Gray, Ted 1999-10-26

From SWC Oral History Collection
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ted Gray talks about growing up on a stock farm in Jack County, Texas in the mid-1920’s to the 1930’s.He talks about Jacksboro, Texas in the 1930’s, about Alpine, Texas in 1938 and about Sul Ross University.He also talks about his life as a cowboy in the Davis Mountains area of West Texas.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Ted Gray

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: October 26, 1999

Location: Alpine, Texas

Interviewer: David Marshall

Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Gray Ted, Born in Jack County, Texas – 1923, Growing up on a stock farm in Jack County Texas, Going to school in a one room schoolhouse, Being the 11th child in a family of 12 children, All the kids working hard on the farm, List of the stock animals on their farm, Corn as their cash crop, Some of it probably went to the production of illegal whisky, Other crops on the farm, Problem with boll weevil, Growing oats to feed the plow teams, Feeding corn to the plow teams, Childhood jobs on the farm, Slaughtering and processing hogs, Slaughtering beef, Slaughtered in the winter when it was cold enough to not spoil, Hard times, Subsistence farming, Everyone living hand to mouth, No jobs and no cash for anyone, Deciding to become a cowboy, Began working with the cattle at age six, Starting own heard at age 12, Family losing everything in the depression, Jacksboro, Texas – 1930’s, Description of the town, Most people going to town every Saturday, Paying $.15 for a movie, Paying $.05 for a soda at the drug store, Church denominations and church buildings, Summer revivals, School, One room school house with a stove in the middle of the room, First year there were 21 students, only 4 students remaining when he left, Difficulties in learning to socialize, School schedule being adjusted to students need to do farm work, Fort Richardson Texas, Still standing and in good condition, Built to protect people from the Indians, In ruins when he was growing up, Justin boots and Stetson hats, Roping, Practice roping, Horses, Name of his first horse, Riding his horse over 35 miles in one day, Paint horses, Some of the best horses were mean horses, Horse named Scar, Training a horse, Work horses vs. well bread horses, Care of the workhorses, The importance of raising horses in the area where they will work, Ranching in Greeley Colorado, Philosophy on learning, Keeping quiet around cattle, Using hand motions to communicate, Defining cowboy ethic, The importance of being able to read people.

Tape 1, Side 2: The importance of being able to read people (again), The personality of a good cowboy, Story about one cowboy up from Mexico, Handling different personalities, Alpine Texas – 1938, Small cow town, Traders, ranchers, and cowmen populated Alpine, Description of Alpine businesses in 1938, Lumber yard logo, Blacksmith shop, Door used to test new branding irons, Cattle holding pens, Comparison of Alpine Texas with Fort Stockton Texas, Differences in land quality, Sul Ross University – 1938, Buildings on the campus in 1938, Early contributors to the university, Originally named Sul Ross Normal, Name changes of the university, Visits to the boarder towns in the 1930’s and the 1940’s, Americans ranching in Mexico, Cheap labor in Mexico, Mexican cowboys being some of the best cowboys, World War II taking a lot of the American cowboys away, Feelings between Anglos and Mexicans, Cowboys respect for each other’s skills, Black cowboys, Good cowboys and working well with others, Duties of a wagon boss, What makes a good wagon boss, Work flow organization, Relationships between the cooks and the cowboys, The problems associated with giving the cook too much authority, Cowboy injuries, Weather, Various conditions under which cowboys have to work cattle, Cowboy injuries (again), Weather (again), Story about working cattle in a hailstorm, Cattle and horses’ response to hail.

Tape 2, Side 1: Court cases about damage caused from seeding clouds to make rain, Testifying in court about hail damage, Weather (again), Draught years, Seven years of draught, The rainfall in the 1940’s, Draught years (again), Cutting expenses to get through the draught years, Sources of ground water, Weather (again), Draught years (again), Efforts to save the cattle, Income classification for tax purposes on the sale of cattle, Weather (again), Effects of freezing weather on cattle, January 1946 snow storms, Effects in Alpine Texas, Effects on cattle, Tornado damage, Describing the process of building a camp house, Weather (again), Tornado damage (again), Loss of cattle to tornadoes, Loss of horses to tornadoes, Lightening, Horse killed by lightening, Lightening striking the bunk house, Telephone poles hit by lightening, Dust storms, 1950’s dust storms, Working cattle in dust storms, Problems with wildlife, Coyotes killing calves, Trapping Lobo wolves, Panthers killing deer and threatening cattle, Hunting panthers, Deer population, Eagles getting the kid goats and antelope, Wildlife Federation visit.

Tape 2, Side 2: Wildlife (again), Grizzly bear killed in the Davis Mountains, Skull is in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Brown bears in the Davis Mountains, Story about killing a brown bear, Grizzly bear killed in the Davis Mountains (again), Means and Findley families annual bear hunt, Early ranchers, Means Evans, Elk brought in from Wyoming, Rattle snakes and havelina hogs, Killing rattle snakes, Description of a rat’s nest, Killing rattle snakes (again), Story about a cowboy handling rattle snakes, Cattle breeds, Herefords, Cross breeding coastal cattle, White Brahma cattle, Fertility problem, Santa Gertrudis cattle perfected at the King Ranch, Angus, Brangus, Hereford (again), Cross-breeds, Difficulties with some breeds, Limosine cattle, The importance of the quality of land in the success of various breeds, Work involved in breeding and the payoff, Current financial investments.

Range Dates: 1923-1999

Bulk Dates: 1934-1950

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


Thank you for your interest in this oral history interview. Our oral history collection is available to patrons in the Southwest Collection's Reading Room, located on the campus of Texas Tech University. For reading room hours, visit our website. Please contact Reference Staff at least one week prior to your visit to ensure the oral history you are interested in will be available. Due to copyright issues, duplications of our oral histories can only be made for family members. If an oral history transcript has been made available online, the link will be provided on this page. More information on accessing our oral histories is located here. Preferred citation style can be found here.