How the Land Question was Answered

3 minute read

“Speculators Jot Gunter and Bill Munson got a law through the Texas Legislature authorizing a man to file on a whole county for one dollar and a half; and, at the end of the year he could renew it. To get the JA, Adair and Goodnight had to go through Gunter and Munson. Here’s Goodnight’s blow by blow…”

From The Southwestern Historical Quarterly Vol. XXXI JANUARY, 1928 No. 3:

A History of the JA Ranch

by Harley True Burton CHAPTER III Formation of Partnership of Goodnight and Adair

…The troubles were not ended when they arrived at their destination, because it was just a few days after their arrival that Jot Gunter, a speculator, put in a blanket survey covering the whole section of country which Colonel Goodnight had planned to use for his ranch, and hence, he surveyed them in.

Expansion and Growth of the Ranch


In pursuance of the contract made between Adair and Goodnight in 1877, Colonel Goodnight bought the first twelve thousand acres of the J A Ranch from Gunter and Munson in 1877. The rare judgment displayed by Colonel Goodnight in selecting this first twelve thousand acres and in contracting for twelve thousand acres more to be bought the following year spelled success for the enterprise. Colonel Goodnight gives the following account of this transaction:

Adair furnished only money enough to buy twelve thousand acres. I knew that would not monopolize the ranch business, but I wanted to stay. However, the bad part of it was that Adair got mixed up with Gunter and Munson and they were too smart for him and the result was that they held me up for one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre on the twelve thousand acres. I had to get it through them or take my chances, and I wanted that canyon. I got them down to six bits an acre and closed for twelve thousand. acres, provided they would let me set the compass and. they would run it; and that is where that Old Crazy Quilt comes in. I took all the good land and all the water I could get and under the contract they were to let me designate twelve thousand acres more that I was to take the next year at my option. Well, I scattered that all over the Palo Duro Canyon; every good ranch in the country, every place a man was liable to come, I took. It cost like the devil to survey it. We surveyed for four or five days, and Gunter got to kicking and said, “Why don’t you take this land?” I said, “I don’t want it.” He said, “I ain’t going to run this outfit all winter for you !” I said, “You contracted to; didn’t you?” He said, “No, I didn’t.” I said, “You had better get your contract out and read it.” It stated just what I claimed. I said, “Now, Jot, behave yourself and get along with the contract and I’ll tell you where you can get another chunk of country. There’s a country over there at Quitaque that is vacant.” He said, “That ain’t vacant.” I said, “I know it is. It’s the next best thing on earth, and you can locate that with these certificates you have and. make you a fortune.” And he said, “I’ll do it.” Well, we ran all over this country and kept surveying and designating and taking; spotting it up so they couldn’t sell it to anybody else. And then he entered into a contract with me, that he wouldn’t sell to a cattleman unless he bought a ranch. I said, “Now if you’ll go into this and not sell to a cattleman unless he buys a ranch instead or a section or two, I’ll make this the best country in the world.” He kept that contract.