“To Preserve the Spirit of the Old West as a Spirit That Should Never Be Forgotten”
This interesting Lea County group dates back to 1940. After a few years of meeting informally, it was organized as part of a national group of the same name. Its original charter members included Henry S. Record, Will Gray, Bill Duncan, Charlie Cochran, John Catchings, Frank Wyckoff, M. G Cottrell, Bob Beverly, J. D. Hart, R. F. Love, Bert Ancell, J D. Black, Max Fletcher, Robert Allie, Jim Love, W. P. Bird and Bill Montieth.
According to old newspaper articles, it was intended to be a social group organized to “honor the memories of cowboys who rode the open range” before barbed wire and other forms of fencing became commonly used. Lovington was the headquarters. The group was open to old time cowboys and their descendants. Another goal was to erect some sort of monument to the cowboys who had gone on to their “last roundup.”
The group has held reunions since its inaugural meeting. The initial members have long since passed away, but the group still meets to honor this unique time of western history.
Notes from some of the newspaper coverage over the years:
In 1941, Henry Record invited oldtimers to attend the 10th reunion. [Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, NM. 1 Sep 1950.]
In 1956, some 750 people attended what was the 23rd annual reunion. Fifty-seven men were considered to be open range cowboys from the era. Attendees consumed 1,000 pounds of beef and a considerable amount of son-of-a-gun stew. The meeting was called to order not with a gavel, but with the ringing of a cowbell. The program included a lot of reminiscing, fiddle, guitar and accordion music and some brief speeches. The oldest man present was G. H. Goodrich of Lovington, age 90, and the oldest woman was Mrs. Ella Thrasher of Lovington, age 85. The person who came the longest distance to attend was Charley Wiggins, once of Lea County, but currently a resident of Lewisburg, Tennessee. The couple married the longest were Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Bilbrey of Lovington who had been married 66 years. [Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, NM. 2 Sep 1956.]
Some 500 people, an estimated 200 over 60 years of age, attended the reunion. Henry Record of Monument served as president of the association. [Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, NM. 7 Sep 1958.]
An estimated 500 people attended the reunion this year, it being the 27th gathering. Over half were over 60. The oldest man present was O. L. Tomlinson, 90, of Lovington. The oldest cowgirl was 87 year old Mrs. J. W. Russell of Hobbs. Mrs. Eva Woodward, 85, was named sweetheart by those attending. Henry Record served as president. [Hobbs Daily News-Sun, Hobbs, NM. 18 Sep 1960.]