Early Sublette County Brands Project
Pfisterer Ranch
  Stuart McKinley interviewing Jake Pfisterer

 Stuart: All right, Jake, go ahead.

 Jake: What do you want?

 Stuart: Well, give your name and where you were born.

 Jake: Why don't you ask the questions?

 Stuart: Okay, Jake, give your full name.

 Jake: My full name is John Jake Pfisterer.

 Stuart: And when were you born?

 Jake: In 1913, August 5th.

 Stuart: And where were you born?

Jake: Here.

 Stuart: Right here on the ranch?

Jake: Uh huh.

 Stuart: What were your parents' names?

Jake:  My dad's name was John.  He had a nickname of Curly but his name was John.  My mother's name was Georgia.

Stuart: Your schooling.  Where did you go to school?

Jake:  We went to grade school over the hill here.  They used to have a school where Saunder's is.  And we went to school there and when we got out of the eighth grade, my brother and I went to business college one winter in Los Angeles.

Stuart: All right.  And that ended your schooling, then, except for the one of hard knocks?

Jake: Yeah.

Stuart: Do you remember what year it was when you went to Los Angeles?

Jake: I think it was--I think I was about fifteen or sixteen--so it must have been about 1929.

Stuart: About 1929, the depression year.  Maybe that's why you came home after that.

Jake: Ran out of money.

Stuart: And I assume that after you came home,you came home to the ranch and went to work and so basically your ranching and ranching background goes back to 1929, then?  And you've been in it ever since?

Jake: Yeah.

Stuart: Have you been here on the home place all that time?

Jake: Yes.

Stuart: And basically you ran cattle and horses?  No sheep?

Jake: Yeah, no sheep.

Stuart: Did you run Herefords, Angus or a combination?

Jake: Well, I started out with short horn Durham, and then went to Hereford and now we run Hereford, Angus, Bolly and a mixture of all of them.

Stuart: Whatever the cow buyer wants?

Jake: Yeah, the cow buyer today wants all black bollys.

Stuart: Well, if you don't raise them, they won't buy them, I guess.

Jake: They always want those black bollys.

Stuart: When did your parents come to this country?  Did they come here and homestead or did they come after this place was established?

Jake: My pappy came about 1898 and he homesteaded down here where Fisk is, up in the canyon.  And then he sold that and bought this land from here up to the highway, from Faler.

Stuart: Oh, Faler had this place originally?

Barbara: You mean the ones who are in Pinedale now?

Jake: They might be cousins or something but the one that had this place was an Arthur Faler and then his pappy.  I don't remember his pappy's name but Arthur had a homestead over there on the Muddy and this, the old folks homesteaded.  And he got to beating up on her and she went over there to get away from him and he went over to get her and the old man rode up there and Arthur was there leaning up against the wagonbox and had a six-shooter in his hand.  The old man said he come to get her and Arthur said, "Well, she ain't going home." And the old man started to pull his rifle out of the scabbard, and Arthur killed him.  They took him up the draw a ways and planted him.  And then Arthur come over here and just took the old man's homestead, and his mother had what they call a desert . . .

Stuart: A Desert Land Entry?

Jake: Yeah, I think 196 Acres.  Why they didn't take 320, 1 don't know.

Stuart: That was kind of a strange figure, isn't it?

Jake: I never did figure out why these other homesteaders didn't take those Deserts instead of those 160's.  You see out where you are, in that area, a man could take--or a woman, could each homestead 320, like a married couple could homestead 640.  But in here, outside of those Desert, they could only homestead 160.

Stuart: Yeah.  To back up, Jake, when your dad homesteaded down there where Fisk lives now, you said that was in 1898?  That brought to mind a question, maybe you can answer it while I am thinking about it.  Did you remember a family down there that would have been a neighbor, by the name of Haley?

Jake: Haley, yeah, this Haley, wasn't his wife a Johnson?

Stuart: Yes, his wife was a Johnson.  When your father homesteaded down there, what brand did he have, Jake?

Jake: As far as I know--give me that paper, I'll show you.  I don't know whether they started putting these brands, registering them, do you?

