WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
A. A. "DEE" JERNIGAN (54)
1997 COWBOY HALL OF FAME POSTHUMOUS AWARD
Arrel Amos (Dee) Jernigan was born July 8, 1907 in Weed, New Mexico. He was born into an old cattle ranching family. The name Dee was passed down from his Dad. He laughingly said he was born in a saddle and as soon as he was big enough to hold on, he was riding a horse alone.
In his early childhood, living on a ranch fifty miles from town, a teacher was hired to live there and tutor the children. He later attended school in Pinon and Hope, New Mexico. In the 1920's, drought and unstable market conditions, caused many to go broke. The Jernigan's were among many ranchers, in that part of New Mexico, who pooled their cattle and drove their herds to better grasslands in Chihuahua, Mexico. This three month trip found thirteen year old Dee Jernigan riding herd, standing night guard, and suffering the hardships of bitter cold, side by side with the adults. Living conditions were very primitive and crude. His diet was beef and beans; beans and beef; and then more beef and beans. He was starving for sweets.
While in Mexico, he attended school at the Mormon Colony of Colonia Juarez. But he did return to Hope, New Mexico for part of his high school days, where he lived with his grandparents. He and a cousin were known for taking their grandmother's Model T Ford Touring car out for a spin after she had retired for the night. His school report card carried the following notes: Inclined to mischief, annoys others, whispers too much, wastes time and is capable doing much more.
In a time where things were hard and money was scarce, he worked for the war finance agency, worked for an insurance company in El Paso, Texas, traveled to California to see his Mother, worked as a caddy at a golf course, and even drove a laundry wagon.
One day while making deliveries he parked his laundry truck on a hill, jumped out and ran to make his delivery. When he came out to get his truck, it was gone. He had forgot to set the brakes, and it had rolled down the hill.
That pretty much ending his employment in California, he returned to New Mexico and spent two years riding the Rodeo circuit traveling from Roswell, New Mexico to the Denver Stockshow.
- In 1934 Dee came to Willcox looking for a ranch to buy and he settled on a place in Stockton Pass
- In 1939 he married Miss Evangeline McEuen of Fort Thomas - everybody called her "Tine"
- During the next few years Dee and Tine put together 39 sections of rangeland.
In 1945 Dee started a hobby that made him well known throughout the West.
In March of 1945, Dee bought his first Texas Longhorns. With a team of Longhorn oxen he participated in exhibitions and parades all over the country.
- 17 years in the Tucson Las Fiesta de los Vaqueros Parade
- Special events from Hollywood to Denver and even an annual homecoming fiesta in Hope, New Mexico
The story of Dee and his son Lee and their Longhorn cattle spread all over the West. There were:
- Articles in the Western Livestock Journal
- Television coverage by NBC
- Feature stories in the Arizona Republic and many more credits
- The new Valley National Bank building in Willcox displayed a Jernigan Longhorn trophy steer head
- The Sunbeam Baking Company of Phoenix - marketed a loaf of bread called..."Longhorn" named after one of Dee's prize steers
In 1966, fifteen of his longhorn steers were on exhibition at the Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix. Each night the big, beautiful steers were driven into the main arena and herded around by cowboys as a singer sang songs of the Old West. Under the Bright lights it was a beautiful sight and good music too. The singer was a movie star named: Rex Allen.
Dee's first love was cattle and horses. He loved a good parade, was a great showman, he developed an outstanding herd of longhorn cattle, hut he also had his Herefords and his 640 acres of farm to compliment the ranch.
He was an excellent horseman, superior judge of cattle, and he possessed a wonderful sense of humor and a great love for people. He was a member of the:
- American National Cattlemen's Association
- Elks Lodge of Safford
- He and Lee attended the original organizational meeting of "The Texas Longhorn Breeder's Association of America". They are charter members #17.
Talking with Tine, she said; "He loved to travel. Everything we ever did was fun. His work was his hobby, he loved cattle and horses". Tine said, "They came first, I was 2nd or 3rd ". Even in hard times, his philosophy was, "Never look back, there is always tomorrow". He was a survivor".
Lee said it was Dad's policy that we ought to do our part to try to make it a little bit special and to do the best we could.
A.A. "Dee" Jernigan passed away December 22, 1985