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Lawrence Ralph Stanford

Lawrence Ralph Stanford (1890-1972)

Ralph spent nearly all of his life in Owyhee County, Idaho. He was born March 7, 1890 at Reynolds Creek to Lee and Christine Stanford. Lee was one of the first white children born in Owyhee County and Christine (Nelson) arrived on Jackson Creek, 15 miles North of Jordan Valley, Oregon, from Sweden at the age of 11. Her father, Ben (Bengt) Nelson had a homestead there. He built a barn on Reynolds Creek that was 15 or so miles North of Jackson Creek where Ralph was born. Ralph’s grandfather, Lyman Stanford, was the first sheriff of Owyhee County. It is not known whether he was elected or just assumed the job.

Ralph’s early life was spent on Reynolds Creek, Emmett (where his folks ran the hotel), Booneville and Silver City, Idaho. (about 30 miles from Jordan Valley, Oregon).

In 1904 the family moved to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Canada where they homesteaded. They used three wagons for transport. Ralph drove one of the teams most of the way, good practice for the years ahead.

Returning to Reynolds Creek in 1910 Ralph was first a swamper (or a chore boy) around the freight barns but soon became a teamster driving an eight horse team between Reynolds Creek and Silver City, Idaho He later drove stagecoach into Silver City from Murphy using a six horse team.

In 1912 the family moved to Jackson Creek, where his mother’s family had homesteaded. Ralph became a Buckaroo, horse breaker (both saddle and work horses), horse runner. Some of the ranchers he worked for were Bill Moore, John Acarregui and Charlie McIntyre. Charlie came up the Chisholm Trail with a bunch of Texas longhorns.

Ralph was in the infantry during World War I; just ready to ship out from Newport-News, Virginia when the Armistice was signed. Returning to Jackson Creek he assumed his buckaroo life and ranch work. In 1922 he married Nina Deitrick and took her home to Jackson Creek. Nina was teaching school at the Upper Cow Creek School. Ralph’s mother was blind and together they cared for Ralph’s parents until their deaths. Ralph and Nina had seven children, Lee, Stub, Gene, Christy, Betty, Florence and Frank. Nina passed away in 1950. Omar’s wife Lilly help take care of the children, she being a schoolteacher herself.

Ralph and his brother Omar became partners in ranching and over the years acquired several homesteads making a fair sized ranch. Omar and his family lived two and one half miles up the creek. Ralph had learned blacksmithing from his Dad (who was a blacksmith) and that came in very handy keeping the ranch equipment repaired. His leatherwork consisted mostly of mending harness and shoes. Winters were spent feeding cattle, chopping wood and making reatas either for use or he would sell one, but most of the time he gave them away. Summers were spent haying, fence building, buckarooing all of the things that keep a ranch running.

In his semi-retirement he did a little traveling, touring of Mexico with friends by Automobile and flew to Alaska going every where there was a road. Ralph never learned to drive a motorized vehicle of any kind; he either rode his horse or drove a team wherever he wanted to go.

For many years cattlemen from the Jordan Valley, Cliffs and South Mountain areas drove their herds of cattle and horses to the railhead at Murphy, Idaho. They used the ranch for an overnight stop over, securing feed for both cattle and buckaroos. Some of the bigger outfits brought their own chuck wagon but still had to have feed for their livestock.

Ralph was a meticulous person; “any job worth doing was worth doing well”. He only went through the fifth grade but was well educated, learning all the trades applying to building a ranch from scratch. He read newspapers and magazines such as National Geographic. Once he read a Zane Grey novel and he thought it the biggest waste of time ever. Over the years he did his civic duty serving on the school and election boards, joining the American Legion and serving as commander and became a lifetime member of the Owyhee County Cattlemen’s Association.

He was strict with his kids, never mean or ever spanked any one of them. His bark was worse than his bite but they never knew that! He was a kind and generous man, honest, hardworking, a gentleman in the presence of the ladies and very clean and neat.

Ralph lived at Jackson Creek until his death at the age of 82 in 1972.

At the time of this writing, the Stanford family still own and operate the ranches on Jackson Creek.

Ralph was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 1999.

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