Early Sublette County Brands Project


This is Bette Thompson and Tharon Greenwood and we are interviewing James F. Mickelson and Mildred Mickelson Miller for the brand project they are doing for the Sublette County grant.  The day is June the 26th, the time is 3:05 P.M.

Tharon: We would like to have some background information on you, Mrs. Miller.  Where were you born?

Mildred Miller: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tharon: Your parents?

Mildred Miller: James and Mildred Mickelson.

Tharon: Where did they come from, or where did they grow up?

Mildred Miller: My mother came from Iowa and she grew up in Iowa.  My father
was an immigrant from Denmark.

Tharon: Your mother was a music teacher, if I'm not mistaken.

Mildred: Yes.

Tharon: Could you tell us a little more about your father?  When did he come to America?

Mildred: I think he came in about 1884.

Tharon: And he had relatives in this country, is that it?

Mildred: Yes.  He had a brother who was working on the railroad and a brother  who was working in the mines.

Tharon: Right now we are discussing your ranching background in particular.  Can you tell us how long you have been on your ranch?

Mildred: That is the only background I have.

Tharon: All right.  How long have you been on the ranch you are on now?  This would be the Circle Ranch that you and Mr. Miller operated.

Mildred: Since about 1934.

Tharon: We know that you run a cattle ranch, but what other animal did you run on your ranch that you had particular interest in?

Mildred: Just horses.

Tharon: Do you have a specific breed of cow that you use as a kind of hobby?

Mildred: Oh, yes, I have some longhorns.

Tharon: That's what I thought.  You bred those at the 67?

Mildred: Yes.

Tharon: All right.  Now, Mr. Mickelson, could you tell me.  Were there any other brands used on the ranch that you are on before you bought it?

Mr. Mickelson: The 67 and the YDK were the two principle brands that were used in this outfit.  This outfit dates back to--I think it was established to start with in 1879, when McKay came in there with a bunch of cattle.

Tharon: How many brands does your place have now?

Mr. Mickelson: We just run one brand, the Circle, and we call it the Circle Cattle Company.  That is, my son and I are partners.  He operates and does the work and I enjoy the proceeds.

Tharon: Oh, is that right?  From what stream do you irrigate?

Mr. Mickelson: The North Piney and South Piney.

Tharon: And you, Mrs. Miller?

Mildred: Middle Piney and South Piney.

Bette: I would like to have you explain one thing.  Why is it that Mrs.
Miller's ranch is called the 67 and Mr. Mickelson's is called the Circle?

Mildred: The Circle is on the 67 Ranch and the 67 is on the Circle Ranch.

Bette: That's a bit confusing.

Mildred: You tell them, Jim.

Mr. Mickelson: The reason for this is, you see, my sister, Mrs. Miller, didn't get married for tens of years after I did and she kind of got squeezed out.  She didn't have a brand, so when she went into the cattle business, I had this extra brand, the 67.  You see, I'd been using the XBar through all the years and I didn't want to rebrand all of my cattle, so instead of giving her the XBar and keeping the 67, I just gave her the 67 and I kept the XBar.  But, now, since I went into partners with my son, we use the old Circle brand.  That is the original brand that my father had when he left the old ranch where Mrs. Miller lives.

Bette: What did you do with the XBar brand?  Are you just keeping that registered?

Mr. Mickelson: It's on the records in Cheyenne.

Bette: I see.  And that came from where?

Mr. Mickelson: Joe Black.  Joe Black was another old southern cowboy that came in there and started with a herd of cattle, but he came in pretty early.  He was a representative from Uinta County in about 1910.

Tharon: And your father bought his place?

Mr. Mickelson: Yes.

Tharon: And the brand and everything?

 Mr. Mickelson: Yes.  And my father just gave me that brand when he bought the place.  And I have used it ever since.

Tharon: Mr. Mickelson, who are your neighbors?

Mr. Mickelson: Oh, I have some dillies.

Bette: You just explain that.

