In 1915, one of the first large ranches to assemble was the Chapman-Barnard ranch, put together by James A. Chapman, a Tulsa oilman, and Mr. H.G. Barnard, a Texas ranch man. The ranch originally covered an area reaching 16 miles long, from the Kansas border to within eight miles of Pawhuska. The ranch was 13 miles wide. The towns of Foraker and Blackland lie within the ranch’s borders and at Blackland the Midland Valley Railroad once shipped more cattle than any other point in the southwest.
Combining Bluestem grass and flint hills of the Osage reservation, the ranch consisted of 70,000 acres. At one point the owners carried out a vast feeder operation in which as many as 175,000 steers were shipped into the Osage in the spring for fattening.
Today the ranch is home to The Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. More than 400 bison are now distributed on 37,000 acres of prairie.
Eugene Claremont “Gene” Mullendore was born in 1905 in Cleveland, Oklahoma while Kathleen Boren was born 1905 in Caney, Kansas. Her parents rode 45 miles on their horses to register Kathleen’s birth at the Osage Indian Agency, thus making her eligible as an original allottee to receive Osage Headright. Each allottee was issued 640 acres and an interest in Mineral Rights owned by the Tribe.
The main Cross Bell Headquarters are located on that original 640 acres. On December 21, 1926 Kathleen and Gene were married in Caney, Kansas. Together they built an empire which, at one time, covered more than 130,000 acres along the Kansas/Oklahoma border.
Eventually, they purchased the Boren Ranch owned by Kathleen’s parents, the Little Chief Ranch in Fairfax and the Bird Creek Ranch in Pawhuska.
They focused on breeding fine Quarter Horses to work the large cattle operation they had developed. They raised the best of the best Hereford cattle and were recognized as the largest cattle shippers ever on the Santa Fe Railroad.
The words “Drummond” and “Ranching” are almost synonymous in Osage County, Oklahoma. Osage County is known for its big ranches. Of its 1,400,000 acres, 1024 individuals own 1,153,000 (data from 1981).
The Drummond’s started acquiring land with the purchase of 160 acres in 1913.
There are other large ranches in Osage County such as the Adam (Oklahoma Land & Cattle Co.), the Mullendore, and the Chapman Barnard. But the largest holdings in one family, 125,000 acres or more, belongs to the Drummonds.
Each Drummond owns his own land, cattle, and brand, but they operate so closely together it is hard for an outsider to tell where interests of one begins and another ends.
Osage County is also unique in that the landowners have rights to the surface only. The Osage Indians as a tribe, collectively own all the mineral rights.
Where ranchers outside of Osage County can fall back on the minerals during hard times or use them for expansion during good times, those ranchers in Osage County truly are pure ranchers and had better be tough and far thinking or they won’t be ranching next year.
- “The Drummond Family History” by John R. Drummond
(Our Drummond Ranch exhibit is currently under constuction and will be available for viewing soon!)