Eugene Paul "Gene" Pearson Sr.
Eugene Paul Pearson Sr. "Gene" was born August 17, 1946 in Kemmerer, Wyoming to Tony and Kathryn Pearson. Gene has been a true cowboy from the day he was born. For the first six years of his life, he lived on the Phillip's place, also known as the Gransden place in Daniel, Wyoming. His family then moved to his Grandfather Pape's (Spade) Ranch until he was a freshman in high school. As early as first grade, Gene was in charge of feeding the calves on his way home from school. When he wasn't in school, he and his sister, Mayleen, would spend all day riding and checking on the cows. During calving season, he would check the cows before he went to school in the mornings. His sister Mayleen has told stories of them trapping gophers. Gene would build tiny branding irons and they would dock the gopher's tails and brand them with a “P”. They moved to town when he was a freshman in high school. During his high school years, he would hay for Benny Pearson in the summer and ride colts for other ranchers.
Throughout the next couple of years, Gene fed cows for George Jorgensen, hayed with horses on the Noble Ranch and worked for Hank and Melita Snow on the Fayette Ranch. He also guided for Doc McCloud and the Granite Creek Ranch during the falls of 1966 and 1967. He would occasionally help Irv Lozier at the Box R Ranch when he needed an extra guide.
On April 22, 1967, he married Betty Lou Potter. They had 3 kids- Gaylene, Gene Jr. and Sherri. In November of 1967, he went to work for Miller Land and Livestock at the Todd Place. He stayed there until the spring of 1972, at which time, Miller's asked him to move to the Scott Place in Merna and work as the foreman. While working for Miller's, he broke saddle colts and work colts every winter. He worked a lot of four ups during the winter. It was the only way to get around in the deep snow. If there was a colt in Sublette County that someone couldn't get broke, they would bring it to Gene. There wasn't a horse he couldn't ride or work. During his time on the Todd place, Gene also had a successful chariot team. When he lived on the Scott Place, Gene entered the team pulling every winter at the Pinedale Winter Carnival. His favorite team was Chet and Chauncy, and they always did very well. While he worked for Miller's, he went to Fort Collins and learned how to perform a cesarean on a cow, remove cancer eyes, preg check and many other things that a veterinarian is usually called for. He still uses these skills in caring for his own cattle.
For approximately the first 10 years he worked for Miller’s, he participated in some very cold cattle drives. They would drive the cattle about 30 miles from the Miller ranches in the Daniel area to the Miller main ranch in Big Piney. At Big Piney, they would wean and dip the cattle and then head north to Daniel with the cows that would winter on those ranches. There were a lot of subzero days while this work was being done and a lot of drives into the cold north winds coming back from the Big Piney country to Daniel.
One of those cold drives Gene was on with Bob Beard happened around Christmas time. Just before Christmas, they had the fall work done, and they had the thin cows cut off, so Mike said it was time to take the herd to the Hennick Field at the Todd Place. The morning they left the Circle home place, it was 60 below zero. They did get the cows to Miller's Dunham place about 15 miles north and on a feedline of hay. The next morning, they tried to get the cows to move off the feedline, but they wouldn't even follow the feed tractor it had been so cold. It was around 50 below that morning. They tried several mornings and then it was Christmas. After Christmas, they tried again. Even though the temperature was pushing 50 below, the cows did move. The temperature never did get above 20 below that day. The cows trailed through the snow about 15 miles to the Hennick Field where there was a feedline of hay for them. When the lead cow hit the Sommers Bridge just before the gate into the Hennick Field at just about dark, it was 38 below and a breeze blowing up river.
When the last cow got through the gate as dark set in, it was 48 below already. Gene worked for Miller's until 1989 when Mildred Miller split the ranch up between the heirs. At that time, Gene began running his own cows. He first leased from Jack Richardson and Dempsey Barron. He also spent a couple of years on the Welborn Place. In 2000, he leased the Webb place and remained there until 2010. He was able to summer on his Grandfather Pape's old place and then was able to lease the Floyd Brigg's ranch where he is still running his cows.
Gene would trail his cows to the Circle S in the Upper Green from the Koch Place for summer pasture. He would map out the drive to take 3 days. Gene would always make sure his cattle were in the best of shape to make this long drive. He allowed the Box R Guest Ranch to bring their “Dudes” on this cattle drive. Many of the guests would request to come back for the week “Gene was moving his cows” each year as they enjoyed the cowboy stories, the horsemanship, and the cattleman that accompanied them on a true Western adventure. He would also drive his cattle from the Briggs Place to Horse Creek. His daughter, Sherri, remembers “one winter trailing the cattle home from Horse Creek. He had fed them up country and was bringing them home for calving. We cut across the BLM from the Daniel Y and dad was in the lead breaking trail with a young horse that needed aired out. It took us two days to get them home.” Gene has always been eager to help someone learn about horses and cows. He was very good with the hired hands, his own kids, and now his grandchildren. He never forced a colt nor man, and he had the patience to let them think about what he was asking from them. He was always there with praise and encouragement to both colt and man. He has driven cows all over Sublette County-North to South and East to West.
Sherri also remembers, “Dad was always quiet on the ground when starting a colt. He gained their trust with a soft voice and hand. He would saddle them and lead them behind the hay rack every day. Usually he would end up riding the colt back to the house behind the rack if we were along to drive the team. He would break colts to pack so that they were not scared of anything and then when calving season rolled around you would see dad either packing a cold calf in on his horse with him and a mother cow following close behind or he would be dragging a calf sled behind his horse with calf in the sled and the heifer right behind. I remember cutting pairs out of the heifer bunch every spring with dad. Heifer pairs take the utmost patience as they have to gain the trust of the horse and cowboy pushing them and their newborn calf. Dad would never lose his temper at a cow or drag a calf. He was
so patient and took the time needed to make sure the heifer took care of her calf and taught it to follow her.
The following is from Gene's children, Gaylene, Gene Paul and Sherri: "Dad is a true example of the title "All Around Cowboy." Each one of us kids has learned the trade by his example. We’ve all with Dad by our side while breaking our first colt at a very young age. I remember Dad snubbing me up to his horse as I climbed on my colt for the first time. The whole time Dad was encouraging me to stay calm and gentle to not show any sign of fear. He would lead us around until we felt confident then off we would go out in the pasture with Dad alongside giving us pointers. We learned a soft hand with a mean, hookie cow and the importance of taking care of your stock. We grew up working alongside him in all areas of ranch life from roping and riding to driving a tractor, mucking out stalls and milking cows. Everything we did we did with confidence knowing that we could be the best because dad believed in us. We rode and moved cows as good if not better than any hired hand. We didn't have a 4-H steer or heifer that with Dad's’ help couldn’t be broke to lead. We fed between 450 and 1000 head of cows each winter. Some of our greatest memories were on the hay rack either stacking square bales, 2 to 4 high, or driving the 4-up teams. Dad was always by our side holding the bale or anchoring the lines. Each one of us kids has followed his example of living the agricultural way of life in one way or another. He has shared his same gentle touch and soft spoken words as a true Cowboy with his grandchildren who too are carrying on the Cowboy legacy."