Quilt of AZ Sheep Ranchers Brands

Sometime in the 1960s Frances Aleman made the quilt below.  It has many brands of the sheep ranchers at the time in the state of Arizona.  Several have been identified, but help is needed on the rest.  If you recognize one of the brands, please comment on this blog so we can identify all the brands.

Second row, second from left, the Y belonged to the Thudes.

Third row, second from left, the backwards J with A belonged to John Aleman

Fifth row, first from left, the P in a circle, was Pouquettes.

Last row, third from left, the “U” , belonged to the Thudes.

Odds and Ends

Tonight’s post is an assortment of comments from Facebook friends that have given me permission to include them here. I have edited the comments where needed and added comments in parentheses. Bill Cowan allowed me to use his picture that dates back to 1919.

By George Groseta to AO Williams who had asked why wool is so expensive, and why he could never find American lamb if there are lots of sheep being raised in the USA – There are less than 5% of the big-time sheep operators in the United States especially the western United States that ran bands of sheep. President Clinton did away with the Wool Incentive Act of 1954, which was a tax on foreign wool that came in.  There’s also a big problem as far as different states because of predator control, also you have a labor hike & regulations.  Presently there are less sheep in the state of Nevada then if you go back to 1950s. And in Arizona, there were 25 to 30 big time sheep operations. We’re down to just two right (three if you count separately a father and son both in the industry) now because of the following:  you have the endangered species act, predators, labor; just a lot of things and that’s why there’s no American lamb anymore!!


This picture is also from George Groseta.  It is men eating at Sheep Camp.  Anyone recognize any of the men?

The picture below is from Bill Cowan.

Sheep coming down off Anderson Mesa to drink on the east side of Mormon Lake. This may be Campbell and Frances outfit. 1919


Churro Sheep

When I visited the ranch in southern Arizona several weeks ago, they had a herd of about 300 churro sheep of which only some of them I photographed. Many of their sheep were down the road on another part of the ranch. These pictures are in another post and in the media section of this page. I will write more about them later. Today’s post is on the sheep at the Hubbell Trading Post.

My husband and I ventured to Ganado to see the sale of the Navajo-Churro Sheep. We also wanted to know more about the trading post and who ran it, Mr. Hubbell.  I have posted some information on this in earlier posts. After a stop at the National Park Visitor Center, we went to see the sheep.  One was the flock that remained on or near the trading post for visitors to see up close. The second grouping was those that were brought in that morning we visited to either sell or trade with other breeders. The sale was conducted by the Navajo Sheep Project who is responsible for preserving the breed and revitalizing the flocks found on the reservation.

The Navajo-Churro sheep are descendants of the Churra, an ancient breed originating from Spain and Portugal.  The first sheep came into the United States in 1598 with Juan de Oñate, a Spaniard who explored New Mexico. They are a hardy breed of sheep and survived very well in the environment of what would become the Navajo Reservation. The sheep were used for their wool to provide clothing and their meat for food by the early Spanish settlers.  These sheep became the central “focus of the Navajo economy, culture and arts” (blankets and rugs).

From a pamphlet at the Hubbell Trading Post visitor center run by the National Park Service comes the following information:

“Navajo-Churro sheep have coarse, long wool, including an outer coat and a soft inner coat. Their colors are varied in shades of white, tan, brown, black, and grey. They also have patterns of color. The sheep have long, wool-less legs and narrow bodies. (See picture below that was a model of the sheep found in the visitor center) Their bellies have little or no wool. Some rams have four fully developed horns, a trait shared by few other breeds in the world.


Navajo-Churro sheep are highly adaptable to extremes of climate and resistant to disease. They breed easily and twins or triplets are not uncommon. The meat of the sheep is flavorful and has a low fat content. (A very good reason to eat sheep meat!)

The wool of the Navajo-Churro sheep is highly valued by hand spinners for the open locks and wide range of colors”.

The following pictures were taken the day of the sale. Notice the horns.  It is common for them to have four, even six. It was interesting to watch the woman pick out the sheep that they wanted.  They also knew what price they were willing to pay for them.

Hubbell Trading Post

Southwestern United States ancestral people have practiced trading for a long time. They traded long distances as evidence found in archaeological digs. Shells would come from as far away as the Pacific Ocean. Presumably there was an exchange of ideas too. Starting in the mid 1800s traders from the east came in wagons which carried a variety of goods that they hoped to trade for commodities of the local people. With the establishment of the Navajo Reservation in 1868, the Federal government made rules on trade with the native peoples. The government encouraged traders to have licenses and open permanent trading posts. One man to do so was Hubbell. He was first located two miles from Ganado and then he purchased William Leonard’s business in 1876. Thus, the birth of the Hubbell Trading Post which was in business until the 1960s by a Hubbell.  More information will be coming in the next post on the years Hubbell spent here.

Natives did not have currency and credit was extended to them with their promise to pay for any goods that they purchased at the trading post when they sold piñon nuts that they gathered, wool from their Churro sheep (it was reported that Hubbell shipped 100,000 pounds of wool to Gallup, but it is unknown was this in one year or over several years), firewood that they either gathered or cut, sheep and goats. Hubbell reportedly bought up to 10,000 lambs and goats each fall, corralled them until it was time to herd them to the railroad station in either Chambers, AZ or Gallup, NM. The animals would be loaded on rail cars to be shipped eastward. Later, the trading posts would accept handmade rugs and blankets, jewelry, carvings and baskets in exchange for the goods that the natives needed. Hubbell would bring in his goods to the trading post through his own freight business and take them to the other trading posts that he ran. He transported goods out of the reservation through his freight business.

Sheep kept at the Hubbell Trading Post as was the tradition when Hubbell owned and operated the post.

Hubbell Trading Post

The next few posts will be on the Hubbell Trading Post.  Today, just an introduction to the post with a few pictures from the National Park center. There is much to learn about Hubbell and his family as he was a friend to the Navajo and his biography is an interesting history of both him, his family and the Navajo or Dine people. J. L. Hubbell was born November 27, 1853 in New Mexico. He was self-educated and learned about the Navajo way of life, their culture and language while he was working for the U.S. Military.  He began to trade in Ganado in 1876.  He built a home for his wife, two sons and two daughters. His sons, Lorenzo, Jr. and Roman helped him run the trading post and continued upon their father’s death on November 12, 1930.  Hubbell was instrumental in getting the Navajo to weave rugs for sale at his trading post.

I haven’t finished the story of the Moroney’s, a relatively newcomer to the sheep industry and Thude’s, who were sheep ranchers in the early to mid part of the 1900s.  Their stories will follow over the next few weeks.

Southern Arizona Sheep Ranch

Just a few pictures from my trip to southern Arizona and a sheep ranch.  Dennis and Deb, the ranchers, were very hospitable.  We learned a great deal about their ranching lives and I will write more on it when I get it approved by them to ensure accuracy.  I don’t want to misquote anyone.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures from their ranch.  They also have other animals, but never photographed them. These are churros.  Deb also processes the wool into beautiful yarn.