Phippen Museum announces new Hall class

Three ranchers and two cowboys have posthumously become part of the Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Bill Gary announced the inductions at the Phippen Museum's annual Fall Gathering on Sept. 12.

In naming the selections, Gary, a trustee on the Phippen board, said they were all people who have had a lasting impact on the cattle industry in Arizona and made significant contributions to their communities, as well.

The inductees are ranchers Delbert Pierce, Ernest Browning and Ernest Chilson and cowboys Ramon Ahumada and Mack Hughes.

Pierce, who owned the Las Vegas Ranch in Williamson Valley, was instrumental in starting the Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix, Gary said. He also was Cattleman of the Year for the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association, Man of the Year for the Arizona Hereford Association and gave land in Phoenix for the headquarters of the Arizona Cattle Association.

Browning, a Willcox rancher, won more honors than "all the ranchers in Arizona from the beginning to today," Gary said. And, he was president of more cattle organizations than any of his peers, he said. Browning was founder and president of the American Quarter Horse Association, president of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers' Association and the Arizona Beef Council, and was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame.

Chilson established his distinction on the Winslow Bar T Bar Ranch. He was president of the American Cattle Growers' Association, president of the Northern Arizona Cattleman's Association, named Cattleman of the Year by the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association and Man of the Year by the American Society of Range Management.

Ahumada was born in Mexico and grew up on the Arivaca Ranch near Tucson, Gary said. He ranched in the open-range days before fences went up. He died in 1926 when a horse threw him. He was the first Arizonan to be inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Hughes was born in the Arizona Territory and went to work for the Hash Knife Ranch when he was 12 years old. The Hash Knife was the largest ever in Arizona, Gary said, covering an area from near the New Mexico state boundary to Flagstaff. For 19 years, Hughes ran the San Carlos Tribal Ranch of 225,000 acres.

"These are the kind of people we are going to induct into the Hall of Fame," Gary said of the second annual induction. "We have high standards."

This year, all five selections are deceased, but living ranchers and cowboys could win the honor, too, Gary said.

The first group of Yavapai County ranchers included Bill Fain, Harold James and Col. William Green. Rodeo cowboy inductees included Chuck Sheppard, Everett Bowman and Mike Stuart. Jim Miller was the inductee in the working cowboy category.

A permanent exhibit at the Phippen Museum features biographical information on notable ranchers, rodeo cowboys and working cowboys from Arizona in separate categories with associated relics, such as chaps, bits and spurs.