Olyen Brown

May 31, 1935 -
Role: Tophand, Cowhand
Nicknames: Sonny
Known for: Being fearless

Sonny Brown was born and raised on the Traylor Ranch. His mother’s family were all respected cowhands. He learned from his uncle, Bull Harvey and his older brother, Pete. He started working cattle for real when he was ten years old, driving cattle from Tivoli to Green Lake. As a child, he would ride anything he could put a saddle on and rope anything in striking distance. All the chickens would run for cover when Sonny walked out the door. Sonny acquired a reputation for roping and riding dangerous animals and a willingness to put himself in harm’s way. His brother Pete observed “Sonny’s lucky he livin’, he’d do anything”. Sonny’s reply “I guess I was born crazy. I’d ride any animal I could get close enough to kiss.” Sonny could make a story funnier that anyone on earth. His understanding of himself and his willingness to do anything he could think of or was dared to do made him famous all over the Coastal Bend ranching community.

Introduction to Sonny Brown

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Sonny Brown
Sonny Brown – I started about…when I was about ten years old, really workin' cattle, you know…about ten. Yeah, I would do some terrible things, you know, when I was comin' up…was younger. But, I loved it, you know. There wasn't nothin' that I wouldn't try.

Pete Brown – That's true. He's lucky to be livin'! He's tellin' you the truth. He's lucky.

Sonny Brown – There was nothin' I wouldn't try. One time Mr. Clyde in his car, and we were running a big ole ten point buck. He said, "Sonny, can you catch him?" I said, "Yeah, you just let me out and you bring him by me." And I laid down on the ground. He had run that deer with that car in the bottom until he brought the deer…now that deer didn't see, he was looking at that car when that deer come by me, I jumped up and grabbed his horns and just throw'd the deer, just like nobody's business. Big old buck! Mr. Clyde said, "Boy, you just crazy! I didn't think you was going catch it." I said, "Yep! You bring him over me, I'm gonna catch him!" And he had the prettiest spread of horns. And I just got him like that. The deer kicked me in the stomach. You know how them deer fight when they kick? And, shoot. I just rolled over on him, act like I was huggin' him or something. I just laid on him.

Pete Brown – He's lucky to be living, I'm telling ya! He'd do anything! He wasn't scared of nothin', he wasn't scared of nothin'!

Sonny Brown – Anything, you know, that I feel like I could kiss and get on him, I would sure try it. Something that I've always wanted to do, you know, since I was a baby. And I always will like it, I guess.


“I guess I was born crazy. I ’d ride any animal I could get close enough to kiss.”

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