There are many reasons for visiting Hereford Heaven. Whatever your personal reasons might be you are always a welcome visitor. Here you may visit the various ranches and see the lush pastures which have so much to do with the production of good cattle. Here also you may see the best of Herefords and fill the needs of your own herd. This is true whether you are looking for registered or commercial cattle. For here we produce the best of both.”
This excerpt from a 1940s advertising pamphlet paints a different picture of today’s south central Oklahoma. One can still find lush pastures and great cattle production, but it might be a challenge to locate large herds of Herefords. Now a visitor to the area would scarcely find a trace that this was once Hereford Heaven but Heaven isn’t necessarily a physical place you can see and touch. Heaven is all around us. Likewise Hereford Heaven is still around, and with the right pair of eyes, one can see that this neck of the woods, was and is, truly a bovine Eden.
For some like Beth, David, and Buck Buxton it isn’t hard to see how south central Oklahoma was heaven on earth. They grew up in the heart and golden era of Hereford heaven. As children they would spend weekends on the family ranch, (The Horse Shoe Ranch) located near Hickory, Oklahoma. The Horse Shoe Ranch was truly a hub and a community all its own as were other bigger ranches of the time. The Horse Shoe even had a one room school house. To this day they have people from all over the county approach them to tell them that they attended school on the Horse Shoe. After the passing of C.C. Buxton Jr. and former ranch foreman Alvin Powell, the heirs to the ranch made the decision to sell the herd of registered Herefords. At that time they had the oldest herd in the state. The Horse Shoe Ranch was also home to “Camp Horse Shoe Ranch” during the mid 40s, which was an actual German POW camp. The practice of relocating German soldiers to centrally located ranches was not uncommon. These soldiers weren’t treated as prisoners though, rather as underpaid ranch hands. According to Beth they were given 80 cents a day. She elaborated that after the war her father tried to help several of the POWs achieve US citizenship. In fact, Beth had the opportunity to meet with one of the POWs and his family long after the war was over while touring Europe in college. Whether it was common practice to pay POWs, or to take them into town to do yard work, the kind actions of those involved with the human lives during such a difficult time in our nation’s history was a testament to the friendly and welcoming nature of the residents of Hereford Heaven. Surely the POWs would have thought they’d died and gone to heaven after facing the horrors of war.
From Ada to as far south as the muddy banks of the red river, Hereford cattle reigned supreme in the early part of the 20th century. Local ranches like the Horse Shoe and Turner ranch were just a couple of the forerunners for promoting the breed. It was progressive thinking of the times, paired with good gazing and sound practices helped make what this area is today. It was said in the August 1st, 1944 issue of The Hereford Journal that the words “Hereford Heaven” are worth bales of folding money to the breeders that live in the area. It’s hard to judge if this saying would still be worth bales of folding money, but one thing is for sure, the impact of the times will not soon be forgotten.
Read more about Hereford Heaven and the Horseshoe Ranch at www.greatplainsliving.com