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Manchester University Archives & Brethren Historical Collection

Seagoing Cowboy Diary

In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, Church of the Brethren peacemaker Dan West served as the director of a relief program that, among other things, gave powdered milk to starving children.  The experience gave him an idea that would evolve into one of the world’s most successful development programs.  Instead of just giving milk to children, why not give cows to their families?  In return, the family would give the animals’ first female offspring to another needy family, passing on the gift.  The concept of “a cow, not a cup” was so appealing that, in 1942, Heifers for Relief became an official program of the Church of the Brethren.*

Following WWII, with cooperation from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, more than 7,000 men and boys served as “Seagoing Cowboys,” delivering cows, horses, feed and fertilizer by ship to war-ravaged nations.  The Cowboys returned home with first-hand accounts of the devastation of war.  This is the diary kept by Jacob C. Wine, Church of the Brethren minister, who in 1946 served as a Seagoing Cowboy. It is a record of his experiences as he encounters the ravaged city of Bremen and her people. 

Title Page of the Diary

Read the diary

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4

Jacob Wine (far left in white t-shirt) and some of his fellow seagoing cowboys aboard the Cedar Rapids Victory. Ray Bowman, who is mentioned in the diary, is sitting to Jacob's right.

Seagoing Cowboys

The Cedar Rapids

The Cedar Rapids Victory

Precious cargo on the Cedar Rapids Victory


Horses on the Cedar Rapids Victory


Bremen Rubble

A woman searches for scraps
in the rubble of Bremen


*Note: In 1953, “Heifer Project” was incorporated as an independent nonprofit corporation. Now known as Heifer International, Heifer’s mission has expanded to provide 30 types of animals—from goats, geese and guinea pigs to bees, silkworms and water buffalo and has field offices working in partnership with other organizations in 51 countries and 23 states in the U.S.

Learn more about Heifer International at

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