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Buckaroo Museum, Winnemucca Nevada


Jack D. Hammond

Jack D. Hammond (1918-1995)

Jack was born in Vancouver, B.C. July 14, 1918 to Carl D. Hammond and Violet (Shepard) Hammond. The family lived at Jake Creek Ranch, 65 miles east of Winnemucca, Nevada. The ranch was so remote and transportation was so limited (only way to town then was by horse back or buckboard wagon) so Jack’s father sent Violet to be with relatives in Vancouver where Jack was born.

When Jack was old enough to travel, him and his mother made the long trip back to Nevada where Jack grew up at Jake’s Creek Ranch in north eastern Humboldt County. The ranch was homesteaded in the late 1800’s by Jack’s grandfather, Frank Hammond. The ranch sat down in a canyon and used both the left and right forks of Jake’s Creek for irrigating crops of hay. Jack was the second of four children. Preceded by the birth of his sister Gloria E. and followed later by two brothers Cedric S. and Francis S. (inducted to the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in 2009).

Times were difficult for everyone after World War I, ranch life in northern Nevada saw some real rough years. In those times there were a lot fewer people in the region and they lived far apart. Neighbors were few and usually several miles away with no telephones then. Horseback and wagons were the only way to get anywhere. Jack and his siblings were very much a part of this era in American history. They went to school in their early years at the ranch, there was a school house on the ranch and Violet was a school teacher.

Even though the area was sparsely populated then, it seemed they all knew one another and stuck together through those times. The Nevada desert covered with sagebrush has historically seen scarce water years for raising crops and rangeland forage. Cattle were the source of the family’s income. Jack’s father rode far and wide to move and gather the cow herd on the desert range. He taught Jack and his siblings to ride a horse and help with the ranch chores. Some of the chores included milking a cow, chopping wood for the cook stove and winter heating, packing water from the creek for the house, harnessing a team for putting up haying or to hitch to a wagon for hauling hay to feed cattle in the winter. The ranch’s cattle could be found to roam a long distance from the ranch, sometimes over a hundred miles. Jack learned to ride a horse at an early age and began helping his father gather the cattle on the open range. They rode many miles in a day and gathered a few cattle at a time. The terrain the cattle foraged was quite rough and steep in most places. The mountain ranges they rode were Kelly Creek, Jake Creek, and Snow Storm mountains. Across the South Fork Little Humboldt River to the Owyhee desert country to the north and east they rode long days gathering cattle. Often times leaving the ranch at 4:00 a.m. and not returning home until after dark

After graduating from high school while staying with relatives in California in 1936, Jack returned to the ranch to assist his father at the ranch. The family had expanded the ranch to include the Red House Ranch and the Pic Anderson field both east of Golconda, Nev. on the Humboldt River. Carl also purchased the Bain field near Red House and the outfit was growing into a real nice cattle ranch at that point. Soon after that Carl passed away and Jack continued to stay on the ranch with his sister and two brothers. They formed a corporation in 1948; Hammond Ranches Inc. Jack was appointed president and served in that capacity for over forty years. The corporation continued to raise cattle and expanded again in 1950, adding the large John G Taylor holding at Hot Springs Ranch, about 15 miles south of Jake’s Creek. The acquisition made Hammond Ranches Inc. one of the larger operations in Humboldt County.

On May 14, 1954 Jack married Norma Hutchison whom he met while he was living at Red House Ranch; she was living at the railroad section housing near there. They lived at Red House Ranch for a number of years. The couple had three children, Kim, Cheryl and Judy. In 1967 after his sister was killed in a auto accident, they moved to Jake’s Creek Ranch. He was then back where he grew up; his Uncle Phillip Hammond was living there then too and helped with the ranch work. His brother Cedric and family stayed at Red House Ranch while Francis lived at Hot Springs Ranch with his family.

