WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
EDDIE WHELAN (68)
2001 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Eddie Whelan was horn May 9, 1921 on the E Cross Ranch northwest of Cascabel. At age 3, he was moved to the Aravaipa Ranch. In 1927, he started school in Bonita, hut he only made it through the 7th grade. Eddie said, “I learned quick! I was quittin' school to go to work. I'm not going to the soup line! Sometimes education is not everything. It is what you want to be. You don't learn everything from a book. Experience is number one.”
The beginning of his cowboy career was when he went to work for Jinks and Sadie Sanders, but when they lost their lease, Eddie stayed on and worked for Ed Poor. When Ed Poor was gone, Eddie worked for Mr. & Mrs. W.T. Webb and it goes on and on. He worked at the 76, he worked for Mark DuBois and for Joe Lane at the O Bar O. The Whelan boys could get a job anywhere.
Eddie and his brother Joe have worked for just about every rancher in the area, which had made Eddie a walking historian regarding the names, brands, and locations of the original homesteads;
- The double lazy S brand: belongs to Shotgun Smith
- The P.M. Bar: Patrick Maley
- The double V: Van Vailors
- The 3 C's: Chiricahua Cattle Company
Eddie talked about shipping cattle in the fall. During those days, when you shipped your cattle you drove everything to Willcox to the stockyards. You started at the ranch and you would cut out everything you wanted to ship and put them in the McQuiggen trap and hold them until you were ready to go. Early one morning, you would begin the 30-mile trip to the railroad stockyards. The drive was in stages as the first holding pasture was just south of Monzingo's corner at the county line. After a day or two the herd would be moved to the Meisenheimer section for another couple of days. The third stage would bring you to the edge of Willcox. You would then hold your cattle right where the hospital is. Everybody was shipping at once. It was a steady stream of cattle coming to town. It was rain or shine. You just "humped-up" and took it. Now until you could get into the stock pens.
From the ranch to the McQuiggen traps to Monzingo's corner to the Meisenheimer section to the holding grounds near the hospital to the stockyards. Oh! What a life.
Eddie said, "I grew up with the old timers. You learned from them. I wasn't the best, because I've been throwed off further than I rode. It was a rough life, but I sure do miss it."
In 1947, Eddie married Aurelia Quijada and they moved to town. They built their house brick by brick and they have lived on the corner of Fort Grant Road for 43 years. Eddie calls his place the Starve Out.
It is here where Eddie and Aurelia raised their 4 kids, some grand kids, and now even great grand kids, and Eddie is still hauling kids to school every morning. When they moved to town, Eddie started a second career; he has worked for the Arizona Highway Department for 35 years. In the early days it was pick and shovel, dig a hole and fill it up."
Even though he worked for the highway department, Eddie leased the Spike E hills from Joe Lane and ran his cattle for 28 years. When Joe Lane went into politics and moved to Phoenix, Eddie didn't want to lease it anymore so he moved his cattle to the Starve Out. It was only last year that Eddie sold the last of his herd. Eddie thought maybe it was time for him to ride the easy chair in the living room instead of his horse.
I asked Eddie what was the best? He answered: Coming back from WWII; coming back to the good old USA. Being with family. Married to my wife for 54 years. Raising a family.
After 54 years, Eddie asked Aurelia "Do you see anything different?" She said, "We started out alone and we are alone again."
I interviewed Eddie on August 29th ,two weeks before the terrorism strikes on New York City & Washington D.C. Eddie talked so proudly about his time in the military. Eddie wanted to join the service when WWII broke out, but his Dad wouldn't sign the papers. He was soon drafted, but when he arrived his right knee was badly swollen and they wanted to discharge him. Eddie said, "I didn't come this far to go home. I want to do my part." All he asked for was a heating pad and some liniments to help with the swelling.
In Eddie's word, "I love the Red, White, & Blue." Eddie was patriotic long before it was "cool" to be patriotic.
Prepared by Eddie Browning.