Monte Ray Stewart was employed on various ranches throughout his youth and was drafted into the Army in 1917, buying bought a small ranch on Reynolds Creek, Arizona. Ray was hired by the Forest Service around 1920 and assigned to the Roosevelt District. When the depression hit in 1929, Ray moved his family back to Coke County, Texas. He was sable to save enough money to buy another nearby ranch during this time; "The Rankin Place." Ray moved his family back to Reynolds Creek in 1935 and resumed his career with the Forest Service. Throughout his career in the Forest Service, Ray was a powerful advocate for conservation and the protection of public lands. He was effective in this role because of his intimate understanding of and ability to communicate with ranchers.
In 1943, Ray accepted a position as District Ranger of the Prescott District in the Prescott National Forest. Ray Stewart retired from the Forest Service in 1954 and moved for the last time back to Texas. He purchased another ranch in Dawson County with money he had saved for his retirement. Donald and Ray worked together to maintain herds of cattle and sheep on the Dawson County place as well as on the Coke County properties. Several productive wells were brought in making Ray financially secure during the last years of his life. Ray was adept at forcing oil operators to clean up any and all spills on his property, to build roads where he wanted them and to protect the groundwater. On his properties, he was able to avoid the pollution and general mess that oil drilling often left in its wake. He also undertook many improvements on his ranches, installing tank dams, fences, and seeding the land with hybrid grasses suited to West Texas conditions.
Ray died at the age of eighty-seven years in 1980.
The official daily diaries kept by Monte Ray Stewart from 1947-1952, document his daily activities as District Ranger of the Prescott District, Prescott National Forest. Activities described include work on timber sales, forest fire suppression, law enforcement, and encounters with wildlife, poachers, arsonists and an occasional cattle rustler. The photographs document Monte Ray Stewart and his family.