Carl gave Jack and his brothers brood mares to run outside on the range, which they gathered each year and branded the colts. This gave each of them a chance to break their own colts to ride. They learned to sack the colts out and halter break them, hobble them all the way around, saddle them and get mounted up and get outside on the range as soon as they could. Their dad always claimed they would barn sour if they rode them in the corral too long a time. Jack used a Hamely saddle and ¾ split reins on his snaffle bit bridle. He used a 65 foot sea grass rope and always rode with his stirrups adjusted down long, just so his toes would barely touch the stirrups. A lot of the old timers rode their stirrups that way, it made the rider use his balance to ride with instead of riding on the stirrups Jack would say. He learned a lot about horse training methods from some of the older buckaroos, one he admired a lot was CS cow boss, Tommy Hayes (Buckaroo Hall of Fame inductee 1990). Jack would go out with them on the roundup wagon in the Spring. His father rode good horses and taught him how to make a bridle horse. Jack always said “you can make the best horse by riding one or two rather than trying to ride too many”. Whenever the neighboring outfits, Ellison Ranch, CS, or Allied met up with the Hammond’s crew to a rodeer, Jack was mounted on as good a bridle horse as any of them. Bald Hornet, Crow, Fritzie and Snip were all top notch cow horses that could have competed anywhere. He used a silver mounted U.S. bit with a half breed mouth piece. Jack was easy and patient in a rodeer, he never stirred the cattle up ever. He could ride for miles on the range on his best horses and never over work them. Always having a horse under him with something left at the end of a long day. He would lead the crew out single file from Jake’s Creek including his brothers, nephews and his own kids, usually around 12 to 14 riders to gather the cattle on a circle and brand using a outside rodeer ( no corral or trap) while carrying the vaccines and branding irons tied on behind the cantle of their saddles. He took good care of his horse gear and saddle, always cleaning and oiling the leather making it like new. Jack could rope as well as anyone, threw quite a ways, but always quiet and easy among the herd, never wild and always keeping his horses under control. Jack Hammond was always easy to work around; he was willing to listen and never liked to argue, he said it wasted too much time. Jack was always on time, in those days they only had a few telephones to contact each other. Usually they got in contact with the neighbors once and met out on the range to gather and work cattle and made a plan for the next day or for several days in a row. So, you had to be on time, leaving in the early morning from each ranch to meet up with the other crews. They would be depending on you to ride your country or circle on the way to the rodeer.

In the early 1960’s he decided to order a new saddle from J.M. Capriola. It was similar to his Hamley, with a high back cantle and 3 1/2 inch roping horn. That saddle lasted the rest of his riding days. He was the oldest of the brothers and took on that leadership role, going to meetings and figuring what needed to be spent to run the operation. Jack liked education and was good at mathematics. That came in handy his whole life on the ranch.

Working outside with horses and cattle with his brothers and nephews was something that he enjoyed immensely. Especially when they all lined up behind him and headed down the Jake’s Creek Canyon after working cattle all day. Jack would hum and sing while leading them home.

During haying, starting in early July, Jack was the boss of the stacking crew. That crew consisted of about 6 men, some were nephews and his own kids. The hay was stacked loose in large 50 to 75 ton piles. The stacking crew would start out at Jake’s Creek and go down to Hot Springs Ranch and finish up at Red House and Pic’s Field. His crew usually had a good Indian stacker on the stack spreading the hay shocks, they could make two stacks a day. Jack moved his family along with a fresh milk cow from ranch to ranch, finishing up the hay stacking just before Labor Day. I t was important to get the hay up before then because the crew would leave for the long weekend and you couldn’t get them back. Right after haying they would get their horses shod and start gathering the cattle and classing them (sorting them for shipping and winter). The cavvy at Hammond Ranches included 60 to 70 head of saddle horses as they ran over 4,000 cows and needed that many horses to get the work done.

Jack was a good family man, always having time for his kids and nephews. Enjoyed having his grandchildren around him as much as he could. He never smoked or chewed, only drank alcohol at holidays and didn’t believe in cussing much. He liked sports, especially baseball and would listen to the Dodgers games on the radio at night. From the picture window in the living room at Jake’s Creek he could see all the way up Jack’s Creek Canyon to the summit, Jake’s Creek and Kelly Creek mountains, the horse pasture and the Big Spring, bringing him an inner peace. Jack passed away December 30, 1995

Jack D. Hammond was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in August 2013.


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