Jack Speiden

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John G. F. "Jack" Speiden (March 4, 1900 − July 30, 1970) was an American stockbroker and ranch owner. Speiden fought in both World Wars, attended Yale and received a letter for football while playing on the hockey team, taught in China, worked on Wall Street, and bought a ranch.[1] He ran for Congress for the 2nd District of Arizona in 1956[2] and 1958,[3] defeated by Stewart Udall both times. Charlie Ohrel, who inherited most of the information about Jack, after his death, summed up his life with a humorous understatement; "He sure did give it a good shot." Speiden's ranch, the Jay Six Ranch, left a legacy of its own. The ranch played host to political figures like the young brothers Joseph & Jack Kennedy, and to senior statesman Barry Goldwater. The Kennedy brothers (Joe age 21 and Jack age 19) were sent out to the 40,000 acres (160 km2) Jay Six Ranch in 1936 so that Jack Kennedy could recuperate in the dry desert heat. It is reported that Speiden worked them both "very hard".

Early life[edit]

At sixteen, Speiden joined an American volunteer ambulance unit headed for France in World War I. The United States entered the war a year later in 1917. Speiden, already in France, promptly joined the Marines and was returned to the States to train at Parris Island, South Carolina, then back to France with the 2nd Division. When the war ended, Jack entered Yale University. He played on the hockey team and received his letter as a fullback on the football team. After graduation, he still craved adventure, so he went to China with a Yale group. He taught English and economics at Changsha, deep in the interior of Hunan Province. He remained there for a year and spent the next year visiting Java, India, Malaya, Singapore, and Burma. After returning to the United States in 1924, Speiden embarked on a successful Wall Street career. That career came to an end with the depression and Wall Street crash of 1929. After a trip down to Honduras that same year, Jack caught a mysterious virus and was told to head west to the dry heat until his ailment was cured.

Life in the West[edit]

Jack recovered from the virus in twelve months. A chance meeting with Arthur Brisbane, the famous Hearst newspaper editor, in the spring of 1933, convinced Jack that he should make the American west his home. Brisbane told young Speiden that the country was rounding out the bottom of a business cycle and the smart thing to do was to invest in land commodities. Jack took the advice which subsequently proved sound.

His boyhood had been spent in the back country of New Jersey and he had learned to ride almost before he could walk. The cattle business seemed natural enough to Jack, but he thought it best to break in gradually. He acquired a small registered herd of 60 cows which, with the aid of one cowboy, he ran of part of the 76 Ranch in Graham County. He concurrently embarked on course of self-education. He read every available book on animal husbandry and was greatly helped by the excellent Animal Husbandry Department of the University of Arizona. After several years of solid study along with practical experience, Speiden purchased what is now known as the Jay-Six Ranch.

When Speiden took possession of the ranch it was carrying upwards of 1000 head. The initial problem was to thin-out the herd and leave only registered stock. It was a slow tedious process. He realized that it was of the utmost importance to bring in the best possible breeding stock so he acquired bulls which were direct descendants of well-known strains as Royal Domino 2nd, Royal Triumph and Anxiety 4th − names which spell top quality to those in the business. The policy of weeding out the undesirables proved effective. At the ranch's peak, Jack had one of the most representative herds in the country. His cows were raised strictly for breeding purposes and not for the show ring, although they could have undoubtedly held their own against some of the blue ribbon winners of the day.

Speiden's passion for the improvement of breed carried into the quarter horse field, but on a much smaller scale. Again the empasis was on quality. Although the venture was largely a hobby, it was obvious that a great amount of time went into selecting the best possible bloodlines. The results were gratifying as the Speiden colors were often first at the finish line.

The layout of the ranch was perfectly suited to the improvement of the breed and to the conserve of the range. The huge area allowed the cattle to graze on healthy, knee-high grass. Each year during the growing season, several of the fourteen pastures remained unused which gave the new grass an opportunity of coming in good and strong. This method of keeping the grass so high was both aesthetically beautiful and practical, as soil erosion was kept to a minimum and no deep gullies marred the landscape. These gorgeous grassy pastures extended up the mountain slope. The tall pine trees and cooler temperatures made a perfect summer retreat from the exhausting sun. A freshening stream satisfied the water problem and irrigated a lush peach, pear, and apple orchard.

The ranch's beauty and isolation did not go without notice. People from around the nation came to the ranch for varied reasons. Many came to the ranch for enjoyment and relaxation. Included on the list was Barry Goldwater "to find relaxation, or to toughen up".

Death[edit]

According to an obituary, printed in the New York Times on August 2, 1970, John G. F. Speiden ("Arizona Ranchman") died the previous Thursday, July 30, 1970. Age 70. Cause of death was listed as drowning. The article states that Mr. Speiden drowned in his pool, at his home.

A July 31, 1970 article in the Tucson Daily Citizen remarked on the passing of Speiden, and carried a statement from Gov Jack Williams which read, in part, that "Mr Speiden (was) a gallant gentleman and a courageous soldier and citizen, who has been lost to Arizona and the world" The newspaper noted that "survivors include Caroline Stevens Speiden, a Leith Klauber of Montreal, two sisters Countess Eleanor Davico of Milan Italy and Dr Katherine Caddick of London England and a grand-son."

Sources[edit]

Much of the information provided by an article in Arizona Highways from October 1953, Charlie Ohrel, and Neil Simonson.

See also[edit]

References[edit]