Roundup Crew Photos from Montana/Wyoming
- Circa 1918
text courtesy of Warren Hunt
Roundup Crew- Click on photo
for larger view.
depicts the round up crew of one of the last open range cattle gathering
operations which took place just before barbed wire fence closed
off most of the open range about 1918.
This was an
effort to gather the livestock belonging to the Leaf Cattle Company
based in Newcastle, Wyoming. The wagon shown, labeled on the
reverse side as the Leaf Pulman, was used to haul the bedrolls
of the crew.
The area to
be covered by the roundup was the south half of Powder River County,
Montana and the north half of Campbell County, Wyoming. To
better tie down the East West location along the Montana / Wyoming
border the search area is essentially between Gillette, Wyoming
and Broadus, Montana. This photo was taken while the camp
was on Three Bar Creek ten miles west of Bay Horse, Montana and
about two miles north of the Montana / Wyoming border.
of this crew had homesteaded in Montana or Wyoming by the time this
picture was taken in 1918. Many continued in livestock careers
in Campbell County or Powder River County for the next twenty to
of the crew were paid only very few dollars per day.
Instead, they were often paid off by having some of the calves collected
by the gather given to them by the Leaf rep. Some of the hands
started their herd collection or added to their existing herd by
Text on back of Roundup Photo-
Click on photo for larger
Verl L Hunt, was a lifetime amateur photographer.
He had an interesting procedure he performed on most of his photos.
On the reverse side of his photos he would write a short description
of what and who was depicted in the picture. He went one step further
on the picture of the cattle roundup crew. He wrote a number
on each person in the photo and then matched that number with the
proper name and title of that individual on the reverse side of
My name is Warren
V Hunt, son of Verl L. Hunt
At some point
in our history, my father gave me a collection of his photographs
including the one of the cattle roundup crew. My youngest
son, Brian Hunt, scanned many of these photos into his computer
in order to distribute them to other family members.
is labeled as Number 16 and as a hand on the crew. My uncle,
Jack Hunt, is at Number 2 also a hand. Bob Fudge is designated
by Number 1 as a Snow Bull rep. Bob gained national fame at
a later date in a book by Jim Russell entitled Texas Trail Driver
– Montana Wyoming Cowboy 1862 – 1933.
days of my youth on my father's ranch I met many of these crewmembers.
At one time or another, I also saw most of their ranches and their
headquarter buildings. When my father would meet them on the
street of Gillette, the city of choice for most, it would lead to
a long visit on the sidewalk.
and the old crewmembers seemed to enjoy visiting with each other
whenever they met casually.
I am so impressed
with the Cowboy Showcase that I am submitting the cattle roundup
crew photo to them for use on their Web page.
Prior to Moving the Herd
Click on photo for larger view.
It is amazing
to many modern horse people that you could park some 25 odd
horses to a rope picket line tethered
about waist high as shown in this photo.
collection of horses resulted from a work break ordered by the
cow boss on a hot day in July.
Prior to Moving the Herd - notation
on reverse side of photo.
on photo for larger view.
Evidently this roundup met with some success
as indicated by the remark about taking 2500 steers to Moorcroft,
Wyoming. This job was left to the hands of the crew as the
representatives left the group at this point. The route
to Moorcroft meant that the herd would be taken east to the Little
Powder River and then south along the Little Powder River to Moorcroft.
This would make it easy to water the herd during the several days
required to make that trip of some 80 miles. Moorcroft was
chosen as a destination since the Chicago Burlington and Quincy
Railroad (CB&Q) ran freight trains from there to Omaha and Chicago.
Click on photo for larger
You can readily tell which has the heavier
load on board. The cook wagon in the lead has four horses
in tandem pulling it.. It is loaded with boxes of food supplies
and provisions for use by the cook. The bed wagon in the rear
is pulled by only two horses. The two wheeled
vehicle pulled behind the wagon is the actual stove unit used
by the cook to heat food for the roundup crew. This
entire combination of leading wagon and trailing stove is sometimes
referred to as the chuckwagon.
