Charles Leonard Priebe was born Feb. 5, 1906 in Wichita, Texas and died July 8, 1984 at their ranch in Boulder, Wyoming. In 1936, he met Verna Belle Steele from Boulder at a dance held at the Bronx School. Cye purchased a herd of cattle and needed help getting them to their new home at the Kelley Ranch in Daniel. Cye needed cowboys and a cook. So Leonard, Lester and a sister Mary said they could get the job done. Ranchers would send a cowboy to help on the Green River Drift. Cye sent Leonard each year and he stayed all summer until the cattle came down in the fall. In 1938 he started working for John Vible and lived on the Lovatt Place for a couple of years. They moved to the Steele homestead to help take care of E.P. and raise their family while still working for John. He always told us that his true love was training horses. His horse-training abilities were known throughout the county. Leonard was also an extremely good roper and did most of the roping at the brandings in the Boulder area. The herd was always quiet and easy to handle. He could keep four sets of wrestlers busy all day, even having to wait on them sometimes. He broke his last horse Spider at the age of 72. Leonard served as a brand inspector for over 20 years in Sublette County and owned a shoe/harness repair shop for around five years in Pinedale. In his lifetime he made several saddles. He did a lot of braiding, making hackamores, bridles and reins for his family and for the community.
Milford Byron “Mike” Steele was born on April 17, 1902 at the Ed P. Steele Ranch in Boulder. Milford (Mike) married Hannah Ellen Allen. Three children were born to this union: Margaret Steele Stoll, Ellen Steele Lozier and Ralph Allen (Bud) Steele. The family’s first recorded beef drive took place November 1922. Mike Steele, John Steele and JH Hawkins drove the cattle from Boulder to Rock Springs, around 100 miles, to the railroad to be loaded and shipped to Denver. The Desert Horse Growers Association was formed about 1917 when Mike Steele was riding for the association. In the spring the cowboys went south to Pacific Springs to gather the horses and drive them toward the East Fork River. Mike would leave with the riders and his mother would put his bedroll in the wagon when it came by their ranch. All of the wild horses were gathered on this spring roundup and sorted so that the colts could be branded and the ranchers could choose certain horses to break and sell. The stud colts were not castrated until they were 2 years old. After calving and branding the cattle were then trailed to the BLM allotment that at one point went south almost to Farson. The BLM allotment was gathered and again the cattle were trailed to the Lower Ranch to rest before heading to the Forest allotment located around Boulder, Burnt, Blue Berry and Meadow lakes. Late fall they were gathered and trailed down to the Lower Place until all accounted for and again driven to the Upper Ranch for the winter. He was foreman and wagon boss of East Fork Roundup Wagon 1929-1930 and brand inspector 1962-1983. Milford passed away July 25, 1986.
Ivan Samuel “Pete” Hoagland was born March 3, 1910 in Benkelman Nebraska, on the family farm. He met an old fellow who was a carpenter and they decided to go to Wyoming and wound up in Pinedale. Pete stayed in Sublette County and cowboyed. Pete wound up in the Big Piney area where he first went to work for Bob Springman. He later moved down the creek and worked for Charlie Noble. While working for Noble he trailed cows to the Hoback Basin, where they summered. He worked for a couple there summers as the association rider. When Pete returned to Big Piney, he went to work for Al and Sadie Osterhout. He spent the rest of his life working on this ranch. It was on this ranch that he met and married Edna Whitman Pope, on Dec. 27, 1943. She had two children by a previous marriage, Donnie and Neva. Pete raised them like they were his own. Pete and Edna had one child, Andrea, but everyone called her Andy. Pete was an excellent horseman, not only working with saddle horses but horses in the harness as well. His saddle horse could dodge out from under you while turning a cow. His big workhorses knew how to get in the collar to start a heavy load. His cutter or chariot horses not only could run, but they could stop like a calf horse and back in figure eights. When he first started running cutter horses he used his saddle horses, but as races got more competitive, he and Ken Guio acquired quarter horses bred to run. Pete and several other cowboys would take 600 to 800 head of cattle from Big Piney to Opal, roughly 60 miles, staying at ranches along the way. When they got to Opal, Al Osterhout would buy Pete a fifth of whiskey and he would trail the horses back to Big Piney. Pete would make four or five trips to Opal each year. Pete Hoagland left this world on March 8, 1996.
