WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


Horace Allen was born February 4,1898 in Fort Chadborn, Texas and he came to Willcox in 1912-the year Arizona became a state. He arrived in Arizona by a four mule team from San Angelo, Texas and the trip took seven weeks.

He first worked for the Cook & Johnson Cattle Company, but then he homesteaded a ranch in Mud Springs Canyon, forty miles from the nearest settlement of, Willcox, Arizona. It was a one room cabin and they had to carry water 1/4 mile from the nearest fresh water spring. It was 8 miles down a wagon road to the place where government stage left the mail. It was 6 days to Willcox and back for coal oil, cartridges, coffee, salt, and flour. Most of the good things to eat came off the good earth at Mud Springs.

Horace Allen was a man of courage and stubborn pride. He was willing to risk the hazards of homesteading out on the open range. But out there at Mud Springs, Horace and his first wife Faye had plenty of elbow room to raise their boys, Wayne and Rex.

The toys for the two boys were bear traps, calf ropes, and branding irons. Wayne and Rex were not the only kids. They were just the ones that experienced life at Mud Springs.

Horace and his first wife Faye had five children, Wayne, Rex, Margie, Mildred, and Dottie.

After Faye's death he later married Myrtle Crawford and they had four children: Flora May, Horace Raymond, Billy Pearl, and Ben.

Back to Mud Springs: Living out on a ranch is living on the edge. You are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. The Allen family paid a terrible price for this lifestyle. One summer day, the boys and their mom were hoeing beans when Wayne was bitten by a rattlesnake. Despite Horace's efforts to save his son, Wayne passed away three days later.

Horace was embittered and he moved his family off the homestead at Mud Springs and never went back. They had a place on Ash Creek and even later moved the family to some acreage near Willcox.

With Horace Allen, there was music in them. It was in their bones. When Horace was living in the Bonita area (on Ash Creek) Horace played music nearly every Saturday night at the Bonita schoolhouse. He would play for a Saturday night dance, then he would put his fiddle in a flour sack and then rode home horseback after the dance. The name of their band: O-Bar-O Wranglers.

In the early 30's, when Willcox was the cattle capitol of the world, Horace pioneered the hauling of cattle from ranches to the stockyards. He started with three "Model T" trucks and later used the large semi's located in Willcox at the Willcox Dray and Transfer. With those first model T's, Horace could only haul 10 to 12 calves at a time and he had to make a lot of trips to make a carload of cattle.

Many trips to the San Pedro River and back, on two track roads, that were not much better than a good cowtrail. The stockyards were a busy place this time of year. They say you could hardly sleep because of all the cattle bawling.

Horace did well in the "Transfer Business" and continued to expand his cattle herd, but the "Big Drought Struck" and wiped out everything. But with that "stubborn pride" I talked about earlier, Horace started over again. This time he started from scratch to learn the construction trade. Many, if not most, of the cement water tanks, built on the ranches around here, were built by him.

Horace Allen was one of those parents who had the unique experience of watching one of their kids become famous. Obviously, I'm talking about his son, Rex. When asked what Horace thought about his Son's success, he said, "Well, if he hadn't made it with his voice, I suspect he would have made a pretty good working cowhand anyhow. Which is good enough for me."

I asked Rex how he wanted his dad to be remembered. Rex said, "He was the hardest working man I've ever seen. He did physical work, and he was still laying block when he died. He did not have a lot of education, but God, he worked hard."

Horace Allen passed away on Jun. 7, 1974 in Benson, Arizona

Horace E. Allen