Vowell brothers to join Buckaroo Hall of Fame
Vowell rides Lightfoot in this photo from May 1937
Nev. ó Three buckaroos from the Great Basin will be inducted
into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame. The late Ray and Herman
Vowell, brothers from Malin, and Loui Cerri, of Paradise
Valley, Nevada, will be honored at a banquet Friday, Aug. 30
and induction ceremony Saturday, Aug. 31 at the East Hall
Convention Center in Winnemucca, Nevada.
born Feb. 1, 1916, was 92 when he passed on April 28, 2008.
His brother, Ray Vowell, was born Dec. 27, 1913, and was 85
when he passed on Feb. 14, 1999.
Art and Myrtle Vowell, started out in Robert Lee, Texas,
where Art was the cow boss for the 7F ranch. After their
first child, Faye, was born the family moved to southern
Oregon in 1910 for a better way of life. They found a
homestead on Lower Klamath Lake near Merrill. They built
their ranch and raised potatoes and grain irrigated from the
lake. Art and Myrtle had five more children besides Faye.
Ina, Ray, Herman, Rex and Dorothy. A diversion dam was built
on the lake in 1918, which turned their ranch into a dust
bowl. They couldnít make a living there without irrigation.
Art moved the family to Klamath Falls where he started a
log-hauling business with horse-drawn wagons, while still
working for area ranches as well. Ray and Herman would watch
the powerful work teams pull the wagons at the wood yard,
hoping one day to drive those teams when they grew up.
The family met
tragedy in 1912 when Art passed away from pneumonia. Now,
Myrtle with six children decided to sell the teams and
wagons to buy train tickets back to Texas. Once the family
got back to Texas, there was no way to make a living there.
Myrtle had just enough money left to travel to Bakersfield,
California. She and the children worked picking cotton until
they had enough money to travel back to Klamath Falls.
Ray and Herman,
age 9 and 7, got jobs delivering newspapers to help out.
They also worked delivering milk for a dairy. Herman
graduated from Klamath Falls High School in 1933, while Ray
chased wild horses and didnít finish high school. In 1934,
Herman talked to the Carpening and Donovan outfit about a
buckarooing job helping drive 300 yearling cattle from Tule
Lake, to the Meiss Ranch at Butte Valley. The drive would
take four days and camping out on the trail. Though he
didnít want to ruin his chances for the job, he mentioned he
had a brother that could ride, too. Donavan hired them both.
They had to shoe their own horses, so they learned on the
job. They loved every moment of the four-day cattle drive
realizing then they wanted to be buckaroos.
Ed Donovan was
as good a buckaroo they could learn from at the time. The
two brothers rode horses daily breaking wild horses they
caught in the area. They
used Leo Donovanís saddle to ride these bucking horses. It
had a high back cantle which would hit them in the back, so
they remodeled it by cutting it down an inch or two. Leo was
upset about that and told them he would take the cost of the
saddle out of their wage which was $30 per month so the
deduction knocked a big hole in their pay.
In 1935, Herman
wanted to ride saddle broncs and entered the rodeo in Dorris,
he won the bronc riding at the age of 19.
In 1936, Herman
went to work for W.C. Dalton at the Steel Swamp. Frank Pratt
was the cow boss and decided to quit. Dalton asked Herman if
he wanted the cow boss job. Even though Herman was only 21,
Dalton liked him and his honestly. So, that was Hermanís
first cow boss job. He was told he could hire whoever he
wanted. So a year later his brother Ray joined him at Steele
Swamp. The ranch was 75 miles by dirt road from the nearest
town in the middle of the Devils Garden area of the Modoc
National Forest. Cattle could graze for miles without seeing
continued to ride saddle broncs, he entered a rodeo at
Madrone, California, where he won the saddle bronc riding.
He met rodeo queen Betty Torrens, an accomplished
horsewoman. They kept in touch, writing to each other and
were married in Reno, on Aug. 12, 1942. Bettyís introduction
to ranch life riding along with Herman and other buckaroos
was all new for her.