Roundup Wagons - text from reverse
on photo for larger view.
location of a roundup crew was akin to a large military operation.
As the narrator says on this page, he is talking about moving thirty
people, 2,000 head of cattle, 250 saddle horses and at least two
big wagons to a new campsite.
of approximately 250 saddle horses held in a rope corral.
The corral is constructed by suspending a rope at several locations
about three and a half feet above the ground.
You can see
a replica of the actual brand placed on the Leaf livestock in the
first line of this page. The narrator also included a few
roundup crew titles such as wagon boss, nite hawk, wrangler and
By the looks
of the boxes on the ground back of the wagon one can imagine why
the Mess Wagon usually was the heaviest vehicle in the parade.
narrator has used several phrases to name the pictured vehicle.
Here he calls it the Mess Wagon. In other pictures it was
identified as the Cook Wagon. When attached to the trailing
stove the combination became the chuckwagon.
no pictures of the 2,500 steers gathered by the roundup crew.
But here is a photo of a few hundred steers walking toward a spring
the crew found members of a special category of animals in their
Montana roundup with their discovery of "Mex Steers". These
were likely descendants of livestock which had survived the long
trip from Texas after being originally gathered in Mexico.
Act was passed by Congress in 1862 giving applicants title to
160 acres of land after meeting residency and use regulations.
In 1909, a major update called the Enlarged Homestead Act
was passed allowing an increase of acreage to 320 for dry land farming.
This was because much of the low lying land along rivers had been
homesteaded by 1909.
filed his homestead application papers in 1915 with the Enlarged
Homestead Act in effect allowing him to file on land 320 acres
in size. However, a large number of cattlemen had complained
to lawmakers that 320 acres of dry ranch land would adequately feed
only 32 head of livestock. The estimate was, and still is
today, that ten acres of dry ranch land is required to feed one
head of livestock. As a result, another modification of homestead
law was enacted in 1916 with the Stock-Raising Homestead
Act raising the acreage amount to 640 acres, or one square mile.
Accordingly, Verl's homestead acreage limit was raised to 640 acres
is of Verl's homestead cabin under construction in 1915 as he was
attempting to meet the residency requirements of the then-current
law. It appears that he met the provision of homestead law that
mandated the building of a habitable dwelling at least 12 by 14
feet in size. The cabin was constructed of pine logs
harvested from Verl's initial 320 acres.
Note the canvas
tent to the left of the cabin. Verl lived in this tent during
the several months it took to erect the cabin into a truly habitable
The roof construction
consists of small peeled logs which were placed side by side and
then covered by a slick cardboard roll to shed rainwater and snow
melt. Tightly spaced squares of sod were laid down to complete
the roof. This sturdy roof kept inhabitants dry for many years
after its initial construction.
installation of an eastward facing window, the dwelling was quite
dim inside. To counter this, the log walls were painted with
what was called "whitewash" which reflected the meager light from
a candle or kerosene lamp.
of Verl Hunt's homestead cabin in 1922 as he cleans out the hand-cranked
ice cream freezer. Warren Hunt at one and a half years of age is
showing interest in the ice cream freezer as well. The white
Leghorn hen is figuratively licking her beak as she also awaits
a morsel to be dropped her way.
You are looking
at the east facing wall of the cabin with a glass window installed
after the earlier 1915 photo of the cabin.
homestead was located on dry ranch land twenty miles west of
the Little Powder River. As a result, there was no running
water on land he had chosen. Therefore, he had to make
certain that natural springs seeping out at one or more locations
were on the land he had selected. There were two seeping
springs on the 320 acres on which he filed his initial homestead
application. One of these springs was about 100 feet northeast
of his cabin from which he obtained household water. As
a general practice, the homestead buildings were located close
to these sources of water for humans and animals.
This is Frosty, Verl's favorite saddle horse.
