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Buckaroo Museum, Winnemucca Nevada

Charles C. Couch

Charles Couch (1883-196x)

Charlie Couch was born in Texas in 1883. When he was a young man he moved to Colorado and took a job on a ranch breaking horses. It was there that he met his future wife, Josephine Fireoved. The couple moved to Eastern Oregon after they were married. Charlie took a job working for Miller & Lux for a short time then went to work for Bill Brown. Brown was one of the most well known individuals that had an insight to developing the remote areas of central and southern Oregon. He operated in the barren areas of Crook, Deschutes, Harney and Lake Counties running horses on the Wagontire Mountain southwest of Burns, Oregon. Brown owned over 34,000 acres of land including remote watering holes and springs which allowed him to control over 100,000 acres of desert country. For over five decades he operated in the deserts of Oregon, building the largest branded horse herd on the Pacific Coast. He became known as the ‘Horse King of the Northwest’.

Charlie Couch was described as short and stocky built with a ‘showman’ sense about him. According to Edward Gray, author of Bill W. Brown book, Legends of Oregon’s High Desert, C. C. Couch was the best bronc buster Bill Brown ever hired. Brown’s buckaroos would gather horses off the desert and into the corral. Couch would say to the other buckaroos that he’d ride any horse for twenty five cents. Charlie became a legend riding any horse the buckaroos picked, jumping from the top of the corral rail as the horses circled inside the corral. He jumped onto the back of whichever horse was chosen, no time limit, no saddle and no bridle. Another favorite trick was to hang from the cross beam above a gate while someone opened the gate. He would drop down onto the back of a horse as it came through the gate. During these rides he would cut off a pieced of the horse’s mane before he jumped off. Tin Gibson who worked for Brown claimed Couch was seen riding a wild stallion off the range, past a large bunch of gathered mares buckaroos were trailing and into the corral at Lost Creek.

Charlie found himself in trouble in 1910 after a dispute over a stolen mare landed him in jail for over four months. After being released, Bill Brown hired him on as buckaroo boss. He told Charlie he could keep a better eye on him as foreman. This was around 1912. In 1913, Couch took a patent on 320 acres of land on the east side of Wagontire Mountain and it became known as the Couch Field.

C.C. Couch led his crew of men by example; he proved he was the best of the Bill Brown buckaroos by placing 3rd in the bronc riding at the Pendleton Round-up in 1913. It is not known how long Charlie stayed working for Bill Brown. In the late 1920’s when Brown was going broke, Couch left and took a job in California for Colonel McKittric near Bakersfield. Charlie Couch died in California sometime in the 1960’s due to injuries suffered in a horse riding accident according to Harold Gibson, a rancher near Burns, Oregon.

*This short biography was researched by the Buckaroo Hall of Fame with the help of Harold Gibson and the help of noted stories from the book: William Bill W. Brown, 1855-1941: Legend of Oregon’s High Desert, by Edward Gray.



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