Dennis Vincent Williams


January 22, 1933 - May 21, 1995
Role: Foreman
Nicknames: D.W., Dee

Dennis’ ties to the Coastal Bend stretch back almost to the Texas Revolution. His great grandparents were ranching in the San Antonio River bottom in the mid-nineteenth century. Dennis’ mother’s family immigrated during the mid-nineteenth century from Alsace-Lorraine through Indianola and settled around Victoria. His father’s people originated from Germany and settled in the La Grange area. He is named for his father’s cousin and good friend, Dennis O’Connor [II]. Dennis received his education from Texas A&M, graduating in 1955 with a degree in Agronomy. His connection to the land brought him back to Victoria where he started an apprenticeship for the O’Connor Brothers Cattle Company and became foreman in the early 1960s. Dennis worked for O’Connor Brothers his entire life. He was a cowman and rancher to his bones. “I have always liked ranching. I grew up with livestock and nature. I don’t know anything else I like better. There are lots of ways I could have made more money, but ranching gets in your blood and you can’t get it out.”

Introduction to Dennis Williams

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Dennis Williams
Dennis Williams – You know, you never ask a man how many cows he had. And you never really got around to asking how many acres of land he had. And anybody who would talk about those real strong and boastfully, you never….you kind of looked down on them because they were just blowing their own horn.
Well, the other thing was that if you go to look at somebody's cows, whether to buy 'em or just looking at 'em because he wanted you to look at 'em or anything. I remember my grandfather Sam Williams saying, "You ought never say anything about anybody else's cows unless it's good. It's better not to say anything."
Always a serious offense if you rode somebody else's horse without asking him. A man that, say, rides some of the time, but not all the time, he got his leggings, spurs, bridle, saddle, and everything all together and some people borrow his rope and don't put it back and those kinds of things, it can bring on some pretty good hassles.
As far as sticking up for one another and having some pride in the ranch and all, as far as camaraderie or whatever. Like the time before…well its Amador's joint now, but when Hubert had it… called me one night about some of our hands and the McFaddin hands having a big fight up there. And it started, you know, one of them saying, "Y'alls horses ain't no good," or "Y'all ain't doing this right." Anyhow, it got to be kind of a… it was all a beer fight to start out with, but it was offending the ranch more than the individual. It upset some folks. But, to me, I thought it was real good bull that at least the hands thought enough about it to fight for it.
This is a great problem I have. I don't want anybody doing anything wrong because it's a personal offense to me because I feel like it's just like it was mine. I'm sure that some of the hands get that kind of feeling, especially that grew up there and stayed there for a long while. A real good example…one time at the Bundick Lake Camp sitting there and Willie Jones and Joe Heron was cooking, and Willie was the flunky. And right there on the Refugio/Goliad Highway, there's a little strip just north of the barn had brush on it. Of course, all the rest of the Duke was open prairie. And I asked Willie, said, "How come that piece of brush is there?" And he said, "Oh, before they put that new highway in, we didn't own that piece of land." And it was some trade with the Wood's or somebody cause the highway cut off a piece of each on different sides, so they traded out. But when he come up with, "We didn't, we didn't used to own that piece of land…"

Documents

“This life is drfting away from us. It’s changed immensely. I don’t know how you stop it, or if it can be stopped. Not many people do this work any more and others don’t have the same feelings I do. Unless I’m talking to someone in ranching, I’m by myself. It’s a lonesome business now.”

Cryin' For Daylight: Ranching Culture in the Texas Coastal Bend