Reece Family History
Part OfReece Family History Oral HistoryIntervieweeDuane ReeceInterviewerJoyce McBrideBrowse TopicBusiness and IndustryCommunity GroupsLand UseSubjectOral historiesArizona HistoryArizona History 19th centuryArizona History 20th CenturyGila County (Ariz.)BiographyCattle--West (U.S.)--HistoryRanching History of Gila CountyRanch managers--ArizonaCowboy poets of ArizonaDescriptionDuane Reece is a cattleman, and also a gifted cowboy poet. He begins with a poem skillfully describing his life as a young cowhand. Duane grew up in the Great Depression on ranches along the Gila River that bordered the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Southern Gila County. Both of his grandparents came to Arizona in the 1910s, his mother's parents from Texas and his father's from Montana. They settled in Arivaipa Canyon on adjoining ranches. His father filed a homestead and they were married circa 1934. To subsidize their ranch, Duane's father captured wild horses, broke and sold them. Her mother trapped fur animals during the winter for sale. Duane and his sisters grew up with their father caretaking 3 ranches. The proximity of the Gila River and the Reservation caused problems unique to most Arizona ranchers. Before the Coolige Dam was built, the river often flooded their home. Then in 1968, the US Government ordered the ranchers to remove themselves and their cattle from the Mineral Strip on the Reservation. It took years for people to be reimbursed for their deeded lands and improvements. Also, this area differs from other ranches because the Forest Service isn't so restrictive. This area is very rough country, adequate for cattle, but many ranches also ran Angora goats because where the price of cattle fluxuated, the goat market was stable. At one time, Duane reports there were over 10,000 head of goats running in the area. Everyone had hogs, not for sale, but for personal use. He says hog meat is what won the West, not beef. Without electricity, hog meat can be smoked and/or stored better than beef. Duane reports the presence of lions, javalinas, elk, and other wildlife in this area south of the Pinal Mountains. Duane returns to describe his father as a class athlete with an unerring instinct for a cow or a horse, so he had a reputation for being one of the best cowboys in the country. Living so remote, it wasn't until around 1940 before he got to his first rodeo, but then found that working the rodeos as a roper he was able to win enough to keep the ranch. Duane grew up knowing he was going to work a ranch. At the time he was two weeks old he had his own brand and his two grandfathers and a neighbor bought him four calves. He drew his first wage of $1 a day at age 4, dragging posts from the saddlehorn of his horse along a fence line. Duane predicts the ranching lifestyle is just about over now. Most of Gila County is prime ranch land, but many ranches now are owned not for the use of the land but for the idea, the romance of owning a ranch. Duane followed his father's footsteps into rodeoing and was very successful at it until he met and married. His wife, Helen, was Justice of the Peace for 6 terms, or 24 years, before she retired. Duane was also a State Livestock Inspector for many years.Audio Length01:12:06Date Original2009-05-20Date Range1910s (1910-1919)1920s (1920-1929)1930s (1930-1939)1940s (1940-1949)1950s (1950-1959)1960s (1960-1969)1970s (1970-1979)1980s (1980-1989)1990s (1990-1999)2000s (2000-2009)TypeSound- NonmusicalOriginal FormatOral historiesLanguageEnglishContributing InstitutionArizona Heritage Research FoundationCollectionOral Histories of Gila County RanchersRights StatementThe opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee only. they do not represent the views of the Arizona Heritage Research Foundation. Please contact the Arizona Heritage Research Foundation with questions about the use and reproduction of this resource.
Oral HistoryReece Family
IdentifierReece, Duane.mp3Date Digitized2009Digital FormatMP3
Reece Family History, [Reece, Duane.mp3]. Arizona Memory Project, accessed 20/02/2024, https://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/nodes/view/132037