Two sheep families have been selected to be inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame for 2023. They are John and Frances Aleman and the Etchamendy Family – Arnaud, Jean, Jean Baptista (JB) and Martin. Both the Aleman’s and the Etchamendy’s are of Basque descent. John Aleman came from Spain while the four Etchamendy’s are of French descent. Just a little information is given here but more will follow with pictures.
John and Frances Aleman.
John Aleman came to the United States in March 1914 settling in the Winslow area. He was led here by a boyhood friend, Juan Bicondon, who had migrated a year earlier. Juan wrote to John, “a land full of golden opportunities, knee high grass where sheep and cattle grazed as far as the eye could see, and cowboys riding horseback with forty-fives on their hips and Winchesters on the saddle.” John wanted to see this land for himself. He began as a camp cook there before moving to Flagstaff where he went to work for MP Espil and MI Powers at Frisco Mountain Sheep Company. By 1926 with saving his money he partnered with Mike Echeverria in the Cross Mountain Sheep Company. He partnered with Joe and Leon Pouquette also before he started the John Aleman Sheep Company in 1952.
John married Frances Abbie Hendrix in 1936. The couple had met when she came to Arizona and was visting her father’s ranch near St. Johns. Frances became very active in promoting lamb and wool. Along with Ora Chipman, of Utah, they co-founded the Make It Yourself with Wool competition. That competition, now called Make It With Wool, is still strong in both Arizona and Utah and many other states. The competition will be held in November in Arizona. (Pictures to follow once the competition is over.) Winners from each state move on to the national competition held during the national conference of the American Sheep Industry, held in January.
Just one more note about Frances taken from the nomination form submitted by her daughter-in-law. “In 1968 the American Sheep Producers Council started the annual Aleman-Chipman Scholarship Award for the senior winner in honor of their contribution to introducing young people from across the country to the beauty of woolen garments.”
Arnaud was the first of the family members to migrate to the United States in 1930. He began to work as a sheepherder until he was able to purchase his own sheep company. Once he became an American citizen though he was drafted into the military during World War II which forced him to sell his beloved sheep. After his 27 months of service, he returned to Arizona and purchased more sheep. He brought over his nephew Jean in 1949.
Jean and his uncle worked together for many years. Then Jean partnered with a boyhood friend, Jean Arriage who had come over in 1957. That partnership only lasted a year and then Jean went out on his own. Upon Arnaud’s death, Jean helped his aunt, Ramona with the sheep until her passing in the 1970s.
JB was the next brother to migrate to the United States also in 1957. He began his sheep career in California but within a year he was in Arizona working along side his brother and their uncle. The youngest Etchamendy, Martin would come in 1961. JB and Martin worked many years together until Martin returned to France. Martin would return and begin to run sheep again, mostly in California where he still to this day has a flock of sheep. Martin is 83 years young and still visits his sheep everyday with the exception of vacations and when he is not the grand marshal of the Basque activities in his hometown of Bakersfield, California.
All four of the Etchamendy’s wives were active in the Arizona Wool Producers Auxiliary (its title today) promoting sheep and wool along with Frances Aleman. The men would serve on the various boards of the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association.
There is a great deal more about each of the four Etchamendy’s and John and Frances Aleman and the Make It With Wool competition that can be written about. Over the next several weeks more information will be given with pictures. Hopefully, I will be able to photograph the Make It With Wool, Arizona competition this November.