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Torres, Henry

About | Abstract


Torres discusses personal history including some information about his work as a brand inspector. He describes the impact of the drought of the 1990s and low cattle prices on cattle ranching. Discusses his involvement with the museum, its mission, and his vision of its development.

Interviewee Henry Torres, male, born in 1937
Date Range 1937-1996
Date & Location June 25, 1996, Torres residence, Silver City, N.M.
Project Founders
Region Southwest New Mexico
Number of Tapes 1
Transcribed May 13, 1997
Download Abstract


Tape 1, Side A

Born in Dwyer (now called Faywood), N.M., in 1937. His father later purchased a ranch near Deming where he was reared from age six onward.

His father and mother both came from the Mesilla Valley. His father's family came south to the Mesilla Valley from Sandoval County, and then moved west to the Mimbres Valley with a group of settlers. This group (four or five families) was the first non-American Indian settlers of the Mimbres.

After serving in the military, he went to work for the Cattle Sanitary Board and worked for about six years. He then raised cattle in the Deming area, and in 1970, established an auction market in Socorro with a partner. In 1974 the partnership was dissolved and he returned to work for the, now, New Mexico Livestock Board.

Describes responsibilities of working for the New Mexico Livestock Board. The diseases of tuberculosis and brucellosis and the scabies parasite have always been, and continue to be, of the greatest concern to the livestock industry.

The Livestock Board has divided the state into four administrative areas, and these are sub-divided into districts (usually counties or trade areas).

Described what the remembered of the drought of the 1950s, when he was a teenager. His father was forced to liquidate his cattle herd, and he then put in a farm.

He discusses the impact of the present drought (1996) and low market prices. He believes that some ranchers who are carrying a heavy debt load, and who are ranching in public lands, may be forced out of the ranching business. In past droughts cattle have been taken from public lands but have been returned when conditions improved. Now, however, there is a great deal of negative sentiment from the public about grazing on public lands and he doesn't think any cattle will be returned to the public lands. Discusses that an environmental group in Silver City has been very active in the movement to remove cattle from public lands. He believes the next five to ten years will be a real transition period for the cattle industry in the West.

Tape 1, Side B

Discusses several organizations that he is a member of (Cattle Growers, Farm Bureau). He became involved as a board member of the Silver City Museum, and eventually with the organization of the first New Mexico Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

He details the work with the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Foundation starting in about 1994. He initially completed the term of G.X. McSherry on the Foundation Board, and then was elected to the Board by the general membership.

Discusses his ideas about the mission of the Museum, and the importance of including all the cultures of New Mexico (American Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo) in our interpretation.

He believes that the decision to place the Museum under the Office of Cultural Affairs was a good one. Because of it, people will view the Museum as a statewide effort that encompasses both farming and ranching equally.

Discusses where he expects the Museum to be in five years. He does not believe the Museum will ever be self-supporting.