Opening the Cowboy Hall Of Fame and Western Heritage Museum

Western Heritage on Display at Cowboy Hall of Fame

By Sue Seibert

A journey into the colorful history of Lea County and the Llano Estacado will shortly become a reality as progress toward completion of the Lea County Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center nears conclusion. The Center, housed on the campus of New Mexico Junior College in Caster Activity Center, is a dream-in-the-making which originated in the hearts and minds of the first Board of Directors, Dale “Tuffy” Cooper, Sylvia Benge, Muriel Loya Maders, Stanley E. Newman, Tom Pearson, Dessie Sawyer, John Shepherd, Leo Sims, R. N. Tydings, and  Bill Zimmerman in 1978.

This dream was to establish an organization dedicated to preserving Western heritage and to recognizing outstanding individuals who, through their efforts, have made Lea County a better place in which to live. The official Grand Opening for the Center is anticipated as November 1983. Therefore much thought and labor is now being put into creating the Center as the memorial of which the dream was made.

On November 20 the center will hold its opening membership banquet at which time it will recognize this year’s three inductees into the Hall of Fame.

The three, being selected from a nomination list of ten possible honorees, must have distinguished themselves as civic leaders in a community in Lea County, by being an outstanding rodeo performer, or by having assisted in the development of the livestock industry through an act that opened the way for others. Further, the inductees must be at least 21 years old, a long-time resident of Lea County, and of good character and reputation.

Those nominated for this honor include Jimmie Baum Cooper, World Champion All-Around Cowboy from Monument; Allen Clinton “Daddy” Heard, who establinshed the Mallet Ranch at High Loansome and was a life member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Assocation; Edwin David “Ed” Holt, first mayor of Tatum; Eli Jackson Jones, who assisted in the organization of the “Old Cowboys’ Reunion” and the REA; and Noran Gordon Morgan, leader in the Lea County Sheriff’s Posse, New Mexico State Cattle Inspector and consultant for the New Mexico Livestock Board of Hobbs.

Also nominated are Alered Green “Allie” Rushing, cowboy and wagon cook for such ranches as the Hat Ranch; Tom Shipp, who assisted in establishing schools in the Knowles area south of his ranch west of Hobbs; Hugh “Rack” Ward, who homesteaded near Jal, served as Lea County Commissioner, and helped start the Jal Roping Club; “Colonel” William Standifer Williams, who incorporated the Plains Cattle and Sheep Company, settling 18 miles west of Lovington in 1898; and Adam Zimmerman, born in Frankfort, Germany, who drilled water wells in New Mexico, his first in 1901 near the New Mexico Junior College campus, and became a naturalized citizen in 1912.

Fund raisers for the Center include the Annual Days of the Old West Rodeo held in the Jake McClure Arena at Lovington where cowboys from area ranches particpate in ranch life type events. This year’s winning ranch was the Bogle Ranch of Tatum, with Eidson Ranch second, Price Ranch third, Fort-Dickson Ranch fourth, San Simon Ranch fifth and Snyder Ranch sixth.

All funds raised from such events go to furnish exhibits in the center which include the lobby and holding tank/windmill area, American Indian area, soldier and buffalo hunter area, open range and big ranch area, homesteader and settler area, oil industry area, pioneer street exhibit, towns’ historical area, genealogy and research area, and conference area.

Persons wishing to contribute to the Center may do so by contacting Betty Parrish, 392-4510. Monetary contributions of $100 or more will receive an engraved display plaque in the Center. Items of historic interest may be contributed. These items become the permanent property of the Center.

1982 Board of Directors include Sylvia Benge, Lovington; Daisy Clayton, Lovington; Bob Eidson, Lovington; Lynn Medlin, Tatum; Mark Kennedy, Lovington; Muriel McNeill, Hobbs; Leo Sims, Hobbs; Tom Pearson, Eunice; Dale Cooper, Monument; Loys Madera, Jal; and Robert Anderson, Hobbs. Chairman of the Directors is Daily Clayton, while Sylvia Benge is secretary.

