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Francis Hammond
Francis S Hammond
France Hammond (1913 - 20__)

Francis S. Hammond was born July 22, 1924 in Reno, NV to Carl D Hammond and Violet (Shepard) Hammond. His Father owned the Jake Creek Ranch in Humboldt and Elko Co. The ranch was located 50 miles east of Golconda and 65 miles east of Winnemucca. The ranch was homesteaded by his Great Grandfather Frank Hammond in the late 1860's. Francis was raised on the ranch and went to school there in his early years. His mother was a school teacher. Francis, his two older brothers and sister all received their early education in the one room school house at the ranch. Later they boarded out and attended High School in Winnemucca or in California with their Grandparents (Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hammond had moved to Oakland, CA after they retired from the ranch). The ranch was a cattle ranch raising English bred white faced cattle. Francis grew up in the "Horse and Wagon Era" riding horses and using horse drawn wagons and equipment to hay and haul supplies from Winnemucca and Golconda. His father Carl, a good horseman rode for miles gathering his cattle on the range in the Snow Storm Mountain, Kelly Creek Mtn., Midas area and the Owyhee Desert. Sometimes he would ride from Jake Creek for several days to gather his steers (back then early 1900's, three to five year old steers. weighing 1,000 lbs or more selling @.03 per lb.) These trips on horseback could take two or three days and cover 75 miles of range. No fences on the range and cattle could migrate over a hundred miles or more from the ranch.

Francis started going with his father on these outings at an early age. He was given his dad's older horses to ride at first and then by age seven he started breaking his own colts to ride. Their dad didn't give them cattle to run, but did give each one of the kids mares to run with the saddle stallion on the range. The saddle horses and draft horses ran outside on the range (mainly on Jake Creek Mtn.) until they were needed for working, then they were gathered from the range, usually taking a day to find them and bring them to the ranch. It was always an exciting time for Francis and his siblings when the brood mares were brought in and the saddle colts were weaned and branded. He got his own saddle at age seven when his dad gave him an older D.E. Walker saddle. Francis rode the D.E. Walker until he acquired a Hamley made saddle. He got the Hamley in his late teens from Bill Johnson who was working for his father at Jake Creek at the time. The D.E. Walker was handed down to his children to ride and is still in the family. Francis liked the buckaroo way of life and took up the Vaquero traditions. He rode with long tapaderos, horse hair mecates, chinks (chaps), rawhide reata, GS Garcia bits and spurs, tying fancy knots in his horses' tails. He was always well mounted and chose to ride the broncos more than the rest. He became noted for his riding broncos and usually had ten to fifteen head in his string.

In the mid 1940's, his tapaderos (hooded stirrup covers with leather flaps hanging down 28 inches or so below his stirrup) would be involved in breaking his ankle while riding a young bronco at Jake Creek. The horse (a big brown horse his dad got from Filippini's for him to break) started bucking and hit a slick spot and fell down with Francis still aboard, he intended to ride the bronc back up, but when the horse tried to regain his feet a hind hoof stepped down on one of the tapaderos and pinned it to the ground and twisted Francis' ankle around too far when the horse scrambled to its feet. Unfortunately, for Francis it broke the ankle pretty badly. He had purchased a Ford coupe automobile after high school in 1943, so he grabbed some whiskey for the pain and drove himself to Battle Mountain, NV nearly two hours away over rough roads to see a Dr. Felder. Francis told Dr. Felder that he thought the ankle had been twisted all the way around.( it felt to him like it was twisted 360 degrees ) Felder proceeded to set the ankle with no anesthesia (only the whiskey) and told Francis he'd do the best he could but he would probably have trouble with the ankle as he got older. He returned home and healed up in a few months and then he was back horseback. The Korean War was going on at the time and Francis was summoned to Fort Lewis for a physical and he failed the physical because of the non mobility of his ankle.

About this same time (mid 1940's) Francis was working for Marvin Myers running wild horses on the Owyhee Desert near the Little Humboldt Ranch and South Fork of the Little Humboldt River. Myers had a rodeo string and used some of the horses to try out for bucking horses and sold the rest. They built the horse traps with railroad ties for posts set by hand. Leonard Shepard and/or Ted Barber with air planes were hired to help. Later on Francis had a horse that could buck in an awkward manner and sunfish, kicking with his hind feet and knocking his feet loose from the stirrup. One time in the Fall he was riding the horse at the Little Humboldt Ranch, (a Frank McCleary holding at the time) older buckaroo Glenn Walcott was living there and Francis told him about the horse and how he was hard to ride when he bucked. Walcott told him he could fix the horse so he didn't buck so hard. He went to the shop and got a good size machinery bolt with a 1" square head and placed it between the cinch and the horses' girth when the saddle was being cinched. The horse made one small crow hop and walked off and was decent. Francis finally sold the horse to Marvin Myers to buck out. He was a good one and became well known across the land. "Jailhouse" as he was called was one of the top bucking horses of that time, ending up in the Butler Bros. string.

