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WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees

WILLIAM "BUTTERFLY" COWAN (70)
1931-
2001 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE



William "Butterfly" Cowan: "Butterfly" was born in Gladiola, New Mexico. A man named Butterfly born in Gladiola! As you might guess "Butterfly" is not the name his parents gave him at birth.

How does a bull riding, western movie extra, rodeoing, team roping, cowman get a name like "Butterfly"? He wouldn't say.

A little boy named William was born in 1931 in Gladiola, New Mexico, which is near Hobbs. At the age of 6, the Cowan family moved to San Marcos, Texas, where William grew up. He said they lived way out in the "boonies" and he didn't play any sports, as he had to go home and work.

Butterfly said he didn't like Texas then and he still doesn't like it now, so at the age of 15 he hitchhiked to Tucson, Arizona.

Butterfly found himself at Kinsley's, just south of Tucson at Amado. During the winter months there was a rodeo at the Kinsley's every two weeks. This rodeo was very well known with all the cowboys in Arizona. Butterfly was put in charge of running the rodeos and he was responsible for taking care of the bucking stock. During the summer, Butterfly headed north to Colorado where he worked on western movie sets and traveled Colorado, riding bulls and bareback horses in the rodeos.

It was in 1957 when Butterfly bought his first ranch in Skull Valley, and it was in the fall of 1960 that William "Butterfly" Cowan came to Willcox. Here in Willcox, he leased small ranches and many pastures to run his cattle. It was during those years that Butterfly worked for Tom Selman. For ten years Tom Selman was one of the largest cattle buyers in the area, and Butterfly was in charge of handling the cattle.

It was not uncommon for Butterfly to receive, doctor and ship over 10,000 head of cattle in one year. He literally hauled cattle all over this valley as Tom bought and sold cattle. It was Butterfly's job to know where the 4 weight cross bred steers were being pastured, what day they were received, how long before they needed to be moved to a fresh pasture, was the new pasture fenced and ready to go...were any of the steers needing doctoring... plus when and where they were going to be shipped. All this times 10,000.

Butterfly also became an order buyer. He would go to the local auctions and around to the ranches purchasing cattle for other people. To be a good order buyer, you need to know cattle and you have to be honest. Butterfly is a good order buyer, which in itself speaks volumes about the character and integrity of this man. In 1970, Butterfly opened a Loomix business selling liquid cattle feed. Shortly thereafter Butterfly made a decision to go to Oklahoma to try the cattle business as an Okie. Bad decision...it wasn't long before Butterfly was back in Willcox. Now he has sort of settled on his ranch over in Bowie.

Butterfly has 2 kids, 3 grand kids, and one great grand kid.

As Butterfly and I sat and talked about ranching and growing up working on some of the big outfits, I asked him, "Why did you do it?" He said, "I love it. I was born and raised that way and I never knew anything else. I had lots of fun. There was always something happening. You'd get bucked off today, somebody's horse would run off tomorrow, but there was never any fear." Then he paused for a moment and said, "You know it is a real honor to be considered with this group."

Prepared by Eddie Browning.