Verl rode Frosty from Powell,
South Dakota to Miles City, Montana in 1914, when Verl was 23 years
of age. That trip was a little jaunt of 230 miles. Verl intended
to seek his fame and fortune in Montana by homesteading on one of
the parcels of government land still available to applicants in
Frosty's coloring comes fairly close to making
him a pinto horse. However, with his shape and temperament,
he failed to become a member of the Quarter Horse Club. He
did have one characteristic of coloring that set him aside from
all other equines. His left eye was bright blue and his right
eye was an off pink. When Frosty fixed his gaze upon you with
his multicolored eyes you paid close attention.
explains why Frosty was loaded down with all that gear behind the
saddle and hanging on the saddle horn.
Verl met with
ultimate success as indicated by a part of a column copied from
the Friday, September 24, 1926 Billings Gazette shown below.
The numerical figure following each name indicates the approved
acreage of each applicants land parcel.
For 26 Homesteaders
have been received at the
Billings land office for 26 homesteaders
who have completed
proof to their claims.
The patentees are as follows:
Verl L. Hunt, Bay Horse 320
Reginald T. Mellor, Coeur d'Alene 326
William B. Padness, Jordan 316
Ida M. Howe, Spokane 317
Earl K Vance, Sundance 320
August I. Eilner, Moorcroft
James W. Dolson,
Verl Leland Hunt
Leland Hunt was the individual who photographed the scenes in this
Cowboys Showcase Web page. He is shown holding the camera with which
he took these pictures in the photo, above. Strangely, he
did not make an entry on the reverse side indicating the “who, what
and date” as he did on most of his photographs.
on his homesteaded ranch engaged in raising white-faced Hereford
cattle for 41 years between 1915 and 1956. Verl married Ruth
Watkins of Powell, South Dakota in 1919 and she assisted him in
spent much of his working career on a saddle horse, he was quick
to use the technical inventions of his days. One example of
this, of course, was the camera, which he acquired during his early
twenties. He added a movie camera to his list of equipment
in the late 1940s.
was located sixty miles from a long distance telephone or a Western
Union office. As a result, it was impossible to obtain
current news of the day or, more importantly, the livestock price
reports from the Omaha or Chicago stockyards. In 1928, Verl
purchased a Day Fan battery-operated radio with which he could obtain
stock reports and news from Denver or Billings radio stations.
The Day Fan reception made Verl the local guru of stock prices among
the neighboring cattle ranches.
after they came out for public use, Verl acquired a magnetic tape
recorder. He was somewhat of a practical joker, which led
him to record people’s voices when they were not aware the machine
was on and then joined in the laughter as the episode was played
For many years
Verl and Ruth had collected pretty stones in their travels.
Verl began cutting and polishing stones in 1956 to make a wide selection
of jewelry for female family friends and relatives. He cut
and polished rocks from 1956 until his death in 1971.
In 1951, Verl
entered into the most technically complicated field of his career.
He obtained his private pilot's license and purchased a Piper Aircraft
Model J3. His logic for this purchase was that it gave him
a quick and convenient way to check the grass conditions and inspect
cattle watering holes on some 12 sections of land he had acquired
or leased by 1951. However, he used the airplane to visit
neighboring ranches or relatives more often than "riding the range"
on his own land. He owned a couple of small airplanes after
the J3 and flew until 1962 when he was 71 years of age.
We now say
farewell to Verl Leland Hunt, an amateur photographer who took most
of the photos used on this Web page. He lived in a unique
era, which bridged his life working closely with Hereford cattle
throughout the entire period. At the beginning of this story
he was astride a saddle horse in one of the last open range cattle
roundups. The story closes in the preceding paragraph with
Verl piloting his own airplane to conduct an aerial inspection of
his cattle and land. Verl was a rare individual who progressed
from close contact with horses and Herefords to flying his own airplane
all within his life span.
Photos and text courtesy of Warren