John “Jack” Fitzhugh
John “Jack/Jackie” Fitzhugh Jr. was born June 19, 1920 at Douglas, WY, to John and Bessie (Scott) Fitzhugh Sr. Jack is a great grandson of John and Mary Fitzhugh, one of Douglas’s earliest pioneer families, who first went through WY with the gold rush of 1849.
Jack went to work cowboying for the Keeline Ranch at the age of 14. During his time with the Keeline’s, he trailed a lot of cattle to shipping points on the railroad at Moorcroft, WY and Dewey, SD. He also trailed large numbers of horses to the old Housetop Ranch by Arvada, WY. At the age of 18 he was promoted to wagon boss, where he had many experiences, rode a lot of broncs and became a more experienced cowman.
Jack served in the US Marine Corp during WW II and while in the Corp competed in several rodeos riding saddle broncs. Jack was a member of the American Legion, in Douglas.
On June 12, 1947, Jack rode in the Gillette-Douglas Endurance Race for 114 miles, starting at the Gillette Fairgrounds and ending at Douglas. He was sponsored by Moore Sheep Co. Jack met Dorothy Taylor while he was working for Moore’s and Dorothy was working for Big Lee and Edna as a housekeeper/nanny.
Jack and Dorothy were married in Douglas, Dec 3, 1948. They started their married life working for Jack and Jim Morton, Morton’s Inc, and in the beginning lived at Box Creek. They were at Box Creek during the “49 Blizzard” and spent the night out in the blizzard trying to locate a sheep herder that was also out in the storm. Dorothy kept lanterns and kerosene lamps burning all night, so he could see a light trying to get home. He was driving a Willy’s Jeep and at daylight, after being out in the storm all night, he realized he’d just been driving in circles most of the night.
Jack and Dorothy continued working for Morton’s Inc for 12 plus years, with Jack as Morton’s cow foreman and Dorothy teaching school. They raised their two children, Edna and William “Bill” on the Box Creek, Dorr Place and Fiddleback ranches. Jack and Dorothy were later divorced in the 60’s.
Jack worked for other area ranches such as Lucille Combs, Dennis Irwin, Cactus McCleary, Bixby Ranch, Bill Moore at the Hell ‘n’ Back and became the ranch manager for the Lake Ranch at Hulette, WY, owned by Paul Lowham. While working for Paul, he was tragically killed in a one vehicle wreck near Devils Tower, at the young age of 61, in June 1981. It took 17 days for friends, neighbors, family and finally Billy Moore and Melvin Snooks flying in Bill’s helicopter to find him in his pickup wrecked in a heavily wooded canyon.
Jack was a very patient man who loved his family unconditionally. He never met a stranger and dearly loved visiting with his friends and neighbors. He might have had a story or two to share!
He taught his children the values of life through his life experiences as he had learned them, he also taught them that being on the back of a horse, following a cow, and working beside him was a good life. Anytime he said, “let’s go romancing” that meant saddle up, we have cow work to do!
Jack was most comfortable riding a good horse, breaking a colt, gathering, working and moving cows.
He enjoyed doing leather work. Jack made chaps and leather jackets with Dorothy sewing the leather jackets on a treadle Singer machine that she bought from her mother-in-law, Bessie Fitzhugh, for $10. Friends and family enjoyed receiving Jack’s leather gifts of purses, belts, billfolds and photo albums. He enjoyed making lamps out of old wagon wheel hubs, harness hames and anything he could recycle.
Jack was a true Wyoming cowboy and cowman that spent a good share of his life cowboying in Converse County and considered Douglas his hometown.