By RHONDA SCHULTE
A cowboy preacher and poet, war veterans, rodeo promoters and competitor, stock contractor, outfitter and farrier.
Each of the five 2019 Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees from Park County has had varied life experiences. What they share is cowboy toughness and work ethic.
Stories about Jerry Lanchbury, Art Bales, Peter McCulloch, C.W. “Chuck” Curtis and Dick Curtis are adapted from biographies and videos posted on the WCHF website.
The hall of fame’s chief goal is to preserve, promote, perpetuate, publish and document Wyoming’s rich working cowboy and ranching history through researching, profiling and honoring individuals who broke the first trails and introduced that culture to this state.
Find names and biographies of all inductees 2014-2019 at www.wyomingcowboyhalloffame.org.
Jerry Lanchbury’s sound advice for his children applies to cowboys and city slickers.
“Always watch your feet, know where you’re at and what you’re doing,” daughter Tobi Lanchbury says in a video.
At age 89, Jerry is the only living 2019 Region 6 inductee.
Throughout his long life, Jerry’s true passion has been to give back.
“He is one of the last of the old cowboys,” Tobi says. “He’d do anything for anyone. He’s always rooting for the underdog.”
The weathered cowboy with a big heart taught many a youth to ride and shoe a horse, to travel the backcountry and to become a true and kind human in life and nature.
In his later years, it has been Jerry’s mission to minister to less fortunate people. In middle age he first became known as a cowboy preacher for his ministry at the Cody Nite Rodeo grounds in the 1990s and early 2000s, and when old cowboy friends passed away, he preached at their funerals.
Jerry and his wife Barbara started a Christian ministry for nursing home and assisted living residents in Cody. Jerry also ministered and led a Bible study at the county jail. He continues to help with ministry at the Cody Senior Center on Sundays.
“He just loves people, and loves Jesus mainly,” Tobi says. “He wants them to know what he knows.”
Born in Park County at the Powell hospital on Nov. 9, 1930, Jerry Lanchbury spent the first years of his life on the Eagles Nest Stage Stop started in the later 1880s by his grandparents Thomas and Emma Lanchbury.
There he was influenced by his Uncle Sam Lanchbury, an expert horseman who raised and trained horses for the Calgary Stampede.
When Jerry turned 5, his father John and mother Lora, along with his little brother Don moved to the family homestead on Cotton Creek 10 miles north of Cody. The youngsters grew up as hard-working cowboys on the Lanchbury Ranch, feeding cattle, fixing fence, branding and taking care of the animals.
The family lived in a one-room cabin where a nearby fresh spring provided water and going to the bathroom meant going up a hillside to an outhouse. The area was home to a plethora of critters, from bobcats, coyotes and badgers to packrats, muskrats, magpies, owls and bears.
Excellent shots, Jerry and Don were hunting with their dad at young ages. They rode the bus to school and Jerry graduated from Cody High School in ’49. One well-known classmate is former Sen. Alan Simpson.
Jerry spent his coming-to-age and young adult years working on ranches, rodeoing and outfitting.
He was working on Glenn Nielson’s ranch north of Cody when he was dragged by a horse for a mile after getting hung up at the age of 16. He was flown to Denver where doctors put a plate in his head.
He also worked for outfitters Merle Fales and Sterling Spieglberg, traveling and guiding many a ride and exposition through the Thoroughfare into Yellowstone, including a couple of trips guiding country crooner Ray Price. He guided and outfitted with Mel Stonehouse and many other cowboys for most of his 20s.
In 1954 Jerry, along with the Spieglberg outfitters, hauled all the equipment and materials into the Thoroughfare needed to build the Ranger Station Thoroughfare Cabin. Photographs of Jerry, age 24, and Dean Spieglberg lifting bags of cement off their horses on this ride are archived at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Lanchbury started his professional rodeo career riding bulls and he finished with bareback horses. During his early 20s, Jerry rode the circuit with his best friend Enoch Walker, who became the 1960 Saddle Bronc Riding World Champion and National Finals Rodeo average winner. The pair made many rodeo friends as they traveled around the country.
At this time Jerry especially loved learning poetry with the Canadian Cowboys, who could recite books of poems.
At age 28, Jerry met and married Spieglberg’s niece Barbara Baston. As their family grew to five children, he continued to work the ranch with Don, and the brothers raised their nine children together.
Jerry performed maintenance on heavy equipment for the Wyoming Department of Transportation for 23 years.
As a master farrier, he spent every night and weekends shoeing horses to support his family. He taught farrier classes for Northwest College through the ’80s and ’90s. He continued the side job until age 84 when in 2015 a horse trampled him, crushing 11 ribs and bruising his lungs and heart.
