Early Sublette County Brands Project
Harry Steele Ranch
Harry Steele
Interviewed by Jonita Sommers July 23, 1990, at his ranch on the Green River

Jonita- How long have you been on this ranch?

Harry- Well,  I was born on the ranch over on New Fork.  Dad bought that in 1921. That's the year I was born.

Jonita- What kind of animals do you run?

Harry - Cattle - Hereford.

Jonita- How many brands do you have on this place?

Harry - 3

Jonita- From what stream do you irrigate?

Harry- Well, it depends on which ranch you are ta1king about.  We've got the one on
New Fork and one on Green River.

Jonita- OK

Harry- So we irrigate out of New Fork Irrigation District from the New Fork Lake and the Green River on this place.

Jonita- OK, what is the main brand you use?

Harry- AVL
 

Jonita- OK, where is it located on the animal?
 

Harry- left rib
 

Jonita- What's your earmark?

Harry- Crop the left ear.

Jonita- And do you have a wattle or dewlap with it?

Harry- No

Jonita- How long have you had this brand?

Harry- Well, it's been in the family for 70 years, I guess.

Jonita- OK, where did you get the brand?

Harry- Well, it came with the property that my dad bought from Walter Guerney, 1921.

Jonita- And where did that brand originate from?

Harry- Well, from this Bengston that has it recorded that you have in that piece you showed me.

Jonita- Uh, huh, and then what are your other brands that you have?

Harry- Well, this S Bar S , I had registered when I got big enough to have some cattle.  I applied for a brand and that is what I got.  Of course, when I said 3 brands I was considering the Flying Heart and that would be the brand my father had before he got the, you know he was in the business with my grandfather and he had a brand of his own and that was the Flying Heart.  And when Roy, my brother, and I got this S Bar S brand for my cattle so we had 3 brands that we used at one time.  But now when Roy died, Eddy got the Flying Heart.  It's more or less in the family, yet.

Jonita- OK, did you want to talk about any more of this?

Harry- Well, I don't know.  Frosty, my son, has a brand of his own now, the SF.  It's a reverse S with the F.

Jonita- Yeah, and it's on the left rib, too, right?

Harry- Yeah.

Jonita- OK, who helps you brand?

Harry- Well, the neighbors.

Jonita- And do you help others brand?

Harry- Yeah, the same group goes around and exchanges work., like common practice around the areas.

Jonita- OK, do you want to describe a typical branding day?  How the family members help?

Harry- Well, we set a date and everybody shows up first thing in the morning and
round the cattle up in the corral and then we run the cows through the chute and vaccinate them for deadwater and vibrio and hold the calves back and catch them and put them in a little pen and go in there and drag them out one at a time and brand them.  We don't use horses for the branding part.

Jonita- OK, has the branding procedure changed over the years?

Harry- Well, yes.  We didn't used to brand on the ranch except mostly in the fall.  We turned the cattle out early before any calves were born and they branded out on the range.  Rex Wardell or whoever was running the Green River wagons would boss the branding and of course that's about all they done was brand and earmark and castrate and when they got them in, in the fall any calves that were slick of course would have to be branded and then they had to be dehorned and vaccinated in the fall.  So that's changed.  All the things are done to them now in the spring branding like the dehorning and vaccinating and you have to run them through the vaccinating for all kinds of things that you didn't used to.  Blackleg was the only vaccination that they got for years and years.

Jonita- How did Rex go about branding those out on the range?

Harry- Well, he just made a circle of riders and bring everything into an area where traditionally they'd done it before, you know, the best area to brand in.  They'd have riders holding the herd.  Usually Rex would do the roping and bring the calves into the branding fire and call out whose calf it was and they'd have irons in the fire for everybody in the association that had cattle in that area and they'd have their iron in the fire.  So he had to mother it up with the cow.  I would say it was slow.  He'd bring in calves pretty fast but he had to know whose they were.  When Rex brought the calves in, he didn't always call out the brand the way it was ordinarily described.  For instance, Lou Hennecks's brand which was the 4 Bar, two bars on the hip and two bars on the ribs he called the Oregon Short Line.  Olsons' brand with the three bars across the shoulders was the Tiger Scratch.  Seems like there was another one that was different, but I can't remember it right now.