Hat Creek Dateline: 1883/07/23
Horse flees, leaving Charles Guernsey's Stetson in its wake
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
Charles Guernsey, superintendent of the 999 (Three Nine) Ranch was here to pick up mail for the ranch today. He drove his buckboard on this trip, with the weather cooperating and the roads dry he can make the 80 miles round trip easily in a day. Guernsey was pleased to find his Stetson hat here with the mail.
There is an interesting story as to why his hat was here with the mail. On his last trip from Hat Creek to the 999, Guernsey was riding a horse called Hank. Hank was a pacer and had a reputation of running away at "the drop of a hat" or the touch of a rope. When they were about half way home and crossing Old Woman Creek, Hank stumbled as they were coming up out of the creek, here is the rest of the story as Guernsey told it...
"Hank stumbled and in trying to save both myself and him from taking a header, I pulled up so suddenly and strong the bit broke in his mouth and when he regained his footing, he was off like the wind and my Stetson went off with the wind.
"Hank, whose foot clearance as a pacer was much less than a trotter, was subject to stumbling when traveling a rough road.
"Except for the loss of the hat I had no objections to the pace we were taking, especially as the road was straight and it was getting well along in the afternoon, and we would reach home that much earlier.
"Within a mile of the crossing a branch road came in leading from the ULA ranch on Lance Creek and farther on the AU7 ranch on the upper reaches of the Cheyenne River. Webb Arnett, a high class cowman, was the AU7 superintendent.
"I had wanted for some time to see Arnett on some cattle matters, and had little more than gained my equilibrium from Hank's disastrous stumble than I saw Arnett on horseback coming from the branch road going towards Hat Creek.
"My 'control' was completely out of gear, with the reins and bit dangling at the side and my head bare as we flew past Arnett on a dead run. I got a glimpse of his look of astonishment at my going at that pace, in the opposite direction from a doctor, unless a band of Indians were on my trail.
"Hank is big, strong and long winded and being headed towards home seemed bent on getting there speedily as possible without any guidance on my part. However, when he settled down to a steady lope, I thought of trying to turn back and overtake Arnett, though a long distance now separated us. Knowing Hank's disposition and will power, I gave up the idea and to make the move unanimous I settled back in the saddle much as to say, 'Home Henry."
Arnett picked up the lost hat and left it at Hat Creek. When Arnett and Guernsey (meet) on the calf roundup they will probably have a good laugh over the incident. meanwhile, Hank has justified the reputation that he would "run at the drop of a hat."
(Information source: "Wyoming Cowboy Days," by C. Guernsey.)