Enrique Tijerina


September 27, 1931 - September 23, 2004
Role: Tophand, Cowhand
Nicknames: Henry
Known for: Being a consummate cowhand

Enrique "Henry" Tijerina was born to Julian Tijerina and Nicolasa Vasquez on Armour Fagan’s ranch where the family worked a small farm. His father was a cowhand on many of the major ranches in the Coastal Bend including the Fagan, Murphy, O’Connor, and Welder ranches. His brother, Julian, also became a cowhand. During roundup, the foremen from the different ranches would come by the homestead and tell them when and where they were needed. By the seventh grade Henry was ready to work cattle full time. He had always wanted to be a cowhand and bailing hay was not something Henry liked. Picking cotton was even worse. Being a cowhand meant you were somebody; you were riding instead of walking. Henry remembers it being a lot of fun back in the early days. He was a pasture rider and herd roper. It was his job to rope and pull the calves out of the herd. Henry was a renowned tophand on the O’Connor River Ranch. Part of his responsibilities was to take care of the expensive and delicate pure bred Hereford cows. This was a great honor at the time and he carried out his duties quietly and efficiently. He was an elegant man with little to say, but his considerable ranch knowledge was highly valued at whatever task he was given.

Introduction to Henry Tijerina

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Henry Tijerina
Louise - what would you do all day when you were pasture ridin'.

Henry - Well, we had to find them wormy calves, rope 'em and doctor 'em. See that the water troughs wouldn't be runnin' over, the windmill would be pumpin' water. The last thing I done at the ranch take care of them registered cattle. I used to know them ole cows, see them a half a mile off and I could tell what kind of a cow it was. Yeah I could let 'em out of the gate and be writin' their number down, if there was one cow missin' I could tell which one was missin'. Leo, Leo Scott use to go out with me and I'd tell Leo "Leo go see what kind of calf that cow had. The cow number is this Leo. How in the hell can you tell the number, he can't hardly see the cow from here. You just go see what kind of calf she had. He go over there and see what kind of calf she had and to make sure what number it was, he'd be, maybe, 20 or 30 minutes tryin' to read the number till he read it, how in the hell can you see the number from here. I can see it from here, Leo. That was a lot of fun back in those days.