Earl was born in Victoria, Texas. He can trace his ancestors back to County Clare, Ireland. His parents were Earl Clare Ward and Frances Garner Brown. His great grandfather was born in Connecticut, but ran away to sea at an early age and ended up in Refugio where his grandfather, John W. Ward, was born. All of his ancestors were cow people in the Coastal Bend and all went broke in the Civil War having invested their money in the Confederacy. Fortunately the maternal side of his family was able to financially recover after the War and one of Earl’s mother’s uncles was a foreman for the O’Connors at Alligator Head, near the present Port O’Connor. Another of her uncles was a canal rider, much like a pasture rider, for the rice plantations. Earl’s father died when Earl was an infant and after being raised in the convent in Victoria, he went to work under Emmett Fagan at the O’Connor River Ranch when he was seventeen. The first time he worked cattle was on the William’s place when he was twelve. He worked for the McFaddins, the Welders, McCans, Hollimans, and Williams as well as the O’Connors. He worked under Konrad Valentine at McFaddin. He did a stint with the Border Patrol but after WW II he went back to the O’Connors where he spent the rest of his working life as a foreman.