Stuart: No, I don't.  That's something we want to look into.  When I talked with Mildred MilIer, they had the 67 brand.  And when it was brought in from Nevada in the late 1800's, whenever the registration started, it had to be registered that first year.  So we're going to look that up and see what year they started registering the brands.

Barbara: Stu, I'm sure Jonita already has that.

Jake: When my Pappy first started using that, it's on the left shoulder and when he first started using it he used the Circle Spear.

Stuart: The Circle Spear?

Jake: Yes, and when he registered it they made him go to the D Spear.

Stuart: Apparently someone else had the Circle before he did.

Jake: Well, evidently or something about it.

Stuart: Now, this other brand that you were drawing.  What's that one now?

Jake: That is the ear mark.  Here's Harmon's brand.  That is the left rib, the Milliron D.

Stuart: Is that a brand that you gave him?

Jake: No.

Stuart: That's his own brand?

Jake: Yeah.  We applied for that and got it.

Stuart: Okay.  Now after your father moved from down at the Fisk Place up to this one, did he have the same brand up here?

Jake: Yeah.  He used the D Spear all of the time.  But when I was a kid, I can remember he had an old horse or two that had the Circle Spear on them.

Stuart: Do you recall where the Circle Spear was on the horses?

Jake: Left shoulder.

Stuart: When your father moved up here and took over the place   from Art Faler, do you happen to remember what brand Art's was?  You know the old man who homesteaded originally here?

Jake: That was--was that the one that was killed?

Barbara: You said Arthur Faler was on Muddy.  You want the brand.

Stuart: Oh, on the Muddy.  It was his father that was here first?

Jake: Yes.  And when he killed the old man, he (Arthur) came over here and homesteaded where the old man was, and his mother took the additional Desert Land Entry.

Stuart: Do you recall what the old man's brand was or what Arthur's brand was?

Jake:  I never had any idea.  I don't even know whether they had any cattle at the time.

Stuart: Okay.  Now, was that Diamond Spear brand the same brand you use today, Jake?

Jake: The D Spear.

Stuart: You kept that the whole time, then?  Do you have any other brands?

Jake: This Milliron D is Harmon's.

Barbara: Where did Harmon get that?  Did he purchase it from somebody?

Jake:  No. We just applied for it and got it.  That was kind of unique.  When we bought the farm over there in Idaho, we applied for it over there and got it.

Stuart: Then it is registered in Wyoming and in Idaho?

Jake: Yeah.

Barbara: So this thing in the front is the milliron?

Jake: Yeah.  You know what a milliron is?

Barbara: No. That's why I was trying to find out.  Explain.....

Jake:  Back in the old days wheii they used to have like your old mill, they'd cut a notch in a log like that to run the shaft or run an axle.  And then they would put what they      called a milliron up over the top to hold the pipe in. And that is where the milliron come from.

Barbara: Well, that makes sense now.

Stuart: Milliron came from that, then?

Jake: You understand that?

Stuart: Yes, I do.  What stream do you irrigate from?

Jake:  Well, the upper end of the place we get it out of the Fisherman Creek.  And then farther down we have a couple of ditches out of the Hoback River.

Stuart: And are any of the waterrights territorial, or later than that?

Jake: I can't tell you.  When was the territorial?

Stuart: Well, probably in the late 1800's.

Jake: I would doubt whether there were any that far back here.

Stuart: This is a sort of an oddball question.  Who are your neighbors, besides the Forest Service?

Jake: Here.  Right over the hill there is Bill Saunders and then there is Bob McNeel up Hoback and then over the hill is Campbells, then Wagstaffs.  There used to be the Fronks, the Bakers, Gene Holt, Jones.  The neighbors are all about gone now.  Andy Erickson and Bert Parody and George Parody and Lee Coates, Brown, Charlie Bellen, Perry Bowlsby.  Wagstaff outfit owns all of that now.

Stuart: I should have asked you as we were going along if you remembered any of the brands from any of those people.  And that is a handful of them.

Jake: I kind of remember some of them, like Fronks and the Bar H F and I can't remember what Baker's brand was, it was so long ago. .

