James "Jim" Ramsay & Wanda Ramsay Walker
James C. Ramsay was born February 10, 1894 in Rock Springs, the son of Robert Ramsay and Elizabeth “Bessie” Anthony Ramsay, and attended school in Rock Springs. Jim had the following siblings: John “Jack”, Elizabeth, Mary, Samuel, Alma, Robert Jr., Agnes, Anthony “Tony,” Victoria and Dillwyn. The last of eleven children, Ramsay was born in Rock Springs to parents who had come to America from Wales and Scotland. His granddad had a grocery store in Rock Springs that was traded when Ramsay was six months old for the original ranch and homestead made of logs, built by his father in 1914. Ramsay didn’t see Rock Springs or Green River until he was seven years old. He didn’t know what a doctor was until he was 18. Jim Ramsay was 23 when he enlisted in the United States Army during World War I.
Ramsay stated, “All I done was take care of horses. Never did any fighting. Was with the Veterinary Corps. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.” During his tour, he was in France for one year. He was discharged in 1918 and came back to the ranch to stay where he and his brother homesteaded. He lived in that log house the rest of his life.
He married Barbara Jayne Bates in Rock Springs on August 5, 1924. They had two children who were Wanda Walker and Jimmy Ramsay. When Ramsay came back to the ranch, there were a lot of horses on the place and range around the ranch. There were stout corrals and
heavy gates where the horses were roundup up so Ramsay could break them. His picture a top a bucking horse named Casey appeared in the September 1927 National Geographic magazine. The photo was taken during a rodeo in Pinedale on July 4, 1915. In his younger years he followed the rodeo circuit and
remained active in rodeos until age 40. About rodeoing Ramsay once explained, “I just wanted to have a go at bucking. I never did it professionally. I couldn’t run an outfit and go to the rodeo at the same time. I wish I could do it again. It was a lot of fun.”
Besides running wild horses and breaking them, Ramsays had a few cows. Bessie Ramsay bought 13 cows and acquired the Acorn brand with them before 1909, which as the beginning of the Ramsay cow herd. In 1980, when Jim died he was still running cattle on the mountain and would bring them down to the ranch for several weeks. Ramsay had these thoughts about cattle, “I’d trade a Hereford for an Angus any day. The blacks (Angus) have got‘em beat. Yea don’t doctor on an Angus. They gain real good. The Charolais are good cattle, too.” Ramsay lived at his ranch on Trout Creek southeast of Green River throughout his life – he never liked modern conveniences, his son said. The ranch had no running water, no electricity, no inside plumbing. “Dad didn’t care much for this modern stuff – he had no T.V., just a radio,” explained his son. “Dad didn’t like living in town. He’d just come to visit for a day or two.”
Most people in southwest Wyoming either knew him, or knew of him. Ramsay was an active rancher all his life. An article in the Green River Star of June 23, 1976, about Ramsay quoted him as saying he “wouldn’t do without” the old wood stove in the kitchen. It went on to say, “When talking about cattle, horses and ranching, Ramsay is prone to ramble about ranches, families and brands in a sort of roster of cattle country history. Ramsay still runs some cattle up on the mountain . . . never sees them from
December to March.” Ramsey loved to tell the story “We got a Hereford bull in a trade once. The biggest bull ever seen in this county. Big as this building is wide. He weighed 2100 pounds.” Jim liked to graze his cows along to the mountain when moving them from the spring pasture near the ranch instead of driving them. It could take him all day to go two miles. Ramsay had a remuda of horses on the creek near his home. He had an old mare that wore a bell so he could find them easily in the willows.
Ramsay liked his horses and loved to break them to ride. He would ride about any kind of
horse and not get bucked off. Jim Ramsay was quite a teamster. He always had good teams to work. He used them to feed the cows in the winter and put up hay in the summer. He also helped neighbors like
Williams at Linwood, Utah on the Wyoming border put up their hay crop driving a good team of horses. Ramsay liked a good run away with the team as most good teamsters on ranches did. Add a little excitement to their lives.
Jim Rafferty, a close friend who was always at the Ramsay Ranch, told his niece, Sherry Ramsay Reddick, the following stories about Jim Ramsay: “One of the biggest groups of wild horses that James Ramsay shipped from Rock Springs was around 100 head. There were only three men wrangling these horses. They were James Ramsay Sr, Jim’s son James Ramsay Jr., and me. We started the horses at the homestead ranch 45 miles south of Rock Springs. Because of the lack of men to help, we would tie one back leg up to the belly of the troublemaker horses so they would only have three legs to walk on. When the horse started tiring out, one of the men would go alongside the so-called troublemaker horse and cut the rope in order for the animal to be able to walk freely. This helped with having so few men to help wrangle these horses. The horses and men stopped and stayed at the Kappes Ranch which was about half way to Rock Springs. The next day the men and still 100 horses made it to the stock yards where the animals were corralled for shipping.
Many things that were done were not considered cowboy stuff, just day to day activities that needed to be done. One person would wrangle the horses first thing in the morning while another person milked the cows. These chores of course were done before breakfast. Depending on the time of the year would decide what activities were done that day. For instance, gathering the cows and branding would be planned for a late Spring day and many times the branding was up on Little Mountain with many neighbors helping out each other since many of each person’s cattle would be in the group that was gathered.
