of cattle – divided the ranch for resale. In 1952, Fred C. Koch of Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas, bought three of the parcels and incorporated the Matador Cattle Co.
Today, Matador Ranch runs about 3,200 cows and another 2,500 stockers bound for the feedlot, all branded with the Flying V. That many head of cattle requires horses, especially in the rough country that makes up part of Matador Ranch, and Matador has always had horses.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Matador Ranch was home to several Remount stallions, including Bat-Em-Out (TB), Heel Print (TB), Reno Epic (TB) and Reno Marine (TB).
Photograph courtesy of The Quarter Horse Journal