Since 1978, 22 people have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are:
1978 honorees —
Clyde Allen Browning, first Anglo child born in Lea County, growing up on the Tunnels Ranch below Caprock and establishing Lower Wells Ranch, 22 miles north of  Maljamar;
John Thomas Easley, who came to Lea County in 1906, ranched in Monument and at the Old Plainview and Anderson Ranch near Lovington, was vice-president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers, and organized the New Mexico State Farm Bureau;
Pello Etcheverry, born in Urepel, France, homemsteaded on what is known today as the Blackwell Ranch, 16 miles northwest of Lovington.
Roy Lenard “Jake” McClure, who lived in Lovington, was a rancher and champion roper in the U. S. and Canada, whose horse, Silver, was recognized as World Champion Calf Roping Horse was the first person named to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City;
Henry Record, worked on Muleshoe Ranch and the JAL outfit, owned a ranch southwest of Monument, was president of the Open Range Cowboy’s Association and the New Mexico Cattle Growers;
George Weir, a steer roper who moved to Monument in 1905, roped in the U. S., Canada, South and Central America, and Europe, was World Champion Steer Roper in 1932;
Dow Wood, homesteader south of Lovington, was for 42 years a cattle inspectgor and deputy sheriff, organized the Open Range Cowboy’s Association;
1979 honorees —
Tom Bingham, a pioneer who homesteaded in the fall of 1860 and worked to make Lea a county, was tax assessor and a law officer;
Troy C. Fort, called “Mr. Rodeo,” a native of  Lea County born in Prairieview, World Champion Roper 1947-49, made national rodeo finals 11 times, is now on the PRCA Advisory Board;
Mary Susan “Ma” Hooper, worked on a 320-acre homestead at Ranger Lake after her husband died, was a nurse and midwife, was a member of the Ranger Lake School Board, and was named “Lovington’s Mother of the Year” in 1954;
Earl Hornegay, assisted in 4-H and FFA events, organized the Lea County Sheriff’s Posse, began operating a ranch at the age of 15;
Dessie Sawyer, known as “Queen of the Democrats,” was for 26 years New Mexico National Democratic Committee Woman, worked for 4-H and FFA, keeps books for her ranch located east of Crossroads;
Dru Taylor, came to Monument in 1903 and to Maljamar in 1907, went into ranching and was director of Lovington National Bank and Taylor Grazing Association;
1980 honorees —
Daniel Clyde Berry, had ranches at Tatum and Lea, played fiddle to accompany his wife’s guitar, Lea County Treasurer, State Representative 1937-38, and Lea County Commissioner in 1946;
George Causey, brought life to the Llano-Estacado by building windmills to tap surface water, hunted buffalo, built adobe houses, trading posts and a post office;
Robert Florence Love, was a cowboy on several differenct ranches, homesteaded 160 acres and established the township of Lovington, was postmaster in Lovington, first State Legislator from Lea County when New Mexico became a state, nicknamed “Fiddlecase,”
Warren Snyder, a rancher, owned Ford agencies in Hobbs and Lovington, homesteaded west of Lovington;
Will Terry, Hobbs area cowboy and rancher, he still operates the family ranch, plays the French harp;
1981 honorees —
Samantha Anderson, known as “A Country Girl,” was a mule-skinner, taught the Hi Lonesome School, settled at Bake’s Fist (now known as Crossroads), took over Rocking R and Quarter Circle X Ranch when her  husband died;
Marion Rubin Bess, nicknamed “Sweety,” was on the Tatum School Board for 14 years, director of the Federal Land Bank of Lea County, broke horses for the Block Ranch at Capitan, and staked his claim northeast of Tatum;
Richard David “Dick” Lee, was ranch manager and upgraded Herefords, worked as a cowboy at the Hat Ranch at Monument Springs, worked for the Scarbauer Cattle Company of Lea County as partner and  manager, owned the Old Swamp Angel Ranch;
John Davidson Graham, traded cattle and horses across New Mexico, settled and bought the Causey Ranch where he raised cattle and horses, helped organize First National Bank of Lea County.

People interested in membership in the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center are invited to contact Mrs. Parrish. A one-year membership fee is $15 which includes voting rights and the annual November banquet.
[Hobbs Flare, Hobbs, NM, 30 Sep 1982.]

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