SHEEP AND MAN ~ AN AMERICAN SAGA

Introduction



The sheep industry in the United States has a long and colorful history-a history that grows in richness daily as individual sheepmen contribute to it. Yesterday, Cortes and Kit Carson were sheepmen of note; today, ranchers and farmers are adding to this heritage, and their stories will tell future generations about the role America's sheep industry played in the 20th century.

It is to these people that the American Sheep Producers Council wishes to dedicate this volume. For years, the men and women at ASPC headquarters have felt that an effort should be made to record the stories of American sheepmen so that their experiences would not be lost to those coming after them. This book attempts, on a limited scale, to do this. Perhaps it will prompt others to chronicle the histories of important men and women they have known in the sheep business.

As a reference guide, the book also highlights important dates in the industry's development. In addition, the founding of the National Wool Growers Assn., the American Sheep Producers Council, and the recent history of the sheep industry-from the 1903s to the present-are emphasized.

Numerous people were involved in researching and writing "Sheep and Man-An American Saga." For example, the editors depended almost entirely on state associations to provide them with the names of prominent sheepmen in their areas, and their help is greatly appreciated. But special mention should be given to one woman-Frances Aleman.

Mrs. Aleman, widow of a prominent Arizona sheepman, was the chairwoman of the ASPC committee assigned to initiate work on the history book. Interviewed at her home in Phoenix, Mrs. Aleman said that she "sent out literally hundreds of letters to sheep families. I also traveled throughout the United States to state woolgrowers conventions and asked their members to contribute. In all, I spent almost 3½ years on this project."

The result of Mrs. Aleman's work is a collection of family histories from across the country. She especially remembers the stories of a family whose ranch came to them from a Spanish land grant; a woman whose early married life meant living in a tent with her husband while he tended sheep on the summer range; and a man whose grandfather brought sheep into Utah tied underneath a covered wagon.

From stories such as these, the book took its primary direction-to focus on people-since they, more than any association, government agency or sheep breed, have given the industry impetus to thrive uninterrupted in America for more than 450 years. The editors only regret that mechanical and financial limitations on the book, as well as their own finite knowledge, prevent them from mentioning everyone who has contributed to the industry.

Sheep ranching and farming are a unique way of life. Frances Aleman summed it up when she said, "Forty-one years ago, I married into the sheep industry, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's a way of life that I have loved, and a wonderful way to raise a family. Sheepmen should be proud of their history, because they have such a rich one."

The Editors
1978


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