Early Sublette County Brands Project
McGinnis Ranch
 
  This is an interview for the Brand Project for the Big Piney Museum.  It is a humanities grant project.  I'm Lori Latta.  I am the interviewer and this is my uncle, Vic McGinnis, the interviewee.  The date is January 30, 1991.

Lori: First of all, what I need is some background information on you--where you were born, your parents and where they grew up and school.   Let's start  with  you, Vic.
When were you born and where?

 Vic: I was born November 12, 1913 in Montrose, Colorado.  And my parents
 were Amy Hansen McGinnis and William J. McGinnis, Sr.

 Lori: Where did they grow up?

Vic: Dad was born on LaBarge Creek and I think he was one of the first white born.  They moved to LaBarge in 1886.  You know, I don't know what year dad was born, but it was right after they moved there.

 Lori: And Grandma came from?

 Vic: Ogallala, Nebraska.  Her father was a...

 Lori: And she came here to teach.  Was she teaching in Wyoming then?  Is that where she met Grandpa?

 Vic: Yes.

 Lori: Now give me a little bit of background on your ranching.  As a child,
 where were you?  And then as you got older?

 Vic: We ranched on Dry Piney Creek and of course when we got school age the
schooling was a bit difficult and we moved to Colorado.  Then I came back here to Big Piney for high school and then to the University.

 Lori: Oh, I didn't know that.  Did you go to the University of Wyoming?

Vic: Yes.

 Lori: And then you came back to the ranch?

Vic: Yes.

Lori: Now, Grandpa at that time had several ranches and each kid took over the operation of one of those?

 Vic: That is correct.

 Lori: And your ranch was where?

 Vic: Dry Piney.

 Lori: Now, how long were you on the Dry Piney Place?

Vic: I was off and on for . . . 1938, that's the year I got married.  I was on the ranch a couple of years before that.

Lori: And then you stayed there for awhile and then you also did the Rich Place as well, too.  Now tell me where that is located.

Vic: The Rich Place is on the LaBarge Creek--the first place west of the highway 189.

 Lori: How did you come to be on the ranch?  I guess we already answered that.  Because when you came back each one of his sons. . .

 Vic: Well, we just naturally figured that was the thing to do at the time.  And it was all right for awhile.

Lori: And then it changed.  Tell me about the brand you used on the Dry Piney Place.  Give me a little background on the brand.

Vic: Well, I applied, of course, for my own brand when I started ranching and it was the Milliron M.

 Lori: And tell me about the location of the brand on the cattle.

 Vic: Left rib on the cattle and left shoulder on horses.

 Lori: And you applied for that brand?

Vic: I applied for a brand and the one I applied for apparently was already taken so the Wyoming Livestock and Sanitary Board suggested that brand to me.  They decided for me and I was happy with that brand.

 Lori: Did you use that brand your whole ranching history?

Vic: Yes.

 Lori: They also wanted to know on this the ear mark that goes with this brand.

 Vic: It's an underbit in each ear.

 Lori: Do you still have the brand registered in your name?

 Vic: No. I dropped it.  You have to renew them every ten years and I kept it for a long time.  I just dropped it recently, about 1980, 1 think.

 Lori: Did anyone pick it up?

 Vic: I don't know.  Jay wanted it and I don't believe he ever applied for it.  I told him I dropped it and if he wanted it he could apply and he might get it.

 Lori: I don't know if he ever did apply for it.  So conceivably it may still be down there.

 Vic: That's right.  He asked me about it and I said that I dropped the brand.  I just couldn't see any use of carrying it.  They're having trouble with brands, anyway.  It's getting so that there are just too many brands.  Everybody's got several.

 Lori: Tell me about your brandings you used to have on Dry Piney.  Who helped
 when you branded?

 Vic: Well, the neighbors used to get together.  It was kind of a regular affair, in the fall and in the spring.  We branded the new calves in the spring and we would get together and brand.

 Lori: I'm curious.  Did the women bring food, or did they like--did Dorothy, your wife, end up cooking for everybody?

 Vic: They sort of helped out some.  Dorothy always done her share of the cooking.  She was a good cook.

 Lori: Was it mostly family who helped brand or was it neighbors?

 Vic: Well, it was neighbors as well.  It was an event that people took interest in.

 Lori: Tell me about a typical branding day.  What time would you start?

