WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
LLOYD ADAMS (37)
1986 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
The following biography was written at the time of Mr. Adams’ induction.
Lloyd C. Adams started out life as a bad luck charm of sorts. Shortly after he was baptized in a Willcox Church, the church burned down. On the train ride home to Dragoon, the train collided with another train, throwing Lloyd from his mother's arms into the fat belly of the conductor, knocking the conductor down and causing the only casualty.
Bad luck may have been hereditary in Lloyd's case. His father, David Adams, brought along some of his Texas horses when he left his home in Coleman County, Texas in 1879 with a wagon party headed for California. When supplies and money ran out near what is now Benson, Lloyd's father was forced to stay in the area until he could replenish his finances. And that's how the Adams came to settle in Arizona.
Dave Adams established the "T L Bar" ranch in the scenic granite boulder-strewn area now known as Texas Canyon.
Lloyd is 87 years old and still lives on the ranch his father homesteaded 102 years ago. Pride rings in his voice when he tells the "T L Bar" brand is one of the earliest brands registered in Arizona.
Although the two oldest children of Dave and Clara Adams were born in the five-room adobe ranch house in Texas Canyon, Clara went to town for the birth of her third child. Therefore, Benson is the birth place of Lloyd, born July 15,1900.
Lloyd seemed miles away, transported in memory to other times and other places as he recounted his life's vignettes, The beginning of Lloyd's training as a true cowboy and cattleman came when he was five years old. And well, he's sorry, but he just can't seem to remember how many saddles he's gone through since that first one.
The Adams children sometimes rode as many as three at a time on an old mule to the one-room schoolhouse in Texas Canyon. According to Lloyd, however, the mule would often stray from his transporting duties and the children would have to walk the two miles home. Later the children and their mother stayed in Benson during the school year so they could attend the larger school.
Lloyd was naturally left-handed, a trait not allowed by teachers in those early years. As a result of being made to write with his right hand, he also ropes right-handed, but in a pinch can swing a loop with his southpaw just as easily.
At the time Arizona and New Mexico were preparing for possible statehood, Lloyd says everyone was walking around slinging their pistols to show they had no interest in being a part of New Mexico. The day Arizona became a state, February 14, 1912 Lloyd recalls how "everyone got drunk on bootleg, even the preachers." Lloyd had a sporadic post high school career during the years 1916 to 1918 when he attended Tempe Normal School.
Although "cowboying" was his calling, the real reason Lloyd joined the Cattle Growers Association in Safford in 1917 was to go to the dances the association sponsored. Lloyd peps up when he talks about the pretty girls that used to attend those dances.
Lloyd had quite a few jobs in his younger years. He worked for his uncle Fred Bennett on the "Slash TL" ranch and for his wife's grandfather, "Uncle Billy" Fourr, on his ranch, as well as several other ranches. Lloyd says he was fired frequently by "Uncle Billy" but always put in a full day's work on each "last day" under grandpa's employ.
Besides punching cows and breaking horses, Lloyd, as a young man, tried a various assortment of surefire "get rich quick schemes". He worked on a bridge crew in Southern Arizona. When that didn't land him a fortune, he tried a "cattle deal" in Mexico. He says he even lied about his age to get the job, only to arrive at the "ranch" and find it only had two milk cows.
In 1925 Lloyd met Letha Brattin, a pretty schoolteacher who had come west from Stillwater, Oklahoma to teach at Russellville. They were married in Tucson on April 16,1926.
In the 1930's Lloyd handled much of the ranch work while his father served in the Arizona Legislature. Later his father suffered a stroke, leaving nearly all the ranch responsibilities to Lloyd. Lloyd and Letha had title to the “L A” brand and had some cattle of their own during these years.
The Butterfield Overland Stage route passed over what later became the Adam's ranch land. Traces of the old stage stop are still evident on the property.
In the early 40's Lloyd and Letha purchased the 25-section ranch from Dave and Clara Adams. Lloyd and Letha had two daughters. Drusilla Letha and Jacqueline Loy. Drusilla died at age 9; Jackie lives on the ranch with her father. Letha was killed in a train-auto accident in Benson, November 5, 1976. The couple did, however, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary before Letha's death.
Lloyd has impacted the area in more ways than just ranching. He served for 18 years on the Benson School Board. He was honorary Cochise County Deputy Sheriff and served several terms on the Benson FHA Loan Board. He is also a member of the American Quarter Horse Association.
Lloyd is a life member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and a past president and member of the Board of Directors of the Southwestern Pioneer Cowboys Association, a pioneer member of the Arizona Historical Society, and charter member of the Arizona Pioneer Stockmen.
In a conversation with Gene Davis at the Triangle T Guest Ranch where Davis works, this reporter told him about the committee's choice for this year's living inductee. Davis became thoughtful. He was staring out into the distance, as if doing a quick review of some of the stories he himself knew about Adams. After a long moment he shook his head and said, "Adams. Yep, he's a good choice."
Lloyd Adams passed away April 2,1989. He was 88 years old.