Buddy recalls. “Mama had made
eggs and fixed biscuits and grits
and everything for the whole
crew. Before they ate, Tommy
stood up behind the counter and
said, ‘Men, we’re going to do
something different than we’ve
ever done out here. To honor
Junior, every meal that we have
in this bunkhouse from now on is
going to be prayed over. You boys
are going to give Junior the courtesy
of saying a prayer over our
meals. And he turned it over to
Daddy, and Daddy prayed over
every meal that I can remember,
even on weekends when hunters
were out there.”
For Buddy and Kent, growing up at Cow Creek was like a
stage where the production was unfolding minute by minute.
Their family lived at the ranch headquarters next to the
bunkhouse in the first of three small concrete houses that had
been constructed in the 1960s. The headquarters also included
a weekend house for Jo Ann and TL the historical Frank
Raulerson house, a horse barn, a tractor barn, cow pens, dog
pens and later a house for TL and Jo Ann’s friends, Dr. Jack
and Sally Wright.
The Mills brothers remember where each of the cowboys
parked their trucks, what their schedules were, which rockers
in the bunkhouse they preferred to sit in, which horses they
rode, what kind of spurs they wore, what they said and how
they said it.
Not so for sister Marty, who was rarely seen. “When they
were gathering cows, I yearned to be out there watching,”
Marty says. “But, no sir. Daddy didn’t allow that because of
the offensive language and behavior of cow crews, so his girls
were not allowed around that. There were strict rules and
because of pure respect for Daddy there were no questions.
You were told something and you better do it.”
Also in 1970, Jimmy Percy, who began working as a summer
cowhand at the ranch at the age of 14, returns to Cow
Creek with a freshly minted degree in agriculture from the
University of Florida.
“Once he graduated from high school, Tommy said if you
go to college you can become the general manager of Cow
Creek, so my dad went to the University of Florida for four
years, came back and pretty much was running Cow Creek
Ranch,” says Jamie Percy, Jimmy’s son.
Jimmy lives in town with his wife and high school sweetheart,
Julie, and their young son Jamie, and later another
Like his boss, Jimmy learns to fly and starts using a Piper
Cub to help manage the ranch. The plane is especially useful
locating cattle in the backwoods that have wandered off from
Before Aubrey’s departure and the arrivals of Jimmy and
the Mills family, another cowboy, Don Robertson, had also
joined the crew, living at the ranch with his wife, Diane, and
children, Donny, Robin and Darren. Diane and Don had met
in high school in Miami and married young. Cow Creek
would become the end of the road for their marriage.
Don was the son of wealthy Bolita kingpin Charlie Robert- >>
ROBERTSON FAMILY ARCHIVES
Once a summer ranchhand,
Jimmy Percy returned to Cow
Creek in 1970 as general
manager after graduating from
the University of Florida with
a degree in agriculture.
After leaving Cow Creek, Don Robertson went on to work at the King Ranch in Texas and for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.