The Hat Ranch dates back to around the mid 1890s when associates Andrew Briggs “Sug” Robertson (1855-1921) and Winfield Scott (1849-1911) began to operate in partnership. Scott is thought to have been the majority owner. Its brand has been described as a half circle over a bar. We have also seen it sketched out looking more like a rectangle over a bar.
The ranching operation began in Mitchell County in West Texas and expanded into the New Mexico Territory in what was then Eddy County but became Lea County in 1917. The Lea County portion has longer history, of course, dating back far beyond the first Anglo settlers, but Scott is understood to have acquired it from an A. B. “Bill” Anderson and then sold a portion to Robertson.
In Lea County, it is mostly associated with the Monument area. A number of long time Lea County residents counted working on the Hat Ranch in their resumes.
At its peak, the Scott-Robertson holdings amounted to 1,000,000 acres and was once a large ranching business, before it began to be sold off to other settlers and homesteaders. The ranch continued to operate in Texas and New Mexico for many years. The ranch appears to have ceased operations as a Lea County entity under the ownership of Robertson and Scott around 1904 to 1906. The Fort Worth Telegram reported a large land sale in its April 3, 1907 issue. In it the real estate firm of Trammel & McCauley of Sweetwater, Texas had brokered the sale of the Texas properties formerly owned by Winfield Scott and A. B. Robertson. It included land in Lynn, Lubbock, Crosby Counties in Texas. Cowboy humorist Will Rogers also is known to have worked on the ranch, however briefly, and most likely around Midland, Texas.
Scott was well known as an investor in Fort Worth, Texas. When he died in 1911, a large mausoleum was constructed for his family in the historic old Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth. Robertson died unexpectedly in Abilene in 1921 and is buried in his home town of Colorado City, Texas.