In the 1970s Jerry was involved with a Boy Scout troop with leaders Dr. John Bluher, Simpson and Gary Smith. The leaders led a troop of more than 20 Boy Scouts over a 50-mile hike from Pahaska Tepee to Lee City in Sunlight.
Jerry continues to contribute to his community, heading up and finding bell ringers every Christmas season for the Cody Salvation Army.
He is the epitome of the Wyoming cowboy.
“All ages of people are in love with Jerry and his beautiful cowboy heart,” says his biography writer. “He is the real deal – still caring for animals and people of the West.”
Arthur ‘Art’ Bales
Art Bales and his wife of 60 years, Shirley, worked together farming, haying and riding.
By video, Shirley says her husband enjoyed branding time when the whole community chipped in.
“His greatest enjoyment was riding horses, especially when the grandkids were with him later in life,” she says. “He dearly loved training horses.”
While he didn’t do much roping earlier, he enjoyed it later in life.
Art was known to have a sense of humor.
“He was always teasing and tormenting the kids,” Shirley says. “He loved joking around with them.”
Shirley remembers Art as a kind man.
“Not very often did he show a temper,” she says. “I just can’t say enough good things about his kindness and gentleness to us and his neighbors.”
Arthur F. “Art” Bales did many things in his life of 88 years, and he dearly loved his wife, children and many grandchildren. But ranching and love for his animals were among his favorites.
Born in his family home in 1928, other than the three years he spent serving his country in the Marine Corp during the Korean War, he remained a lifelong rancher.
Art’s parents Jim and Margie Bales raised him on the family ranch on the South Fork of the Shoshone River, 10 miles southwest of Cody. He walked or rode a horse 1 1/2 miles to a small country school.
He attended high school in Cody until his 10th grade year when he stopped to help on the family ranch, caring for their cattle and sheep in the early years, and later helping with planting, irrigating and harvesting crops, and putting up hay – all done with work horses in those earlier years.
Winter feeding of the animals was also done with a team and wagon with ranchers forking loose hay on and off the wagons.
He helped with calving in the winter and put the cattle out to summer pastures on Carter and Sheep mountains.
Art enjoyed breaking saddle horses and wasn’t afraid to time the wild horses he and his brothers captured off the top of Sheep Mountain.
“There wasn’t a day he would pass up riding a horse if given the chance,” reads his website story.
In 1956, when Art and Shirley Ballinger married, he continued to work on his parents’ ranch until the couple were able to rent a nearby ranch.
After Art’s father passed away in 1965, the ranch was divided among the three brothers. Art, Shirley and their four boys – Steve, Tom, Curt and Jerry – moved to the family ranch. Art and his family worked hard to expand their ranch holdings and cattle numbers, and to modernize their equipment inventory. There were always fences to fix and many watering improvements made. Art continued to train many good ranch horses as well as stock dogs.
Eventually, he and his family formed the Art Bales and Sons partnership and worked the family ranch together for many years. Art enjoyed working this ranch with his sons, and later with his grandchildren. It didn’t matter whether it was chasing cows to the mountain pastures, fixing fences, doctoring cows and calves on the mountainside, branding or calving time, he loved his cowboy way of life every day and felt the ranch was the best place to raise his family and the only way to live.
Art was a longtime roper during brandings, until old age crept in and he began running the branding iron, a job he did for many years.
In 2002, after receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment, he retired from the family partnership. But Art continued to help out with haying chores and cowboy work as much and as often as he could.
Art died in 2016. His family, neighbors and many people in the community will always remember the true cowboy for his love of ranching, his smile and willingness to always lend a helping hand.
The late 1870s and the 1880s brought cattle and sheep operations to the Big Horn Basin.
One of the first ranchers, Judge William Alexander Carter, operated a ranch on the Shoshone River. Carter Creek and Carter Mountain are named for him and the McCullough Peaks northeast of Cody are named for his foreman, Peter McCulloch.
The “McCullough” spelling is an error by the Department of Interior U.S. Geological Maps.
At age 14 Peter McCulloch immigrated from Scotland to America essentially by himself, first settling in the East and later emigrating west. His Scottish work ethic brought to the cattleman’s empire a rare business ability, thrift, foresight and sound judgment.
“He was a really interesting person,” says John Moore, a great great grandson, by video. “You could almost make a movie of him.”
Moore describes his ancester as “pretty tough and pretty rugged” for living the cowboy life in Wyoming 140-some years ago.
“He seemed to have it together as far as running cattle and ranches,” says Moore. “All his life he seemed to be on top of things.”
McCulloch was foreman for Judge Carter, who had him trailing several thousand head of cattle with eight men into uncharted country in the lower Big Horn Basin in October 1879.
When McCulloch, then about 40, riding point on the herd of Oregon cattle, topped the Cedar Ridge and looked westward into the upper reaches of the Big Horn Basin, he had already seen a lot of Wyoming Territory since leaving Fort Bridger in the northernmost part of the Utah Territory.
