Porfirio Urbano


October 15, 1909 - May 9, 2001
Role: Tophand, Cowhand
Nicknames: Lepo
Known for: herd roper

Porfirio was born on the McFaddin Ranch. His parents, Virginia Villarreal and Lee Urbano, came from San Diego, Texas where they had a ranch but lost it. He doesn’t know his grandparents. Porfirio started riding a Shetland pony when he was a small boy, learning to be a cowhand by watching the “old heads”. His father was a tophand “all the way” but died when Porfirio was nine years old. He and his brother, Tony", had to go to work to help support the family. They stayed on the McFaddin Ranch their entire lives. Porfirio credits McFaddin foreman, Valentine Konrad, with teaching him how to work cattle. His consummate skill as a rider and a roper generated an area-wide reputation. He taught a lot of the younger men including both Kerry McCan and Kerry's son, Bobby McCan. Porfirio's brother was a cowhand and his son, Lee, is a pasture rider. Porfirio was a relatively quiet man but generous with his endless knowledge of cattle and horses.

Introduction to Porfirio Urbano

Louise S. O'Connor
00:03:59
Voice of Porfirio Urbano
00:01:23
Porfirio Urbano – Well, I don't own these cows, but I'm the pasture rider on these cows. I know these cows. Man, we had a rough night. I thought that light gonna hit us, you know, you see the light and the cattle and the hair, you know, and you see a light. I stand in one corner, and the other brother of mine in another place. And the other fella in the other corner. And another fella in another corner. All night long. And rainin' and lightenin'. Whew! Bum-bum-bum-bum. You could see the light on the horns, yeah. You could see the light. You know, just like….And that time we have a stampede take off and we holler at 'em. "Whoa! Whoa!" And get in the corner and I thought well they stop. And sometime they jam on into the corner the horse is in. Sometime we got to get on top of the gate because they jam when the horse is in. And we holler at him, and we holler at him till he give up. It's light. Man, you know, it's dangerous. You got to work it pretty good to be a cowboy. Cause I could feel it as bein' my ranch, cause I ain't got nothin' to do with this ranch. Because I born up here when I was a little kid and I started ridin' up here and work. And I've been takin' good care and he treat me right. But he ain't gonna run me outta here, I know that.

Documents

“Monkey see, monkey do — that’s how I learned.”

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