Petty, Elmer 1981-12-10

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Elmer Petty, longtime barber in Paducah, discusses his experiences as a cowboy on the Pitchfork Ranch.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Elmer Petty

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: December 10, 1981

Location: Paducah, Texas

Interviewer: David Murrah

Length: 2 hours 10 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Background, Born: 1896, in Brown County, Family moved to Brownwood when Petty was a child, Paducah, Texas, Moved to town in 1907, Pitchfork Ranch, Family moved to ranch in 1910, Father left Pitchfork in 1914, Petty remained on ranch, Farmers, Arrangement with Pitchfork, Cowboys assist farmers in harvest season, Pitchfork Ranch (again), Petty assigned to wrangle horses, Education on ranch, Garden Flat—one-room school, Discussion of students and teacher, Family life, Little time to see parents, Working the ranch, Required going out with the wagon, Branding process, Early experiences, Two cowboys trained him, Modernization, Fenced land in the 1920s, Cattle, Branding procedures, Description of wagons used in process, Driving cattle, Discussion of cutting horses.

Tape 1, Side 2: Branding procedures (continued), Top men were ropers, Petty responsible for marking ears, Discussion of cutting process between heifers and bulls, Discussion of tally process, Modernization, Work in pens now, Helicopters used at roundup, Leisure activities, Little social life, Mail important, Sit around campfire at night and talk, Jobs after Roundup, Treat screw worms, Line camps, Discussion of these camps, Check windmills in camps, Cowboys winter in these places.

Tape 2, Side 1: Dan Gardner, Discussion of ranch foreman, His activities, Hiring of bookkeeper, Walter Chalk, Walter Chalk, Relationship with Harley Bright, Departure from ranch after Gardner’s death, Discussion of his ability to be manager, Managers, Discussion of ineptness of men, Pitchfork buildings, Headquarters, Bunkhouse, Chuckhouse, Eugene and Gates Williams, Discussion of owners, Visited ranch twice a year, Managers (again), Redmud—began as a cowboy, Pitchfork myths, Pitchfork Kid—young kid at ranch later went to the Matador, Job responsibilities, Assigned duties, Discussion of cook’s authority, Food, Chuck items available to cowboys, Cattle (again), Shipment of cattle from Narcisso, Texas, Calves remained at ranch one winter.

Tape 2, Side 2: Cattle drive, Discussion of drive, Wagon’s purpose on drive, Duration of drive until Narcisso, Transportation of cattle, Transported to Oklahoma, Two men rode with cattle, Cattle remained on train until destination, Other ranches, Relationship of Pitchfork Ranch and other ranches, Exchange of cowboys between 6666 and Pitchfork, Pitchfork (again), Petty departs from ranch, Petty’s personal life, Married in Dickens, Texas (1922), Reared two sons, Barber career, Petty attended barber school, Began working in Paducah in 1923, Education, Discussion of early educational background, Importance of advanced education, Barber career (again), Recounts experiences as barber, Pitchfork (again), Discussion of altruistic nature of management, Reputation of ranch in comparison with others, Alcohol and gambling, Management’s prohibition of both, Dominoes kept men up too late, Barber career (again), Early interest from ranch, Pitchfork salary, Discussion of initial salary--$30.00 a month, Petty gave most to his parents, 1920s making $75.00 a month when Petty left, Transportation, Ranch acquired car in 1910, Roads, Discussion of route between Paducah and ranch.

Tape 3, Side 1: Pitchfork Ranch (again), Impressions of ranch, Living conditions, Description of hard life, Discussion of sleeping outside on bed rolls, Weather conditions, Discussion of wind, Difficult to sleep outside in wintertime, Debt, Cowboys always in debt to company store.

Tape 3, Side 2:' Blank

Range Dates: 1890s-1920s

Bulk Dates: 1910-1923

Access Information

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Recording Format Notes:


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