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Ambrose Maher



Ambrose Maher (1888-1955)

Ambrose Maher was born at the Lone Tree Ranch, 16 miles from Jordan Valley, Oregon on August 11, 1880, a grandson of Irish immigrants. His parents came west in 1864. His father came to work in the mines in the Owyhee Country, but took up ranching instead. There were eight children from this union, Ambrose being next to the youngest.

At age 17, he left home with his saddle horse and $14 in his pocket to look for work. For several years he broke colts and Buckarooed. He then went in partnership with his brother and bought Bull Basin on Juniper Mountain from Jim Curtis. He soon sold out and went to breaking colts for $6.00 a head. In 1908, he and two other fellows bought what is now the Chuck Dougal place on Cherry Creek, about 35 miles from Jordan Valley, Oregon. They built a fence around it, and left to run horses without taking the time to file for ownership. Upon returning they found that they had lost it.

In 1910, Ambrose homesteaded Dougherty Springs at Cliffs, Idaho, where he spent his life engaged in the cow business. Ambrose was a Buckaroo all of his life. He did all the riding and caring for the cattle and horses which ranged from the Owyhee Desert to the top of South Mountain. The Buckaroo wagon was run from his place in the spring months.

In 1924 he went into partnership with a brother. They bought 1,000 head of cows for $32.00 a head with calves thrown in. By 1928 they had four ranches and 2,600 head of cattle carrying the D brand on the left rib, worth $100.00 per head. After the stock market crashed in 1929, he sold big steers for .02-1/2 cents and fat cows for .02 cents per pound, after being driven and weighed in Murphy, Idaho.

Ambrose had a deep love for horses and always rode a good bridle horse. There were usually 25 to 30 head of saddle horses in the caviada. He ran three stud bunches, one big horse and two of thoroughbred or thoroughbred type breeding.

He was the ultimate in generosity. There was never a friend or a neighbor that needed help that he wasn’t there. No one went hungry if he knew it. He cared for the sick and set broken bones. His home was the stopping place for all, whether just passing through or moving stock from Jordan Valley to Juniper Mountain or vice-versa. Everyone was made welcome, given a full meal, a good bed, and feed for the saddle horses and stock.

His many talents included spinning mecates, working with silver and braiding rawhide reatas. He always packed one. Ambrose had a reputation for being a fine roper. Many items he made were given to his children and used daily on the ranch. Playing his violin was another one of his pleasures. He served on the Taylor Grazing Board for seven years and as a School Board Trustee for a great many years. Due to ill health in 1952, he sold his ranch to his daughter, Gert and her husband Jeff Anderson. Nine children survived him at his death; three boys and six girls - five of whom remained in the cattle business.

Ambrose Maher was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 1991.

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