WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
HARRY "SONNY" DAVIS ( 92 )
2006 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
You could say that Sonny Davis got his start as a cowboy as the result of tough love. Sonny was 14 years old and like many ninth graders he wasn't really going to school like he should. One afternoon he arrives home from school to find that his mom had his bedroll packed and his saddle loaded. Sonny Davis was headed to the Ten X Cattle Company, which is a ranch that lies between Williams and the Grand Canyon.
It must have been a shock to the system, going from the life of a carefree freshman in high school to riding colts and working everyday on a ranch. It was a life-changing event that started him down a path he has followed ever since. Since that day in 1946, Sonny has spent 60 years riding colts, working cattle, shoeing horses, team roping, riding bulls, and he has even cobbled a few shoes.
Sonny worked on several Northern Arizona ranches. He started at the Ten X, but he also worked for the Coconino Cattle Company and on the Babbitt Ranches. At each ranch Sonny was usually hired to ride the colts.
It was in 1954 when Sonny married Faye Baker. Faye said, "We lived 100 miles from nowhere. At least we had indoor plumbing. Those were fun years with lots of experiences." It was truly a romance on the range. In the mid 1950's Sonny and Faye had enough of the North Country, and they were ready for a change. They loaded up and headed to Southern Arizona where Sonny went to work for the Three Links Ranch.
Sonny had been hired just to work through round up, but when the round up was finished Dan Lowery, the ranch manger, wanted Sonny to stay. It was a bronc ride that helped Sonny get a permanent job. Dan told one of his cowboys (which was Grady Stewart) to take Sonny and see if he could ride a big sorrel horse they called Cashew. Cashew was a horse they knew would pitch a little. Grady made the introductions, Sonny meet Cashew, Cashew meet Sonny Davis. Sonny saddled up and stepped on. You could tell that Cashew wanted to hump up. So Grady said, "If you want to see what he will do, why don't you spur him."
Sonny tickled him with a spur, and Cashew jumped straight up in the air. He went way high in the air and bawled. Sonny said, "There was a lot of altitude, and it sounded a lot worse than it actually was. He was actually easy to ride." Dan Lowery got the report back, and Dan asked Sonny to stay. Sonny and Faye moved to a camp called Deep Well, which is located up that big Sacaton draw behind the Cross X.
(It should be noted: That Sonny actually took a liking to Cashew and when Sonny left the Links, he bought Cashew and took him with him.)
It was Sonny's move to the Three Links that started him team roping, but before then he was on the rodeo trail riding bulls and bareback horses. One year Sonny traveled to the rodeos with Enoch Walker who was a world champion bareback rider. Sonny said, "I could ride the bulls better, but I just didn't like bulls." In 1960, Sonny went to work for Jack Nelson at the Willcox Livestock Auction. For twenty years Sonny worked at the sale barn and took care of Bob Ogden's ranch. Sonny also worked for Tom Sellman. Sonny said, "Tom had cattle scattered from Elfrida to Bonita; if there was a pasture anywhere with a blade of grass Tom had it leased."
Through Sonny's life it didn't matter if he was working on a ranch, at the livestock auction, at a feedlot, a saddle shop, or even at the Johnson Mine, he has always been riding colts, shoeing horses and team roping on the side.
Today Sonny and Faye live at the end of Davis Ranch Road, where they have lived for the past 39 years. They have five kids, Glenda, Rhea, Kenny, Terri Faye, and Sam. Sonny was very active in the Willcox Sheriffs Posse. He served on the board of directors, helped with the play days, and roped in the Posse roundups all around Arizona.
Faye said, "It has never been dull around here. We haven't been overly rich. We had what we needed." Sonny retired a couple of years ago. But, just last week he was working with a colt and his Queensland heeler dog nipped the colt on a hind leg, and the colt ran right over the top of Sonny. I guess you never get it out of your system.
Presented by Eddie Browning