Stuart: Do you remember some of the others and what brands they might have?

Jake: Well, McNeel, he's got that TE.

Stuart: How similar is that TE brand of McNeells to the TE Ranch out of Cody-that old Buffalo Bill Ranch.  Do you know?

Jake: What about it?

Stuart: I was just wondering how similar they were.  This one was called TE and you know Buffalo Bill's old ranch up on the south fork of the Shoshoni River up west of Cody had the TE brand.

Jake: McNeel's got two TE brands. (He draws them.)

Stuart: That's quite different from the TE Ranch up at Cody.

Jake: And this is the other one.

Barbara: And they are both different.

Stuart: Now just as a side question, were those Bob's original ones or were those some he got from Charley Noble?

Jake: He didn't get nothing from Charley Noble.  He got this TE from that Bill Stom

Stuart: From Bill Stom.  And he had the place down the river from Bob McNeel?

Jake: Yeah.  And I think Schwabacher wound up with the old Charley Noble brand.  That was the best brand in the United States.

Stuart: Which brand was that?

Jake: It was just a link on the left hip.

Stuart: Just a chain link?

Jake: Yes.  A single brand and I never could understand why Schwabachers don't use that instead of that Quarter Circle Five.

Barbara: Victor Mack is up by Campbell's too, isn't he?

Jake: Yah.  They've got a place just this side of Campbells.  That is old Banty Bowlsby's place there.

Stuart: Do you recall what Banty's brand was?  How about Saunders?

Jake: I don't remember them having any cattle or anything.  But I'm not sure.

Barbara: But now the River Bend Ranch has a brand, doesn't it?

Jake: The River Bend?  Yah.  They've got an SO on the right hip.

Stuart: Do you know what the history is behind that one?

Jake: No, I don't.

Barbara: Saunders uses that at the River Bend?

Jake: Actually that's Gil Ordway's brand.  He is the one that owns that over there, that millionaire out of Jackson.

Stuart: How about Campbells?  Do you remember what their brand was?

Jake: You better ask them, they've only got about five.

Stuart: We'll ask them later on in the day.  Well, now since we have sort of talked about some of these others which you recall, does it bring to mind any of the old brands that are under the Wagstaff Ranch now?

Jake: That Bar HF and I am trying to think of what Baker's brand was.  And then on down the valley.  I just can't remember them brands.  There was another Hansen, Frank Hansen.  You know he had a homestead down there at the lower end of the place that Wagstaff has now.  And then that old deaf guy that used to be around Pinedale a lot.  He had his homestead there.

Stuart: How about Molly Bosone?  What brand did that place have?

Jake: I can't remember.  Campbell can tell you.

Stuart: Well, maybe as we go on and ask a few questions, maybe one of them might pop to mind.  Let's see now.  That ear mark that you drew, on your cattle, how do you describe it?

Jake: Swallowfork.

Stuart: Do you have any wattles or dewlaps on your cattle?

Jake: None.

Stuart: Did you make your own branding irons or did you have some blacksmith make them?

Jake: We have blacksmiths make them.

Stuart: Any particular blacksmith?

Jake: No. Several years ago this old Bill Love up at McNeels built us a few.  The last ones I had made,the blacksmiths over there at Firth, Idaho made some.  And then the one who had that Antler Motel in Jackson, he was a blacksmith.  And then he moved down to the edge of town, and he built quite a lot of branding irons for people.

Stuart: You didn't by any chance have any of them made down in Big Piney by Tony Subic?

Jake: No. Subic?  I'm trying to get him straight.

Stuart: He was Marge Guio's brother.  And her dad used to be a blacksmith there.

Jake: Was she raised there?

Stuart: Yes.  The blacksmith shop used to be one block north of Main Street there on the highway just south of the Standard Station.  Is your brand a good one?  You don't have any problem recognizing it on your cattle?

Jake: Yah.  It's put right there on the side of the shoulder and you can see it good.

Stuart: Would it be difficult for somebody to alter it?

Jake: If you were going to alter the brand I think the Bar Cross of Barlow's.  They give a guy on Horse Creek a Two Bar Four.