Jim loved a team of running horses. One haying season, James Ramsay rode to the field
on his favorite horse, Blackhawk. Majority of the time when the haying activity was going on the saddle horses would just be let go still saddled and they could wander and graze. This one-day James Ramsay Sr. and I were working on the bull rake fixing something loose. Blackhawk was busy just eating away when he spooked the team that was hooked to the bull rake. One of the team horses spooked the other and all hell broke loose. By the time the horses stopped, the cable to the bailer was strung all over the field and the rake had no tines. It took two days to collect and attach everything including new poles for the stacker. Jim Sr. just stood there and laughed, and he was still laughing picking up parts the next day. It was a given that many animals that were at the ranch were for working not for play, but many times the play snuck in. Jim had a cow dog named Skeeter, a great cattle dog that would heel when called, even if it wasn’t Jim. Jim Jr. had a pet magpie bird and this bird would sleep in the tent in the summer with the boys. Skeeter would sneak in there also at night. After much calling for Skeeter, the
magpie bird learned the dog’s name, so the magpie would fly to the corral and call “Skeeter, Skeeter”. The poor dog would run to the corral, then the magpie would fly to the tent and call “Skeeter, Skeeter” and here comes the poor dog. Skeeter got his exercise with the magpie around. Then there was “Wild Fire”, a wonderful horse, that loved the taste of coca cola and would drink it out of the bottle. Many of Jim’s milk cows and bulls could be road by the grandkids.”
Sherry Ramsay Reddick, Jim Ramsay’s granddaughter, had the following story about a drawing of Jim that now hangs on her wall: “In 1968, my grandfather received a visit from the artist Peter Hougard at his cattle ranch 45 miles south of our home town. Mr. Hougard was visiting our town to present two oil paintings to our fine arts center and paint a portrait of the mayor in oils. The coordinator of the fine arts center was a friend of my grandfather and thought Mr. Hougard would like a break from painting and visit a real live cattle ranch. Mr. Hougard sat down at the dining room table at the ranch and drew the
portrait of my grandfather in pencil. The drawing not only depicts what my grandfather looked like, but it also caught his happy go lucky personality. This portrait was hanging in my parent’s home and now hangs in mine.”
Like the movie image of a Wyoming cowboy, Jim Ramsay nearly “died in the saddle,” and with his boots on reported his son. He was out riding two days before he passed away. James C. Ramsay, 85, died January 15, 1980, at the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County where he had been a patient for two days.
He was a member of the First Congregational Church and the American Legion Archie Hay
Post No. 24. With Ramsay’s passing, his own words ring truer than ever: “We haven’t got any cowboys anymore. . . We got lots of ropers, but there’re no cowboys left.”
Wanda Ramsay was born June 22, 1925, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, to James C. Ramsay and Barbara Bates Ramsay. She had one brother, Jimmy. She spent most of her childhood years on the Ramsay family ranch south of Rock Springs on Trout Creek. Up to the ranch of 19 years old, she could be seen with her dad, Jim Ramsay, chasing and catching wild horses that were rampant in the area. She rode horseback three miles to a one-room schoolhouse on Sage Creek riding horseback three miles to school. She finished her high school years with one year in Rock Springs and three years at Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, where she graduated in 1943. Later she attended telegraphy school for Union Pacific Railroad in Denver. Wanda continued to be on and work the ranch with her father until meeting her husband Boyd Walker.
Wanda met her future husband, James Boyd Walker, at one of the famous country dances at Ladore Hall in Brown's Park, and they were married February 13, 1945, in Rock Springs. For the next 48 years, they ranched and worked together on Douglas Mountain and Vermillion Creek near Greystone, in the Brown's Park area of northwest Colorado and southern Wyoming. They would ride out in the morning to work with the cows and not saying a word about the day’s work would ride off in their own direction and come back in the evening with a day’s worked finished. If a stranger was along, they were left wondering what to do since the couple knew exactly what each other was going to do. One time Wanda was bringing a cow into the corral that was having trouble calving. Her saddle turned
when she roped the cow and tightened the rope causing the horse to buck her off breaking both wrists.
On June 16, 1952, Wanda gave birth to their daughter, Barbara Dawn Walker, after driving herself 80 miles to the hospital in Craig. Boyd was at a mountain cow camp branding calves at the time. After the branding he found out what happened and joined his wife and child.
After her husband Boyd’s death in July 1993, Wanda continued on with the ranch. She was known for her ability to rope and her knowledge of the cow business. Every horse she every handled and rode, loved and respected her. She always rode a good horse, and she would get the job done on some that weren’t always so good. She was only bucked off a handful of times. Her livestock and dogs were always well taken care of on the ranch. Wanda was very quiet handling a horse and working cows. She was a great calf roper, throwing a neat "two hocker" (picking up both hind feet), which was the only calf catch allowed at their brandings.
Wanda Walker lost her life while doing what she loved. She was gathering cattle to put them from one pasture to another with her dogs and her daughter in Zenobia Basin on Douglas Mountain when the horse she was riding accidentally got caught in some wire. She was thrown from the horse and hit her head, killing her instantly. She was found with her horse standing beside her and the dogs waiting by her side. Our angel took flight that beautiful fall day and crossed the great divide wearing her boots and spurs at the grand old age of 87 on September 13, 2012.