Women Ranchers Subject of MSU History Dept. Event

The Midwestern State University History Department will host a public lecture and symposium about Women Ranchers in Texas June 2-3 at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU. The Thursday evening lecture is at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The symposium on Friday is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and requires a $20 registration and includes a luncheon. Teachers and students may attend at the discounted rate of $10.

The Women Ranchers in Texas Project includes a lecture by prominent Texas historian Carolina Crimm. The symposium will feature presentations by 11 professional and citizen historians. The project is an endeavor that involves historians, archivists, librarians, and English and sociology professors.

Women ranchers, who are defined for this project as those who were the primary decision makers for their operations, have largely been ignored by historians who wrote volumes of the iconic cattlemen of the American West. The project addresses such issues and the symposium will serve as a launching pad for a larger project that includes an anthology. Women's History is an important and emerging field; this opportunity puts MSU and its history department at the forefront of such studies in Texas.

Crimm's topic will be "Tejana Ranchers: Surviving the onslaught from 1836 to 1900," and will consider the life of Facunda Cavazos Castillo. The death of her husband in 1872 left Castillo with the challenge of running their Refugio ranch, fighting a court case to protect her land from aggressive neighbors, and saving her two sons from murder at the hands of a lynch mob. Her eventual sale of the ranch and move to Charco Escondido near Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in Mexico, allowed her family to survive and prosper in the face of tremendous challenges.

Crimm, born and raised in Mexico City, came to the United States at age 17. She holds degrees from the University of Miami, Texas Tech, and she completed her Ph.D. in Latin American History at The University of Texas at Austin. Among her many books and articles is the award-winning De León: A Tejano Family History (2004). During her 40 years in teaching, she has won numerous awards including the prestigious Piper Award as one of the best teachers in Texas. She recently retired and has been honored as a Professor Emeritus in History at Sam Houston State University for her work with students, the university and the community. She lives in Huntsville, Texas, with her husband Jack.

The symposium will feature keynote luncheon speaker Dr. Diana Vela, who will present "Ranchers, Riders, and Rebels." Vela is the associate executive director of exhibits and education at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. With more than 20 years of experience in the education field, she has lectured and published in the areas of early westering women: ranchers, cowgirls, performers, writers, trailblazers and pioneers.

Symposium presenters will consider well-known ranch women Henrietta King and Cornelia Adair in particular, and other women whose stories are not so common such as Lizzie Crosson of the Big Bend and the Binford sisters in Oldham County. Interesting stories of antebellum ranchers in West Texas and women in wire-cutting wars will also be told. The career of Jackie Worthington of Jackboro, Texas, a rancher and a founder of the Girls Rodeo Association, is addressed along with that of another rancher and Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree, Mary Ellen "Dude" Barton. Barton and several family members will attend the Friday symposium.

The project is supported by funding from the Midwestern State University office of the provost and the history department. Contact Dr. Leland Turner at Leland.turner@msutexas.edu, 940-397-4153, or 940-642-3413 for more information.