Humphreys, Jim 1980-09-24

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Jim Humphreys discusses his management and history of the Pitchfork Ranch near Guthrie, Texas.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Jim Humphreys

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: September 24, 1980

Location: Driving interview from Texas to Montana

Interviewer: David Murrah

Length: 4 hours, 10 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Background, Born in Kansas City, Father James Thomas Humphreys, Father’s career, Banker at Interstate National Bank in Kansas City, Bank dealt primarily with cattle owners as far as Hereford and San Angelo, Early ranching experiences, Mother’s family involved in livestock banking, Worked on ranch north of Laredo (1934-1936), Traveled to Kansas with drive, Recollection of sod houses, Visited Pitchfork Ranch and D. Burns, Education, Attended Texas Tech (1940), Graduated after military service (1947), World War II, Unable to enter Air Corps, Served in Medical Corps, Received veterinary training in Illinois, Education (again), Texas Tech—worked with athletic guys, Description of Tech campus, Career, Worked for bank and ranch in Kansas City, Traveled to Panhandle to check on cattle for bank, Pitchfork Ranch, Visited with D. Burns (1948), Hired to work in office for $90.00 a month.

Tape 1, Side 2: Recollections of first meeting with Burns, Humphreys’ job responsibilities, Acquisition of Matador land poorest part, Attitude of men towards Humphreys, Personal life, Married Bernice (June 1957), Description of courtship and marriage, Lived in block house on ranch, Moved to big house, Children reared on ranch, Discussion of children’s activities, Pitchfork ranch (again), Condition of ranch, Pitchfork operation procedures, Wintering calves, Marketing cows, Transportation to Kansas, Weighing animals, Drought effects on animals, Flag Ranch, Wintering process in Wyoming, Introduced sheep to combat larkspur.

Tape 2, Side 1: Sheep, Men from Texas sheared sheep, Wyoming cattle, Wyoming ranch not for breeding, Discusses expense of shipping cattle from Wyoming, Problems with cattle, Necessity for feeding cattle, Flag Ranch (again), Humphreys travels to ranch several times a year, Discussion of trip, Pitchfork and county government, Discusses relationship between the two, Ranch hands become involved in county politics, Pitchfork largest tax payer, Pitchfork managers, Discussion of D. Burns, Burns’ contributions, Humphreys talks about coming to the ranch in 1965 and meeting Burns.

Tape 2, Side 2: D. Burns’ projects, Hog operation, Feed mill, Fencing and water projects, Began to use caterpillar, Horse sales began in 1963 in order to get rid of surplus horses, Burns added insurance and social security benefits for employees, Projects increased paperwork for Humphreys.

Tape 3, Side 1: Cattle, Bulls and selling procedures, Ranch improvements, Automobiles changed procedures, Electric pumps cheaper than windmills, Two-way radios for communication procedures, Addition of helicopter, Aids in finding missing cattle, Operator must know about cattle business, Too expensive to own lease helicopter, Drifts cattle, Began using them in the 1960s, Annual roundups, Determine sellable cattle, Send cattle to Abilene to disperse them, No longer need extra men due to vehicles, Roundups do not include treating cows for screw worm anymore, Eugene and Gates Williams, Discussion of owners, Their knowledge of the ranch, Relationship with D. Burns, Disagreements between Williams brothers and Burns.

Tape 3, Side 2: Humphreys’ management, Discussion of profits, Difference in management of Burns and Humphreys, Humphreys’ projects, Elimination of supplying groceries, Addition of insurance programs, Discussion of salary, Communication, Change to citizen band (CB) radios, Advantage of old operator system, Range fires, Frequency, Community effort.

Tape 4, Side 1: Annual roundups (again), Cooperative effort, Branding procedures, Roping techniques, Medication administered, Lack of screw worm problems, Halter breaking procedures, Weather conditions, Droughts—1950s worst period, Short drought period (1971), Received drought assistance (1950s), Pitchfork improvements, Reservation Indians rebuilt outside fence, Discussion of payment method between Pitchfork and reservation.

Tape 4, Side 2: Ranch improvements (again), Different procedure for processing meat, No longer involved in chicken business, Social life, Discussion of dances, Lack of transportation resulted in men creating own activities, Vacations, Management allowed cowboys to take them at their leisure, Theft, Not a big problem, Calves easier to steal.

Tape 5, Side 1: Pitchfork Ranch (again), Expansion of ranch.

Tape 5, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: c. 1920s-1980

Bulk Dates: 1950-1980

Access Information

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