My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
Well, this Mexican friend not being able to see it as a joke any longer, roped the cow and again threw her. I said “Say, will some one show me how this is supposed to be done.” Well, the secret was to have your horse handy and get on him.
We accumulated a herd and were standing night guard. We had two men for two hours and two the next two hours etc., until daylight. I was on the first guard.
One day while on a circle which means looking for cattle, I came to a spring and stopped for a drink. There I saw my first human skull laying on the ground seemingly looking at me. Well, my hair seemed like fish poles sticking up. Needless to say, I felt creepy, in fact, cold chills ran up my back.
A few days later, the boss sent me to a ranch about fifteen miles away to get some saddle horses and told me to stay all night. I got there in the evening.
A log shack was the first thing that caught my attention. There was a large elk horn nailed on the ridge log over the door. On each point of the horn was a human skull. Again I felt creepy but not quite so bad as the last time, I guess I was getting a little bit used to it. I put my horse away for the night and went into the house and had to walk under those skulls as I went in. There sat an old man, his hair as white as this paper. He sat looking into an old fashioned fireplace, the light of which made him look like a ghost. He did not notice me coming in. I spoke to him but he never answered. I wondered if I would not be as well off back in Ohio, but I was there for the night. We both sat there. Finally he swore out some awful oaths, cursing the women in horrible shape, and then sat a while over the same spell. I, thinking things might as well come to a head, asked, “What is wrong with you anyway?” He did not answer. Finally he came out of it, turned around, spoke, and we got acquainted. I spent the evening all right.
Afterwards, I got well acquainted with him. He seemed like a good fellow and owned quite an outfit, but he was always bursting out on the women when not otherwise absorbed. I never learned about his trouble.
I took the horses back, and went on with the round-up. The next day I saw my first and only herd of buffalo. There were about eight or nine just going into the bad lands at the head of Cottonwood creek. On this same round-up, a mountain sheep which, by the way, is the wildest animal in the hills, got into my day-herd and I didn’t dare shoot him for fear of causing a stampede. I tried to rope him but he beat me to the hills and no animal has any chance competing in a race with a mountain goat in the hills.
We finished the round-up and forded the Yellowstone river with the beef herd to Fallon, Montana, which was said to be the largest cattle shipping point in the United States at that time. While fording the river, which is very treacherous, one of the boys said to another, “Jim, don’t get too far down there for there is a whirlpool. ”Jim answered, “I guess I know this river.”
Well, about that time all you could see were hands and feet in the air. Jim and the horse both went out of sight. The horse came up about fifty yards below but Jim did not show up. Two of the boys bet a quart of whiskey that Jim was drowned. Well, Jim came crawling out on the bank. Then we went to Fallon, about two miles, and drank the whiskey.
After the usual thrills, we shipped the cattle. The boys had a spree.
We crossed back across the river, and I went to the ranch where I worked with quite a little experience to my credit. Late that fall a horse outfit shipped and turned loose two train loads of the wildest horses on any range. Those horses were very hard to work with, and other helpless horses would mix with them making it almost impossible to keep the horses in their own herds.