Herbert Bickford


March 5, 1902 - December 14, 1992
Role: Rancher, Cowhand
Nicknames: Buster

Buster was born on his ranch on the San'tone River close to Tivoli, the same ranch where his father, Charles Ross Bickford, was born and where Buster has lived his entire life. Buster remembers tales of his grandfather, Peletiah Bickford, going on the Mier Expedition to take New Mexico and make it a state but the expedition was betrayed, and his grandfather spent a year in a Mexican jail. After their release, they walked back to Texas with cowhide sacks for shoes. His grandfather married the granddaughter of Seabourne [Seabron] Lewis, Emma Lewis Bickford from the Lewis Plantation on the San Antonio River and became a rancher as did most settlers in this area. Buster grew up among feuding and fighting. The Bickfords were constantly in trouble and the stigma stuck to his family. Back in those days the whole family was guilty if one member did something wrong. Buster started riding with his father when he was seven years old. As a young man he carried mail for a time, but after his father died he was called back to his destiny. “There wasn’t anything but a cow and a plow. There wasn’t nothing else to be done.” Buster looked and talked like a movie cowboy and made a significant contribution to this oral history.

Introduction to Buster Bickford

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Buster Bickford
Buster Bickford - Back in the '20s and back in there, there was just the cow and a plow. That's all it was. And I learned to ride, and learned to ride pretty good. Yeah, I've done it all my life. Well, what changed the ranch life more than anything, you used to ride your pasture, you know, worm days, maybe twice, three or four times a week. What changed it more was the Model T. Instead of riding a horse, you took the Model T. No horseback. I remember one year we doctored out there. It rained and rained, and the horses were bogging that deep. And cattle were bogging. The cattle couldn't run off in that mud. And we'd throw 'em upside the fence in little bunches, and just ride in there and drag the calves out in mud that deep, and doctor 'em. Of course, when it was wet, you couldn't go, you had to...Hell, they couldn't run off as boggy as it was. And did that every week, twice a week. But, I tell you what changed the ranch right now is these goose-neck trailers. You mobile, I'm telling you, you can move...take two trailers and move eight or ten horses.

Freddy Fagan - You can do more with less horses.

Buster Bickford - Less horses, less men.