Sidney Ross “Sid” Skiver
Sidney Ross Skiver, “Sid” as he was known to everyone, was born on October 23, 1906 at Elk Mountain, Wyoming to Eugene Skiver and Jennie Widowfield Skiver. Sid’s father had about 400 head of mother cows and around 400 head of draft horses which were used in a construction business.
Sid worked on the family ranch growing up, met and married Fern Thompson in 1930. This short marriage produced two children, Jim and Phil Skiver. Sid continued working on the family ranch and other ranches in addition to hauling freight to the fledgling town of Baroil and building roads with teams in his family construction business.
He was following the wagon on roundup when he met Hazel Bennet who was working in the cookhouse when he rode in. Hazel allegedly saw Sid ride in and commented she was going to marry that man. Sid and Hazel married and began their life together. Sid had told Hazel if she would marry him they would get in his Model T and go until they found a place they wanted to stay and share their life together. They married on June 3, 1936 and departed in the Model T. The road led them to Sublette County where Sid worked for Phil Marincic Sr. and Walter Yose. In 1937 while going past a branding at the Holden ranch of Bob and Mildred Miller he stopped and hired out breaking work horses for Miller ranches. Continuing his cowboy ways Sid kept on breaking work horses, saddle horses and tending to cattle for the next 41 years for Miller ranches.
Sid and Hazel had 3 children together, Ron, Rena, and Gary who died in 1951. Sid and Hazel also shared their life with the two sons of Sid’s earlier marriage and raised the whole family to be remembered as outstanding cowboys. Sid was always known as a gentleman and a man of honor who could be counted on and trusted to do whatever was right and necessary.
Ex daughter in law Renee Naylor tells the story of when she would go to stay with Sid at the Duke ranch of Millers, Sid would point out which groceries the outfit bought, and which were his store he bought for company. All was available for guests, he simply asked that they tell him what supplies from the outfit were used so he could replace them from his wallet. He carried that same honor into his personal life and was always known as a man to be trusted. He treated horses and cattle with that same degree of respect and love.Sid had many wrecks in his cowboy life which left him with lifetime injuries, but they never deterred him from his obligation to whomever he gave his word to. His leg was badly broken at least twice. Once when a horse fell with him and the worst when a bull came out of the herd and twisted it. A horse kicked him in the back when he was harnessing a team and kicked him into the stall behind it, an injury which would return to plague him bitterly in later years. One time when his leg was broken he spent the summer sharpening sickles for the mowers until his leg healed and he could get back in the saddle.
Sid was known as a cowhand amongst cowhands. He mentored many in addition to his own sons. Bobby Miller, Gene Pearson, Jim Miller, Maggie Miller are just a few of those who were amongst them. Mike Miller, Bob Millers grandson, relates the story of how Sid claimed he would wrangle on rougher horses than most rodeo cowboys bucked off and Mike agreed this was so. Sid was known to always tie hard and fast, not dally. He was an excellent hand with a rope and he said that way whatever you roped would be with you and if a wreck happened, deal with it then.
Sid was raised in the times before penicillin, sulfa tablets and most of the medicines we now consider a necessary part of treating livestock. Penicillin wasn’t invented until 1928, 22 years after Sid was born. Doctoring diseases such as blackleg required the cattle to be roped and run either a short strand of barb wire or rope through the foot. He front footed many horses but not if they were larger horses such as the draft horses he started and worked. His compassionate nature didn’t allow him to take the chance of the weight of the larger horse landing on their shoulder and hurting them.
Sid worked on Miller ranches and always rode for the brand. He and son Jim were the last person to hay Millers Turtle ranch, which he did with horses before it was turned into pasture.
Kelly Murdock Wells wrote the following memories about Sid Skiver while he was working on the Todd Place for Millers with her father, Robin Murdock. “His whole life circled around cattle. He drove his El Camino and carried his clothes in the back in cardboard Washington Apple boxes. He was extremely fond of Yellowstone Whiskey and would often announce even at age 75, he was ‘Going to Saratoga to ride a bucking’ horse.’ When he’d run out of whiskey, he’d ask Carol Murdock for “just a thimble full.” Sid was Kelly’s first babysitter. Kelly hauled him firewood in her red wagon and he paid in candy bars and a square beaded purse with fringe around it. He ate with Murdocks and Kelly remembers him being super polite. His only complaint was that he didn’t consider pizza a real food. “That DAMN PEE ZZA!” was what he would comment if pizza was served.
Maggie Miller had the following memories about Sid when she first went to work on Miller’s Todd Place for Robin Murdock. “When Maggie Howell Miller went to work night calving the first time, Sid Skiver became her teacher. He was kind of running the calving operation. He had been there so long, he had taught everybody around, all the young fellas who managed the Miller Ranches. Sid and Maggie would go out to together, and he had such an eye for everything. Sid was so polite he would not use the words for the female anatomy in front of Maggie.”
A bad horse wreck in about 1965 left Sid in a position where he couldn’t walk or ride, mostly due to scars in his back from when a work horse had kicked him and hurt him badly as a youth. Son Jim Skiver who was living in Colorado went to Wyoming and picked up Sid and took him to Colorado to heal. Doctors told Sid he had no chance of riding again, but Sid was back at work again that spring and by summer was back in the saddle once again working for Miller ranches. Throughout Sid’s life he was offered many jobs including returning to the family ranch down by Elk Mountain, Wyoming but he stayed tied hard and fast to the Miller Ranches and continued working for the 67 brand until tragedy struck.
Sid was returning from Cody, Wyoming where he had been up seeing daughter Reena and his wife Hazel who was dying of cancer. Sid had caught a ride back with a friend and decided to spend the night at Rookies Lodge, the renamed Sargent’s Inn, near Daniel before going back up to Millers Duke place where he was cowboying. While Sid was sleeping, a kitchen fire broke out and the building was burnt to the ground. Sid fell victim to the fire and died in the fire. This tragedy occurred on the night of November 20, 1979. He was buried in a fierce snowstorm beside grandson Kelly Harris, daughter Reena’s son, who had drowned in a boating accident years before.
Sid lies buried in the Daniel cemetery above the Father De Smet monument. The monument to Sid is the one he left behind for people to follow. The soft chuckle and the sweet smile that embodied this great cowboy will never be forgotten nor the respect of all who had the great fortune to be around him. Never break your word to man or horse, treat all women with respect the same as you would your sister were not just words to speak for Sid, they were Sid himself. Never to be forgotten and always respected.