Elizardo "Charlie" Hernandez

February 9, 1911 - 1985
Role: Foreman, Tophand
Nicknames: Charlie, EZ

Elizardo "Charlie" Hernandez was born in Yorktown, Dewitt County, Texas. His first experience working cattle came as a seventeen year old when he was given a buggy horse to ride. When the horse pitched and threw him everyone laughed. From that day forward Charlie decided that not only would he become a cowboy but he would also become a very good rider. When his father, Manuel Hernandez, went to work for Lawrence O’Connor in 1934, Charlie followed. Three years later Manuel brought his whole family to the T. M. O'Connor River Ranch formerly knows as the El Oso Ranch which was run by Lawrence. His father suffered an eye injury in a horse accident and Charlie took over his father’s job. His father taught him everything he knew about working cattle. Like so many of the cowboys, Charlie loved to ride and loved to break horses. “I kissed the ground many times” [was thrown]. Charlie worked his way up from cowhand to pasture rider to foreman. Charlie was a quiet, elegant man who knew his business well.

Introduction to Charlie

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Charlie Hernandez
Charlie Hernandez – First horse that I rode was a horse that they used to use him for a buggy, you know, to pull a buggy with; real gentle and everything. My brother, the oldest one, he was working there at the ranch, you know, up here at the Swickheimer's place. And the boss man told him to saddle up a horses you know, so we can go in the pasture and catch those calves and put 'em in the trailer – to load 'em in the trailer. I didn't know much about horse riding or anything. Anyway, I just went as a helper, you know, with 'em. And they was after those calves down there to try to rope 'em and they missed 'em quite a few times. And I just thought to myself, I said, "Well, I should have tried it myself to see if I can catch one of 'em." And I had that rope, and then that horse…well I just have to, you know, just hit it with a rope to make it move because the horse, he was lazy, and he didn't want to move. Anyway, I was just trying to hit him, that loop was getting big on that rope. And I had to put a tension and try to whip with him and swing that rope. Before I knew it, I was all tangled up with the rope, the horse and myself. And I tell you, they had some fun looking at me! They laughed till cry! I tell you, I wasn't feeling too good about it, you know. I told 'em, I says, "Well, I'm going to tell both of you one thing. If you all give me the opportunity to ride horses, I will guarantee that in not too long, I believe I can do as much as you all can horseback and you all been doin' this for some years." I just promised that, you know. And in that length of time, I could ride anything there at the ranch. And from there on, I just keep on riding horses. Well, then I started breaking horses and all of that. Taking the chances, you know. I kiss the ground many times, you know. They dump me off. Not one time, but many times. But, I say, "Well, thanks to the good Lord that I'm still alive." And that's the way I started.