Jim Pyeatt, Roland “Buster” Pyeatt and Ronnie Pyeatt, circa 1939-1940. Photo courtesy Marie Pyeatt

The Pyeatt Ranch sits at the northwest slope of the Huachuca Mountains, bordering the west gate of Fort Huachuca. Located with a spectacular view of the Mustang Mountains, Lyle Canyon and the Sonoita Valley, the homestead has been in the Pyeatt family since 1899 when James Henry Pyeatt purchased it from Hugo Igo. The ranches at that time were unfenced and large bands of wild horses mingled with the cattle spanning the area between the Huachucas, the Santa Ritas and the Whetstone mountain ranges.

After purchasing the land, Pyeatt started to improve the herd by introducing Durham and quality Hereford Cattle. He married and had nine children. Roland Pyeatt, better known as “Buster,” was born on the ranch in 1906 and was the youngest of the children. The only one of his siblings to remain on the ranch after his mother’s death, Roland acquired the property and liked to boast that he had “never been out of the county.” Roland married Rose Ritchie and they had two sons, Ronald and James (Jim). At the time, Roland was cited as being one of the three oldest ranchers in the Valley. He remembered when there were more wild horses roaming the area then cattle. He continued to work the ranch with his son Jim until his death in 1993.

Upon Roland’s passing, his son Jim took over the operation and continued to make improvements on the land, practicing rotational grazing and decreasing the herd to restore the area to a more viable state. Jim married Judy Grennan and they had three daughters. Terri, Tina and Penny. Jim worked full time for the Civil Service, so often the ranch was left for his wife and three daughters to run. Terri (Pyeatt) Murrietta remembers working cattle from 1973 -1977 with just her mother and sisters for help. 

Though it was hard work, there were fun times, too. Murrietta stated that one of the things ranching kids were never allowed to do was run their horses unnecessarily. But they would still sneak down to the sandy washes and race their horses anyway, thinking that no one would know. Only later did they find out that their Grandpa Roland would watch them from a hill and make sure that no one got hurt, but he never ‘told’ on them. Murrietta also remembers the best times riding the ranch in the summers with her sisters and three visiting cousins. They explored the area, each with their own horses, accompanied by their beloved Grandpa Roland.

Jim Pyeatt married Marie Higgs Pyeatt in 1975, having met her at Fort Huachuca where they both worked. They moved to the ranch in 1976, and, in 1985 when he retired from the Fort, he became a full-time rancher. Jim died in 2016. Marie still lives at the family ranch.

Terri Murrietta was the only one of the three sisters to remain in the area. She married Ruben Murrietta, from Patagonia, her high school sweetheart. They had two children, daughter Amanda and son Manuel, who became a high school rodeo champion and coached rodeo for Cochise Community College, while studying welding. He now manages the Sands Ranch portion of the Vera Earl Ranch and arranges for acquisition of the cattle used in various working cattle classes in horse shows throughout Arizona. The Pyeatt Ranch has become Manuel’s and his wife Tammy’s to continue the ranching tradition, raising cattle on the approximately 5,000 acres of deeded and leased land on the northwest slope of the Huachucas.