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Ed Hanks

Ed Hanks old photo
from Nevada Buckaroo to Ranch Manager

Ed Hanks (1889-1974)

In the year 1900, Ed Hanks, 18 years old, along with his cousin Frank Philips, left his 11 siblings and parents in the Surprise Valley area of northern California. Ed went to seek his future in Nevada. Ed Hanks held many humble jobs over the years, worked with many Nevada buckaroos, gradually working up to jobs with more and more responsibilities.

John G. Taylor and Jim Edson at the Double Square were early employers as he became an expert at running, breaking and gentling the wild horses. This outfit ran over seven thousand horses on open range; with a government contract for one thousand remount horses a year at seventy five dollars each, Ed considered it a gold mine. He gathered wild horses for weeks at a time with Frank Hammond, Harry Mays and Tom Thornton.

When his boss, Jim Edson, was shot during a dispute over a horse and taken to Winnemucca, he sent word for Ed to come to Winnemucca. Ed was at the Dry Creek Ranch when he got word to go. He rode his sorrel horse Clara, a smooth riding singlefooter with a wonderful gait and the best horse on the outfit, 75 miles to Winnemucca. Edson hired Ed to run the outfit until he recovered. The next day Ed rode Clara 75 miles back to Dry Creek; this was considered record time for a two day trip using only one horse.

While breaking horses Ed said, 'I don't believe in whipping or mistreating horses, but I didn't want one to mistreat me either.' He liked horses and they wanted to please him. Late in life he recalled his many horses by name, recalling their gaits and personalities. Ed's cutting horses were among the best in Nevada. As soon as you started after a cow you could drop the reins, and you'd better have a good seat in the saddle, for his horse would push, bite and turn on a dime until that cow was out of the herd.

Later, Ed worked for George Russell on the 25 Ranch south of Battle Mountain, back working with cattle. They ran nearly 10,000 head at that time. Here Ed trained a strawberry roan named Burt into a great cutting horse. A bunch of cattle buyers from Lovelock watched him work and tried to buy him for $150. Mr. Russell was going to sell him when Ed spoke up: 'He is the best horse we have and if he goes to Lovelock so do I'. Both stayed. He also worked for the TS Ranch and for the Golconda Cattle Company-Pitchfork Ranch.

After the 1910 flood of the Humboldt River he and Frank Hammond went to San Francisco, took a boat trip to Vancouver and returned by train. He said the boat 'Was as rough as any bronco.' He also worked for the SL Ranch near Edgemont, and the 15 Ranch near Lovelock. In 1912 he went to work for Hunter & Banks Ranch near Elko. Every place he worked Ed trained horses and remembered them well fifty years later. He also remembered using some string to snare a ground squirrel for the entertainment of his buckaroo friends; the squealing, jumping squirrel sent several of their horses stampeding back to the barn, leaving the buckaroos afoot.

In 1923 while working for the Hunter & Banks Ranch he married the local school marm, Ella Eddy. She liked to work with him to scatter salt or doctor cattle, and cook for the buckaroos. She was an artist with a Dutch oven, whether making biscuits or lemon meringue pie. One summer when the family was up on the range near the North Fork of the Humboldt River, the cattle developed anemia. Ed and Ella checked cattle everyday for illness. When a cow was sick, Ed, who was a left-handed roper, would rope it by the head, have his horse hold it while he got Ella's horse and roped the cow's hind legs. When it was down, Ella sat on its head while Ed injected the medicine into the jugular vein.

In 1933 he went back to work for the Horseshoe Ranch. Soon Dean Witter, a California stockbroker hired him to manage the ranch. The Horseshoe Ranch ran about three thousand head of cattle at that time. In 1939 the family moved near Elko to the Hunter & Banks Ranch so the boys could start high school. Ed managed this ranch for Charlie Howard, who owned the Thoroughbred champion racehorse, Seabiscuit.


Charles S. Howard's favorite picture of Seabiscuit,
taken 1938 at Saratoga by Bert Clark Thayer; Pollard up

Ed retired in 1943 to lighter work, guarding tunnels during the war and haying in the summers for many years. At least three of Ed's brothers came out to buckaroo with him. They were: Lester who served in the Army in World War I, and was later shot and killed in Carlin, Nevada. Minard and his youngest brother Bill also worked at the Horseshoe Ranch. Bill was cowboss for years after Ed retired. Several nephews also worked for Ed at both the Horseshoe and Hunter & Banks ranches. Ed and Ella had three boys, Roland, Edward and George.

The book he and Ella wrote, "A Long Dust On The Desert", is available exclusively through the Buckaroo Hall of Fame; it is a soft cover, and is $18 including S&H. It is a very nice book with (true) turn of the 20th Century buckaroo stories from Ed's exciting life as one of the early Nevada buckaroos.

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