Monday, February 28, 2011

Cowboy'n The Way It Was

     If you like reading about “cowboy'n” you would enjoy “Cowboy'n The Way It Was” by Oley Kohlman. You can find it at Oley was a life long friend of the Manville Family. He first met Dan's great uncle, Albert Manville, in 1935 when Albert hired Oley to ride for the Big Park Grazing Association. Dan's dad, Robert Manville, and Oley were both past presidents of the North Park Stock Grower's Association and the Colorado Cattlemen's Association. Oley and his wife Grace were the sponsors of the Junior Colorado Cattlemen's Association (JCCA) when Dan was president of the JCCA back in 1984.

      Oley had a lot of stories about Albert Manville (AL as Oley called him) and following are a few of Dan's favorites that Oley would tell and you will find these in his book. But first here is some background: The Big Park Grazing Association was formed by a group of ranches who ran cattle on the Routt National Forest. They would turn out on the forest in different locations on July 1st and had a rider, who camped up on top of the mountain, ride the cattle all summer. At the end of the summer the cattle were gathered and sorted by brand and driven (as in cattle drive) back to the ranches. Oley was hired by Albert on May 20th 1935 to ride for the Association.

     The Big Park Grazing Association was probably formed in 1919 but very little can be found out about it. There was a rider hired for Buffalo Pass from 1919 to 1941. A complete list is not available but these were known to have rode up there: Albert Manville, Irving Graves, Bert Wilcox, J.W. Mackey, “Stuttering Bill” Latham, & Oley Kohlman who rode from 1935 to 1941 and was the last to ride Buffalo Pass. When Oley started Riding for the Association in 1935 there were 4 permitees (ranches): The Big Horn brand (see below for brands), Albert Manville brand, Bill Latham brand, & Carl Erickson brand and they each had a permit for 250 head.

      The following stories were taken directly out of “Cowboy'n The Way It Was” by Oley Kohlman:

      “Al Manville and I went to Rock River, Wyoming, and bought some horses from a widow whose husband had been killed by a stallion. It may have been a remount stallion that belonged to the United States Government. The U.S. Remount Service put out stallions for ranchers to use to improve the horse herds and there were several in North Park during the 30's and 40's. The stallions were nearly all thoroughbreds. The Remount Service came into North Park and bought horses for the U.S. Army and paid about $175 a head for ones that passed. Many did not pass, but they seemed to like half-thoroughbreds.
      I never thought I'd ever have occasion to see those remount horses again, but I did. The 87th Regiment had calvary horses when I first joined the Army in 1942, but they did not seem to be as good a caliber as the ones they bought in North Park.
      The horses Al Manville bought at Rock River were thoroughbred type. He bought one broke horse, one green broke horse, and a 2-year old stud that I recall. Al kept the broke black horse. I drew the green broke bay horse that I named Fritz. I was always mounted when I got him a little more broke. Al eventually sold the black horse to the Remount. These were flatland horses I helped gather out at Rock River and it brought back memories of when I grew up on the dry land. One time Al had a wreck with that black horse. We were riding Whalen Creek when we came to a steep hillside with nothing but a little narrow game trail. I got off to lead my horse and Al made fun of a scaredy cat. I got part way across, heard a commotion, looked back, and saw that old pony hanging onto the trail by his front feet. He tried to get up and over he went. He and Al tumbled several times to the bottom. I was afraid to look, but Al had only one skinned place on one shoulder and he didn't have much meat on his bones to bruise.
      Al Manville and I had several wrecks, and near wrecks. One morning in the fall we were riding up on the flats, east and south of his house. He had lots of cattle in that field and we ran across a cow with porcupine quills in her nose, then we saw several more. Al was riding his favorite horse name of Stranger. I'm riding old Hippo. I caught the first cow and missed my dallies so she got away with my rope. Al always tied hard and fast so I got a lot of ribbing about losing my rope. We dequilled that cow. The next was a big brockley faced cow. Al caught her around the big middle (between the front legs) and he had not tightened his cinch so that cow was about to pull his saddle over Stranger's head. Al was a little man with somewhat of a hump back and Stranger was a big high-headed horse. Together that was a sight, him begging for me to come catch that cow, and get him out of a pickle. I did follow him around a bit to enjoy it before I caught the cow. As I look back on it tho', I wonder why we didn't gather those cows with quills and go to the corral.
      Al also had chickens and a chicken house banked with loose hay. The dogs had dug nests back into the hay where they slept year round. One fall just at dusk I saw a skunk. I went to some trouble getting the dogs to see it. They did and triggered what a skunk does. That night Al started to the barn to turn some horses out. A couple of minutes later he came back to the house, lit a coal oil lantern, got his .22 rifle, and said, “there is a skunk in the chicken house.” He did not find anything. The next night he went to turn out the horses and the same thing happened, rifle and the works. When he got back that night I asked him, “Have you smelled your dogs lately?” He won some and I won some, but we had lots of fun and a good relationship and remained friends for as long as he lived.”

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  1. Good stories. I guess I don't have that book.

  2. I wrote a story about Oley Kohlman in my magazine Frontier Magazine, which I owed for about a decade in Northwestern Colorado. I'm not publishing it online as Frontier Magazine Online as a tribute to people like Oley that made Northwest Colorado special. I enjoyed your blog about Oley. Jenny Paulson / Pueblo, CO