Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Connie Reeves, Cowgirl

Connie Douglas Reeves (September 26, 1901- August 16, 2003) was the oldest member of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and one of the first women to study law at a Texas law school.

Connie Reeves was also the aunt of Reeves researcher Gerald Witt who submits this highly entertaining story of her:

My written word can not possibly capture the humor and excitement Connie always showed when she told this story. She had a hoarse raspy voice and as far as I know she never had a cigarette in her life. She was always full of laughter; I’m sure she had her down days, but I never witnessed one.

Let me set the scene. Connie was the only daughter of a Judge in Eagle Pass, TX. I believe he was a District Judge. She graduated from Eagle Pass High School and then went to Texas Woman’s University and later to University of Texas law school, one of the first women to enroll there. The Great Depression ended all of that.

In the mean time Connie’s parents moved from Eagle Pass to San Antonio. After college she moved to San Antonio and lived with her parents while she taught at Thomas Jefferson High School and formed the school’s “Lasso” girls drill team. In 1936 she joined Camp Waldmar as a riding instructor and on 4 Oct 1941 she married a wrangler named Jack Reeves. But, what she married into was much more involved than teaching “little rich girls” how to ride a horse. The owner of Waldmar was a man named Josh Johnson (not Lyndon as you find on many websites). Josh also owned a rodeo production company and a ranch in Junction, TX. This was a working ranch and this is where Jack and Connie lived for 9 months of the year. I don’t know the exact acreage, but it was in the 5000+ range. They raised cattle and pastured the horses used at the camp, but mainly the ranch was a sheep and goat operation. They literally had thousands of each.

You could not find two more culturally opposite people than Jack and Connie. Connie was the only child of a lawyer. And came from the Alamo Heights area of San Antonio. Alamo Heights is to San Antonio, what Highland Park is to Dallas and River Oaks is to Houston. On the other hand, Jack Reeves grew up with six sisters under foot, no electricity and no running water. Jack and my mother rode a donkey to school and neither graduated from high school.

Now to the point of my story---Jack and Connie had only been married a short time and they were living on the ranch in Junction. Within days after a lamb is born the males are castrated and the tails are cut off all the lambs. The simplest way to count the lambs in the herd is to count the tails.

Picture this-Connie is sitting on the dusty ground counting bloody lamb tails, when her mother and one of her San Antonio neighbors drives up. Junction is about 90 miles from San Antonio and this visit was totally unexpected. Her mother was disgusted with Connie’s new life style. This was not good enough for her daughter.
Connie would tell this story and then say in her gravelly voice, “She never came back to see us without calling ahead.”

Mrs. Douglas ended up loving Jack Reeves. She spent the last five years of her life living with them and died in Junction.

Connie Douglas Reeves was elected to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1997, and rode in the parade to honor the Hall when it moved to new headquarters in Fort Worth in 2002. She was over 100 years old at the time.

Picture courtesy of Humanities Texas.

Read Connie's obituary in the New York Times. See a video of her at the Cowgirl website.

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