Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Failed IOA Ranch becomes Lubbock County farmland

The IOA Ranch, owned by the Western Land and Livestock Co., was established in 1884. The company chose the IOA brand because a number its major investors were from the state of Iowa. During 1884 and for several years afterward, the IOA ownership pieced together a continuous block of property stretching 14 miles-by-30 miles. The main portion of the ranch contained roughly 420 sections (250,000 acres) of land. Additional piecemeal acquisitions in the northern half of the county brought the total ranch property — owned or leased — to about 330,000 acres. The rectangular-shaped main portion of the IOA filled the southern half of Lubbock County. The original block consisted of both purchased and leased lands. And, because it was not was not involved in later court proceedings, the far-western half of the large spread probably represented a significant portion of the parcels leased from neighboring landowners. The IOA headquarters was located in the southeastern part of the county on the first three sections of land the company purchased from Zach Williams in 1885. From its beginning the IOA struggled. Thus, in 1887, the Western Land and Livestock Co. sent Frank Wheelock, a great-nephew of one of the ranch’s principal stockholders, Stillman Wheelock, to monitor and manage the floundering cattle operation. Despite Wheelock’s best efforts, the ranch proved unsuccessful. Plummeting beef prices, a drought in the mid-1880s and viciously cold and bitter winters during those same years led to a collapse of large ranches all across the West. The IOA was one of hundreds that failed during the late 1880s and early 1890s. When it was apparent the ranch was not going to succeed, corporation leaders determined to jettison the land and cattle in as orderly a way as possible. They directed Wheelock to sell the cattle during a three-year period between 1893 and 1896...more

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