See, C-, sea, XIT…the Father of We.

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How is it that God just picks the right people for the right jobs?

It’s Father’s Day.

How is it that Jesus keeps us all a family?

It’s all pretty magic.

But I do think something is out there that sees something…

that we are then lucky enough to see.

I don’t know what this picture is, but I did when I took it….snow, mud, tracks, I know that.

But what is this combination? Not for me to know or see now.

snow, mud, track. XIT Ranch, Jan 2011.

snow, mud, track. XIT Ranch, Jan 2011.

I do remember the days after Jack and Lace were gone and when these pictures were taken.

I was riding along as I did before our lives were so busy with having children…

raising them, raising livestock, teaching them and ourselves how to live, act,

follow or not, right or wrong.

Snow in sandy road. XIT, Jan  2011.

Snow in sandy road. XIT, Jan 2011.

That day, there just seemed to be patterns everywhere…

I just stumbled on these today, looking for a Father’s Day picture, for the Father of my stock.

C-the grid, pipe, and window panes ahead...

C-the grid, pipe, and window panes ahead…

I don’t know if I was looking forward or back, likely neither just staying in present.

Create shelter for machines stored, broken...not in use...

Create shelter for machines stored, broken…not in use…

Or perhaps…..just looking…

Blue Sky, Red Pump, Black Tire.

Blue Sky, Red Pump, Black Tire.

For storage for things where new life is yet to be known…too precious to discard

…things to be mended…full of memory…

a premium moment.

Pellet and Palette.

Pellet and Palette.

Keep the feed dry ready, the palette ready to load….

He has a plan, we just don’t always see it right away.


Taking my Pony on my Boat: what I share with Zeb Pike.

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Me and my Pony on my boat on the High Plains.

What I share with Zeb Pike.

I do have a few things in common with Zebulon Pike.

I climb the mountains to my West.

I speak French which I use in the West.

As was his, my father was in the military, or at least in the Marines Corps.

And, I beat the trails through Northern New Mexico quite often. This is where Pike was encamped when he was captured by Spanish authorities and taken to Santa Fe. 

I, too, am captured in New Mexico by Santa Fe.

By the art and culture and landscape I need to nourish me on the Plains, so as to be refreshed again with its beauty when I return.

And I am also an explorer of the High Plains that records with maps, drawings, pictures, people’s stories, history and research.

So I understand now that this shadow at right in yesterday’s picture, made  from the clear photo corner that was holding another picture, that is me exploring the High Plains by sea.

When I did sail at camp, about all I could do well was to trim the jib. And that’s maybe all I will ever really take part in in regard to making money off land in the High Plains; to be the crewsman, cook the meals, drive. To suit up and be there.

The XIT Yacht

When I sail on this boat, it is isolated with a skilled crew, but I am somewhat of a stowaway who serves up the chow.  I do share in my own way what I can, sometimes having them yacht, but often with others not on board. Not just sharing of the ranch but of other ranches, through drawings and photographs and writing about ranching in Kansas.  Or in other ways like preserving a Depot that used to ship cattle or having folk artists to a one-room school near my house and inviting everyone around to come see, hear the music, and bring their fiddles.

Or by inviting the real Frenchman in Kansas down for dinner and into the schoolroom to parlez with the pupils. Or having the paleontologists from Kentucky and their European interns down for dinner where I got to parlez with Sophie, the French student. I do what I love, just as those do in their jobs on the XIT Yacht. 

I do the work on the boat that I know how to do, that I did halfway well with what I’d been given, where I think I’m giving back.

Sometimes when I would return to the main dock, I would do something stupid like let go of the main halyard. This only needs to be learned once. And sometimes I need to find a different dock. 

But mostly what I enjoy on the High Plains, is sailing and seeing at sea.