The cattle were the first ever brought to that part of Wyoming.
“It makes you wonder how they made this ranch go through in winter,” Moore says.
Carter entrusted much of the cattle operations, including money management and the overall business of a cattle company to McCulloch, who ran all horse stock around the McCullough Peaks.
The peaks today encompass 23,290 acres of BLM-administered land, 640 acres of split-estate land and 640 acres of state-owned land. Badlands form the north slope and the terrain is characterized by sharp ridges and deeply eroded drainages. There are also large expanses of open, gentle terrain.
“He wondered why they were named after him, because he hated them,” Moore says.
Born in Wigtown, Scotland, on July 12, 1839, Peter boarded a ship in Liverpool, England, bound for the U.S. in 1853. After stays in Boston and St. Louis, on May 11, 1861, one month after the Civil War had began, he was among the first to volunteer with the Union Army. As part of the Missouri Mounted Volunteers, McCulloch often carried dispatches throughout Missouri and Arkansas.
Having survived the Civil War, he worked with a survey party staking out the transcontinental railroad for the Union Pacific Railroad.
Developing a strong liking for the West, in 1864 McCulloch returned to Fort Bridger and worked as range foreman for Judge Carter, and later the Carter Cattle Company, until 1889. He later worked for other large cattle outfits.
These were not easy times. In 1878 the southern area of the territory was in a serious drought. Chief Washakie, a personal friend of Carter’s, suggested he move his cattle north to the Southfork of the Stinking Water, as it was called by the Indians (now the Shoshone River), where grass was excellent. Respecting Washakie’s judgment, Carter cut his herd to 2,000 and entrusted McCulloch and his able crew to move his cattle.
About 3,800 head of Oregon cattle were taken up to the western edge of the Big Horn Basin.
This crew established headquarters on Carter Creek that, along with Carter Mountain, McCulloch named for his boss. In a meeting the spring of 1881 at the Pitchfork Ranch, a group of stockmen met to name various landmarks for the sake of uniformity amd McCulloch Peaks was named at that time.
In 1882 the Union Pacific Railroad reached Huntley, Mont. McCulloch trailed herds from Wyoming to Huntley and was the first to load cattle out of the new stockyards. The second Carter herd was driven north to the Stinking Water in 1883 and Peter trailed the third and last Carter herd, numbering 4,000, there in 1884.
While he made many cattle drives, one was particularly trying. The roundup of 1887 was complete, and Carter cattle were cut out and headed north to Huntley, as had been done the previous five years. After they’d been trailing for two days, a rider met them with a telegram from the boss, Judge Carter’s son Willie, with orders to trail instead south to Rock River northwest of Laramie and ship on the Union Pacific.
This change and backtracking disgruntled some of the crew who refused to turn the herd. McCulloch, promising extra pay, still had a hard time forming a skeleton crew. He and his nephew Will Harvey took on all the night riding. They made about 10 miles per day through rain and in November 1887 arrived with 1,000 head of steers, which were shipped to a Carter feedlot in Nebraska.
The Carter Ranch was later sold to Captain Henry Belknap and became known as the TE Ranch, and eventually purchased by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
It is believed a few years after Judge Carter died, McCulloch worked for S.A. Wilson on the YU Ranch down the Greybull River from Meeteetse. He wrote to his nephew saying he intended to gather the remainder of the Wilson cattle and drive them to the Little Missouri. No records show if the trip was completed.
In an Oct. 29, 1891, letter, McCulloch wrote from Arland, Wyo., to his nephew:
“... Have you any idea of how many horses there is in my bunch exclusive of the share that belongs to you boys, and about how many cattle in case I could buy some steers there.
“Next spring I would drive what cattle I have with them. I think there is too many sheep in the Bridger country ever to be a Beef Country again. If the People there does not set too high figures on their steers I can get money enough to buy all the young steers in that country. Write soon and give me the prices …”
McCulloch registered his brand on Dec. 10, 1895, for cattle and horses. The brand remains registered to descendants of the McCulloch family today.
Some years later he moved to Montana with his widowed daughter Mary Ellen Horton. Together with her family, they homesteaded on the Huntley Project, where Peter continued his ranch-hand duties.
McCulloch died of influenza at age 84 on April 17, 1925. He never lost his Gaelic accent nor his love of Scottish music.
C.W. “Chuck” and Dick Curtis
Whether ranching, supporting and promoting rodeos or training horses, C.W. “Chuck” and his son Dick Curtis were authentic cowboys skilled at horse riding, roping and working cattle.
“(C.W.) knew cattle inside and out, which cow and which calf went together, and where they’d been, and everything they’d been doing,” Dick’s daughter Joanie Cowden says by video.