In the mid 1940's Francis' dad became ill, he and his older brother Jack had to manage the ranch. They had also acquired the Red House Ranch on the Humboldt River from Francis' uncle Louie. Francis then started riding full time and taking care of the cattle. After his dad passed away a corporation formed in 1948 with his mother, brothers and sister, known as Hammond Ranch Inc. The brand was the T J Quarter circle which was first recorded by his Grandfather Frank Hammond in 1884. Francis became the cow boss for the T J outfit and representative or "rep" for the other cow outfits in that vicinity. Meaning he was appointed to take care of cattle for neighboring ranches as well as his own. He would leave Jake Creek with his 10 or15 head of saddle horses and a pack horse with his bed to join up with the CS Ranch wagon owned by Bliss Cattle Co. and later by Ed Waltz. The wagon left in June from Kelly Creek Ranch near Jake Creek to Layton Place, First Creek and Pole Creek in the Snow Storm Mts. A crew of twelve to fifteen men and a hundred head of saddle horses in the "cavvy" or cavieta. They branded calves in open rodeers or holding the herd without corrals on the open range. The "rep" would have the responsibility to go in the herd first and rope the calves belonging to the outfits or brand he was designated to represent as well as his own. This job took lots of experience to rope the calves to be marked for the other outfits while paying attention to the cow and brand that corresponded with each pair. He had to be good with a rope and make long throws. Francis could throw a rope further while putting an extra coil in his hand next to the loop he'd be going to throw, getting an extra 4 to 6 ft on the throw. The outside rodeer with no fence or corral was the common way to work a bunch of cattle in this era. The ten or so men on horseback would hold the cattle in a bunch, three or so men worked the ground for branding. Bunches could consist of 500 cows or more. Designated ropers would work from the back of the herd towards the fire and not swing there loops until they were ready to throw and would swing and throw in one motion. This way the roper would not disrupt the herd and make them hard to hold. Dan Fowler once said "Francis Hammond and Jay Fowler could rope as many calves and as fast as anybody in an outside rodeer."

He would ride most of the year even in the coldest months, refusing to use a winter cap to cover his ears. He met Dorothy A. McNinch in 1948 in Winnemucca, NV and they married on January 8, 1949. He took his new bride to the Diamond S Ranch near Golconda, where he was wintering about a 1,000 head of cattle. It was one of the coldest winters on record, with temperatures to 40 degrees below zero. All the water lines to the house froze as well as the Humboldt River which ran through the ranch. Hay was scarce and not much water, until Leroy Bain of Golconda who owned some hot springs near there let some warm water run down into the Diamond S meadows. Francis would unload cottonseed feed in 100# burlap sacks from the freight train at Golconda to feed the cattle. Cottonseed pellets were nutritious at 40% protein and he always claimed the cottonseed cake saved the cows that winter. He didn't try wintering cattle there at the Diamond S again, he learned his lesson that winter.

In 1950 the corporation purchased the vast John G. Taylor property at Hot Springs Ranch 15 miles south of Jake Creek Ranch and 10 miles east of Red House Ranch. Taylor had owned numerous ranches in Elko and Humboldt counties. After Taylor died the holding were sold off and George Hipple, a Kansas wheat farmer owned the Hot Springs Ranch before Francis' family bought it. The ranch had large artesian springs and large hay meadows. There ranch operation after that purchase totaled 43,200 deeded acres and ran 3,500 cattle. The cattle ran on the open range from April to December and were home in the winter months. In the Fall of the year he would ride to the neighboring ranches to help work cattle and sort his own to drive back home. He would take his pack horse and 10 head of horses to help the CS gather the range and work the cattle at the North Fork Ranch and Bull Head Ranch. Francis would stay until the cattle were sorted, his own and the outfit's he represented were sorted and kept separately in a tall sage brush field at the Bull Head Ranch. When he was ready to head for Jake's Creek with the cattle, Henry Dave would help him get started and ride back to the Bull Head. Francis would continue the drive by himself. He could reach Kelly Creek the first day and on to Jake Creek the next. He was handy with a horse and rope and could gather more cattle and ride more range by himself than most anyone. Some men of the era that he had a lot of respect for were Tommie Hayes, Shorty Riffe, Pete Fordyce, John Churchfield, Jay Fowler, Glenn Walcott, Phil Tobin, Marvin Myers and Edward Ducker.

Allied Land & Cattle Co. Ranches neighbored him at Hot Springs Ranch where he moved with his wife in 1951. The telephone then was the only way to communicate with neighbors and sometimes would be out of order that far out. When he would ride to the Upper Clover Ranch to work cattle (25 miles from Hot Springs Ranch) he would saddle up way before sun up and trot the 25 miles and be there before the Allied crew had breakfast. One time he was riding a grey gelding he had gotten from the desert, the horse was a good cow horse, but would blow up now and again. Johnnie Vail was there at the Upper Clover Ranch at the time, the grey horse started bucking with Francis and Johnnie Vail ran in with his horse to stop the horse from bucking. He pulled his six-shooter out and told Francis he would shoot the horse if he didn't stop bucking. Francis said the gun barrel was waving right in his face as he tried to ride the horse. He finally told Johnnie Vail "put the darn gun away before you shoot somebody".

Francis and Dorothy had three children, Carl, Wally and Tom. Francis instilled the same western traditions in his kids and his nephews. Francis or France as he was sometimes called by family and friends, was a true part of the Nevada buckaroo country. You could look at his face and see the mountains, rivers, creeks and sage brush or northern Nevada. He spent many days and miles in the saddle a horseback riding for cattle and horses in the desert and mountain ranges in Elko and Humboldt counties. He never spoke unless he mentioned the people, ranges and horses that he knew from the northern Nevada cow country he called home. Even though the world around him changed France never did accept modern mechanization, forever trapping himself in the "Horse and Wagon Era" He was truly a unique individual, a good horseman and buckaroo. Some good cow horses he rode were Oddie, Buck, Whitey, Blue, Tinker, and Brownie.

Francis S. Hammond passed away on Feb. 5, 1994 at Hot Springs Ranch. He was inducted to the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 2009.