John “Charley” Borgialli
1910 – 2005
John C. “Charley” Borgialli was born to Charley and Rena Ann (Micheal) Borgialli on their homestead in Weston County Wyoming, on July 15, 1910. Having already traveled from his native Italy to America, Charley and his bride Rena arrived in Wyoming in 1908 in a railroad immigrant car shared with all their worldly goods – chickens, milk cow, team, wagon, and personal belongings. Charley immediately applied for a Homestead, then the team and wagon hauled everything but the milk cow to that piece of land another 20 miles southwest of Newcastle…the milk cow was led behind.
Their son also known as “Charley”, grew up on the homestead attending rural school. He had to board in Newcastle during high school, working odd job to pay for his accommodations. The money he managed to save bought a homestead adjoining his parents’, at 25 cents an acre. That was his start in ranching, and when he was 20 Charley married Naomi Ruth Van Sickel,in 1931. The couple built a herd of cattle and Charley got paint horses which were to become his lifelong pride and joy.
Charley trailed calves horseback to the railroad loading pens in Newcastle and would accompany them to the Omaha stockyards, riding in the train’s Caboose with other stockmen/owners. Charley expanded his 4 Spear Ranch, named after his brand, through continued purchases of neighboring homestead land. After his father’s death his mother moved to Newcastle in 1942 and Charley took over their homestead along with those of two Borgialli uncles, increasing his cattle and paint herds accordingly.
A forward-thinking and astute stockman, Charley sought the migratory summer range in the higher, cooler, lush grass areas between Soldier Creek and Cold Creek, along the Canyon Springs Prairie which edges into the Black Hills north of Newcastle. This land, near present U.S. Highway 85 North, was purchased from a logging family named Bird in 1955. Two days were required to trail pairs up in the spring and back to the sagebrush country again before deep snow arrived each fall. In later years Charley owned several good trucks and hauled both ways.
While his cattle got fat in the hills Charley farmed the home place, laying in stacks of hay and filling granaries for winter feed. A hard-working experienced teamster, Charley eventually updated to gas-powered tractors to facilitate that labor.
An inquisitive progressive cattleman, he continued to study the beef cattle industry, wisely moving with times and technology. While preferring commercial cattle, Charley ventured into registered Hereford, so he could raise his own herd sires and offer some good bulls for sale. A small herd of registered Black Angus came next, again to produce herd sires to pursue crossbreeding for hardy, heavy black baldy calves from his favored Hereford cows.
Charley’s children showed Borgialli stock to distinction, winning many awards. His generosity extended to many less fortunate youths, giving paying summer jobs to high school boys; as well as gifting some with calves and horses for 4-H and FFA competition. He also sponsored the Saddle and Sirloin FFA Chapter in Newcastle and often provided livestock for youth judging competitions; and was made an Honorary Member in appreciation.
Charley improved his ranch by developing water with dams and wells. From the time the American Paint Horse Association was formed he was an enthusiastic breeder and promoter of those colorful equines. He utilized the top bloodlines, buying sires from Jack Campbell and the Black Hills Stock Show registered sales, developing a large band of Paints; always breaking and training them for ranch use.
Charley was devoted to Ruth, his number one hand and partner, his bride of 74 years. They reared four sons, Tom, Bob, Harry and Bill – all ranchers (rodeo hands in their youth) – and daughters Hazel, a teacher and Dorothy a businesswoman. A devoted family man who loved the Lord and lived by the Golden Rule, Charley was respected and loved by all, and known as the best of ranch neighbors, ever ready to extend help in any capacity. He worked horseback almost to the end of his life. He loved visiting, having company, playing cards and board games, and neighborhood get-togethers and dances.
Charley’s diversity was expressed by running a herd of buffalo in the mid to late 70’s and enjoying a tame bobcat named Tigger along with exotic chickens, guineas, turkeys, geese, ducks and peacocks, ranch dogs and bees. Active in the local Inyan Kara Grazing Association, he was also a member of the First United Methodist Church, Weston County and Wyoming Farm Bureau organizations, American Hereford Association, American Angus Association, and American Paint Horse Association. Charley also held a lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association until he died, at the ranch surrounded by his family, on December 30,2005, at the age of 95.