The staff and board of trustees of the Frontier Times Museum kicked off today’s Bandera’s National Day of the American Cowboy by inducting three great Texans into the museum’s Texas Heroes Hall of Honor on Friday.
The class of 2019 includes rodeo champion Stephanie Byrd D’Spain, trail driver extraordinaire Suzie Heywood and former agricultural extension agent Werner Max Lindig, whose career affected the agricultural history of Bandera County.
Established in 2009, the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor allows the museum to recognize Texans who have exemplified what it means to be a great Texan, who embody the spirit of the Lone Star State.
On Labor Day weekend 2004, the Bandera community lined up along Main Street to celebrate the start of a historic trail drive, a reincarnation of the region’s original trail drives of the 1870s. Organized by the Bandera County Regional Foundation, “Celebrate the Western Trail — Bandera to Dodge City” was a 48-day, 655-mile ride that commemorated the town’s role as a major staging area. Cattle collected in the tiny Hill Country town passed through Bandera Pass to the Western Trail, the route north that carried more than six million head of beef to market.
Trail boss for this massive undertaking was a 65-year-old grandmother, Ingram resident Suzie Heywood. Making the trip even more significant to her, Heywood’s grandfather, Robert Jennings, was a trail driver who drove cattle up the Western Trail in the late 1800s.
For more on Heywood, see Page 11A.
STEPHANIE BYRD D’SPAIN
When referring to a “child prodigy,” most think of a child who can play the piano or violin exceptionally well; in the Cowboy Capital of the World, a “child prodigy” is defined quite differently.
D’Spain was a “child prodigy” in the rodeo arena. She began riding as a toddler; by the age 6, she was competing in the Bandera Youth Rodeo in events that included straightaways, poles, barrel racing and goat-hair pulling. By the third grade, D’Spain had joined 4-H and began competing in club rodeos. From then through the summer of her graduation from Bandera High School in 1999, she competed annually at the state level in the 4-H rodeo program. In those competitions, she became known as the rider to beat — the one who had won seven consecutive stake races.
Her winning ways easily advanced D’Spain to 4-H Regional Rodeo competitions in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1994 and 1995. During those years, she also won first place again in stake racing. Along the way, D’Spain collected 15 saddles and 200 buckles.
After marrying Wiley “Trey” D’Spain III in 2000, she retired from rodeo competitions to focus on raising the couple’s five kids. In 2018, her rodeo rig became a part of the museum’s “Stalls of Fame,” an exhibit that highlights Bandera’s arena champions.
WERNER MAX LINDIG
In all communities, a few great men and women tremendously impact the lives of their fellow citizens. In Bandera’s case, that man was Werner Max Lindig.
Born on a farm in Hye, Lindig’s love of agriculture led to a career as a county extension agent. He moved to Bandera during the state’s historic drought of 1956 to focus on developing programs that helped local farmers and ranchers increase the quality and productivity of their livestock and products.
According to Lindig, the county’s more that 60,000 sheep and 60,000 goats helped carry locals through the devastating drought.
His primary interest, however, became educating local youths about agriculture. Lindig’s programs trained them to judge livestock, wool, mohair, grasses and range and assisted with the students’ stock show projects. As a result, his youth teams won numerous state and national awards.
Lindig felt the programs also developed his students’ self-confidence, presentation and etiquette, which led to positive experiences that helped shape their lives and futures.
After retiring in 1980, he continued to judge livestock shows across the state, including the State Fair of Texas, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo.
While Lindig received numerous distinctions and awards, he felt his greatest award was seeing the accomplishments of the young people whose lives he had touched. To memorialize his legacy of training youths, the Werner Max Lindig Junior Livestock Memorial Scholarship was established after his death in 2011.
Each inductee will have a display area in the museum’s Hall of Heroes with items that highlight their lives and careers.
For more information, contact the Frontier Times Museum at 830-796-3864.