Carl Philip Mathisen, born Sept. 1, 1912, was known to everyone in Sublette and Fremont counties as “Red” because of his hair. He was truly a cowboy in the basic sense of the word. He knew cows! “Cowboying” to Red was done on the back of a horse, period, no excuses. For 63 years he was paid to care for other ranchers’ herds from the back of a horse. If it couldn’t be done on a horse, then someone probably got assigned the job instead of Red. These cowboy days were every day and usually started before 5 a.m. The flies were out by 10 a.m. and the day was wasted by then anyway, which is a true cowboy phrase. By 15, he joined his brother Walter on Twin Creek and cared for cattle for the Cattlemen’s Association for about 15 years. He had a lifetime partnership, which began on Jan. 1, 1941, when he jumped the broom handle with the love of his life, Maxine Feery. He tied the knot and swept her off to a lovely sheep wagon in the middle of nowhere for the winter. Red and Maxine moved cattle herds and that sheep wagon around Fremont County for a few years before finally moving to Boulder in the winter of 1948-49. Then they were snowed in all winter, but Maxine was finally out of the sheep wagon. All their food froze. Johnny and Red would ride out on horseback, halfway each, and meet once a week to touch base. All survived the winter of ‘49! The Mathisens raised two children, Gary and Kathleen (Seeley), survived a house fire on Christmas day in Boulder. Red cowboyed at the Bar Cross for 20 years, Upper Green River Cattle Association’s The Drift for 12 years and Johnny Vible’s ranch seven years. Red passed away on Nov. 29, 1998 after cowboying for 39 years in Sublette County and 20 some years in Fremont County.
Kent Snidecor was born June 30, 1943 outside of San Bernardino, California. Kent left California at 17, the day he graduated from high school. He stayed in New Mexico with the Mescalero Cattle Association until November 1963 at age 20 and wound up in Sublette County where he met Cheryl Stone. In the spring of 1972, Kent and Cheryl went to work for the Hoback association. Kent spent 10 years with the Hoback, always taking some colts to break as well as well as shoeing some outside horses. During the winters of 1972-1978. he worked on the James ranch near Daniel, helping Steve feed with a team of horses and then calve in the spring. Kent and Cheryl’s son, Boone was born in 1976. Kent has always taken pride and strived to improve his ability to put a good handle on the horses that he rides. He had the opportunity to work with horse trainer Dick Hardy in California for a time. He spent two years with the Little Jennie. The summers cowboying on Granite and the winters feeding with a team of horses until calving started, then tending to night calving. In the fall after roundup and in between back-riding, Kent helped Pfisterers with their fall cow work and shipping yearlings. The summers cowboying on Granite and the winters feeding with a team of horses until calving started, then tending to night calving. He worked for Fish Creek for four years and by now had punched cows in the Hoback Basin for a total of 16 years. After leaving the Fish Creek Cattle Association, Kent cowboyed for Larry Braun on top of the rim. In 2003, Kent went to work for the Grindstone Cattle Company near Daniel as the cow boss on the Duke Place. He spent the next 10 summers up on the Duke Place, taking care of the cattle that summered there. During those winters Kent cowboyed for Tom Kay of the Las Juaritas Ranch near Arvaca, Arizona, cowboying, dodging drug-runners and starting young horses. After leaving the Grindstone, Kent dedicated his time to helping Boone doctor, move and ship a large herd of cattle that Boone contracted to take care of on Cottonwood Creek. He also returned to the Hoback Basin in the falls to work for the Saunders’ Riverbend Ranch, bringing their cattle off the range of the Hoback allotment and also helping with the fall shipping.