Mr. Mickelson: Well, the Guios are our closest neighbors.  And then we have the Espenscheids and we have others on the project.  You see, I sold some land to a housing project and we've got a bunch of houses out here now.

Bette: Do you have any brands that are close to you that are very old?

Mr. Mickelson: No.

Bette: Your neighbors?  Well, how about Osterhouts?

Tharon: How about the Double F?

Mr. Mickelson: The Double S was the Osterhout brand and it's been used years with the Osterhout cattle.  The Guios revert back to the Osterhouts.

Bette: How about you, Mrs. Miller, who are your neighbors?

Mildred Miller: I don't have any very close neighbors.

Bette: Not very.  I know.  Schwabacher.

Mildred Miller: Yes.

Bette: What is his brand?

Mildred Miller: Quarter Circle 5.

Mr. Mickelson: Dr. Close, yes.  He is on the project.

Mildred Miller: No, the Schwabachers don't own that place any more.  Tharon, they sold to a dentist from Texas.

Tharon: New people?

Mildred Miller: Yes.

Bette: Where are your animals branded, Mrs. Miller?

Mildred Miller: Our cattle are branded on the left hip and our horses are branded on the left hip.

Bette: And both are branded with the 67?

Mildred Miller: The 67, yes.

Bette: Now, your cattle have an ear mark?

Mildred Miller: Yes, they are ear marked.

Bette: And what is the ear mark?

Mildred Miller: 7 out of both ears and a crop to the left.

Bette: And do you have a wattle?

Mildred Miller: No wattle.

Bette: Mr. Mickelson, what is your ear mark?

Mr. Mickelson: Underslope both ears.

Bette: And no wattle?

Mr. Mickelson: No wattles, no dewlap.

Tharon: Where did you get your branding irons?  Mrs. Miller, first?  Did you have them made?  Or did you . . .

Mildred Miller: Tony Subic made our branding irons.

Tharon: The blacksmiths made the branding irons, even earlier?

Mildred Miller: Yes.

Tharon: How about you, Mr. Mickelson?

Mr. Mickelson: That's right.  Usually the blacksmiths on each of the ranches made their own brands where it was possible.

Bette: Was that possible in your day?  Did you have a blacksmith?

Mr. Mickelson: Oh yes, that was one thing that was very essential, a blacksmith shop on your ranch if you were going to operate because you couldn't run to town every time you wanted a piece of iron bent or something like that.  You had to have your...

Bette: That went by the boards quite awhile ago.

Mr. Mickelson: Not necessarily.  A lot of people still use it.  I'm sure your outfit still does it.

Mildred: Oh, we have a blacksmith shop.

Bette: Well, I remember forges being in every blacksmith shop I mean every shop had a forge where you--so I just htought there was always someone who was an expert at doing it, maybe.

Mildred Miller: Well, Bob had Tony do it because he liked the way Tony made them.

Bette: Tony was excellent.

Tharon: Do you feel that this has been a good brand for you?  The 67?

Mildred Miller: Very good.  Excellent.

Tharon: Can you tell me why?

Mildred Miller: Because I like it.

Tharon: It's easy to read.  It's easy to see.

Mildred Miller: It's easy to read.  It's easy to see.  It would be hard to . . .

Tharon: work over?

Mildred Miller: yes.

Tharon: How about the Circle?

Mr. Mickelson: Well, there's quite'a story connected with that, the Circle.  You see, that was the brand my father got when he first bought the outfit in 1885--95.

Tharon: He bought it from. . .

Mr. Mickelson: Leifer.  He used that for awhile and then in those days the cattle ranged from the top of the mountain to the desert and many of those cattle ranged the east side of the Green River, and the Green River was the dividing line between Sweetwater and Uinta Counties.  So this fellow, he was a little piggy.  He went up to my dad and said, "I'm getting this brand, the Circle, recorded in Sweetwater County and if you bring me ten thousand dollars I'll sell it to you.  My dad probably had over three thousand head or thirty-five hundred head of cattle at that time, and he turned around and rebranded everything with C-N, and would not lay out ten thousand dollars.  It turned out he got the Circle anyway.  That's why we had to change the brand.

