WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


The following biography was written at the time of Mr. Browning's induction.

Ernest Browning, was born at Elk, New Mexico in 1899, and spent 22 days moving by wagon and hack from an area near Ruidoso, New Mexico to Willcox in 1914. He returned to his grandparent's home in Alamagordo to play football and finish high school but returned to Willcox in 1917. Except for his hitch in the Navy he has lived in and around Willcox since that time.

His first job was working for Harry Parks in his confectionery store. He later worked for the MOK Cattle Company and then the JH Cattle Company as a cowboy, earning $40 a month. A job as a delivery boy for a mercantile company brought $65 a month and, during 14 years of working there, the advancement to manager of the grocery and hardware departments.

He later began work for the Piggly Wiggly Southwestern Company and later purchased the store, a meat and grocery business, in partnership with John Cain. While running the grocery business he began acquiring land in the Stewart District and eventually wound up with 2,020 acres in that area.

In 1939 he was able to make cattle raising his only business. The purchase of the Schilling Ranch came about in 1943 and, in 1953, he traded 900 acres of valley land for the Muleshoe Ranch. He also had a small holding in the High Lonesome Ranch and this land joined the other two to make one large spread. At the end of his land buying, he had approximately 140 sections of ranch land that he operated.

Browning and his wife, Polly, have been married for 65 years. They traveled to Tombstone in 1922 to be married. They had two children, a son, Alvin, who ranches in Willcox, and a daughter, Allaire Tenny, who lives in Tucson. They have seven grandchildren and nineteen great-grandchildren.

Browning became interested in quarter horses and bought his first one in 1934, In 194Q he attended the American Quarter Horse Association (A.Q.H.A.) organizational meeting in Fort Worth and was named a founding director.

He served as president of the A.Q.H.A. and has served as a judge in almost every major quarter horse show in the country. He is credited with starting the judging clinics and for many years chaired the Association's Public Information and Education Committee.

On the state level he is a past president of the Arizona Quarter Horse Breeders Association and has received the Arizona Horseman Hall of Fame Award. In 1982, he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame along with its other surviving founder.

Browning gave years of leadership in the A.Q.H.A., to cattle organizations and to his home community of Willcox.

He has served as president and director of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association; is past president and director of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers' Association; is a past director of the National Cattleman's Association, having served on four of its committees and as chairman of its Beef Grading Committee; is a past president of the Arizona Beef Cattle Award for service.

Browning was one of the founders and is a trustee of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. He received a certificate of recognition for pioneering effort and contribution to American agriculture from the Secretary of Agriculture, Orville Freeman. He served for 20 years as chairman of the Coronado National Forest Advisory Board and served on the Arizona State Land Use Planning Board.

In Willcox, he totaled 20 years of service to the Willcox School Board, with 12 of those years as president of the board. He is a Past Commander of Tenley-Lopez Post 20 of the American Legion; was a charter member and is a past president of the Willcox Rotary Club; was a member of the local selective service board during World War II; received the Honorary Chapter Farmer Award from the Willcox F.F.A. chapter; and received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the University of Arizona Alumni Association. He received the 1982 Golden Spur Award.

Browning is as active as he ever was. Ranching and the outdoor life have been good to him. Besides remaining active in business and in community service, Browning spends a good deal of time roping and playing golf. He enjoys roping with his grandsons, Jim Tenney and Eddie Browning, entering and winning competition on a regular basis, and plays golf regularly, for routine exercise as well as tournament participation. "I can’t say which one is my number one hobby," he said. "I guess my enjoyment in roping and golfing would have to be a 60-50 comparison."

Browning attributes his success in business, community work and his personal life to "working hard and living clean." He's never smoked or drank alcoholic beverages and has taken care of himself physically. "And I eat beef," he said. "I've always been fortunate to enjoy good health, but I've worked at it too." Browning sums it all up, his personal and professional success, and his inner strength, in the one rule he's always lived by: "I've just never asked a man to do anything that I wouldn't do myself," he said.

Ernest Browning passed away in November of 1984 at the age of 85.