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Tom Hayes

Thomas Edward Hayes (1899-1963)

Tom was born in Cedarville, California July 23, 1899. Little is known of his early life, as he never talked of his family. He sent money every month to his mother but no one ever knew her or her name. He had one brother, Lester. Tom was very quiet and Lester talked all the time. Tom carried a Bible with him at all times and read it daily. He never swore. He always treated women with respect.

Tom first Buckarooed around Cedarville and Alturas, California, then moved to Harney County, Oregon in 1919. Stub Curry was one of his best friends and he gave us this accounting of Tom: He first worked for the White Horse Ranch in south Harney, the ranch owned by the Pacific Livestock Co. (PLS) Miller and Lux. He then worked for the Island Ranch at Burns, Oregon, also owned by Miller and Lux.

His personality and the ability to work and handle men gave him many opportunities as the Buckaroo Boss on many large outfits. He never ever fired a man. If he didn’t like someone or the job he was doing he would figure out a way to make him quit. He had a Chinese Cook that put out a terrible meal, so he started to play a way to make him quit, he took horsehair and cut up in small pieces and put them in his bedroll. That was all it took, he left the next morning.

Tom was always neat as a pin, his gear was always clean and oiled and cared for. He wore chinks, a small brimmed felt hat, a scarf, a tan shirt, black vest, and two pair of pants, a woolen pair with Levis over them. His horses performed outstanding; whether it was roping or parting cattle, they never did anything wrong. Some were cranky.

He had a sense of humor that was different. One day while out gathering cattle in the fall, there were a lot of hunters and they were shooting all around the crew. Tom slid off his horse and lay really still. All the hands thought he had been shot, so they ran over to him, rolled him over. He stayed limp while they looked for a bullet hole, and then he opened his eyes and said, “By golly I thought they got me.”

He worked for a dollar a day but whenever he returned to his adopted family out of Burns, Oregon he brought a big bag of candy bars for the young ones. While he was home he cut rawhide strings to make reatas. He made good reatas. He moved to Elko County, Nevada in the 1930’s where he spent the remainder of his life.

Tom passed away in Winnemucca, Nevada May 31, 1963.

Thomas Edward Hayes was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 1992.