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Buckaroo Museum, Winnemucca Nevada

August "Gus" Ramasco

August "Gus" Ramasco (1913-1973)

Born to Antone and Edvige Ramasco, August “Gus” Ramasco was born in Sagliano Micca, Italy in 1913. His parents and uncle traveled to Italy while Mrs. Ramasco was expecting Gus, she delivered Gus in Italy. Gus first met his own father at age three. The Ramascos made their home in Paradise Valley where Gus’ father Antone and uncle built many of the now iconic stone barns and buildings of the period. Many of the structures where built for the William Stock Farming Company including their main barns, equipment shed, main cellar building, 96 Field house, Hardscrabble and Bradshaw cabins.

In 1934, at the age of 21, Gus Ramasco accepted work with the William Stock Farming Company, working directly for Fred B. and Edith (Stock) Stewart. He rode for the cattle operation and was also responsible for taking supplies out to the men in camp. His first work saddle, provided by the Stewart’s was a slick fork Hamley, possibly a hand me down from Fred B. Stewart. Gus was known as a fast and good rider. One of his more exciting jobs for the 96 outfit was to be the man who always had a horse saddled in case of a runaway hay crew. This happened more than once, and Gus was depended upon to chase down the runaway animal and stop their progress or destructive path. Many times, these horses were attached to a cutter, rake or other equipment, and sometimes the runaways had men aboard. Gus had to chase down these frightened animals and get things back under control with as little damage as possible.

Once Les Stewart finished school and assumed the job as outside cow boss, Gus found his permanent niche at the main ranch and settled into work as the company’s farm boss. In 1939 he married his longtime sweetheart Theresa Arriola following a four year courtship. Their first home was the 96 Field house (cabin) built by Gus’ father. He and Theresa both worked for the outfit, he as farm boss and seasonal buckaroo and she as camp cook. He was a talented rider, mechanic, blacksmith, farrier and farmer. We believe that the 96 ranch was the only employer Gus ever had. We also found it interesting and telling that his pay and benefits were exactly the same as his outside “cow boss” counterpart, Les Stewart. It speaks volumes about his value and skill, that he was compensated exactly like the owner’s son for over 3 decades.

He rode for the company each spring and fall during round up and helped every year during brandings. He could really handle horses and rope and was a surprisingly talented buckaroo who made what both Les and Fred Stewart remember as one of the best bronc rides “EVER” on a rank horse at the ranch. Gus rode a horse that bucked really hard with him all the way across our big square corral, I was just a kid, but I could see it was a great ride. “Gus spent most of his time as our farm boss, but probably rode and roped as well as any man we had on the place” according to Fred Stewart. Even though he was our farm boss, he still rode a good 40-50 days a year and buckaroo’ed with the best of our guys”.

“The thing most people don’t know about Gus is what a great Buckaroo artist and craftsman he was. He built amazing bits, spurs, irons and other buckaroo gear”. Ramasco is responsible for much of the beautiful heavy iron work that still remain in use of the ranch. “Gate latches, hitches, just about anything made of iron and built to last on the ranch, were built by Gus”. Gus could fix about anything, mechanical, saddlery, anything. At least four generations of Stewarts and Stocks have branded with irons Gus made, opened and closed gates that he built the latches for and enjoyed the utility and tradition that Gus Ramasco brought to an iconic Great Basin ranching operation. That’s a big thing when you are a Great Basin buckaroo – that is the difference between surviving and getting the job done, or just perishing out on the Owyhee Desert.

It was pretty clear that Gus’ favorite place was up on the mountain and he loved fall round up time because he got to leave the valley and buckaroo. He’d pick up pretty little rocks and arrowheads, and even one time, a rattlesnake rattle for his daughter Gail. He always brought her unique little “presents” from his buckaroo trips. He and Les Stewart loved to ride together; they were good friends and had a special bond that was really neat As a girl, Debbie Stewart, Les’ daughter, would sometimes ride with the summer buckaroo crew for the 96. She remembers hearing Gus let loose on a nasty behaving cow. His outburst was in what she now realizes was Italian, but what she and her dad just called “Gussin”. Gus spoke three languages fluently, English, Italian and Spanish. Debbie begs to differ – because she very fondly remembers a fourth – “Gussin”.

Sadly, Gus was taken from his family in 1973 after open heart surgery. He was survived by his wife Theresa Arriola Ramasco and his only child, daughter Gail.

August “Gus” Ramasco was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in 2015.



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