Lyman C. Tenney was a true cowboy. He was inducted into the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1999. He and his wife, Alaire, were awarded posthumously the 2015 Cowboy Keepers award on National Day of the Cowboy.
Lyman was born on October 10, 1918, near Willcox, Arizona. He was the seventh of ten children. His first memories of working cattle was holding cattle up at the corner of a fence while his father fed them hard cake on the ground. The family had a few horses, but being one of the younger children and not enough horses for all, his first mount was a mule. Drought forced his father out of the cattle business and the family relocated to Prescott where his father became a partner in an Angora goat ranch.
Lyman’s life became all about goats—herding them before and after school as well as all summer long. He milked goats twice a day and after eight years when Lyman turned 15, he figured that he needed to be a cowboy instead of a goat herder, so he left home to pursue his dream.
He worked doing chores, driving cattle, and riding bucking horses to pay for room and board. He performed in rodeos in Arizona and New Mexico. He had won the kid’s calf riding at age 12 and at 29 he won the bull riding at the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo.
After he joined the National Guard in 1940, he came back to Prescott on furlough and met his future wife, Alaire Browning. They married in 1942. The couple moved to Willcox and worked on the family ranch, Schillings, for ten years. Afterward, they bought the Muleshoe Ranch with a partner and ran steers until drought and a bad market forced them to shut down. His next ventures were buying cattle for feedlots and managing feedlots in the California Imperial Valley. He established an outside pasture operation putting up and taking down more than 18 miles of hot wire fence. He then went back to Willcox briefly before he and his wife moved to Australia where they lived for 14 years.
While in Australia, Lyman worked on cattle stations that were 40 miles wide and 80 miles long. He also continued his love of all things cowboy and taught many roping and cutting schools. He showed Australians how to team rope and started the Paint Horse Association. He was a charter member of the Australian Cutting Horse Association. At the age of 54, he won the All-Around Cowboy for the Australian Roughriders Association. The Australian Stud Digest wrote, “As the western industry becomes more popular and successful in the future it will be due, in no small part, to the efforts of Lyman and Alaire Tenney. They certainly have left their stamp on this wonderful country of ours and will be fondly remembered for it.”
Although the Tenney’s enjoyed their time in Australia, they yearned for home, family, and friends, and returned to Arizona. Lyman joined his son Jim in ranch management and later Lyman and Alaire moved back to Willcox where they became docents for the Rex Allen Museum.
Lyman Tenney descends from Bishop Nathan Tenney who was a founder of San Bernardino, California, and early settler of New Mexico and Arizona. Lyman was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Prescott, Arizona, where he passed away on January 7, 2009.