|Above: "Cow Man" Jesse Butler Cupp poses for the photographer sometime around 1900 in Lipscomb, Texas. He wears nice plaid suit with the topmost button of his jacket buttoned
in the manner that seems to have been considered stylish at the time. The only hint of his chosen trade at this time are his boots and spur straps. He appears to have been
photographed in front of his home or possibly a ranch building.
Real Photo Postcard (Trimmed)
Lipscomb, Texas, United States
A real cowboy for a portion of his life, even his name – Jesse Butler Cupp – seems satisfyingly “Western”. He was born in Louisiana in February 1866 to James Monroe Cup and
Jennette Butler. Based on the birthdates of his siblings the Cupp family transplanted to Texas sometime around 1875 and by 1880 was residing in the central Texas town of Coleman
where the elder Cupp and established a farm.
Aside what can be discerned for census records mush of Jesse’s early life is a blank. He is next mentioned in the 1900 Census for Lipscomb, Texas which is located in the extreme
northeast corner of the Lone Star State. The census shows that he had married one Etta Bell Bigelow (her name is also quite "Western" sounding like her husbands) on 26 September
1892 and the couple had one son Norman Monroe who was born about 1894.
The census lists the trades and occupations of various residents of Lipscomb and several are shown as “stockmen” or ranchers. Cupp himself is listed as a “cow man” which seems to
imply that he was a working cowboy who probably hired out to the local ranchers on an as need basis. It is interesting to note that the term “cow man” was used to describe Cupp’s
chosen trade. At the time “cowboy” still have a negative connotation which stretched back to the outlaw faction knows as the Cowboys who opposed Wyatt Earp and his faction some
20 years before in Tombstone. Arizona.
A quick survey of the other trades listed of Lipscomb residents reads like casting call for any Western matinee serial. There are several farmers and stockmen, a doctor, a railroad
agent, a telegraph operator, a saloon keeper, a waitress, a postmaster and one “cow man” – Jesse Butler Cupp.
By 1910 the Cupp family had moved on to the town Willcox, Arizona in Cochise, County which is about fifty miles north of infamous old Tombstone. The family had added a daughter to
the herd - Zudora Varina – who was born in 1898. Jesse had also given up cow punching and taken up work as a well driller. This was probably a more lucrative trade in arid Cochise
County. According to the 1912-1913 edition of Polk's Arizona and New Mexico Pictorial State Gazetteer and Business Directory Jesse Cupp was also the proprietor of the St. James
Hotel located at 1103 G Street in Douglas, Arizona.
By 1920 Cupp had exchanged the tools of a well driller for those of a furnace man at Calumet & Arizona Smelter in Douglas, Arizona, one of the region’s major copper refining
Jesse Bulter Cupp passed away near Los Angeles, California on 13 April, 1923 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. How or why he found himself in
Southern California or the cause of his death at the age of 57 is still a mystery although he must still have been a resident of Arizona as his estate was probated in Cochise County.
|Above: The reverse side of the photo postcard showing the blue ink inscription by one of Cupp's grandchildren identifying the
subject as well as his "cowboy - roper" trade at the time. The other partial and much older inscription is to fragemtary to make out
with any certainty.