Deaf Smith County TXGenWeb - Notable People


Deaf Smith
County, Texas

Notable People From
Deaf Smith County


ATEN, IRA (1862–1953). Ira Aten, Texas Ranger and Panhandle lawman, the second of four sons of Austin C. and Kate (Dunlap) Aten, was born on September 3, 1862, in Cairo, Illinois. In 1876 the family moved to Texas, where Ira's father, a Methodist minister, rode circuit for his church. They settled on a farm near Round Rock. On July 20, 1878, Ira witnessed the death of Sam Bass and was inspired to become a lawman. He enlisted in the Texas Rangersqv and was assigned to Company D under Capt. Lamar P. Sieker, headquartered at Camp King, near Uvalde. Aten served in McCulloch, Brown, and Navarro counties before 1888. In the summer of 1887 he and John R. Hughes trailed and killed Judd Roberts. Aten served more than six years with the frontier battalion, during which time he attained the rank of sergeant. In August 1889 Governor Lawrence S. Ross sent him in charge of a ranger squad to quell the Jaybird-Woodpecker War in Fort Bend County.

Aten and Imogen Boyce, a cousin of Albert G. Boyce, were married at the Central Christian Church in Austin on February 3, 1892, and afterward set up housekeeping at Aten's dugout ranchhouse near Dimmitt. They had three sons and two daughters. Citizens of Castro County, led by County Judge Lycius Goughqv, drafted Ira as sheriff in 1893. Imogen became the county jailer. By 1895 Aten had organized a ranch police force of some twenty cowboys armed with Winchester rifles. He stayed on for a time as division foreman and helped organize the first bank at Hereford, the new Deaf Smith county seat. In 1904, when the XIT Ranch began to break up, Aten moved his family to California, where they developed an irrigated farm and ranch. In 1923 Aten was elected to the Imperial Valley District board, which was concerned mainly with bringing water and electricity to the area by such means as Hoover Dam and the All-American Canal. During his later years Aten compiled the memoirs of his Wild West days, which were published in J. Marvin Hunter's Frontier Times magazine in 1945. At age ninety Aten still could ride and shoot straight. He was called the "last of the old Texas Rangers" when he died of pneumonia, on August 5, 1953, and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery at El Centro.


Andrew Carnahan (born September 8, 1983 in Hereford, Texas) is an American football offensive tackle for the New York Giants of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played college football at Arizona State.

Carnahan has also played for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Carnahan started all 37 games he played in at Arizona State, including 29 consecutive contests to begin his collegiate career. Carnahan was a four-time Pac-10 All-Academic honoree. He earned first-team All-District 3-4A accolades as a senior at Hereford High School in Hereford, Texas.



ELI, Ron


Best remembered for his role as Tarzan on an NBC television series in the middle 1960s, was born in Hereford in 1938.

Ronald Pierce "Ron" Ely (born June 21, 1938) is an American actor and novelist born in Hereford, Texas. Ely is best known for having portrayed Tarzan in the 1966 NBC series Tarzan and for playing the lead role in the 1975 film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze.


FORD, Jesse Frank

Jesse Frank Ford, known as Frank Ford (January 16, 1933 - February 2, 2011), was a Texas farmer and health-foods advocate who in 1960 founded Arrowhead Mills, the largest natural foods wholesaler in the United States. The company is based in his native Hereford, the seat of Deaf Smith County west of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. Arrowhead Mills removes impurities from corn and wheat and farms without pesticides.

Ford was the son of Jesse Ford (1894–1969). As a teenager, Ford worked in a grocery store in Hereford. He graduated in 1955 from Texas A&M University in College Station with a bachelor of science degree in agronomy. He was commander of the TAMU Corps of Cadets and was active in the Campus Crusade for Christ and its related Athletes in Action. Himself nondenominational, Ford supported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and advocated a "less-is-more" approach to living and spirituality.


FORMBY, John Clinton

John Clinton Formby, known as Clint Formby (December 22, 1923 – July 31, 2010), was a veteran radio broadcaster called the "Old Philosopher" based in the small city of Hereford, Texas, the seat of Deaf Smith County in the Texas Panhandle. His daily broadcast ran continuously on his KPAN AM & FM country-music station since October 10, 1955. Eventually reduced to five minutes in length, Formby's commentary was the oldest continuously-running broadcast by a single host in radio history.