Sometimes it is when I am running…

A bit of it was in the pastures where I would fish for lost cattle. I didn’t always know where to look and it seemed like I never found them. But I could feel something, maybe someone saying follow me…and I will make you fishers of men…

For a lot of my time I had on the High Plains, I had the blessing and curse of taking my pony on my boat. I was probably not as useful as I could have been on the XIT Yacht, but there many people on that boat, and it just seemed so crowded it might sink. So, I lightened the load, my load…

In my books, my degrees, my work in design or preservation, in my car driving miles, in my art, I could get lost on the ocean. But, I would always be guided safely home, wherever that was for the night…Lawrence, Kansas City, Wichita, the XIT Headquarters, Santa Fe, or a hotel in a small town in Kansas when doing historical research in the field.


a Lone Ranger note: I like this song, but I take issue with the one line that pits Tonto and the Lone Ranger as enemies. I feel it is a contemporary translation that lacks depth in understanding the actual details of the history of its writers. Their intent was to illustrate the common values of an Indian and a White man, to do good, and a friendship that united the pair. They worked alongside each other as practically equal partners, and had each saved the other from death at different points in their lives. 

Tonto’s character was originally a Potawatomi Indian by choice of the radio station owner who was from Michigan. This was a non-native to the area where he rode in Texas and the clothing is inaccurate. But, ‘Tonto’ in Potawatomi means “Wild One” and was mistaken as the Spanish word meaning fool or dumb. And, Tonto called the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe”, “trusted servant.” They worked the High Plains together, and would have been on the same boat. 

So yesterday, when I started with Zeb, I went on my sailboat journey of maps and google and Walter Webb’s Great Plains and my Master’s Thesis to try to take what I’d read and done before and make it into something short, edited and tangible. But, instead I realize I took my pony on my boat and we just enjoyed the day.

We sailed

  • through geological and rock formations, surface etching of the High Plains with rivers, glaciers, erosion. 
  • I read about Lewis & Clark and re-read the Charles Kimball Lecture, “It’s all about Eating: Kansas City’s history and opportunity.”
  • I did a timeline of government policies and actions within the 200 year span from Pike’s quote and today that were specific to the Great Plains. 
  • I even added in a tangential timeline of modes of production (technologies) and modes of transportation in relation to phases of Farming in America, but again, focused on my region, The Great American Desert. 
  • And I recorded my journey, over some familiar waters at sea, with my pony on my boat. 

I still do this almost every day and accept that this was the way I was made.

And just sometimes it works. I zigzag back and forth at sea and occasionally hit my mark, reach the point.

At other times I don’t really know where I went or where I was headed, but I did have kind of a plan, just like we did with America when Zeb was sent out to explore. 

And I always enjoy the journey, and record it in my memory or in some other way to preserve. I take that with me, and I leave some behind for the next guy, to do with as he pleases. 

This is Paula, Explorer of the High Plains.

Plurality: Little Love, women have many husbands.Not Dan Rockhill. He has a quote.

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Dan RockhillDan Rockhill

Why would anyone want more than one wife?  Dan the Man, KU circa 1991. see Marvin Hall

Well, I would suggest multiple husbands. And, living on a ranch and being pretty isolated, I always thought that Big Love sounded like a blast for the women. It seems like a nightmare for Bill Paxton. I have a sneaking suspicion that many happy people are really only connecting with their spouses in whatever way, dinner, deep talks, budget discussions, logistics, social a few times a week, if even that.  Here are my current.

  • The philosophical Mennonite contractor, I’ll fix the wood slider doors on the closet one time, Ken.
  • The handyman Delbert Cash who can explain everything I didn’t learn or understand in my dumbed down for architects KU engineering classes and doesn’t even turn off the electricity when changing plates from cream to white, tough guy.
  • The honeydo, Thomas Cash, who follows every intricate thought process of getting lights on at Christmas.  Also detects micromanagement, “didn’t John want some sandwiches for the horse shoer” during cord placement
"Delbert and Thomas Cash, Paula's bathroom

Delbert and Thomas Cash in Paula's 1960 bathroom, reducing the carbon footprint XIT style