 Vic: We would--I'll tell you how it worked out with me.  I'd get up and round up the cattle as early as I could and we would be done by noon, at my place.  And then I would go to the neighbors, like Yose and Anderson and maybe I'd help them three or four days in the week and one day I got my head to working and thought, "This isn't working out so good." So I made a change.  I talked to some of the neighbors and kids.  There was always a bunch of kids ready to go, you know.  I'd give them a few bucks.  So I broke away from the group and started getting my own help.  There was a month in the spring that I was out circulating around instead of doing my own work.  It was a time consuming thing.

Lori: Can you think of any funny branding stories, something funny that happened.  Or was it all just work?

 Vic: Well, none come to mind right now.

 Lori: What about rustling problems?  Did you think you had any rustling problems?

Vic: There was a year or two when I come in that I thought I was pretty short on the count of cattle, but never could pin it down.

 Lori: What about the branding irons?  I should ask you about them.

 Vic: Old Tony Subic, a blacksmith down in town, made mine.  He was an artist about it.

 Lori: And it was a good brand because of the simplicity of it and the location, and everything?  Do you kind of wish it had stayed in the family, or not?

Vic: Well, if there would have been any need for it but it's like I say my brand was used in the eastern part of the state.  There were several counties that used it.

Lori: Well, you ran on the Dry Piney Place and the Rich Place.  You just ran cattle, you didn't raise horses or sheep?

 Vic: Wild horses got pretty prevalent around here and we would round up horses
 once in awhile and break them and take them some place and sell them.  And
 then there were traders that came around here all the time and pick up some of
 the extras.

 Lori: So you would have used the brand for horses more than I would have guessed?

Vic: I sold about eighty or ninety head of horses.  They were eating more feed and they weren't worth a whole lot except what you could use them for.

Lori: On the Dry Piney Place, was Don Bailey ranching when you were?  Was he in the ranching business on what they call the Bailey Place?  Bailey Lane?

 Vic: I don't think Don ever did ranch.  His father, Ira, ranched there.

 Lori: And you would have been there when he was, in thirty-eight?

Vic: Yes.

 Lori: What was his brand?  Do you remember?

 Vic: You know, I don't know.

 Lori: And he would have run cattle outside as well as in the Dry Basin area
the same as yours?

 Vic: I don't believe he ever did have a grazing permit.

 Lori: So there would have been you out there and Schaffers--or Anderson, Yose's?

 Vic: Well there was Fox and Chrismans.

 Lori: So that would have been the LaBarge Creek places that came north . . .

 Vic: Yes, they had forest rights up there and they did turn--well, they hadfall roundup you see.  The cattle got mixed up and . . .

Lori: What about Weylands?  Did they run outside or not?  And Stotts?  Were they in business at that time?

 Vic: They were sheep.  We really didn't get along.

 Lori: A little range war of your own there?

Vic: There was nothing serious but there was a dispute or two.  Then Facinellis used to come there.  They would just trail through, you know.  But that trail got awful wide and slow and it took a long time to move those sheep through.

 Lori: What about Weylands?  Did they have a whole band of sheep?

Vic: They had several bands.  They had a section up in Snyder Basin too, by the Ranger Station.  They had a forest permit too, besides that.

Lori: So a couple of sheep ranchers.  And the brands used, the JHPL was used by Anderson and then the YS by Yose.  Did they have a hat brand back then, too?

Vic: No, it was Fox's.  And of course, Frank McGinnis had a ranch.  And he was my uncle.  And he ran just cattle. .

 Lori: But the Fontenelle Basin people would not have come this way?  The Pomeroys?

Vic: No, all we got from them was drift once in awhile, just a few head.  There was Poulson.  They had their ranch down there and they would trail clear up to Hoback Basin and, of course, they would string quite a bunch.  They would be strung a mile or so and maybe one or two riders and so if there were any cattle they would trail right along with them.

 Lori: Clear to the Hoback--that must be well over a hundred miles.

Vic: Oh yeah, I remember once I seen this string of cattle coming down and I was south and I kind of moved my cattle back as much as I could.  And when I got there there was Clay Price.  I said, do you check those cattle before you put them in the field?  It was the darndest thing you ever seen, two or three miles of cattle strung out there and just Old Clay Price riding along.

 Lori: I want to visit with you a little bit more.  Because, as you know, my dad isn't going to be able to visit and I'm not sure how much I can visit with Uncle Aaron.  When Grandpa put all of you on a place, did he own the one Uncle Aaron had?

