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Buckaroo Museum, Winnemucca Nevada

William DeLong, Jr.

Bill DeLong (1913-1985)

For a country boy only receiving an 8th grade education, Bill DeLong made a lot of deep tracks.  Granted, the tracks seldom strayed far from the State of Nevada, but they were deep and permanent.  Most of those tracks were made from the back of a horse.  During his younger years, automobiles were still a rarity so he didn’t drive one until he was nineteen years old.  All transportation of cattle and horses was done by horseback.  Cattle were trailed 35 miles from Jackson Creek Ranch (Bill's home) to the railroad at Sulphur, Nevada, and loaded on railroad cars for shipment.

Bill’s younger life was spent mostly as a buckaroo as not much hay was put up.  Cattle were wintered out on the desert in Humboldt County, Nevada.  Bill trailed them around to better feed and water sources, usually alone with a spare horse or two.  The winter of 1926, young Bill stayed at the "Sand" (winter country) by himself and pumped water for the cows.  He packed gas in a jar tied behind his saddle so he could start the pump jacks at the windmills. 

Bill (William DeLong, Jr.) was born September 27, 1913 at the Deer Creek Ranch on the West side of Jackson Mountain, the fourth son and fifth child of eight  born to Will (William) and Mable Floyd DeLong.  Bill passed away 71 years later on April 10, 1985, at the Jackson Creek Ranch that had been his home for 47 years-- only seven miles from where he was born.  In his younger years, he moved to various ranches with his family around the Jackson Mountains, but once he purchased the Jackson Creek Ranch from the bank in 1939 that was home.  Jackson Creek Ranch was where he and his bride, Dale Tipton, raised their four children; Billie, John, Tim and Jean.

Bill had a great sense of humor.  He could tease and razz with the best of them but could also take being on the receiving end!  He liked to wrestle and horse around at different gatherings and with his sons and daughters too.  The first time Tim got the best of Bill and sat on him, some ribs were cracked in the process.  After that, the roughness toned down quite a bit! 

He competed in amateur boxing, training himself to have active feet by running down a dirt road, and either packing rocks in each hand or jumping rope as he loped along.  He would go to the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) camps and spar with the CCC boys for practice.  Bill, known as "Cowboy Bill DeLong", was a successful boxer.  Of his 17 bouts, only one ended in a draw.  The rest were knockouts!   The big boys from Chicago wouldn’t fight him after seeing his right hand work.  After one fight, he was feeling exceptionally cocky.  Showing off for his girl, Dale Tipton, he asked if she liked the pretty buttons on her blouse.  Of course, she blushed and replied yes.  To her surprise, he simply plucked one off and handed it to her!

With only an eighth grade education, Bill had an innate business sense.  He understood the politics of the country, although he never ran for public office.  Bill often got together with his good friend, Les Stewart, to discuss Range issues.  He never spent money foolishly  (except for beer and whiskey).  His timing on selling and purchasing both land and livestock was uncanny.  His opinion was highly sought after throughout the community.  He and his brother, Jule ("Jude"), ranched separately but shared many ideas and chores.  Both were successful ranchers.  Each did their own farming, but the buckarooing was shared on a regular basis.

There were a few ranches scattered around the Jackson Mountains, all running cattle in common in open range with few or no fences.  These rangelands, covering several hundred miles, were ridden and gathered by horseback.  Each ranch would send one or two buckaroos, camping at each place or camp for a few days to gather and separate each rancher’s cattle.  The cowboys would then trail their cattle back to their home ranch.  The men trotted many miles on "circle" gathering cattle.  Bill rode with many good buckaroos and neighbors; William, Alty and Jule DeLong, Bill Hudspeth, Virgil Bucannon, Jimmy Dewer, Johnny Vale, Phil Tobin, the Reborses, Bill Abel, Burt Brown, Tom Pedroli, Jimmy Roberts, Kelly Pierce, Frank Capelli,  Pete Kershner and others.

In his later years, Bill never cared to ride a snaffle bit horse.  He preferred a spade bit, a center fire saddle, a rawhide reata and always Levi's.  He had some good bridle horses and good cowhorses.  Lots of miles and wet saddle blankets made good horses.  He had one especially good horse called Toy.  He claimed he could take the bridle off, rope and “bust” a cow out in the open just for fun!  He could also slip the bridle off him and put out any cow in the bunch.  He had some cinchy horses and some that wanted to buck.  He was pretty good at reading that in a horse and preventing it from happening.

If the horse didn’t watch a cow, they were just rock pounders.  One such horse was called Pinky.  Not his best horse, but one to trail cows and just use.  Bill was riding with Charlie Hilyard when Charlie’s horse bucked him off.  Charlie's spur tangled in his mecate which was tied to his saddle.  He was dragging head down.  Every stride the horse took Charlie was either getting kicked or banged on the rocks.  Bill was able to force Pinky up to the wildly running horse, get his pocket knife out of his pocket, open the blade, cut the rope tangling his spur and free Charlie from certain death.  Someone had to trot to get a pickup and hauled Charlie to the hospital.  He lived to tell the story.

Bill would help his kids start their horses, saddle them up and go outside with them the first time.  If the horses would buck with them (they were mostly mustangs), Bill would come up behind them and romal the bronc into running.  More than once this action was scarier than the actual bucking!  When he was older, his kids would start horses for Bill, giving them to him all bridled up.  It was a compliment for Bill to accept a bridle horse from them.  They had done a good job

Things changed over the years.  They put in a stock scale at Jackson Creek where they could weigh and ship cattle by truck.  The cattle were often hauled by Bill’s brothers, Melvin or Emmett, of DeLong Truck Lines in Winnemucca.  Bill also bought a stock truck to use on the ranch, making less miles to trot.  In 1956, Bill bought the Trout Creek Ranch on the East side of Jackson Mountain from Lynn Roberts.  This place tied in good with Jackson Creek.  Then he would again add to his operation in 1968, buying the Alexander Ranch from John Aiken. 

Later on after grandkids came along and Bill’s long distance eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, he would use those grandkids as his eyes.  If he couldn’t decide if he looking at a cow or brush, he would ask whatever kid he was riding with what it was and they’d tell him.  This worked pretty well.

Bill coached his children to be good buckaroos, good cowmen (women) and good people.  That would be his legacy to his family.  His daughter, Billie, married John Filippini and had two sons, John and Jim.  Son John married Judy Brown and had three children; Christy, Jhona and Will.  Son Tim married Margarita Bengoa and had two girls, Timmy Lyn and Rita.  Daughter Jean married Eddie King and had two girls, Suzann and Samme.  All are ranch families.



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