Over his career, C.W. managed the Pitchfork Ranch out of Meeteetse twice. The first time he was cow foreman, the elder Curtis was just 21.
C.W. is shown in many of the famous C.J. Belden pictures published in magazines and seen in museums. The photos contributed to the popular conception of a cowboy in the image of the Malborough Man used in tobacco advertising campaigns. Some Malborough cigarette commercials were filmed on the Pitchfork.
“Both grandfather and father broke and trained their own horses for the ranch,” Cowden says.
Unlike the typical 2-year-olds started today, the Curtises would break mature 8-9-year-old horses.
“Grandfather always, always knew horses that worked well in the cattle pens; and he could rope in the granny corral and could throw a loop on either side and catch the calf by 2 feet,” Cowden says. “There wasn’t a horse they couldn’t ride.”
C.W.’s father Alfred came to Wyoming in the 1880s and settled into ranching in Big Horn County. Except for six years spent in Idaho, Alfred Curtis spent the rest of his life ranching in the Greybull River area.
C.W. Curtis was born in 1905 in Blackfoot, Idaho, to Alfred and Mae Curtis. C.W. followed his father Alfred into the ranching business, working on many ranches in the Big Horn Basin.
A third generation Wyoming rancher, Dick Curtis was born in Meeteetse on July 21, 1929, to C.W. “Chuck” and Edith Curtis.
Dick spent his young years working on ranches with his father, breaking and shoeing his own horses by age 11.
“Dick excelled in every aspect of ranching, from cow camps, gathering and shipping to everyday management of the families ranching operation,” reads his biography.
The Curtis family moved to Montana for three years, where they operated a ranch on the Boulder River.
For the second time C.W. became manager of the Pitchfork Ranch when they returned to Park County.
By this time Dick was a high school student at Meeteetse where he excelled in sports while he continued to work on the Pitchfork Ranch as well as breaking and shoeing horses for other ranchers.
Dick graduated from MHS in 1947 and married Betty Heiden in May 1949.
Together with his young sons, C.W. leased the W Bar Ranch on the Wood River and ran 500 head of Hereford cattle on the 5,000-acre ranch.
The Curtis family continued to ranch and while at the W Bar Ranch, Dick and Betty had two children: Joanie born in 1950 followed by Doug in 1952.
In 1953 the Curtis family leased a ranch in Big Timber, Mont. They continued ranching on a much larger scale for the next 11 years in Montana before returning to Park County with the purchase of the Two Dot as co-owners and full operators of the ranch.
They controlled 250,000 acres, ran 2,500 head of Angus cows and more than 100 head of registered American quarter horses.
C.W. was general manager of the ranch, a member of Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the American National Livestock Association while Dick managed the cattle operation with brother Earl. He managed horse breeding, breaking, training and sales. Chuck Jr. managed the farming end of the ranch.
Dick raised and trained top ranch, rodeo and racehorses. One of his favored complements came from Weldon Rutledge of National Cutting and Reining horse fame.
When meeting Weldon for the first time, Dick said, “I have always admired what you can do with a horse.” Weldon is said to have replied, “Dick Curtis, I have always admired what you could do with a horse.”
While at the Two Dot, Dick became a sought-after farrier, providing corrective shoeing for five different equine veterinarians.
Also during the Two Dot years, Dick became partners with Lyle Ellis, a Cody business man, in the C&E Rodeo Co. that produced the Cody Nite Rodeo and other professional rodeos in the area.
They helped many young cowboys and cowgirls at the rodeo, and Dick employed the Nite Rodeo cowboys at the Two Dot during branding time.
C.W. and Dick supported the Cody High School Rodeo Club by first providing bucking horses, bulls and calves for the local rodeo from the Two Dot and later provided them through the C&E Rodeo Co. Dick always provided the stock, the pickup men and horses while acting as arena director at no charge to the rodeo club.
He was an all-around rodeo contestant, competing in bareback, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping.
According to his biography, when Dick entered his first rodeo at age 16, C.W. was not happy. Dick told his father., “If I don’t place, I will come back to the ranch and not enter again.”
But he did place, which began a lifelong dual careers in ranch, which he never gave up, and rodeo.
Dick was a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association stock contractor and Gold Card holder as well a member of the American Quarter Horse Association. His two children and son-in-law Dub worked with him on the ranch and also excelled in rodeo because of the help they received from Dick.
Joanie remembers her dad working at the ranch all day, running the Cody Nite Rodeo at night and then waking up at 4 a.m. to work on the ranch again the next day.
When the Two Dot Ranch sold, C.W. retired to Cody and continued in the ranching industry as a ranch appraiser while serving on the Shoshone First National Bank Board of Directors.
C.W. Curtis died in 1990. Dick moved to Arizona for health reasons; however, he continued his horse and cattle operations until his death in 1996.