  • The flat tire fixers, at Don’s Farm Tire, Plains Co-op, Clingan’s, Weaver’s, and stray men along 54 hwy.
  • The shared cowboys: Corey Rickard, Dustin Ellis, Cooper, H.G. (these are really shared cowboy sons) and Kell Adams
Dustin & Corey unloading a bench at guest house

Dustin & Corey unloading a bench at the guest house

"Tanner Rollins, H.G. and Cooper Adams, Nat'l Geographic Dec 07, p. 122

Tanner Rollins, H.G. and Cooper Adams, Nat'l Geogrpahic Dec 07, p. 122

Paula and Kell Adams

Paula and Kell Adams, early in their relationship when they were both a little uptight

  • And of course, the sweet smile and companion husband, the boss man.

John waving

Brotherly love

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The Baldwin Brothers

The Baldwin Brothers, looking good.

I had a sister and only one male cousin Russ who survived all the women. I don’t really know of any names that Gina and I had for each other behind each other’s backs. We did do a lot of digging with fingernails and biting, but it had to be very quiet since we weren’t allowed to fight.

Having now two families of  brothers within my extended family, I’ve noticed the recurring fond terms brothers use for each other. Not face-to-face of course, someone might get hurt.

It takes three boys to bring this out, four is best. In general, it begins with the younger brother using one of these to describe the older brother.  The older brother is at first, either oblivious or could care less, being so confident in rank and superiority. As life marches on and experiences shake it up a bit,  it starts to work in both directions. Families in business together are no exception, maybe worse, though not in public. It slacks off a bit in their 40s. (see Raymond Adams, Tom Finney, and H.G. Adams II at the Eklund Hotel, Elkhart).

The ones that come to mind are bonehead, meathead, dumb@s$ and %ickh#@d.  This next one I felt was particularly creative:

Middle brother calls a younger brother.

Nephew, age 4, answers the phone.

Younger brother yells to son, “who is it?”

Nephew responds, “it’s Johnson.”


Response to post of the S. M. East 1978 STUCO President Tom Rooker.

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Raymond Adams, mounted. collection of John C. Adams. by Keith Avery, illustrator and artist.

This is a picture of my father-law Raymond E. Adams, Jr. who died Sept 9, 2009. So here’s a story of how I got here…

Very nice stories. I loved driving past the XIT on my way to LA. in the winter, when there was no heat or humidity. Keep up the great reporting.

Comment by Tom Rooker — Jan 27 2011 @ 12:13 pm |Edit This


I don’t think I replied to your post, Tom. In desire to not impart any misleading information, I  have to tell you that the XIT Ranch in southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle is likely not the XIT that you passed on your drives.  The XIT Ranch feels they are THE XIT RANCH, if not everywhere, than in Kansas.  They have been under family operation under the Adams Cattle Co. for over a hundred years, so this is deserved.

They don’t have a sign, the relevent people find them. I have well-drawn maps for others. I do hope for a nice big neon “Party Ranch” sign for the kids someday. This will be executed by another best, local, family business Luminous Neon of Hutchinson.
The XIT Ranch in Texas does NOT stand for this:

X (Ten)

I (in)

T (Texas).  The brand was to thwart cattle rustlers, but I have no history of the actual reading of the X I T. It did cover land in ten counties in Texas.

A brief history of the “other” XIT Ranch in Texas.

In 1879, the Texas legislature appropirated 3,000,000 acres of land to finance a new state capitol for Texas.  In 1882, the legislature made a deal with Charles and John Farwell of Chicago to come up with the money:  $3,000,000.00, provided by a syndicate led by the Farwells of mostly British investors, in exchanage for the 3,000,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle. The XIT Ranch began operations in 1885, but timing was bad. Cattle prices crashed in 1886. It was only in operation as a working ranch for 27 years. I wonder if those Brits were annoyed with this investment? Nonetheless, the land deal left us with the beautiful pink granite Texas State Capitol in Austin.

