Stephney was only known as Tony throughout the Coastal Bend. He was born on the Sanâ€™tone River down on the Johnny Power Ranch. He grew up in Lewisâ€™ Bend, probably the best known of the freedman communities in the tri-county ranching country of Refugio, Goliad, and Victoria Counties. Tony started working cattle at twelve years old when James Welder asked him if he wanted to go out. Tony remembers riding a saddle all night long waiting for daylight to come. He became a fine horseman and fondly remembers an area rancher challenging Mr. Welderâ€™s cowhands to a horse riding contest. If anyone could ride a little sorrel horse named â€śBuckshotâ€ť, he would pass the hat for him. Tony volunteered, and then Mr. Jim said, â€śHook him, Tonyâ€ť and I hit him. That horse went crazy. He had me all over him. â€śBuckshotâ€ť finally slipped and fell and when I rode back to Mr. Jim, he told me to pass my hat. I got about thirty dollars out of that ride. I was rich that day. Not so much from the money, but because Mr. Jim thought enough of me to let me represent his ranch.â€ť Tony was an â€śAâ€ť list colleague on this project. His love of his work came through in every sentence and his knowledge of cowboying was unsurpassed. With a voice like Louis Armstrong, he would sing and act out stories to the delight of all.
“I was born on the San’tone River. Goin’ to Redlew was like goin’ to New York. I was twenty years old before I seen a picture show. We pounded out the way for these young boys.”