Agricultural and urban development came late to the Texas South Plains, and frontier life lingered well into the twentieth century. In the decade preceding World War I numerous land companies flourished in the area and acted as catalysts for settlement and economic expansion. Prominent among these companies was the Plainview-based Texas Land and Development Company, founded in 1912 as an operating agent for a syndicate of eastern financiers.
Like most land companies, the Texas Land and Development Company operated a large-scale enterprise that broke up ranch holdings into tracts for sale to farmers. Company agents advertised broadly in newspapers and magazines and organized special train trips to bring prospective customers to the area. And, like most entrepreneurs associated with frontier land companies, backers of the Texas Land and Development Company hoped to realize a quick profit from land sales.
The Plainview enterprise was, however, unique in many ways. It promoted relatively high-priced lands and tried to sell fully developed, irrigated farms. The company was an important social and economic force in Plainview and the surrounding counties because its backers put capital into the region instead of taking money out. Especially during the early years, the company realized little profit from sales because of war and depression. The complex and sophisticated fiscal structure of the company is of particular historical significance.
B. R. Brunson traces the history of the influential Texas Land and Development Company from its inception in 1912 to its final dissolution in January 1956. He combines an analysis of the company's role in Panhandle economic growth with lively biographies of the men who organized the operation and descriptions of their achievements in the fields of irrigation, farm planning, company organization, and finance.
B. R. Brunson (1924–1988) lived and taught in Plainview for five years, and while there he became interested in the Texas Land and Development Company, a Plainview "institution." He taught history at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) until his death.