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Every so often, you’ll find yourself in a conversation with someone who remembers the life of the working cowboy. The common theme is usually built around the strength of character, about how a man’s word was more important than his signature on a piece of paper.
According to local cattleman Ed Bois in his oral history remembrance, “A true story of the hardships of a cowboy” in Volume III the Rio Blanco Historical Society’s “This Is What I Remember,” a certain character was developed in the men who were working hands, “At a time when no person on earth dared to question the honesty, courage, and loyalty of these men to their employers.”
His story describes the harrowing ordeal of trailing cattle in October 1901, when they got stuck in the snow and the usual four-day trip took them seven. He asked himself the question, “Did the idea ever occur to these boys (when facing hardships) of abandoning their trust?” He answered in response, “No, they were entrusted with the care of thousands of dollars worth of the property of their employers, and were on their honor, courage, and tenacity to fulfill their trust.”
He continued to ponder the problems faced by the modern day cattleman, as he shared his concerns about the strength and resiliency of the new generation of working hands. “I have often thought of the extreme suffering these boys endured throughout the six days and nights in that storm, without food, rest or sleep, and I also wonder how the present day cowhand would react under similar circumstances.”
He wondered how today’s cowboy could even compare, as their lives are so different from those in the early days. “How different now. The womenfolk prepare their lunch, the cowboy loads his horse into the trailer and climbs into his pickup and heads for the range. He then unloads his horse, mounts and makes a few hours ride, eats his lunch, loads up his pony and heads for the ranch, a good hot meal and later the picture show. But it is certainly hard for an old veteran of the early days to adjust himself to the great change.”