Harold Dow Bugbee was born August 15, 1900 in Lexington, Massachusetts. His father, Charles H. Bugbee, was born 1868 in MA. His mother, Grace L. Dow, was born 1880 in MA. His father was a farmer. His parents married in 1897. He was their only child. The family lived at 13 Adams Street.
His father was active on the town council of Lexington. He was an assessor as well as the Tree Warden. He played clarinet in the orchestra of the Boston Grand Opera as well as with the celebrated bandleader, John Philip Sousa.
In 1915, following the advice of their relative, T. S. Bugbee, a Texas cattleman, his parents bought and moved to a 360 acre cattle ranch in Clarendon, Texas, where his father later became the Post Master.
In 1917 he graduated from Clarendon High School and afterwards attended Clarendon College.
In 1918 he studied architecture at Texas A & M University.
On September 12, 1918 he registered with the draft board for service in the Great War. He was recorded to be tall and thin with brown eyes and brown hair. He did not serve in the military during WWI.
In 1919 he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, to study at the Cumming School of Art. He studied there until June 1921. Other artists who studied at this school were P. J. Monahan and James McKell.
In 1922 he visited New Mexico and joined the inspiring and influential community of the Taos Society of Artists, which included older artists, such as William Herbert Dunton and artists his own age, such as David Hixon Moneypenny.
During the 1920s he created a series of fourteen mural paintings for the Longhorn Room in the prestigious Amarillo Hotel in Amarillo, Texas.
During the Great Depression he painted five murals for the WPA Federal Art Project, an enlightened government program that provided relief income for artists. Bugbee's murals were created for Pioneer Hall in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. One of these murals was his masterpiece "The Cattlemen." Some of the other pulp artists that worked on murals for this same government program were George Avison, Delos Palmer, Elton Fax, Lee Browne Coye, and Remington Schuyler.
In 1933 he began his career as a magazine illustrator. Over the next twenty years he drew pen and ink story illustration for pulp magazines, such as Ranch Romances, Short Stories, Tops In Westerns, Western Story, and Wild West Weekly. His work also appeared in slick nationwide magazines, such as Country Gentleman and Field & Stream.
In 1935 he married Katherine Patrick. They had no children and the marriage ended in divorce.
In 1942 he painted eleven murals for the Tascosa Room of the Herring Hotel in Amarillo, Texas. He also painted murals for the U.S. Army Air Field in Amarillo.
In 1943 he was drafted for military service during WWII, but he was discharged after one year for health reasons.
His illustrations continued to appear in western pulp magazines until 1951, by which time the popularity of the industry had declined to such a degree that it became unprofitable to continue production of most titles.
In 1951 he became a curator of the Panhandle Plains Historical Society.
In 1961 he married his second wife, Olive Freda Vandruff. She was born 1908 in Ohio. Her parents were Ross Elliott Vandruff and Mayme L. Buskirk. She was also an artist and illustrator.
Harold Dow Bugbee died at the age of sixty-two in Clarendon, Texas, on March 27, 1963.
© David Saunders 2012