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Texas Statues | Texas Ranching

THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED STATUE
in BALLINGER, TEXAS

(The only statue in Ballinger, Texas)
On Courthouse Square, Corner of Hwys 67 and 83.

A devastated father hires an acclaimed but hungry sculptor
to erect a statue to his son.

by John Troesser
Ballinger Tx - Charles Noyes Statue
The Charles H. Noyes Statue in Ballinger (c. 1919)
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, September 2010

This handsome and arresting statue stands out even to the most unobservant casual tourist. It's prominent location at the intersection of Hwys 83 and 67 make it hard to miss.

It was erected where the subject of the statue had attended school just a few years before his life ended in a freak ranching accident.

The only son of a local rancher, Charles H. Noyes was a cowboy with the emphasis on boy. His neck was broken when a calf he was roping collided with his horse and caused both horse and rider to fall. He was taken to the hospital at Brady where he died. Originally, the statue was to be erected where he had fallen.

Waldine Tauch, of Flatonia, Texas had moved to nearby Brady as a girl. Her talent for sculpting chalk (and butter) led the Tuesday Study Club of Brady to raise the money necessary for her to study under Pompeo Coppini, who was then living in San Antonio.

She was first offered the Noyes commission, but instead referred it to her mentor, Coppini, who was then experiencing a period of slow cash flow.

Coppini suggested that the boy who had stood at six-four should be dismounted. This follows traditional rules of equestrian statuary and also fits in with other funereal motifs symbolic of a life cut short.

The boy's actual bridle, saddle and boots were sent to Chicago to help the sculptor work.

Ballinger Tx - Charles Noyes Statue close up
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, September 2010
Coppini Cowboy Statue in Chicago studio
The statue in Coppini's Chicago studio
Photo courtesy Texas Collection, Baylor University

The clay statue was nearly complete when one of Chicago's notorious blizzards blew into town. Coppini lived several miles from his studio and he trudged for two hours to get to the unheated studio. The clay had frozen and as the room warmed, horse and rider fell into a pile of gray flour.

Since the boy had been photographed only three times in his life, and the prints were of poor quality, Mr. and Mrs. Noyes came to Chicago when it was time to sculpt the face. After a few adjustments on the cheekbones and jaw, Mr. Noyes said to Coppini, "Please do not touch his face again, for that is our Charlie."

The mold was made a second time and the statue was cast. The three-ton base was made ready. Coppini returned to Ballinger for the unveiling, however Mr. and Mrs. Noyes felt they could not bear to see their boy again. They had since sold the ranch and moved to Florida.

Ballinger Tx - Charles Noyes Statue close up
"Please do not touch his face again, for that is our Charlie."
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, September 2010
Ballinger Tx - Horse, Charles Noyes Statue
"Pompeo Coppini of Chicago studied horses two years before sculpturing statue."
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, September 2010
The boy's bridle, saddle and boots were sent to Chicago to help the sculptor work.
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, September 2010

Some comic relief to a sad story:

Coppini traveled to Menard County by train from his Chicago studio to meet Mr. Noyes and discuss the statue. (The Noyes ranch was nearer to the Melvin, Texas depot). Coppini stayed in the dead boy's room.

The ranch was large, but amenities were modest. He had his doubts about the rancher's ability to pay what was in 1919 a substantial sum. He was reassured by everyone he met that Mr. Noyes was good for whatever the cost would be.

He had decided $25,000 was as low as he could go, but when they rode to the spot where the accident took place, Coppini was deeply touched when Mr. Noyes nearly collapsed in grief.

Later that night, when the subject came up, Mr. Noyes asked the cost. Coppini, speaking through his heart, said he could do it for $18,000.

Without hesitation, Mr. Noyes said yes and shook hands. He added that he had been prepared to pay twice that amount.

Ballinger Tx - Charles Noyes Statue with historical marker
On courthouse grounds, US 83 and US 67
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2009
Ballinger Tx - Charles H. Noyes Historical Marker
Charles H. Noyes Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2009
Historical Marker Text

Charles H. Noyes

Charles H. Noyes, 21, died when his horse fell while rounding up cattle on the Noyes' Ranch. His father and mother, Gus and Lula Noyes, erected monument in 1919 as a tribute to their son and all Texas cowboys.

Pompeo Coppini of Chicago studied horses two years before sculpturing statue.
Ballinger Tx - Charles Noyes Statue
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2009
John Troesser
Source:
People and Places in the Texas Past by June Rayfield Welch, G.L.A. Press, Dallas, 1974

See Ballinger, Texas
Coppini's Life and His Works

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