Thomas Daniel “T.D.” O’Neil, Senior was born July 5, 1867 in Pomeroy, Ohio to John and Margaret Curtis O'Neil. T.D. was widely known for wearing a suit and tie during all his ranch operations whether he was moving cattle, branding, haying or attending cattle auctions. T.D. married Mary Ellen Searcy, a schoolteacher from Cheyenne, and had seven children: Cornelia Louise O’Neil Fear, John Curtis O’Neil, Margaret O’Neil Conwell, Thomas Daniel O’Neil Jr., Ruth O’Neil Witherspoon, Mary Kelly O’Neil Meeks, and Charles Robert (C.R.) O’Neil. In the late 1890s, T.D. and Mary began their ranching career raising and selling horses in Cheyenne. In 1904, T.D. bought the N.R. Davis horse ranch, the Lazy D, operating in Wyoming and Colorado. During this time, the Frontier Days committee awarded T.D. a contract to furnish wild horses for the bucking and pitching contests in the wild horse races. In 1905, he sold his entire band of horses and turned from horse to cattle ranching. Both horses and cattle are a 24/7 operation and T.D. was in the saddle every day, caring for his livestock’s needs. In 1907, he sold the ranch to Warren Livestock Company. In 1909, T.D. moved to Big Piney, purchasing several ranches including the Allen place, the Johnson-Bentley and the Rich and Birch places. Together, these purchases created T.D.’s legacy ranch, Cottonwood, a Hereford ranch. T.D.’s favorite time of year was spring, when it was time to brand. He would get up earlier than everyone else, put on his suit and tie, and head to the corral to catch and saddle his favorite horse, Big Red. During the rest of the day his strong voice would boom over all the crew gathering the cattle. Once the calves were separated and ready for branding, he was always the one to brand the calves. No one worked harder than he did. He loved horses and taught all those around him to respect and treat them with care. He looked forward to moving cattle up to the Wyoming Range in the spring. He could really crack the whip to get the cattle to move out or get the attention of a crew member to go get a calf that had strayed from the herd. Every fall T.D. saddled up and rode in the cattle drive, moving his herd from Big Piney to Opal to buyers who would transport them on trains to market. The last few years before his passing, T.D. and Mary lived in Cottonwood Canyon outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. This is where T.D. passed away on Feb. 23, 1955.
2022 Sweetwater County Inductees
Bert Lamb was born March 16, 1927 to George Dewey Lamb and Josephine Isabelle Meyer Lamb in Rock Springs. He was the sixth of eight children. Bert’s parents owned a small ranch on Henrys Fork in Washam, Wyoming. Bert attended school in the little red schoolhouse in Washam. It was about 3 miles from the ranch, so the children would ride their horses to school. The family had sold the ranch, so Bert hired on with different ranches around the area from Linwood to Lone Tree. At a young age he was recognized as a top hand. He could rope and ride with the best. In 1951, Bert was drafted into the Army. After basic training, he was shipped to Alaska where he served with honor. Bert and Yvonne were married April 11, 1953. Bert and Yvonne had five children, three boys and two girls. After getting married, Bert worked for Boiler on the Current Creek Ranch southeast of Rock Springs. He worked as a ranch hand breaking horses and tending cattle. When Bosler sold out to Wilson, Bert was hired as the foreman of the Current Creek Ranch. Mr. Wilson also owned a ranch in Jackson. Wilson started a dude outfit at both ranches. Current Creek was a working ranch with 800 Angus cows and 300 horses. The cows were open grazed on Little Mountain down to the Green River. In the spring they gathered the horses from the range to the ranch. They would cut out 150 to 200 head, then shoe them and drive them to Jackson for the dudes there. In the fall they drove them back to Current Creek for the winter. In the fall, they would gather the cows off the range and on to the ranch. They would cut off the calves and turn the cows back out on the range. Bert was known as being a good hand with horses. He always had a horse that someone couldn’t ride that they would bring to him to work with. Bert said the secret to a good horse was to feed him several wet saddle blankets. Bert always had a good horse and he saw to it that his wife and children did too. In 1968 Bert finally purchased his own place in McKinnon, Wyoming. In 1981, Bert sold the ranch in McKinnon and moved to Robertson, Wyoming, where he leased 1,200 acres with an open range permit. It was here that he lived out his dreams. He had a good cow herd, several good horses and his sheep. Bert started raising miniature mules. He broke them to work and pack. He would feed with them in the winter because Robertson could get a lot of snow. In 1984, Bert had a massive heart attack and had to have eight bypasses. He tried to go on living the cowboy life, but his health wouldn’t let him. In 1989, Bert and Yvonne bought 3 acres and moved to Mountain View. This is where Bert lived out his last few years. He passed away, June 25, 1994 at 67.
