Rogelio “Roger” Fernandez
Rogelio (Roger) Fernandez and Esperanza (Hope) Fernandez were born in Mexico. Rogelio came from a ranching family in Mexico and always dreamed of pursuing his dreams of ranching in the United States.
In 1954 Rogelio and Esperanza decided to come to the United States to pursue his dream. Rogelio was 32 years old and Esperanza was 27 years old. They had 2 children, Roger, 5 years old and Lucy, 2 years old.
Rogelio and Esperanza wanted to bring the family to the United States legally. In order to request a general passport into the United States, Rogelio and Esperanza provided the U.S. Consul in Monterrey with Letters of Recommendation, proof of employment once in the United States and the U.S. Consul completed criminal background checks and physicals. After the U.S. Consul received all of this information, they received their General Passport.
Rogelio, Esperanza, Roger, and Lucy drove to Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1954, where Rogelio had found work on the Bar TL. They arrived in Meeteetse with $3.75 and spoke very little English. Rogelio worked for the Bar T L for five years, and the YU for almost four years. During this period, George, Alma and John were born.
After living and working in the United States for four years, Rogelio and Esperanza took the U.S. Citizenship test and became United States Citizens in 1958. They were very happy and proud to be United States Citizens. Rogelio and Esperanza were known around the community by their Americanized first names, Roger and Hope. They believed in the United States dream of opportunity and continued pursuing Rogelio’s dream of owning his own ranch.
In 1963, Roger began working on the Hinke Ranch. Roger leased the ranch for three years while the ranch was for sale. During this time, Patti was born. Eventually, Mr. Hinke came to Roger and asked him to buy the place, telling him he was a good worker and would be able to do it. Roger and Hope agreed, knowing it would take the whole family, working, to achieve success. This was the culmination of Roger’s lifelong dream. When Roger signed the papers buying the ranch, the attorney asked Roger if he knew what he was doing. He did. They started out with no beef cows, one milk cow, and one truck and five children. After buying the ranch, Roger bought a baler and began looking for jobs.
Roger’s best memory from the ranch was when they sold 167 calves and the calves received the 2nd best price @ the auction. Hope’s best memory was when all the kids were raised and graduated from high school. Roger and Hope remember attending all the kids’ games while they were in high school. The town of Meeteetse accepted them and treated the family well. Roger said the work was easy because he loved the work and making money. Roger irrigated and the boys did the haying. Hope and the girls did all the cooking for the family and the hired hands.
Roger and Hope’s worst memory was when the house burned down and during the same year 50 head of Roger’s cows died out in 15 mile. They remember the terrible flood that washed out all the bridges and flooded the big shed, killing 100 pigs. While the bridges were out, the family went to town by 15 mile. When the family lost the house they lived in the bunk house. Eventually, they bought a nice trailer house in Meeteetse, which Roger pulled to the ranch with the tractor.
In 1998, after 35 years on the ranch, Roger and Hope decided to sell and retire. After working so many years on the ranch, it was very hard to move. For Hope, it was hardest to leave her home. For Roger, it was hardest to leave the cows. He still sometimes dreams about pushing cows in 15 mile. Roger and Hope say they loved working the ranch with the kids. Roger and Hope are glad the kids grew up on the ranch and in Meeteetse. The only thing they wish could have been different would be if they had started off in the ranching business a little better (more cash and more cows), it would have been easier on the whole family.
Reflections from Roger-You have to have ambition to succeed. Know that one opportunity happens once in a lifetime. You have to be willing to take that opportunity and not be afraid to fail. Work hard, be careful and try not to make too many mistakes
Reflections from Hope-Follow the rules to be a good person. Obey your parents, be a good example, start from the bottom, don’t complain, and work hard to get your goals. Little by little you will be there. Be patient, believe in God, know that nothing comes easy and you have to work for everything.