Virgil C Piquet
Virgil C Piquet (1908-1986)
Virgil was born March 23, 1908 at the ranch of his Grandfather, Jules
Adrian Piquet, located near Marcola, Lane County, Oregon. His Grandparents
came to Oregon from France. He was the first born to Charles Adrian and
Mary Dae Piquet.
All Transportation those days was by horseback or by horse drawn wagon.
Virgil started riding a horse by himself when he was two years old. When
he was four, his parents purchased a ranch about 300 miles east of the
home ranch. They made the journey with one wagon and a team to transport
their belongings, four head of saddle horses, and twenty head of cattle.
Virgil rode horseback all the way, helping his mother herd the livestock.
His father drove the wagon, the more perilous job due to the lack of roads
in many instances on their route. Their new ranch was located about 35
miles southwest of Pendletion, OR, 7 miles from the community of Gurdane,
OR which consisted of a one room school house (to eighth grade) and a
Post Office operated at the ranch house. No stores of any kind. Travel
to get supplies was all done by horse and or by horse and wagon. The nearest
store was in the small town of Pilot Rock , which had a very limited supply.
Virgil started attending the Gurdane School at the age of six and finished
through eighth grade there. He rode fourteen miles to school on school
days. Weekends and summers he helped his father and neighbors ride and
gather cattle as well as other ranch related work.
At age 14, Virgil started working full time. He operated a horse drawn
Fresno scraper in the building of the McKay Creek Dam. Then he decided
that he liked riding horses rather than driving them. Buckarooing became
his choice of vocation. He started working on a cattle ranch near Pendleton
and work his way south toward his dream destination at the widely known
Miller and Lux Ranches. The first Miller and Lux ranch he worked at was
located in the Silvies Valley. He was sixteen at the time. He became a
cowhand for the company and was moved from one ranch to another until
he arrived at the Alvord and White Horse ranches in southern Oregon. Here
he continued to buckaroo on a daily basis and rode horseback from daylight
until dark. Once a month or so Virgil would ride up to fifty miles one
way to attend a rodeo and/or a dance. During this era of his life, he
learned to do whatever was needed for such a remote life-style. He learned
to cut other buckaroos hair, as well as trimming his own, ran the
chuck wagon when the cook broke his leg, repaired wagons and corrals,
broke horses or anything else that needed doing.
In 1926 Virgil participated in a cattle drive from Oregon to the the railroad
corrals at Winnemucca, NV. They camped on Miller and Lux land every night
of the drive. This was a long and tiresome drive and the sight of Winnemucca
was an exciting event. Virgil liked the area there and when he was offered
a job on a horse raising operation, he took it. He further developed his
horse training skills, but after a year he decided it was time to visit
his family and look for a job closer to home. He continued to buckaroo
there for another nine years.
During the 1930s, Virgil had several different experiences. He and
some friends started a traveling rodeo and horse racing show. They had
bucking horse events, steer roping, and horse racing. Virgil rode in the
Roman races and the relay races. While the show was very popular, it had
too much pay out and not enough income so it only lasted for one season.
Virgil liked good horse gear, and he had the Hamley and Co. of Pendleton,
well known saddle makers, make him a saddle. Hamelys called it the
The Piquet and featured it in their catalog for many years,
due its popularity.
In 1936 Virgil served as official Royalty Escort for the Pendleton Round-Up
Virgil married a Long Creek, OR ranchers daughter, Ruth Porter in
1937. They started a ranch operation of their own. They became parents
to a son Virgil John (V. John) in 1940. Ruths father became ill
in 1942, so they sold their ranch and moved back to her fathers
ranch and Virgil ran the operation. Then on April 5, 1944 their triplet
boys were born, David, Tebeau and Allen. Two years later they bought an
adjoining ranch and move the family there. The boys all started riding
horses at the age of three and riding for cattle at four. The boys helped
out with the ranch duties from then on.
Over the next fifteen years, Virgil became involved in many community
activities. His boys participated in all sports and Virgil was a chaperone
for many of their field trips. He was a leader for the 4-H club, served
on the local school board, county Rural School Board, charter member of
the Grant County Sheriffs Posse, President of the County Cattlemans
Ass'n. In 1960 he was the recipient of the Oregon Cowbelles Father
of the Year award, and runner-up for the National award. As member
of the Sheriffs Posse, Virgil took part in a three day hunt on horseback
for an eight year old boy lost in the wilds. He had the great joy of finding
the boy uninjured and unharmed. He carried the boy on his horse to the
nearest phone and called for a helicopter which transported the boy to
the hospital where he was found to be okay.
Ruths fathers health continued to deteriorate so they bought
his cattle operation. Their four sons all wanted to ranch. Tebeau married
in 1963 and moved to the old ranch. Virgil remembered his liking for the
Winnemucca, NV area and started looking for a ranch in that vicinity.
They bought the Rock Creek Ranch south of Golconda. Tebeau and Allen operated
the ranch in Oregon. Virgil and Ruth moved to the Rock Creek Ranch where
they were joined by sons V. John and David after he finished his service
with the U.S. Navy Reserves.
V. John was killed in a truck accident in 1972. Allen received a spinal
fracture in a cow chasing accident and could no longer ride a horse. Now,
Virgil had too much land and too few sons. They sold the Oregon ranch,
Tebeau and family moved to NV. Virgil purchased the Circle Bar Ranch near
Winnemucca in 1978. He still continued to ride horseback and was the first
recipient of the Nevada Cattlemans Assoc. 100,000 mile club award (set
up to honor those individuals who had totaled 100,000 miles) riding horseback.
Virgil was breaking a colt to saddle the day before he suffered a massive
cerebral hemorrhage which caused his death on March 8, 1986. His subtle
sense of humor, his love of life, his honesty and his kindness will remain
with family and friends forever. He was inducted in the Buckaroo Hall
of Fame in 2007.
Compiled from documented sources by Ruth Piquet
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