2018 Working Ranch Cowboy Award: Bill Smith
The Texas Cowboy Reunion was organized in 1930 for the purpose of preserving the traditions of the early-day ranch country and to honor ranch cowboys that served as the foundation for the development of the cattle industry in Texas.
In 2001, the Texas Cowboy Reunion officially initiated a means of recognizing and honoring these individuals who pursued a lifetime career as working ranch cowboys.
This year, the Texas Cowboy Reunion takes great pleasure in honoring Mr. Bill Smith. Please join us on July 7th, 2018, as the Working Ranch Cowboy Award will be presented to him during Saturday night’s rodeo performance.
Bill Smith was born in March of 1949 to Ab and Alma Smith, to a family of five sisters and one brother. He married Dana Kidd in 1972. They have one son, Billy and daughter-in-law, Monica, who have a son named William Kidd Smith that will be two years old in September.
Bill was raised in northwestern Kent County, across the river from Chimney Creek, between Spur and Post. He went to school in Spur and has lived in that area with his wife ever since.
Bill’s family has a long history with the Swenson Ranches. His father worked for them and used to hire the help each year to put on the Texas Cowboy Reunion. Bill also had two uncles, Glenn and Billy, who worked for the Swensons. Many of his family members worked on the Swenson Ranches at some point in their lives.
Bill’s father bought a small place in 1954 when he left the Swenson Ranches. He ran a few cows and always had horses around. “I always like the horse end,” said Bill. His father bought and sold horses as he was growing up, so he had the opportunity to be around that part of the business a lot. Kent County had an active 4-H horse program then and Bill remembers being hauled to 4-H horse shows as he was growing up. Bill rode and showed horses for the public, until going to work at the Spur Headquarters Ranch in 1973.
The Spur Headquarters Ranch was owned by the Jim Barron family. Jim’s wife, Nora, was a SMS Ranches heir. Bill and Dana moved onto the ranch in about 1986. In 1995, the Barrons retired and Bill was given the opportunity to lease the ranch from them. He maintained the Spur Headquarters Ranch until it was sold to Randy Andrews of Lubbock.
After the ranch sold, Bill made a deal with the new owner. They partnered on some cows for a few years and Bill sold him on half interest in the broodmare band that he had started putting together in 1986 on the Tongue River Ranch. Bill got out of the cow business with Randy, when he took over the cow end himself, but continued to live on the ranch and kept the mare herd there. At one time, they had as many as fifty mares. The business luckily made it through the 2011 drought. In 2015, Bill and Dana moved and decided to sell some of the mares and to split up the rest of them. Currently, Bill has about 15 mares that are kept on the Matador Ranch.
A year after leasing the Spur Headquarters Ranch, Bill was able to lease the J.B. Morrison Ranch, which is about ten miles south of Spur in northwestern Kent County. The ranch is across the fence from where he was raised. The J.B. Morrison Ranch is owned by Eric and Linda Swenson, she being the daughter of the late J.B. Morrison. Bill still has that lease and runs a cow-calf operation there.
Bill plans to continue to run a few cows and horses, as long as he can.
Through the years, Bill has helped organize the Ranch Horse Association of America (RHAA). The RHAA is an organization that helps cowboys learn horsemanship and gives them opportunities to compete in shows. Bill was also involved in starting the Western Heritage Ranch Horse Sale, held each May during the Western Heritage Rodeo weekend in Abilene. He also helped in developing a 3-year futurity and sale with a group of ranches from Texas and New Mexico. They called it the Caprock Ranchers Sale and Futurity. The sale and futurity is held in Levelland each July. It has developed into a group that will be called the National Rope Horse Development Program, where they are hoping to show and train young horses, head some of them to team roping futurities, and be able to sell some for people.
Following in his family’s footsteps, Bill has been involved with the Texas Cowboy Reunion over the years. He has been a judge for the TCR Ranch Horse Competition since 2015 and won the competition himself in 1995.
Bill stated, “I do appreciate being thought of for this award.”