The William B. Lewis family moved from New Mexico to Arizona in 1912 to homestead in the Parker Canyon area. B Lewis was accompanied by his wife Nora, two sons, Blain, age 7, and William Grant (known as Greet), age 4, and daughter Vernon, age 2. Their trip in a covered wagon took 30 days. Young Blain rode horseback and minded the horses. [Arizona Daily Star, 5/15/1980]. The account below provides a brief summary of Blain’s notable life as a rancher, quarter horse trainer, livestock inspector, constable & marshal, and county supervisor. Additional information and wonderful photos can be found in Betty Barr’s “More Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County,” Brocking J Books, 2008.
Blain spent his teenage years working on the family ranch and breaking horses for local ranchers for $10 a head. [Arizona Daily Star, 12/22/1983]. In 1926 he married Laura Dunham, whose family homesteaded in the San Rafael Valley, and the couple moved to a ranch of their own in Sunnyside. Their first son Jesse was born in 1927.
Unfortunately, they lost the ranch during the Great Depression when the bank that carried their mortgage failed. It wasn’t until 1938 that they were able to purchase property in Red Rock Canyon near Patagonia to start over. [Arizona Republic, 7/16/1994]. Three more children completed their family: Donnie Lee, born 1941; James Iree, born 1942, and Wanda Nell, born 1948.
Shortly after moving to Patagonia Blain was elected constable, a position he held from 1938 to about 1946. In 1943 he arrested Manuel Montoya and his son Manuel Jr. for the murder of E. Neill Carr, the owner of the Hacienda de los Encinos guest ranch in Sonoita. [Tucson Daily Citizen, 8/5/1943]. In 1945 he located the body of Patagonia miner Herman C. Bender (see Oliver Rothrock article in the May 2019 PRT issue). [Arizona Republic, 7/16/1994]. He served three terms as a Santa Cruz County Supervisor and served as the Patagonia Town Marshal. He was an Arizona State livestock inspector for 36 years until his retirement from that position in 1975. Laura delivered mail in the San Rafael Valley for 41 years; when she retired in 1972 her daughter Wanda De La Ossa took over the route. [Arizona Republic, 7/8/1972].
After his retirement Blain was able to devote his time to his ranch and breeding, training and racing quarter horses. His best-known racehorse was Parker’s Trouble, who was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame in 2016. [Nogales International, 3/23/2016].
The Lewis family actively supported and participated in the Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association (SCCFRA). At age 17 Blain won the first race run at the SCCFRA track, and he served as SCCFRA president from 1947-1949.
Blain rode until age 88. He died in 1995 just a few days before his 90th birthday. Laura preceded him in death in 1992. At the time of his death Blain was survived by his four children, nine grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.