WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


Billy Whelan spent most of his life in the saddle as a cowboy, owning three large ranches at different times, the O - O, E Cross and the old Whelan ranch north of Willcox where he still made his home.

Whelan was born February 17, 1872. He grew up at Sierra Bonita Ranch and worked there. He left the ranch and "went partners" on the Pitch Fork outfit in Stockton Pass with his brother-in-law, Bill Richard. He sold this outfit and moved to the San Pedro River in 1899. There he ran the mail and freight from Benson to Redington on the San Pedro River.

He then went back to Sierra Bonita Ranch to work in 1908 and became foreman of the ranch. He left the ranch in 1911 and went to work for the JH Cattle Company in the Stewart District. He worked with the company till 1915. He then bought a ranch in Rincon Pass beyond the San Pedro River in 1921. He sold the ranch and went to the Aravaipa in Klondyke, Arizona. There he bought his brothers and sisters shares on the Whelan Ranch in Aravaipa Canyon.

In 1922 he went to work for Norton and Morgan at Eureka Ranch and operated the ranch until 1924. He left the ranch and went to work for Graham County Road Department running the grader blade.

In 1927 he sold the Whelan Ranch and moved to Bonita, Arizona on Judge Wood's ranch, still working for Graham County Supervisor Marc DuBois. He left Bonita in 1930, and bought 80 acres In Stewart District. He later purchased 440 acres more, raised some cattle and worked around where people needed help.

He married Ynicia DeLeon and they were the parents of nine boys.

On February 12, 1972 a large party for Mr. Whelan was held at the Willcox Community Center celebrating his 100th birthday. More than four hundred people gathered and the city presented him with a new hat.

At 100 he was still very independent, living by himself, doing his own cooking and most other chores around the house. He did not care much for modern day conveniences, believing them a waste of money.

When asked about his long span of life, he said plenty of fresh air and a lot of hard work were the main factors.

Billy Whelan II died July 31,1975.