click here to go to Buckaroo Hall of Fame HOMEPAGE

Virgil C Piquet
Virgil C Piquet
Virgil C Piquet

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 buckaroo’s 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 1930’s, 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. Hamely’s 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 Queens’ Court.

Virgil married a Long Creek, OR rancher’s 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. Ruth’s father became ill in 1942, so they sold their ranch and moved back to her father’s 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 Sheriff’s Posse, President of the County Cattleman’s 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 Sheriff’s 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.

Ruth’s father’s 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