James “Jim” Stoll
James Stoll was born in Burris, Wyoming to John and Betty Stoll on September 22, 1916. He and his eleven siblings were raised on the Stoll Ranch at Burris, Wyoming on the Wind River Reservation. In the early 1900’s, his father and mother moved to Fremont County from their parents’ ranches near Lone Tree, Wyoming to start their own cattle/horse ranch on the reservation as Betty was an enrolled Shoshone as were her children. James rode into the sunset at the age of 86 in 2002.
During Jim’s early years, to be raised on a cattle ranch required one to learn how to work hard and to be responsible for yourself while helping other family members in the running of the ranch. It was also required of one to learn to be a quality horseman and being able to nurture and work around cattle. These were traits instilled at a young age by his parents and of course his older siblings.
Jim’s first official paid job was working for a local rancher at the tender age of eight. Later on he left the fold of his family at the end of eighth grade to earn his way working on a few ranches in the Dubois area where good hands were always in short supply. In the thirties the owners of three of those ranches-CM, Rocking Chair, and Diamond G, discovered there was more money to be made by turning their cattle ranch into a “dude” ranch in the summertime. Keeping this in mind, there was a great call for young cowboys who needed a job to work with these “dudes.” These cowboys had to demonstrate tremendous patience, have a congenial personality, sense of humor, good looks and an ability to show off their horsemanship skills. Jim seemed to fit the bill and became a wrangler of dudes. He would take out groups across the Absaroka Mountains from the upper country of Dubois to Cody. They would return back to the dude ranch after a month long journey through the wilderness with horses and a pack string. During this time, most of wranglers on their days off would head into Jackson Hole or Dubois for a little entertainment plus compete in their rodeos. Of course, Jim loved to ride a good bronc from the wild ones that were just brought from the range at these rodeos. The rougher the better for him! Rodeo entered into his life during this time and he carried this love of the sport until his death.
Margaret, a city gal from Glenrock, Wyoming, lassoed Jim with the love bug after meeting him at the Diamond G. They decided to get hitched on April 1, 1938 in Dubois, Wyoming. The call of owning their own ranch to support their growing family was to become a reality when the Tennyson settlement money was divided amongst the Shoshone enrolled members. They used this settlement money to buy their dream ranch north of Burris to start their own ranching operation with Hereford cattle and horses.
Back in those days, many of the ranchers from the upper country would work together in the fall to trail their livestock down to the Hudson Stockyards for shipment on the train back to Omaha. It could take about a month before Jim got back home as he took it pretty easy trailing the calves so they could graze on the way as not to lose any weight.
Jim and Margaret sold their Burris ranch to move onto his parent’s ranch south of the Crowheart Store after the death of his father so he could help run the ranch with his mother. They eventually took over this ranch to raise Hereford cattle and quality horses. All of Jim’s children were expected to learn how to handle and care for their livestock all the while experiencing life of the great outdoors. Jim and Margaret’s ranch seemed to beckon nephews, nieces and others as a safe haven to live during their tumultuous teen years. One nephew related that Uncle Jim and Aunt Margaret saved him from his troubled life by teaching him the ranch code of honor and a little hard work didn’t ever hurt anyone.
Later in life Jim moved from the family ranch to Casper to manage the Eight Mile Creek Ranch and their cattle operation. After several years, he retired so he could return to Fremont County to be closer to his grown family and to enjoy his grandchildren. Jim continued raising quality Quarter Horses on his mini-ranch near Kinnear until his health didn’t allow him this enjoyment any longer.
Perhaps the most important thing about Jim Stoll was his easy-going ways as a cowboy of yesteryear. He was able to make friends with about anyone and had many near and far. There was no such word as stranger in his vocabulary. He was very quick witted with a wiry sense of humor. Jim Stoll was a true cowboy in every sense of the word throughout his entire life from birth until the day he passed away. Honest, dependable, respectful and knowledgeable of life in the West. Most importantly, he lived the life of being a true cowboy through his actions and deeds.