 Vic: At that time I think the McGinnises just had the Holden Place leased.  When
Howard--I forget whether he moved or what--but anyhow we got possession of the place and Aaron took it over.  I believe he paid something for it.

Lori: It was leased through William McGinnis, Sr. and then when the Holden lease expired Aaron bought it?  And the brand that goes with that place is what?

 Vic: He uses the Diamond H, Aaron uses.  But that was not the brand that Holden had.  I don't know what brand Holden had.

 Lori: Did Aaron just apply for the Diamond H? So as far as historical ties to the family, that was not the case.  And so Dad would have taken the place on the river and that brand, the JF was Millisons' brand.  Is that right?  So that belonged to the Millison family who owned the place previously.  So that would have ties to the Millison family.

Vic: It went with the place.  Dad bought the place and they sold everything took the brand with it.

Lori: And then when Marjorie came back to the ranch and went into ranching then that place was originally part of the Spur Ranch.  Did Grandpa McGinnis own the place that Marjorie . . .

Vic: I think they just helped Dad for awhile and then they acquired the Sims in the Sixties and Dad turned it over to them, at least part of it, to Marjorie and Clarence.

Lori: Have we missed any land that would have been owned by William McGinnis, Sr.?  I'm trying to make sure that I have covered everything.  And Mary Nell, she never owned anything?

Vic: Well, she just quit the ranch.  I don't know if you got the Grandma McGinnis place.  It is west of Hi Smith and south of the Rocking Chair, the Chrisman Place on LaBarge Creek above the Spur ranch.

 Lori: And that ultimately ended up being owned by Yose?

 Vic: Well, Chrisman bought it from Dad and Yose bought it from them.  I don't know exactly how that went . . . but Yose's finally ended up with it.

 Lori: And then, through the course of events, the place that Frank had is now owned by Jay so that came back into our family.  I think we have covered it pretty much.  Marjorie and Clarence.  Where did their brand come from?  Do you know?  I'm just going to write to her and have her write the information down for me.  Was the FBench their first brand?

 Vic: I don't know.  I think that was the Sims brand.

Lori: I know one thing we forgot.  What was Grandpa's brand?  Explain that to me for a little bit.  Do you, know where that came from?  Was it owned by his father or . . .

Vic: You mean, my grandfather?  I think he probably just applied for it.  You see they came from Provo, Utah.  They trailed fifty head.  And I don't know about their brand.  They came to LaBarge and this old homesteader was about to leave so they bought his brand.

Lori: Now, the location of that old homestead.  Was that above the Linderman Place?  Was it that far up?

Vic: You know where Lunde's Place is and it was right down Spring Creek from there.  There are traces of the old buildings and stuff.

 Lori: I wonder what the old homesteader's name was.  That was way back.

Vic: I don't know if I ever heard it.  There were several old homesteaders on LaBarge Creek, people who had moved in there.

 Lori: Then they had neighbors on the LaBarge Creek back then?

 Vic: They even had a little school there.  I even heard they had telephones.

 Lori: They had quite a few cows back then to move and it was hard to move them.
Do you know when they got to LaBarge Creek?  Was it the fall?

Vic: I think it was the fall and they had a little dirt floor cabin with a deerskin hung over the door for doors and it was pretty rugged.

Lori: Then Great Grandmother must have been pregnant with Grandfather about that time.  I wonder what they did with the fifty head of cattle.  Did the homesteader leave feed for them?  Or was it open enough . . .

Vic: They wintered a few winters without putting up hay and then they had a hard winter so they started clearing meadows and putting up hay.

 Lori: Pretty humble beginnings, though?

 Vic: It was rough.  We've come a long ways, but I wonder if maybe we hadn't ought to go back.

 Lori: Do you have any of the old millions branding irons left?  What they
-want to do is when they put this project together they want to put those irons on display.  Do you mind if I come by and pick them up?

 Vic: I might be able to pick you some up.  I think I have some right here now.

Lori: They want us to put the brand on a piece of wood so if you have some
right here I'll just do that.  I'll heat the iron up and put it on a piece of wood.

Vic: I think I have an old horse iron here now.  That would be the handiest for you.  They are smaller.  The cow irons are pretty big but the horse one is smaller.  I have two different sizes.  I have the size for the calves and a size for the cows.

Lori: Well, I think that about does it.  It says here do you have any photographs, certificates, journals or letters relevant to brands or branding irons, and branding that you would share with this project.  So you might think about that but I can get that later.