Meet the Cowboys: Heifer's Living History

By Annie Bergman

October 3, 2019

Last Updated: March 13, 2014

Meet the Cowboys: Heifer's Living History

Between the summers of 1945 and 1947, more than 7,000 men and boys volunteered to serve as “seagoing cowboys” and deliver livestock to war-torn countries through a partnership between two organizations: The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the Brethren Service Committee of the Church of the Brethren. The horses, cattle and mules the cowboys tended were delivered to families in war-ravaged Europe and Asia, and Heifer International heifers were part of these trips. When the UNRRA disbanded in 1947, the Church of the Brethren kept the Heifer project going. Men and women continued to serve into the 1980s when it became more advantageous for Heifer to purchase animals in country. 

Six of these cowboys and cowgirls will be in Little Rock sharing their stories of crossing international waters to bring aid to those in foreign lands. Take a look at the slideshow below to get a sense of what it was like to be a seagoing cowboy and then come out to the brown bag event at Heifer Village. 

Heifer's Seagoing Cowboys Exhibit

March 14 at noon
Little Rock, Ark.

The story of the seagoing cowboys is a unique part of Heifer's heritage. Join us as we celebrate our history with a presentation and special exhibit at Heifer Village.

Visit Heifer Village Event Details Learn More

Howard Lord
Indianola, Indiana
Howard Lord was on the SS Rock Springs Victory trip to Ethiopia in March 1947. This was an United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration trip that took UNRRA heifers and a few other animals to Greece and 248 Heifer project animals to Ethiopia. Howard, 89, is a retired pastor and has been an active Heifer supporter and volunteer leader through the years.

Merle Crouse
St. Cloud, Florida
Merle Crouse was on the SS American Traveler trip to Germany in November 1952, transporting 62 Heifer project heifers and one bull. He was one of the many young men who served in Brethren Volunteer Service during the 50s and used the seagoing cowboy route as their transportation to get to their European projects (This was a large part of the seagoing cowboy story during the 50s.). His father, Clifton Crouse, was also a seagoing cowboy on the first Heifer Project shipment to Poland via the SS Santiago Iglesias in November 1945, of which Crouse can share good knowledge of. Crouse is a life-long member of and leader in the Church of the Brethren and served in many capacities through the years, including District Executive in the Florida/Puerto Rico District and Latin America Representative for the denomination.

Kathy Moore
Little Rock, Arkansas 
Kathy Moore became a cowboy at age 16, when she accompanied her father and 20 dairy cows to Japan. Her dedication to Heifer International and the people of Asia continues to this day. Moore helped dozens of Laotian emigrants who came to the United States in the 1970s and needed guidance navigating a new language, culture and landscape. Later, Moore volunteered at Heifer International for years before joining the staff. Today she is the donations processor team lead at Heifer's headquarters in Little Rock.

Harold Armstrong 
Bridgewater, Virginia 
Harold Armstrong accompanied heifers and pigs to Mexico in 1962. 

Ervin Graber 
Constantine, Michigan 
Ervin Graber was part of two different shipments of animals. He was on the Santiago Iglesias to Poland in February of 1946 and on the Queens Victory to Greece in December of the same year. Both trips were in conjunction with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. 

Don Zook
Wichita, Kansas 
Don Zook was aboard the Stephen R. Mallory ship on a United Nations Relief and Rehabiliation Administartion trip to Poland in June of 1946.

Richard Reiste
Minburn, Iowa
Richard Reiste was aboard two ships on two different trips for Heifer and the UNRRA. The first was in August 1946 on board the SS Lindenwood Victory to Trieste/Yugoslavia, and the second was in December 1946 aboard the SS Lindenwood Victory to China.