Open Range Cowboys Association
Lovington, New Mexico
In the 1920's, the old
Cowboys and Ranchers were gathering at Bob Beverly's place west of Lovington to
reflect on the "Good Ole Days" before the ranges were devided and fenced by the
Homestead Acts, begining in 1862 and ending in 1976.
With the end of the large open range ranches like the Hat Ranch that was roughly 40 miles across and 150 miles long, were devastated when smaller ranches that were fenced or staked, restricting the movement of cattle and thereby restricting the freedom of the old ranch hands that were used to moving herds of cattle and sheep, to greener pastures, wherever they might be and ending a way of life.
In 1933, Bob Beverly, Dow Wood and Jim Love decided to contact some of the old cowboys that had ridden the open range, meet together and renew old friendships, and talk about the days gone by, with more organization and guidelines.
Only a few cowboys met the next year, thirteen in all, at the old Dow Wood ranch place on Highway 18 just south of the present day sale barn. For several years only a few men met there yearly, never more than 20 men, until 1938. That year, it was decided that any old timer would be invited, who had come before 1912 and ladies were invited for the first time; and the meeting was held on the courthouse square.
Further north, the "Old Timers Association", was started in 1939 in Billings, Montana, as the "International Cowboy Association". Charter members were cowboys that road the range in the 1880's and 1890's, living in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In 1939, an Old Timers Association was formed in Hobbs, and they met at the Ole Swimming Hole north of Hobbs. By 1940, (1940 Meeting notes) a county wide organization had began meeting in Lovington; and with the influence of Bob Beverly and Dow Wood, it was renamed the "Open Range Cowboy's Association"; (1940 ORCA description) according to the "Minutes" of the 1943 Open Range Cowboys Association meeting. In these early years, Dow Wood had officiated as President, and Bob Beverly had served as Secretary. This organization meets once each year, on the second Saturday of September. It was set up for the original open range cowboys, those who had actually ridden the ranges before there were fences or homesteads in New Mexico and West Texas. It now includes descendants of those original cowboys.
With the passing of many of the "Old Cowboys" prior to the "Old Cowgirls" it was decided that these women, whom, represented the past as well as the men, should be recognized and in 1959, the first Open Range Cowboy's Queens was nominated.