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University of New Mexico
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...James Beville at his Granbury wagon yard
Restored wagons are loaded with colorful past
From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
August 6, 1997
But for Beville
, the precious space is a condensed setting for his
years of ranching, riding, and combing the mountains of New Mexico for fragments of history.
"I didn't really rebuild them to sell," the 52-year-old Beville
said of his
wagons."I just like the history around them.I remember riding through all the ranches in New Mexico and seeing the wagons sitting there, not being used any more, and I just wanted to bring them back to life."Beville
moved to Granbury a little more than a year ago.He
has established himself as an artist in the community, working on bronze sculptures and constantly reworking his
was born in Clarksville, near the Red River borders of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.There he
began to gain his
appreciation of things past.His
father was sheriff of Red River County
for 16 years; his
grandfather was the first state district judge in the area.Beville
grew up ranching and farming.When he left home after high school graduation in 1962, he moved to the Dallas area where he worked as a horse trainer.He
did the same in Houston, where he
also started a construction and landscape business.He
married and had children.In 1985, he
"When I got my divorce, I decided I would put what little I had left in CDs and head for the mountains," he
said."I moved to Albuquerque and took a big Thoroughbred stallion I owned with me.I just threw a western saddle on him and started out riding the hills."
In the mountains of central New Mexico, he
began to hone his
appreciation of history.He
also worked on his
was reluctant to show his
work because he
always felt that others were better, that the work was just what he
liked and that no one else would like it.
But at the urging of friends in New Mexico, he
decided to enter a few shows.In his
first 11 shows he
picked up 10 first places, five best of shows, and one third place.James Beville
It made him a living.He
went to a small community college in Tucumcari, N.M., where he
learned to forge his
own bronzes.Then he returned to Albuquerque where he started classes at the University of New Mexico.A year and a half later, he moved to Las Vegas, N.M., where he finished his bachelor's degree in art and history at New Mexico Highlands University.
All along, he
traveled into the mountains.He
saw the wagons, preserved by the dry, high-desert air.He
met with the ranchers and their families.He
studied their past.
"I found an old gold-mining town on one ranch," he
recalled."It was only a town for four or five years until the gold ran out.It had to be somewhere between 1900 and 1910.The people just picked up what they could carry and moved out.They left a big pot-bellied stove behind, clothes still hanging on nails in the homes.The town looked just like it did when they left."