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Juan Redon

Juan Redon (1850-?)

Juan Redon was born in Chico, California to one of the pioneer Spanish families of California, probably around 1850. About 1874, he came to Oregon with cattle baron John Divine who started the White Horse Ranch. He was buckaroo boss for John Divine before coming to Oregon. He was his top man.

When Miller and Lux took over the White Horse Ranch, Alvord Ranch and Red S Field, Juan stayed and became the most famous PLS boss. He ran the White Horse wagon for 15 years. His name became legendary on the Oregon and Nevada frontiers.

He was most famous for his skill with a one hundred-foot reata. If one of his men got bucked off or their horse got away from them, Juan would direct his other riders to head the horse toward him and he would have the horse roped in no time at all, and all of this was done out on the open range.

It was, no doubt, from seeing scenes like this that Bill Miller told his son Lawrence about when Bill worked for Miller and Lux at the White Horse. Lawrence Miller remembers Juan when he was an old man at Hotel Andrews. He said that he was a real fine old gentleman. Also, he said when he was in his prime he could throw a reata farther than most people could throw a rock. He made his point clear.

Juan was a lean, small man who was a very sharp dresser. He always wore a clean white shirt and a gold watch chain. “He was before Levi’s” as some referred to him. It is also said that he was a very good dancer.

Dan Ariola remembers him well. As an old man living in Andrews, Juan always had a short little rope in his hand. He would sit down on the porch with eight-year-old Dan and his collie dog. He said he caught him every time with a clean head catch and the dog would lead right up to Juan just as quiet and calm because he never hurt him.

Dan’s older brother Segundo Ariola remembers Juan had a bald faced thoroughbred horse when he was still riding in his old age at Andrews. Also, Segundo mentioned Red Chester and Robie Copeland who were both PLS old-timers that spoke highly of Juan.

The Ariola brother’s Dad said Juan could throw a rope over his shoulder and there would be a calf on the end of it every time.

John E. Logan worked for Miller and Lux and he described a PLS crew. There would be 15 or 20 men in the crew, part of them representing other outfits that had cattle drifting on the range. A chuck wagon would drive the team as there were few corrals on the range, all the marking was done on the open range by roping and dragging to the fire for branding. In the fall it was roundup time to get the steers to market. They were driven to Winnemucca, Nevada in bunches of one thousand in a drive. It was 135 miles and took from 8 to 10 days to make the trip and that was from the White Horse Ranch. The cattle foreman, a highly important man was Juan Redon. He came to the ranch with Mr. Divine when he first settled there. He was a small man in stature, pleasant to meet and made many friends for the company. He was a fine horseman and an excellent roper.

Bennie Jordan had heard stories about him; how he always worked cattle so quiet, how he rode into a herd and never stirred the cattle up. He would catch every time and quietly bring the calf out.

He was also a wonderful hand with a bridle horse. He had his pick of the best PLS horses and rode only horses in the bridle with a California spade bit.

Dan Ariola and Juan would ride into the post office to get his mail and Dan would be waiting for him. Juan always wore a brown suit with his gold watch and chain. He would lift Dan up on the back of his cantle and ride into Andrews.

He married when young while working for the White Horse Ranch. He met his wife as she came by the White Horse with her parents in a covered wagon headed for California. She stayed and married Juan and her parents went on. They had no children, but she eventually acquired some land in Wild Horse Valley near Andrews on the East Side of the Steens Mountains. They lived there after Juan retired from working for Miller and Lux.

According to Charlie Cronin of Ontario, Oregon (now deceased) Juan came to Smith’s Fortification in 1874 with John Divine and he told Charlie old stories that his great grandfather and grandfather had told him when he was a young boy in California. Stories about the old Californios and how they could use their reata like a hunter could use a gun.

After a trip (in the early 1800’s) to Wallawa, Oregon on their way back to California, they stopped in what is now Harney County, Oregon and rounded up buffalo to take meat and hides to meet Russians at the Pacific Bay near the Russian River. They were to trade meat, horses, hides and manes for items the Russians had brought with them. To kill the buffalo, they lassoed them, “throwed them” and cut their throats.

No doubt, Juan learned from these old time Spanish Vaqueros and that is why he was such a magnificent roper. He truly was a legend himself on the open range.

Catus Smith remembers as a young boy of seven or eight years old, when Juan climbed aboard the mail stage at Andrews and went to Gilroy, California where he passed away sometime later.

The Spanish word cabellero means horseman and it also means gentleman.

Juan Redon was a cabellero in every sense of the word.

Juan Redon was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in Septmeber 2000.