The Farwells were Chicago merchants with worldwide operations. They had no working knowledge of ranches, or even Texas; however, their savey for entrepreneurial endeavors led them to finance Col. Amos C. Babcock and the Taylor, Babcock and Company's bid to build the Texas state capitol building. In the decades following Texas' success for independence, the state had little extra funds but possessed large amounts of land. In the 1870s, the growing state had outgrown its current capitol building and began accepting bids for a new one. A fire in 1879 increased the necessity for a new building. In true Texas fashion, the state government desired the largest capitol building in the nation, and offered 3 million acres for a $3 million capitol building.
In 1881, the cornerstone of the red granite Renaissance Revival style capitol building was laid and the Chicago businessmen's curiosity in their lone star state property peaked. The land could not be sold until the completion of the capitol building; therefore, other profitable possibilities were sought. That spring, the Farwell's sent Babcock to tour their desolate holdings. Babcock kept a journal and reported lush grasses growing stirrup high that produced fat and healthy looking herds of buffalo, antelope, and deer. Upon hearing this, the Farwells decided the best return upon their investment was to try their hands in the ranch business and cater to America's growing demand for fresh beef. They then turned to foreign investors and raised over $5 million to fence the entire plot, divide it into seven division, and buy the first 20,000 head of cattle.
XIT operations faced a number of difficulties, including fires, blizzards, cattle market crashes, and the ultimate constant search for water. However, they also achieved many elements of success. At its peak, under the management of Albert G. Boyce, the XIT employed 150 cowboys, owned 1000 horses, and branded 35,000 calves yearly. For eleven years of operation, the XIT drove 12500 cattle from the Texas Panhandle to graze on acreage acquired north of Miles City Montana. Ultimately, the enterprize ran its course and the British creditors ran out of patience. As the Farwell's sold off their holdings and divided the land for purchase, it became evident at just how successful the XIT and its legacy was. When the last XIT cow sold in November of 1912, all investment bonds were finally completely paid and operations closed.