But, every feedlot, feedstore, etc. in the area keep the XIT in their business name. I’m sure there’s some remnant of the original. I’m thinking, Tom, that you were maybe driving through Dalhart? I want to hear your L.A. to Kansas path.

Unlike a Ranch name of which there can be many, only one XIT brand can be registered per state. It used to be that a brand was still required in the state of Kansas to sell cattle within a sale barn, and it still increases price of the animal.

A word about brands…

  • Beyond practicalities, the hide marking has historical significance as noted in Blake Allmendinger’s book, The Cowboy: Representations of Labor in an American Work Culture. Excellent book.
  • They use a flat bar brand for the XIT, still do. That is, it has to be executed in 5 strokes. The fancy ones you imagine, all “built-in one,” get muddy.
  • Cattle rustling is still alive and well. I think the Kansas Livestock Association still awards $250,000.00 for any knowledge of thereof. It is more of a problem in Texas. Recently, I heard of a very sophisticated middle-of-the night load-up complete with trucks, but I’m sure they were caught.
  • Guns and fear are still a big deterrant in Kansas. Old School.

So back to how the Adams of present have the XIT Brand and the XIT Ranch.

Formation of the XIT East and West Ranches and use of the XIT brand.

John Adams grandfather, Raymond Adams, Sr. was the youngest son of H. G. Adams. Horace Greeley (Go West Young Man!) Adams acquired the original landholdings upon which the Adams family descendants now ranch. The land is in southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle along the Cimarron River. Ray and his father formed the Adams Cattle Co. in the teens. In the next generation, early cornfeeding of Raymond Adams, Sr. and Jr. enabled them to buy back 2/3 of H.G. Adams original landholdings. Thus, having the two XIT East and West Ranches which anchor the land along the River. And, with a little help from the marginal land given to this youngest brother which turned out to be quite a historic “field”.

But, the point is that the youngest son of H.G. Adams had these XI cows and lost the flip with his brother for the brand. He had to change the brand to mark the cattle. There was no XIT brand in Kansas, so he added a “T”.

More history on this brand. All brands have stories and some have intricate ways of reading, as noted in above book.

Here’s how it worked:

  • X-I-11 is the original brand.  McCoy Brothers of Dodge City operated the land and other ranches. They sold to Colonel Summers of Keokuk, Iowa. It was then shortened to XI.
  • The XI Ranch Headquarters is now the Headquarters of the XIT Ranches formed by the two Raymond Adams generations.
  • The XI Ranch is still under operation with descendants of H.G. Adams, all first sons are H.G.’s.

Here’s a picture, just for the ladies, this is from National Geographic. The XIT and XI Ranches are neighbors and “neighbor” (a verb) when they work cattle.  H. G.was married, now both happily. Cooper got fan mail from this and they are not easy to find. They were mainly disappointed that there wasn’t more mention of the ranch in the article.


Tanner Rollins, H.G. Adams, V, Cooper Adams. Summer 2007.


Summers, Robert, John Chisum, Sallie Chisum connection.

And more about some interesting former owners connected with this historic ranch, ending at this point in time with the Adams. Summers was in business with William Robert of Preetz, Germany.  Robert physically lived on the ranch, and actively ran the operation.  William Robert had been John Chisum’s accountant and bookkeeper in Anton Chico, New Mexico. This is Tom’s department (the movie, that is), but John Chisum was a famous New Mexico Cattleman. The Lincoln County Wars were depicted in the Emilio Estevez version of Billy the Kidd.

Robert to Kansas.

Family rumor has it that William Robert left when it got wild down there.  He was the well-educated money guy, so he had to be along to do the deal.  It still works that way, you are there to count the cattle when they go on the truck. Wherever there is. I don’t know if another responsibility might have been keeping the unruly cowboys in tether when they shot the lights out in Dodge, wearing their fancy duds.  This may have been a one-way, one-job deal for cowboys at that time, so Chisum could cut them loose with no responsibility.  It’s expensive to feed them on the way back and put them up for the rest of the year.