Mildred:  I didn't know that.

Tharon: He didn't trust him much.

Mr. Mickelson: Well, he told him they were his cattle and they were running on the other side of the river.  That sounded kind of screwy to my dad.

Bette: When do you both usually brand?

Mildred Miller: In the spring.  And then we have a branding in the fall also.  And I'm sure that's the way most of the ranchers do.

Mr. Mickelson: Well, one fall Jess Chase's horse ran away with him and ran over and up a draw and came to a gate that was at least six foot high and that horse  would have to jump and that horse cleared that and never broke the wire and went out onto the airport and I had to run him down.

Mildred Miller: And the man was still on him.

Bette: What frightened him?  Do you have any idea?

Mr. Mickelson: Well, he got mad.  The horse got mad when he missed a few times throwing the rope.  The horse was used to having people catch what they threw at. And he got mad and that horse left on a dead run.

Bette: That was just disgust.

Mildred Miller: That's what you call some kind of a horse.

Tharon: Have you ever had any kind of particular problems with rustling with
someone trying to take some of your cattle by altering the brand?

Mr. Mickelson: Those things happen.  I have never run onto anybody that's tried to alter our brand in any way.   I'm sure those things happen.  They did more in the past than they do now.  Now-a-days they just go out with a truck and they have these portable corrals and if they want anything they just set up their corral and get their horse out and run them in and haul them off.  That's the difference in stealing now and what it used to be.

Bette: What do they do with the brands after that?

Mr. Mickelson: They get by with it.  There's always a way to get by.  They have inspection, but they get by with it.

Bette: We do want to thank you for all of your time and your memories and for giving us this information.

Mildred Miller: Thank you for coming to interview us.

Mr. Mickelson: Is that all we get out of it?

Tharon: That's it. If Peter has more film we can have you tell us more stories.
Bette: Alright.  Do you want to tell us more stories?

Mr. Mickelson: Not me.  Oh, yeah there is one thing I want to tell you about my dad.  This is years ago.  Now this family has left the country so it is no reflection to anybody.  My dad said this was in December and he had rented some pasture from a fellow by the name of Ross, George Ross, and he had probably three hundred and fifty head of cattle over there and was pasturing them in the late fall and it was pretty good pasture.  And he sent Jimmy Jensen over there to see how they were doing.  And Jimmy comes home and my dad said, "Jimmy, how are they doing?"  And Jimmy said, "Well, the ones that are left are doing all right."  And my dad said, "What do you mean what's left?"  And Jimmy said, "Well, I found four or five heads and feet over there."  And my dad said that the next morning they got up at daylight and went and brought our cattle home.

Bette:  They had just eaten them as they went by.

 6/26/90 Brand interview by Tharon Greenwood and Bette Thompson.  Should be noted that the original 67 brand was purchased with the 67 ranch by Mr. Mickelson.  The brand first belonged to A. W. Smith who came very early to this area.

Bette: Tell us how you used to make Auntie Mildred drive the team to school.

Mr. Mickelson: That was kid stuff.  She had to learn how to drive On the way to school, when it was cold I would give her a few lessons if she would drive and then when it was nice, I would drive.

Mildred: And that's the truth.

Bette: And nothing but the truth.  He was rather clever.

Mildred: Yes, he was.  He knew I wanted to drive.  I would sit up in a snowstorm or anything to get to drive.

Mr. Mickelson: I'll tell you another thing.  I hate to tell this on her, but mother used to put our lunches together, you know, and of course she was in the third grade or something and I was way up

Mildred: In high school.

Mr. Mickelson: And I had to go down there to eat.  And I would go down and get my lunch and here she was.  She wasn't about to let me get in there.

Mildred: I wasn't going to let you take all my lunch.  I knew that is just what would happen.

Tharon: You learned early how to get along with daddy, huh?

Mildred.  Yes.  After he treated me that way with the driving I wasn't about to let him. . .

Comment: Now we can take it and show it.  That will be fun.