JA Cattle Company, Records, 1813-1994 and undated

Now Available

The Southwest Collection now has available for researchers the records of the JA Cattle Company dating from 1813-1994 in 218 boxes.  Thanks goes to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for providing the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library a grant necessary to process the collection.   The JA Cattle Company Records donated by Cornelia "Ninia" W. Ritchie contains a variety of materials detailing the history and operation of this Texas Panhandle ranch mostly during the 20th Century.

The JA Ranch located in the Panhandle of Texas is the oldest privately owned cattle-company in West Texas. Its history can be traced as far back as 1876 when Charles Goodnight began his own ranch in Texas. The JA Ranch started with the partnership of Charles Goodnight and John G. Adair. After several years of managing the ranch, Goodnight took his portion of the land and left the JA Ranch. Cornelia Ritchie Adair, Mr. Adair’s wife, became sole owner of the ranch after his death. She ran it until her death in 1921. Her only remaining son Jack Ritchie passed away shortly in 1924. The ranch was incorporated in the late 1940s and became the JA Cattle Company. The ranch is currently owned by the Ritchie family which is situated in the Palo Duro Canyon and consists of over 335,000 acres of land. The real estate covers portions of Armstrong, Briscoe, Donley, and Hall counties. Much of the land is leased to local ranchers to ease the cost of operations. Montgomery "Montie" Ritchie, Jack’s son, managed the ranch until his death in July 19, 1999. The heirs to the estate are his daughter, Cornelia "Ninia" Ritchie and her son Andrew M. Bivins.

Items in the collection include personal and professional correspondence, aviation files of Montie Ritchie, financial material such as expenses and ledgers of the ranch and Ritchie Family, legal materials from Cornelia Adair, land abstracts and survey calculations of the JA Ranch, maps of the ranch, architectural plans of buildings on the ranch, diaries of Montie Ritchie’s various travels, field notes, oil and gas records, miscellaneous publications, materials from the Palo Duro, Texas post office, and scrapbook materials. The records also include assorted ranch and family photographs, paintings, and personal artifacts. A finding aid is available at the Reference Desk of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library and on the Southwest Collection web site. Patrons and researchers may come during the library’s opening hours to examine the materials.