FORMBY, Margaret Clark

Margaret Clark Formby (July 12, 1929–April 10, 2003) was the daughter of southwest Texas ranchers who founded the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in the basement of the public library in Hereford in Deaf Smith County before she relocated the collection to Fort Worth.

Formby was born to Fred and Mabel Clark in Van Horn in Culberson County east of El Paso. She once described her upbringing as "growing up western", and she fought to recognize women for their influence in western culture. She graduated second in her class in 1946 from Van Horn High School.

She launched her collection of western and rodeo artifacts beginning in 1975 in Hereford, where her husband, Clint Formby, was a radio broadcaster at the country-music station KPAN AM&FM.



Arlie Vincent Mayfield, I (June 20, 1924 – September 11, 2008), known as Smokey Mayfield, was a ranch supervisor in the Texas Panhandle and a bluegrass musician. In the late 1940s, Mayfield and his brothers played warmup for Tennessee Ernie Ford, Maddox Brothers and Rose, Hank Snow, and other country singers.

Mayfield was born to William Fletcher Mayfield (died 1952) and the former Penelope Drake (died 1937) in rural Dawn in Deaf Smith County southwest of Amarillo. In January 1931, he moved with his parents, three brothers, and two sisters to Dimmitt, the county seat of Castro County near Lubbock in West Texas, where he attended school, having left high school before graduation. He served in the United States Army in the European Theater of World War II and participated, at the age of 20, in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in December 1944 – January 1945.


MAYFIELD, Thomas Edd

Mayfield was born in Dawn in Deaf Smith County southwest of Amarillo to William Fletcher Mayfield (died 1952) and the former Penelope Drake (died 1937). The family was involved in music, rodeo, and ranching. Mayfield served in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

The Mayfield Brothers were offered a recording contract but turned it down because of the business of the family's Green Valley Ranch. In the summer of 1951, Bill Monroe's guitarist, Carter Stanley, left the band, and Monroe, who had heard of Mayfield, offered him the vacant slot as guitarist in the Bluegrass Boys. At the time he joined the Bluegrass Boys, Edd Mayfield was described as "a handsome, tough-as-barbed-wire cowpuncher, who literally grew up on a ranch, who could ride hard, lasso accurately, and literally toss and tie up a bull. . . and had the wiry strength of a gymnast.”

On October 28, 1951, Mayfield made the first of his nineteen recordings with "Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys", but he left the group within a year and was replaced by Jimmy Martin. In 1954, when Martin had left the band, Mayfield rejoined the Bluegrass Boys. A few months later he again quit.

In early 1958, Mayfield returned to Monroe for the last time. He contracted leukemia, became ill while on the road with the band, and, within three days of being stricken, died at a hospital in Bluefield, West Virginia. He was thirty two. Services for Mayfield were held at the First Baptist Church in Dimmitt. Burial was in Castro County Memorial Cemetery. Mayfield was married to the former Jo McLain and the couple had two sons, Freddie and Carl. After Mayfield's death his sons were raised by his brother Smokey.



Mayfield was born in Erick in Beckham County in southwestern Oklahoma to William Fletcher Mayfield (died 1952), and the former Penelope Drake (died 1937). In January 1931, he moved with his family to Dimmitt, the seat of Castro County near Lubbock. He graduated from Dimmitt High School and was awarded a basketball scholarship to college. During World War II, Mayfield served in the United States Army Air Corps, the forerunner to the Air Force. He participated in troop movements during the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge, in which his brother Smokey also fought.

All of the Mayfield family played musical instruments, beginning with the mandolin. Herbert Mayfield recalled rushing from his ranch chores to devote time to practicing music.



Mitchell was born in Hereford, Texas. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America where he achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout. He was also a member of DeMolay International and has been inducted into its Hall of Fame.

Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial management from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1952. The following year he joined the U.S. Navy, where he trained as a pilot and flew off the aircraft carriers USS Bon Homme Richard and USS Ticonderoga. He later qualified as a research pilot and taught at the Navy's research pilot school. While on active duty in the Navy, he earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and a Doctor of Science degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He currently resides in suburban West Palm Beach, Florida.

Mitchell is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, and carried one of the order's badges to the Moon; it is now kept at his home chapter of Kappa Sigma at Carnegie Mellon University.



SMITH, Erastus "Deaf"

THOMAS, Oliver C. (obit)

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