Jesus Ybarbo

July 2, 1907 - November 20, 1990

Jesus was born on the Murphy Ranch in Victoria County, Texas. His ancestors emigrated from the Canary Islands, a group that has escaped notice in the early settlement of Texas. His father, Juan Ybarbo, was a pasture rider and broke horses at the O'Connor Duke Ranch for Dennis O'Connor [I]. All of Jesus's sisters were born at the Duke. The familial connection of rancher and ranch hand is evident in Dennis's sons, Joe, Martin, and Tom, all being taught to ride by Juan Ybarbo, Jesus’ father. When Dennis died in 1900 the family moved back over to the Murphy Ranch. Jesus remembers that the horses in the early part of the twentieth century were wild and mean and much harder to break. Even the cattle were wilder, never seeing humans for years at a time. He notes that injuries were few because there were so many very skilled cowhands working at that time. Jesus left cow working in 1958 when Tom O'Connor Jr. hired him to take care of the O’Connor cemetery where he stayed for twenty-four years. Jesus was great teller of tales of early ranch life.

Introduction to Jesus Ybarbo

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Jesus Ybarbo
Jesus Ybarbo – You know, in those years people like to work cattle. They love that job. And now days they don't want it. I sure did like it. I liked it…horse riding. With a bunch of men ride out together… One day we was twenty-two on a horse; twenty-two working men. And they had us saddle horses. One man take care of the saddle horses. They had over a hundred horses to ride. Every man had four horses. And Mr. Sitterle don't let 'em ride just half a day each horse. You had to change at noon. Start in the morning, at noon, got to change horse. Then the next day, another one, half a day. I remember my father used to tell me that… those years they was breaking horses. My father used to do that; break horses for the ranches. Break many horses for Mr. Dennis when he was working over there at the Pasture Ranch. Those years the horses were harder to break 'em than it is now because now a days they got these quarter horses. In those years they had rough horses. You know why…they never see people at all. And now days they got 'em in the pens and since they're little colts, feed 'em where their mamas at. And they see people, you see, they get used to it. And those years way back and years ago they didn't see nobody out; just when you go work cattle in the prairie. And they were so hard to break. They was awful bad; wild and mean.


“I sure did like it — a bunch of men together in those days, workin’ cattle. It was fun. It made me happy.”

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