Stuart: Two Bar Four.  That works out pretty good.  Would I have to ask who has the Two Bar Four?

Jake: What the dickens is their name?  They had that old Austin Richardson place there.  I am trying to think of the name.

Stuart: Right at the end of the oil, on Horse Creek?

Jake: Yah.  What the dickens was their name?

Stuart: I was trying to think of how far back we would have to go . . .

Barbara: A long way.

Jake: Not really.  That changed hands a couple of times.  That Two Bar Four.  Somebody showed that to Barlow and he like to have had a fit.

Barbara: He didn't like that new brand?

Jake: No. Well, you wonder how dumb the--course I guess they never thought about it, those guys that was putting out the State brands.  They were awful good at putting the brand where you could work one into the other.

Barbara: But that's no reflection on the people.  That's just a goof on the people issuing the brand.

Stuart: While we're down there talking about Horse Creek.  You wouldn't happen to remember what the old Charley Ball brand was, would you?

Jake: I thought one of the Balls; I can't remember which one--wasn't they one of the ones who had those--what did they call them?

Stuart: I think Frank Ball had the Dishpan and it seemed like Charley Ball had like that (draws) and one of them had the other way.

Barbara: What was that one called?

Jake: Dishpan.

Stuart: They were Dishpan but they were facing into cach other.

Barbara: Double Dishpan?

Jake: I can't remember but I think they were like that (draws).  When Charley Ball left the country and moved down to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, he said when he got down there and started taking those baths, he found two suits of underwear he didn't know he had on.

Stuart: He hadn't been out of the country for a long time, had he?

Jake: Quite a character.

Stuart: The brand your father had, Jake, did he design that brand himself?

Jake: I guess, as far as I know.  He had this D Spear.

Stuart: When do you usually brand?

Jake: We usually brand the last week in May.  We call in all the neighbors.

Stuart: About what time do you get started?

Jake: About eight o'clock in the morning.

Stuart: You didn't rush things?  You weren't in a big hurry to get started?

Jake: Well, by the time you get a bunch in there, you know, and by the time you would get the neighbors in to help bunch them, it would usually be seven or eight o'clock.  And then, outside of Millers, they usually started about two in the morning.

Stuart: That's what Mildred said.  Sometime between one and two in the morning.  That's why I was saying that you got a late start.  And I suppose you turn around and help all of the neighbors brand too, afterwards

Jake: Oh yes.  Campbells, McNeels, us and Saunders and Wagstaffs, we all help each other.  If you didn't you couldn't get it done. .,

Stuart: You don't use any tables, you still rope and wrestle them and drag them around?  Everybody else still uses the same method up here?  Then it hasn't changed at all?

Jake: No. The only place they have changed is at Wagstaffs.  That Bill Allen run the place for Wagstaff first and they always sort the cows out and then catch the calves by the hind leg by hand and drag them in.

Stuart: Never roped them, just caught them all by hand?

Jake: Yeah, and those big old calves were something.

Barbara: That's a lot of work.

Jake: But as soon as he left, everybody quickly changed that.

Stuart: Went back to horses again,roping.

Barbara: Do you use a wood fire or propane?

Jake: We use propane now.  We used to use wood fire but we use propane as it is handier and everything.

Stuart: It heats the irons a lot faster.

Jake: Yeah.  It just takes a minute to get them hot and you can control the heat.

Stuart: You can turn it off or on and get it just right.  Well, with all of the years you have spent up here, you ought to have one or two good branding stories to tell us.

Jake: Well, I don't know, really.

Stuart: You mean to tell me there wasn't any excitement in any of them during that time?

Jake: Just the work.

Stuart: That's strange.  You mean you never had any rodeos or anything that took place during the branding?  This question, the last one we always ask.  Sometimes we have to turn the machine off.  Have you had any rustling problems?

Jake: Not that I know of, no.  We don't seem to ever had.  At least we never did catch anybody.

Stuart: Well, I think that pretty well catches all of the questions.  Do you have anything else you want to add?

Jake: No, I don't think so.  Is Jonita Sommers working on this

Barbara: Yes, Jonita is working on it.