Johnson Family Ranch History

McFarlane barn 1917
McFarlane barn 1917

JA6 ranch 1913
JA6 ranch 1913

Alfred Johnson
Alfred Johnson

Johnson Family
Johnson Family

Last updated: January 2, 2020

Family Sources
December 30, 2019


Alfred (Peddy) Johnson was the third son of Ellis and Johanna Johnson who were raised and educated in Norway. They moved to the United States about 1870. They moved to Columbus, Nebraska, where Ellis was engaged for some years with the livery business.

Around 1880-81, Ellis moved to Silver Cliff, now Lusk, which at that time was in Converse County. He didn’t want to move his family until after the railroad came through. Alfred, his older brother Lawrence and three of his four sisters were born in Columbus, Nebraska. His youngest sister Emma was born in Lusk. The rest of the Johnson family moved to Lusk in 1887.

Alfred was only 15 years old when he went to work for J. B. Kendrick (at that time Mr. Kendrick was a United States Senator from Wyoming), where he was a ranch hand on the Kendrick Cattle Ranch for six years. Kendrick Cattle Ranch was located near Sheridan, Wyoming. Alfred would attend school in Lusk during the winter months and in the spring would ride by horseback, with his friend and fellow ranch hand Henry Petz from Lusk to Sheridan, they would return in the fall to again attend school.

After obtaining his majority Alfred engaged in the ranch business on his own account, forming a partnership with his elder brother Lawrence, this partnership existed for eleven years until 1907. During the years of the “Johnson Bros” partnership they raised sheep and horses. Alfred bought out Lawrence’s interest in the “Johnson Bros” partnership and retained the JA6 ranch. Alfred designed and registered the JA6 brand in 1909 and this brand has remained in the possession of Johnson Family Ranches. This brand is still in use to this day.

After Alfred and Lawrence dissolved their partnership. Alfred moved more into the cattle business, at one time having over seven thousand head. He also had two hundred head of high-grade Shire horses.

Alfred married Miss Olive Roy in 1908, they had three children Roy A., Ruth L., and Grace O.

Alfred acquired two more ranches in his time. The Hat Creek Ranch was purchased in 1928 and the McFarlane Ranch in 1913. These ranches are still part of the Johnson Family Ranches. The McFarlane Ranch became available when a spring blizzard wiped out most of the sheep belonging to George and Muriel McFarland and Alfred was able to purchase the land. The Hat Creek Ranch belonged to Z. Burton Crinklaw. Alfred purchased the property from the bank.

After Alfred’s passing, his son Roy took over the management of Johnson Ranches.

Roy A. Johnson was born on July 20, 1909, he attended school in Lusk and graduated from high school in 1927. (The old high school still stands and is now the Elk’s Lodge). As a child Roy enjoyed fishing, ice skating and trapping muskrats. He was an athlete in high school as he was one of the taller basketball players.

Roy married Miss Elenor Mae Schaefer on September 26, 1940. Their only child Robert Roy was born in 1949. Roy and Elenor worked very hard to improve and turn the ranch into a prosperous, quality ranch operation. Roy was innovative and always looking to improve his land and cattle. He raised mostly Hereford cattle as he surely loved that red color.

Roy put in a water pipeline that fed from an abandoned oil well. This pipeline provides water to several pastures. He also improved many of the reservoirs and dams.

Roy told his son Robert (Bob) that he remembered going to the McFarlane Ranch, with his dad, where a barn was being built and telling the carpenters that the United States had just declared war. This was WW1 in April of 1917, that barn is still standing to this day! We are so proud to have this beautiful testament to fine workmanship; we try to keep it strong and standing!

Roy and Elenor were working partners for their 55 years together. During their early years, they rode the many acres and worked the cattle together with only one other ranch hand. They had a house at every ranch location and would “move” to whatever ranch they were working cattle on staying for days or weeks at a time. Elenor had some kitchen wares at every house, but carried her favorite items with her.

Every summer of his junior high and high school and college years Bob worked on the ranch, running the hay equipment, riding and branding calves and helping his dad in any way that was needed.

Bob graduated from the University of Wyoming in the spring of 1972 with a degree in Ranch Management. Bob married Miss Paulette (Polly) J. Schneider (from Worland, Wyoming) in 1973. They moved to the McFarlane Ranch in the spring of that year, sharing the house with skunks and a few bull and garter snakes. They have continued to live on that ranch for 46 years of marriage.

Bob and Polly have two children, Deeanne Johnson Engle. Dee is a family practice doctor and Chief of Staff at the Converse County Memorial Hospital, in Douglas, Wyoming. Their son Keven Robert of Sandy, Utah is a Field Applications Scientist, DNA sequencing technologies, working for Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Dee and her husband Kurt have three daughters, Macey is 13; Maddie is 10 and McKenzie is 9.Keven and his wife Jessie have twins Samuel and Stephanie who are 5 ½ and Noah age 3 ½.

Roy passed away in 1995, leaving a strong legacy that we have tried to carry on and pass to our younger generations. Bob took over management of Johnson Family Ranches along with his mother Elenor. She continued contributing information and advice until her passing in 2002.

Bob and Polly have been a steward of the land, adding a wetland area at the McFarlane Ranch for water fowl. We love watching ducks and geese raising their hatchings.

We have also added solar power to our windmills to ensure water for the cattle. In the last 15 years we have added Angus bulls to our stock to improve herd stock. We have mostly black baldy cows and calves, although we still run some Hereford bulls with the older cows. We love to see those Hereford calves in the mix. The quality has improved and our calves have frequently been the top sellers at market.

As we have gotten older and less able to maintain and run a large number of cattle, we have leased the Hat Creek Ranch to the same party for 11 years.

We have also leased some of pastures to neighbors and friends. We still maintain a herd of around 400 cattle but will be decreasing these numbers in the coming years.

We love this ranch and the ranch life and feel privileged and honored to still run this beautiful place.

We are very hopeful that either of our children or grandchildren will come back to the ranch and keep the ranch for a fourth or fifth generation of quality ranching.

We feel blessed beyond measure.




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Debbie Sturman, Director
425 South Main Street, P O Box 510
Lusk, WY 82225-0510
Phone: 307-334-3490
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