They all accepted her and always gave her the utmost respect
and courtesy. They gave her the best and gentlest horses to
nearest neighbors were Thelma and Ernie Archer who lived on
the Willow Creek Ranch 17 miles away. Herman and
Betty didnít quite know where they were going to live as
they were just moving from cow camp to cow camp after they
were first married. The couple went to Weed Valley to ride,
they had a small one-room cabin there. Betty didnít know a
lot about ranch life, cooking or gardening but she was more
than willing to learn. She became a good cook, gardener,
canned her own fruit and vegetables and became an excellent
roper as well as an all-around hand. Not many other brides
probably had to spend their honeymoon in a cow camp with
four other buckaroos besides her husband.
gathered up the cattle and sorted them the Huffman buckaroos
headed back to Willow Creek Ranch with the 5X branded beef
and the pitchfork branded cattle headed back to the Dalton
Ranch. Once back at the Steel Swamp they learned Jerry and
Ollie Stanton, long time employees were going to quit.
Herman and Betty took their place running the ranch for the
Daltonís. Brother Ray took over as buckaroo boss. This
seemed to be a good thing until Herman had to sit by doing
the haying and had to watch Ray ride out with the crew to go
really nice at Steele Swamp, but the winters were hard and
long. They would have to get 6 monthsí supplies (groceries
and kerosene) in to the ranch by October to last through the
winter. The ranch was pretty self-sufficient but still
needed groceries to make sure they had enough. They had a
milk cow, chickens, beef, vegetables in the root cellar,
made their own soap and the essential sourdough starter for
making bread and pancakes.
They got the
mail every four to six weeks.
It was a special treat to read the mail. Ray would
take a pack horse and ride cross country to the home ranch
27 miles to retrieve the mail. There was an old crank phone
with a telephone line strung along the tops of juniper
trees. It was temperamental and worked when it wanted to.
harsh on the livestock and the people at Steele Swamp. In
1949, it was a cold winter remembered still as one of the
worst. It started snowing early and drifted over the fences
and clear to the top of the hay stack on the crusted snow
drifts. Temperatures dropped to 30 degrees below zero for
weeks at a time. The lowest temperature was down to 42
degrees below zero. The winter of 1951-1952 was known as the
winter of deep snow. Started snowing in November and never
quit. It took extra hay to feed the cattle. So, they had to
drive some of the cattle out to the home ranch. Bill Dalton
made a trail with a D4 caterpillar dozer. One morning they
sent 330 head on the trail behind the dozer. The snow was 3-
to 4-feet deep and crusted so the cattle couldnít stray off
the trail. Not much to do for the buckaroos other than
follow along behind. The winter of 1937 was another bad one
with snow and cold temperatures below zero. Minus 40 degrees
in February for 3 weeks. Cattle froze to death on the feed
grounds at Tulelake with no shelter from the bitter north
winds. They were wintering 1,400 head at Steele Swamp.
In 1956, Betty
and Herman adopted a baby girl, Susie. She took to riding
horses from the start, later on winning barrel racing events
in Klamath Falls seven years in a row.
Always well mounted on Vowell horses.
Ray and Herman
always seemed to work together all their lives working on
ranches. After working at the Dalton Ranch the Vowell
brothers bought a ranch in Langell Valley and moved there in
1960. They started having a few roping clinics for friends
and neighbors. Something that would later grow into quite an
The brothers had more time to team rope, the thing they
really loved to do. They quit riding bucking horses
and concentrated on raising and breaking colts for sale.
In 1963, the
Vowell brothers found a place at Malin. This place was more
suitable to them with nice sandy soil for a roping arena and
80 acres to run their mares and colts. They still worked
part time for the Pitchfork Ranch for Daltonís daughter
Betty Lou and husband Robert Byrne.
passed away in 1966, at the age of 46, leaving a big void in
the lives of Herman and Ray. Herman and Betty had been
married for 26 years.
and Herman won many trophies and awards at the rodeos, but
they each won all around saddles. Ray won his at the Alturas
rodeo in 1940 and Herman won his in 1968 at Klamath Falls.
They both rode those saddles to use and break horses. Herman
re-married in 1970 to widow Jean Mcfall. She was a big help
helping the brothers organize their roping clinics.
Ray and Herman
competed in team roping together Herman heading Ray on the
Heels. After turning 60 they competed in the senior circuit
taking a lot of winnings. They helped many youngsters get
started roping at their arena.
Vowell Brothers used the Quarter Circle H brand on their
horses and the 76 Bar brand on their cattle. They could go
to almost any roping event and find Vowell raised horses
competing. Ray and Herman talked about their days
ranching, buckarooing and long days they experienced in
their lives and called it a vacation. Everyone that ever met
the Vowell brothers felt lucky to have made their
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