Jim Humphreys

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James O'Neill "Jim" Humphreys, Sr.
Born(1921-02-28)February 28, 1921
Kansas City, Missouri, US
DiedJune 9, 2007(2007-06-09) (aged 86)
OccupationRancher, businessman
Spouse(s)Berneice Anderson Humphreys (married 1951-his death)
ChildrenJames "Jimbo" Humphreys, Jr.

LeAnn Lawson
Jane H. Penman

Jean H. Trull
1 Humphreys was a major force in ranching and agriculture in West Texas during the second half of the 20th century. (2) Through his role with the National Ranching Heritage Center on the campus of his alma mater, Texas Tech University, Humphreys worked to restore historic ranch structures for future generations.

James O'Neill Humphreys, Sr. (February 28, 1921 – June 9, 2007[1]), usually known as Jim Humphreys, was a prominent Texas rancher and the former board chairman of the National Ranching Heritage Center, an entity of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. For some two decades, he was the manager of the large Pitchfork Ranch, with headquarters near Guthrie, the seat of King County, located east of Lubbock on the Texas South Plains. According to author Lawrence Clayton in Historic Ranches of Texas, Humphreys "came to be considered one of the major figures in Texas agriculture before his retirement from active management in 1986."[2]

Humphreys was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to the late T.J. and Edna Humphreys. In 1940, he launched his studies at Texas Tech but was sidelined by service in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II. He served with the 34th Infantry Division in Great Britain, North Africa, and Italy.[3]

In 1947, he earned his bachelor of science degree in animal husbandry. After graduation, he joined the staff of Interstate National Bank in Kansas City but soon returned to the South Plains in 1948 to work at the Pitchfork. He was hired by manager Douglas Burns (1895–1977)[1] as the assistant in charge of hog operations. He soon mastered ranch operations and became the sixth manager of the Pitchfork when Burns retired to Lubbock, but continued to advise the ranch as a director of the parent company.[2] On June 9, 1951, he wed the former Berneice Anderson in Creighton, Missouri.[4]

As ranch manager, Humphreys supervised the operation of some 165,000 acres (670 km2) and 113 windmills in King and adjacent Dickens counties. According to the ranch website, Pitchfork cowboys are known for the quality of their horses. The signature "Pitchfork Gray"—a gray horse with a black mane and tail—is synonymous with the ranch. The Pitchfork maintains a satellite operation in Jefferson County in southern Oklahoma. The previous Flint Hills Ranch near Eskridge in Wabaunsee County in northeastern Kansas, and the Flag Ranch in Wyoming have been sold. The Pitchfork Ranch has become a diversified agricultural business. There have been major petroleum finds in the Tannehill sands area. The Pitchfork offers guided hunting for deer, game birds, boar, and other game. Farming has been expanded in recent years to increase winter grazing and grain production. The ranch has some 4,500 mother cattle.[5]

Humphreys served on the board of directors of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the National Cattleman's Association. He was similarly active in the American Quarter Horse Association, based in Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle, having served on the association's public information and education committee.;[6][3] From 1977 to 1980, Humphreys was the board chairman of the Ranching Heritage Center, which operates a highly acclaimed outdoor museum of western and ranch structures on the Texas Tech campus, open free to the public. In 2005, Humphreys, along with Giles C. McCrary of Post, the seat of Garza County, was among five individuals presented with the Ranching Heritage Association "Founders Award".[7]

In 1970, Humphreys received the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturist Award. He was further honored by the American Hereford Association, the Texas Hereford Association, and the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth. In 1990, the National Hereford Show was named in his honor.[3] The Southwestern Exposition named Humphreys an honorary vice president in 2006–2007.[2]

When Humphreys retired from the ranch, he relocated to Lubbock, Texas. Bob Moorhouse (born in Texas in 1947) became the new manager and held the position until his retirement in 2007. Moorhouse is also known for his ranch photography.[8]

In addition to his wife, Humphreys was survived by a son, James "Jimbo" Humphreys, Jr., of Dickens,[9] a rancher who has been active in the National Cowboy Symposium,[10] and his wife, Winona; three daughters, LeAnn Lawson of Lubbock, Jane Penman of New Braunfels north of San Antonio, and Jean Trull and husband, Clifford, of Crosbyton in west Texas; a sister, Ann Blessing of Lexington, Kentucky; ten grandchildren, and one great-grandson.[4] Humphreys was preceded in death by his son-in-law, Randy Michael Lawson, a Lubbock stockbroker who was murdered in 1994.[11]

Historical marker at National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas, commemorates Humphries's contributions to historical preservation.

Services were held on June 11, 2007, at the First Baptist Church of Lubbock, where Humphreys was a deacon. Interment was in Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock.[4]

Humphrey's grandson, Matthew Humphreys (born ca. 1982), who grew up in Dickens, has established a spur- and bit- making shop in Lubbock. Like his grandfather, he holds a bachelor of science degree in animal husbandry from Texas Tech but learned his craft primarily by watching his father, James Humphreys, Jr., when he was the manager of Guitar Ranches at Spur. The younger Humphreys also makes western trophies.[12]


Preceded by
Douglas Burns
Manager of the Pitchfork Ranch in West Texas

James O'Neill "Jim" Humphreys

Succeeded by
Bob Moorhouse