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Frank Rhodes



Frank Rhodes was born March 14, 1919, at Powell, Wyoming, the son of Jack and Bessie Rhodes, the first of four children. They lived on Rawhide Creek, northwest of Meeteetse, Wyoming. Frank was only a few years old when the family moved to the Pitchfork Ranch on the Greybull River, west of Meeteetse, where his dad became the cow foreman. At a very young age Frank started riding with his dad.


Charles Belden, owner, of the Pitchfork was a great photographer and Frank would go out with his father and Belden to move cattle. When Belden would want to take pictures, Frank would hold a piece of tin and direct the sunlight on the object for Belden to make a great photo.


When Frank was 19 years old, his father died, leaving the boy to care for his mother and three siblings. He worked as a cowboy for several ranches in the Meeteetse area. Frank married Betty Loman of Meeteetse in Billings, Montana, on November 17, 1938. The two of them worked for the Beldens on the Pitchfork for several years. They had three children.


In the spring of 1948, Frank and Junior Gould bought the Vede Punteney place on Cottonwood Creek about 45 miles west of Thermopolis. They both had cattle on their ranches in the Meeteetse area and bought the cattle that Puteney had along with several horses. It was quite a challenge for both families to have to commute back and forth from Meeteetse to the Punteney place. Then in the spring of 1949, Frank and Betty moved to the Punteney Place to live there. With no electricity or running water it was a challenge. They finally got electricity at the ranch in the mid-1950s.


In June of 1955, Frank and son Ross were helping Dub McQueen take his cattle from Cottonwood Creek to the South Fork of Owl Creek for summer pasture. It was about 45 miles and took three and a half days. On the second day, an electrical storm came up. Dub and Ross were sitting side by side on their horses, when lightning hit them. The strike killed Dub, his horse, and several cows, and knocked out Ross, his horse, and some cows. Frank and several other cowboys were just over a small ridge and came to see if Ross and Dub were all right. They had to ride up the valley about three miles to where the women had camp set up. They got a Jeep back to where the accident happened, loading Ross and taking him to the doctor, where he came to about six hours later.


In 1957 Rhodes leased the McQueen place. In 1959 they bought the Bum Urwin Ranch on Cottonwood, and later purchased the Vernie Wales Ranch and the Sam Haynes Ranch also on Cottonwood as well as the Alex Dickie Ranch on Little Grass Creek, while still owning the Punteney Place.


With all of the land that Frank had acquired, he could run about 900 to 1,000 head of Hereford cattle and later started crossing them with Angus bulls. He also ran about 30 head of registered Quarter Horse mares and had four registered Quarter Horse stallions along with about 35 head of geldings that were used on the ranch.


In the mid 1960s the family incorporated the ranch and it became Rhodes Ranch Inc. which they ran until 1995 when it was sold. The new owner let Frank and Betty live in the house that they had lived in since 1959. Frank continued to ride with the cowboys on that ranch and the neighbor’s ranch to move cattle.


When Frank was 87 years old he was helping one of the ranchers move their cattle from winter pasture just north of Thermopolis, to calving ground on Cottonwood Creek. On the second day it was a beautiful winter morning, sunshine and no wind, but by about 11 a.m., it was snowing and blowing really hard. There were two other riders and they couldn’t get the cows to cross the ice on the creek. Betty had the pickup and trailer and was watching, but couldn’t do anything.


Son Ross learned of the situation and went to help. He located the cows and Frank, getting his father into the pickup so he could warm up. Ross then helped move the cows on to the calving pasture. Frank later told his son he thought he might die on his horse behind the cows in that storm.

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