How ranching worked prior to closing of the ranch, after Civil War and during the time of the cattle drives…

Before the range was closed, anyone who bought land along the river (and was a bit of a b@d@a$s) ruled. They ranged off uplands and their neighbors. There were many, many more neighbors at the time, even in the Panhandle. They were the settlers who were enlisted to take the West from the Indians with the 160 acre gift from the U.S. Government. This was somewhat of a folly with the type of land and rainfall in southwest Kansas, particular along the hilly Cimarron. Though there are still remnants of houses on the ranch, they were soon bought out by speculators. Anyway, Roberts had scoped it out and bought into the partnership with Summers.

William Robert and Sallie Chisum.

Another note, William Robert was married to John Chisum’s niece Sally Chisum. Sallie never lived at the XI Headquarters, though they had two children together. She held court down there with the cowboys and Billie the Kidd, much more fun. I’ll get a picture, but that’s another story. There’s some Roberts marrying Adams, and later, some descendents marrying back into Adams. All very interesting…

"Here Comes de Boss..." Keith Avery. Wall Drug, South Dakota.

Here is another picture of my late father-in-law, Raymond Adams, Jr. that hangs at Wall Drug in South Dakota. If you do a driving trip to the Badlands, Old Faithful and Crazy Horse, look it up.  It was also painted by Keith Avery, the illustrator and portraitist mentioned above. Keith Avery was most renowned for magazine covers for Western Horseman.


The subject, Raymond Adams, Jr. (Raymond Adams, Sr.’s eldest son) was quite a cowboy, as are his sons, as are their sons and daughters. You do know, some of the best cowboys are cowgirls, don’t you?  His was the generation whose fathers had them start doing the skilled (and grueling) work of the Cowboy. This was also a necessity with the introduction of  labor laws and taxes. You know, that year when everyone’s grandfather’s office had a fire.  Income taxes were retroactive.


And, back to the relationship of Raymond Adams, Jr. to Keith Avery. The mounted portrait above now hangs in John Adams office of the XIT Headquarters in Meade County. And, here is the letter from the artist, Keith Avery, to Raymond Adams, Jr. clarifying some details and catching up.

Letter from Keith Avery to Raymond E. Adams, Jr.


My father-in-law and John are very proud of this portrait. I think my father-in-law had some problem with the way he did the horns, it wouldn’t be proper without this.

So a final word about historical misrepresentations to come full circle…
This picture at Wall Drug is printed on a postcard you can buy in the Gift Shop. It is captioned, “Here Comes de Boss” and describes the location as “herding cattle on the XIT Ranch in Texas”.  I brought up it up at a family dinner that I thought this needed some correction. It was political, I’m not blood kin, so I dropped the issue. After his death, I shot a letter up there to the curator, and it it is now corrected. It had to be done.  The visage and profile are so obvious to the portrait in the Headquarters home I provided. They were appreciative to have the letter. So, if you buy the old postcard when you’re there, you’ll know the real story. Unless they’ve re-printed it with correct information. In that case, please buy me some, I’ll send you a check.

So, if this seems like shameless marketing of history and anecdotes via Tom Rooker-producer-of-Hollywood-Films-a Johnson- County-Resident-Clint Eastwood’s-campaign-manager-and-personal-buddy-when-he ran-for-mayor-of-Carmel, so be it.

The theme is historical accuracy in my mind with a few stories thrown in.

Postscript May 23, 2011.

I fact-checked on everything but Tom, so professional of me when posting on a movie producer’s wall.  He sent me this message on FB.

Tom Rooker The class president was Tom Weary. Thanks for the clarification on XIT locale!

8 hours ago ·  ·  1 person (this was me)
So, the title of the post has been changed. STUCO was a much harder job than…. planning the reunions?  Do our class officers do this? He did a splendid job of organizing our picture at the 30 year.