Where Have All the Sheep Gone? Sheepherders and Ranchers in Arizona — A Disappearing Industry


Dr. Barbara Jaquay has a PhD in historical geography from Texas A&M University. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States and all seven continents pursuing her vast interests in history, geography, archaeology, and peoples and their culture. She has given talks across the country on her research and travels and has studied and written about Native American tribes in Arizona and topics on Cuba and Costa Rica.

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At one time, more than one million sheep roamed the grassy areas of Arizona. Herding sheep was a critical component of the economy, building Arizona from its early territorial days into statehood. Fortunes were made, and, during economic downturns and other disasters, some lost everything. By the 1890s, sheepherding was a major enterprise in Arizona. Today, just over 180,000 sheep live in the state.

Where Have All the Sheep Gone? details the untold story of the sheep industry in Arizona starting in the 1500s when the Spanish conquistadors began their push northward from Mexico and brought the first sheep as a food source. Arizona’s sheep industry is a rich history that has never been comprehensively told — until now. Author Dr. Barbara G. Jaquay presents a lively, informative story through historical documents and personal interviews with the remaining sheep ranchers and family members.

Depicting the lives of the early shepherds in Arizona and changes that have occurred over the last thirty years, Where Have All the Sheep Gone? casts a light on this disappearing way of life. It tells the compelling story of the families who worked diligently and proudly through successes and failures — including droughts, range wars, and economic hard times due to government regulations and a shrinking workforce. Despite many challenges, the sheep industry managed to grow and make huge strides. Some families are still making their living from sheep today, trying to preserve a way of life that may soon be lost. Where Have All the Sheep Gone? tells the story of a vital industry to Arizona and, more importantly, of its people.


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