My great grandfather Wilford Luce was a rancher near Big Piney, Wyoming. I came across this little clipping I pulled from the local paper back in the days when brands were recorded at the county level and published periodically as an aid to identification and protection.
Grandpa Luce worked for A. W. Smith on the Mule Shoe Ranch he “had a rope and a good horse.” He homesteaded near Big Piney, Wyoming in 1886. His ranch, the LU Quarter Circle, was the first ranch on the Green River in that area, north of the cutoff on the Green River. He lived first in a dugout or “soddie” but afterward built a cabin with buffalo hides over sod for the floor. This cabin and those he subsequently built were all in the shape of an “L” for Luce.
The picture of his brands above shows the LU Quarter Circle first, then two other brands, the Circle Dot (used for horses), and the Flying Heart.
Branding was a community event. The following interview is from the Early Sublette County Brands Project:
Jonita Sommers- So how did they know which calf went with what person?
Bud Sommers- Well, at that time old Rex Wardell was foreman and he’d ride in the heard and mother a calf up with the cow and when he saw what calf belonged with each cow he’d rope it and drag it in and tell who it belonged to and they’d put the brand on.
Jonita- And what would he say?
Bud- Well, he was kind of comical far as that goes. He’d bring it in if it was old Bill Luce’s brand he’d say, “Red Willie” and if it was Olson’s brand, old Charlie Olson, he’d say, “3 Bar Charlie” and he had, oh, a lot of different. . . oh, Nels Jorgesen, who was Diamond Bar — and he’d drag one in and he’d say Diamond Bar — always the point down,” and it was interesting to listen to him.
I just discovered today there is a “new” book on brands in this area of Wyoming: Branded: History of Green River Valley and Hoback Basin Brands. I need to order a copy for myself. See New brand history book available at Pinedale Online (Nov. 27, 2016).