Historical Details

History of Old 77 Ranch

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 09/22/1949

Russell Thorpe Gives Interesting Resume of History of Old 77 Ranch

Cheyenne, Wyoming
August 24, 1949
Mr. James B. Gritfith,
Publisher Lusk Herald,
Lusk, Wyoming.

My dear Jim:

In several recent press releases in connection with the A.A. Spaugh estate, it is stated that Mr. Spaugh founded the 77 ranch. I feel it is entirely proper, in the interest of keeping the historical record clear, to present the story of the great 77 brand and ranch.

According to the records of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, we find that from 1873 to 1880, the 77 branch was of record to W.C. Lykins. Billie Lykins was a famous livestock detective in the employ of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. We find further that in 1880 the brand was transferred to D.B. Wyatt, and the range was Lance Creek, Lightening Creek and tributaries. In 1884 the brand, livestock and ranch properties were transferred to T.B. Hord & Company. T.B. Hord operated the ranch for several years and and was later reputed to be the largest cattle feeder in the United States, located near Clarks, Nebraska. Hord was the first man to make large shipments of live beeves to England.

Ad Spaugh came up the Texas Trail in company with the late Captain James H. Cook of Agate, Nebraska, with a herd of steers which was delivered to the Indians of Pine Ridge Agency in 1874. He later worked on the range as a cowboy, and as a very young man was foreman of the 77 outfit. He and John B. Kendrick, of the OW outfit, worked the same range together. It is notable that Mr. Spaugh was captain of the largest roundup ever held in Wyoming, near Hat Creek, in 1884. At one time he was employed by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association as a livestock detective and inspector. He later acquired the 77 Ranch and brand in his own right.

I find in my files a letter from Mr. Spaugh, addressed to me under date of March 20, 1935, which is as follows:

A. A. Spaugh, President and Manager.
Manville, Wyoming
March 20, 1935

Mr Russell Thorpe, Sec'y & Chief Inspector,
Wyoming Stockgrowers Association
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Dear Russell:

I notice an article of about two columns in yesterday's Wyoming Tribune about the early history of the flrst brands recorded in Wyoming that are still in use. When I was giving you what information I had at the Plains Hotel one evening last week, I neglected to give you the history of my own brand, which is one of the oldest brands of record in the State, the 77 brand, which has been in constant use at the 77 ranch since about 1875.

Moss Wyatt drove a herd of cattle into this country from Oregon and turned them loose on Lance Creek about 1875, and branded this herd 77 thereby establishing the 77 brand. He moved into a cabin on what is now known as Wyatt Creek. This cabin was built by R.S. Van Tassell for a place to winter his bulls. After Wyatt took possession of it, Van Tassell located his bull ranch on the Niobrara River, where the town of Van Tassell is now located and which ranch the Van Tassell Company still owns and operates.

A few years later, Moss Wyatt sold his herd to T. B. and Amsy Hord and they built up the 77 ranch. Some years later, I bought the 77 ranch from the Hords and still own it. I think either Moss Wyatt or the Hords must have had this brand recorded some time in the 70's. I have no record of this, however, but I have before me a certificate of this brand which I had re-recorded under the Wyoming brand laws in 1900.

You will remember last July 4th we celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the famous OW and 77 roundup, after these brands and outfits had been in opeation for fifty years, at the 77 ranch, at which there were over 2000 people present to enjoy the bar-be-qued dinner and rodeo.

I have before me the Year Book of Swift & Co., the 50th anniversary year book. I receive this book from Swift & Co. annually. I would be proud if you can get some mention of this famous old 77 brand in Swift's year book for 1936.

Most sincerely yours,

A.A. Spaugh

A copy at a letter I addressed to Mr. F.M. Simpson, Swift & Company, Chicago, follows:

March 21st, 1935

Mr. F.M. Simpson
c/o Swift Company,
Stock Yards,
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Mr. Simpson:

I have just traced out the history of the 77 brand, a well-known and old-time brand in this State. It may be possible you would prefer to substitute this for the TY brand that I sent you several days ago. The history of the 77 brand
is as follows:

Moss Wyatt trailed a herd of cattle into what is now known as Niobrara county from Oregon Oregon and turned them loose on Lance Creek, about 15 miles north of Manville, Wyoming, in 1875, and branded this herd 77, thereby establishing the 77 brand. He moved into a cabin on what is now known as Wyatt Creek, a tributary of Lance Creek. Thls cabin was built by R. S. Van Tassell, one of the first cattle men in Wyoming and one of the very early pioneers. This was where Van Tassell wintered his bulls. After Wyatt took possession of the location on Wyatt Creek, Van tassell located on the Niobrara or Running Water River, where the town of Van Tassell is now located, and the ranch is still operated by the Van Tassell estate. A few years later Moss Wyatt sold his herd to T.B. and Amsy Hord and they built up the 77 ranch. In the early 90's, T.B. Hord sold out to A.A. Spaugh and moved to Centrni City, Nebraska, where he started cattle and sheep feeding operations and developed the feeding business to where at one time it was reported that he was the largest feeder in the United States, so I am told. The feeding operations are still conducted by T.B. Hord's son, Heber Hord. The ranch has been continuously operated by Mr. A.A. Spaugh, former general range foreman for the Converse Cattle Company, down to date.

Very truly yours,
Russell Thorp,
Secretary-Chief Inspector.

I feel quite sure that this interesting story of one of the celebrated brands of Wyoming would be of more than passing interest to your readers.


Russell Thorp

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