The ranch headquartered in Quitman, Missouri, had holdings throughout the United States. Southwest. Bilby settled in Nodaway County, Missouri, in 1868 and began expanding his empire using one property as collateral for the next. Soon it stretched from Missouri to Oklahoma to Texas to New Mexico.
A dispute over the cattle operations was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 1887 in the case of Teal v.
Bilby. However, since the ranch was totally based on borrowed funds it eventually collapsed, and Bilby was left with the only unmortgaged property—the home in Quitman. He died after being hit by a train shortly after the collapse of the ranch.
Portions of ranch became the O Bar O Ranch in Texas and joined King Ranch, which was the biggest ranch. The State of Missouri acquired 5,030 acres (204 km2) of the land around Quitman in 1989 to form the Bilby Ranch Conservation Area.