Nicolas V. Rivas

September 10, 1929 - September 6, 2011
Role: Tophand, Cowhand
Nicknames: Nick

Nicolas "NIck" Rivas was born on the McFaddin Ranch and moved to Greta with his family, growing up mainly on the O'Brien Ranch. His maternal grandfather came from Mexico and worked as a farmer. His paternal grandfather and father were cowhands on all the O’Connor and O'Brien ranches. Nick was raised on the O'Brien Ranch and respects the patron, system. He credits Mr. O’Brien and his daddy with teaching him to be a man. Nick was destined to be a cowboy. He would even ride for a couple of hours after he came in from a day of working cattle. “You were just a better man if you had a better horse. It’s all I ever did; I grew up in it to be a man.” Elegant and soft spoken, you knew this man was exactly that as well as a superb tophand.

Introduction to Nick Rivas

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Nick Rivas
Nick Rivas – Felt like brothers; help each other out. There wasn't a single one in our crowd that we hated each other. We always try to help each other out. That's what made it more easier for us to work. That same feeling for A.J., my brother, and John and A.J. They just like one of the family to us. They don't ever change. We were that close. We are that close. You know, we grow'd up to be a man right there at O'Brien's. That old man, up to this day, I still miss him. And I loved him just like I did my daddy; Old Man O'Brien. He was one fine fella. Well, he raised us. As a matter of fact, well, he finished raising my daddy and then moved to Quincy, worked all his life there. And then we come along, and Mr. O'Brien just, you know, took us over. And up to this day, everything I know, my daddy and Mr. O'Brien taught me. I raised my family right there. But, he was out there with us. He worked right along with us. He was just like another hired hand. He seen hard days like we did and he enjoyed it, too. And back then, he was there with us all the time, every day. And he took care of us, too. Sickness…

E.J. Garza - Sickness.

Nick Rivas - Anything we needed.

E.J. Garza - Anything.

Nick Rivas – For the family…he was right there to help us. We were well protected because he depends on us. The main thing he wanted for us to do - respect. And he always told me, see, "If you ain't got respect for anybody, you ain't nobody."


“We felt like brothers. We helped one another. It made it easier to work. We would depend on each other like a family — we were that close. That feelin’ stays forever It don’t never change.”

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