Charles Stillman-Philbrick and Elroy Philbrick
Charles Alfred Stillman-Philbrick was born with a twin, James W. Stillman-Philbrick, on July 26, 1869 to Emma Wilson Stillman Philbrick and James W. Stillman at South Pass City. E.P. Philbrick and Emma Wilson Stillman married in 1887. Charles married Anna Marie “Annie” Jensen on Nov. 8, 1901 in Sweetwater County. According to the “Life History of Pearl Zimmerman” by Ruth Lauritzen in the Sweetwater County Museum, after they married Charles was working on a ranch up Ham’s Fork from Granger. Charles Stillman-Philbrick was associated with the Taliaferro Livestock Company for years, later ranching near Big Island where he lived for 15 years, before moving to Granger. His knowledge of pioneer cattlemen and sheepmen of Wyoming was almost unequalled. In Emma Wilson Stillman-Philbrick’s Oral History in Tom Cullen's book, Rock Springs: A Look Back, she remembers, “Charles rented the Phil Mass ranch on Henry’s Fork and they lived there from 1907 to 1911. The following is an excerpt from page 11-12 of ‘Reminiscences with Emma Philbrick’ by Williams Yates from Sweetwater County Museum in Green River: “She told of her other boy, Charlie, during prohibition days. Charlie was looking for some of the Taliaferro cattle that were lost, and, as he was a long way from home when night came on he looked for the nearest place to stay for the night. He saw a light in a window and made for it.” By 1930, Charles had married May Wisdom and they were living at Big Island in Sweetwater County, about 30 miles north of Green River on a ranch where the stumps of the original Mormon ferry across the Green River could be seen. Charles Alfred Stillman-Philbrick died on Jan. 4, 1942 and was buried in Green River.
Elroy P. “Bronco Jim” Philbrick was born in October 1849 in Maine to Chandler N. Philbrick and Frances Noyes Philbrick. Emma Wilson Stillman started living with Elroy P. “Bronco Jim” Philbrick in about 1878. Emma went to work for Jim Philbrick cooking as he had the management of the stagecoaches based in Green River running west and east. There was also a stage station in Rock Springs and it was down under the bank on Killpecker Creek and Philbrick managed it too. Mr. E.P. Philbrick; commonly known as Bronco Jim. Bronco Jim lived for many years at the Pony Express Station at Granger, later moving to Rock Springs, Wyoming.” In Emma Wilson Stillman-Philbrick’s oral history in Tom Cullen's book, “Rock Springs: A Look Back,” she remembers: “E.P. Philbrick was deputy sheriff for 10 years. … In the 1880s Jim Philbrick was deputized as deputy sheriff of Sweetwater County, Wyoming … so Philbrick went into Brown's Park, a notorious outlaw stronghold, to arrest the black rustler Isom Dart. While transporting him to Rock Springs, the buckboard in which they were riding overturned on an embankment and Philbrick was knocked unconscious. Isom, a huge man, lifted the buckboard off Philbrick and took him into Rock Springs for medical attention, earning Philbrick's great respect. He arranged for Isom Dart's release shortly thereafter.” The following is an excerpt from “Reminiscences with Emma Philbrick” by Williams Yates from the Sweetwater County Museum in Green River: “Governor Warren, who was senator for so many years, and Jim Philbrick, used to ride the range together, and Warren was very fond of Jim. … Jim Philbrick carried the money to Superior for the first payday. When the first pay day was getting near they were worried about how to get the money up there without being held up. Jim said he would take it up there without being held up. They locked it up in an iron box and gave it to him. After he had his supper that night, he got the horses, and said he wouldn’t be home as he had some work to do. When he got to the office they couldn’t believe that he had delivered the box all right. He had to go up the canyon from number 6 where we lived and over the mountain to Superior, and came the same way back. He did that several times before anyone got next to it. … Jim’s brother worked up there and when his little girl died I went up there with Jim in the buggy, but I wouldn’t ride up that mountain. I got out and walked, and I walked when we came back too. … When Jim came out here he was only a boy, and had no money. … He was good with horses, and could usually get a job of that kind. … The soldiers at the fort were hiring teamsters to haul timbers and bring in logs for the winter’s supply for the fort.” Elroy P. “Bronco Jim” Philbrick died Jan. 9, 1914 from typhoid fever in Rock Springs.