William Middleton Nelson “Bob” Beverly

Bob was born May 5, 1872 in Ringgold, Georgia to John Purnell Beverly (1831 – 1884) and Missouri Alice Israel Beverly (1845 – 1879). Bob’s father J. P. had worked as a farmer in Georgia and was doing so when Bob was born. Soon thereafter, J. P.’s family and the Israel family moved to a place near Kimball in central Texas where a settlement was beginning to take hold on the Brazos River. Alice died in 1879 in Bosque County, Texas at the same time Bob’s sister Anna Addie Beverly was born and Alice was buried there. Afterward, J. P. moved back to Ringgold, Georgia where he and the five children remained until his death in 1884, living with Bob’s grandparents, William and Elizabeth Beverly. The family story is that soon after his father’s death, Bob came back to Texas on horseback by himself, while still a teenager.

In 1895, Bob married Nancy Ona Elizabeth Rammage with whom he had two children. She died in the Chickasaw Nation (now Oklahoma) in 1899 and by 1900, Bob was living in Johnson County with the two children in the household of Arthur and Henrietta “Etta” Israel, his aunt and uncle. Bob later remarried.

In Bob’s long career, he had worked on a farm, served as sheriff of Midland County, Texas (1908 – 1912), served as a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser’s Association. He was a special ranger for the Texas Rangers for a short time prior to 1920. By around 1920, Bob was operating a ranch in Nara Vista, Quay County, New Mexico and by 1930, he had relocated to a ranch in Lea County, where he would remain. He ranched and served as sheriff of Lea County for a number of years. Bob was a charter member of the Open Range Cowboy Association, which was made up of those individuals who had worked in the cattle business before the range was divided by fencing.

Bob was known to be an excellent writer and over the years penned at least one book “Hobo of the Rangeland” and many other articles. One news writer commented of the book, “Bob has written the book to raise money to send his blind five year old grandson to some school where he may have opportunities for an education.” He also wrote letters to the editors of various newspapers. He is mentioned many times in the news, some of which are noted below.

In early 1931, Albuquerque Journal carried an article under the headline “War On Slot Machines in Hobbs and Other Lea County Towns; 33 Confiscated; Three Men Jailed.” The article described a raid in Hobbs where 33 nickel and quarter slot machines were seized. As word spread of the raid, slot machines in Lovington, Tatum and other parts of the county disappeared. Beverly was quoted as saying that one of his deputies had been warned to stay out of Hobbs or be jailed himself. The gambling operation had come with the oil boom, and Beverly carried out the raid anyway with deputies Jack Seay, Bert Ivey and L. C. Mills.

An article in the Clovis News-Journal from 1940 has Beverly, no longer sheriff, warning residents of a mail fraud called the “Spanish Swindle,” Quoting from an actual letter he had been given by a potential victim, he described the swindle which was characterized by the hoaxer’s claims of needing money to free a female relative who is behind bars in a foreign country. The hoaxer needed help in accessing a tantalizing amount cash held in United States banks. If the victim helped, he would receive one-third of the funds, “at no risk.” Other variations had the hoaxer needing funds to pay for a bankruptcy trial or some other calamity.

In an article from the Roswell Daily Record in 1932, Beverly gave his account of the shootout in which deputy J. M. Clifton was mortally wounded after a gun battle in which suspected robbers named Carlock and O’Dell were killed by Clifton. In another article from the Clovis News-Journal in 1932, an account is given in which Beverly and a deputy went to Tatum and apprehended a suspected Oklahoma underworld figure by the name of Stanley Hedrick who helped them locate his associate named Pebsworth. The pair had escaped from a Roosevelt County shooting while driving a 1930 Ford Tudor. Pebsworth had been wounded and the suspects were turned over to Roosevelt County officers.

A 1938 article in the Albuquerque Journal mentions Beverly in an account of the annual XIT Ranch Reunion. Beverly was elected to serve as an officer of the reunion.

Our favorite article comes from the February 16, 1941 issue of the Clovis News-Journal on the occasion of the death of an old cowboy friend, James Irvin “Buster” Degraffenried. Beverly wrote of his friend:

“He saw unbroken trails. His footsteps marked the paths, blazed to follow, in the routes over the old west. He knew the west when barbed wire did not fence its acres. When life was safer, from the Comanche warrior, and outlaw, than today when so many Ford cars are running at you.

He saw the buffalo crowded from the range by the longhorns, and saw the longhorns disappear from the range by the stocking of blooded stock.

His early youth and manhood were spent on the prairies, before towns, and cities came to dot them with mileposts of progress. He drove through to a success in a red blooded period, when only courage could survive and initiative could win.

He caught a vision in his youth, that remained with him to the close of a long and useful life.

Now he is headed West once more, foot in the stirrup, seat in the saddle, driving his herd over another long and unknown trail. As we sit in our chairs, surrounded by modern civilization and mourn his passing, I wonder if there is yet left others in the world like Buster, who loved the solitude of the plains, the silence of the canyons, the ozone of the mountains.

So he died in El Paso. Perfectly fitting for an old puncher, of his kind, out on the border, looking ever for a land fitted with cows.

Farewell old friend. None will mourn your passing more than your old friend, Bob.

BOB BEVERLY,

Lovington, N. M.”

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