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Charles “Charlie” Shaffer

12/30/1882 – 10/10/1973


Born in Gillman, Illinois in 1882, Charles Boaz (Charlie) Shaffer was the ninth of eleven children born to Samuel A. and Sarah Jane (Horn) Shaffer. When he was still a baby, the family moved to McCook, Nebraska where his father was a tin smith by trade. When Charlie was seven, they moved to Denver, Colorado and then the next summer, on to Wyoming to a ranch on Beaver Creek at Hailey, Wyoming, near present day Lander. Though only boys, Charlie and brother Joe, riding bareback, drove some of the horses and milk cows, as their mother drove the team and wagon into Wyoming Territory, arriving shortly before Wyoming was declared a state in July 1890. His dad and older brothers drove the main herd of cattle and horses on to their Yellowstone Ranch, where they lived and prospered for eleven years.


The country was wild in those days and his mother told of one occasion where she found herself hiding in the sagebrush with the small children while renegade Indians raided their cabin. On another occasion, the family played host to Butch Cassidy who had drifted in with a blizzard and stayed a few days with them. He helped do the chores and feed the livestock to earn his keep, and when the storm moved on, so did he. In those days, you knew who they were, but kept it under your hat, or they’d come back and clean you out. It was during these formative years that Charlie learned to be a working cowboy and even drove a stage coach for a time between Sweetwater Station and Hailey. His formal education amounted to 6-7 months per year, learning reading, history and arithmetic at a one room school at Hailey. He never did attend a high school.


In 1901, as his mother’s health failed, the family moved back to Colorado, settling west of Denver at a place along the South Platte, later named Shaffer’s Crossing. Samuel’s sons trailed several hundred head of cattle and Hambletonian horses down to Colorado where they ranched, cut timber, ran a saw mill, operated a stage stop and mercantile, and started a small mining venture. It was here that Charlie met his wife, Nancy Pearle Renfro from Denver and they were married there in 1906.


They came to Wyoming the next year at the urging of Charlie’s brother Rollo, who was foreman at the Embar and Basin Ranches near Thermopolis. Charlie worked for area ranches while homesteading on Cottonwood Creek. When time came to file the patent, the survey didn’t jibe with Washington records, so they sold their buildings and moved to the Lucerne area, north of Thermopolis. Here Charlie and Pearle raised a family of five boys and two girls while leasing various farms and ranches in the area. In 1926, they purchased the Virgil Rice place on lower Owl Creek and it was here that they put down roots. He marked his livestock with a P6 brand, which stood for Pearle and the year of their marriage, 1906.


The family was very involved in their community and often led in civic activities. They were members of Lucerne Baptist Church, Sunnyside P.T.A., Wyoming Farm Bureau, school board, 4-H, Hot Springs Turkey Association, Wyoming Pioneer Association, and served on the Omaha Land Bank Board. They were the impetus in organizing a community band, instrumental in helping establish the Pioneer Museum in Thermopolis, and participated in the rodeos and parades within the community. Charlie always supplied the teams and drove the stagecoach for the parades and helped prepare the barbeque during rodeos.


Charlie made his living using horses. He was well known for the large wild horse round-ups that were brought to the ranch on Owl Creek, sometimes taking 2-3 days sorting and working the horses each year. Many horses were shipped by train car and later trucks from the Lucerne stockyards near his ranch. He was a master teamster, often hiring out his teams and helping neighbors. His word was his bond and his handshake better than a signed contract.


As Charlie’s health failed, he was forced to sell the ranch in 1950, but still acted as advisor and financier to the next generation of ranchers. He spent his remaining days living with his daughters in the Thermopolis area, passing on to his reward in 1973. He is buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery in Thermopolis.

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