James Clay “Jim” Hageman
James Clay “Jim” Hageman grew up on a ranch near Shawnee, Wyoming, where he was the third child of six. He worked hard helping his folks milking cows and feeding chickens everyday before school, and riding plenty of horses. When the roads were snowed in, Jim rode his horse eight miles to the Shawnee country school, which he attended from grades 1-8. Then he went to Douglas High School where he was graduated in 1948. He later attended the University of Wyoming.
When he was out of school, he served as a bus driver for a year. When the roads were too bad for his bus to get through, Jim would lead a whole string of horses to each home and load the kids up to take them to school. All through his childhood Jim would say, “Someday I want to have a ranch and 1,000 cows of my own.” This statement laid out a path for his whole life. At an early age he began traveling with his uncles running cows and breaking horses.
Jim Hageman’s maternal grandfather brought a trail herd from Texas in 1878. These cattle were taken to Ogallala, Nebraska, where they were split. The big steers were shipped to South Dakota and the breeding livestock was brought to Wyoming. There were only 11 cowboys for 4,000 head of cattle on this trip. This started the cowboy heritage for Jim Hageman. All while growing up, his paternal uncles ran roundup wagons across the state. He rode and worked for these uncles on the roundups covering an acceptable amount of land on horseback across the state.
As a kid, his uncle raised many of the horses used at Cheyenne Frontier Days including parade horses and broncs for the wild horse race. Jim and his brothers worked for many years at Cheyenne helping pick up bucking horses and organize the parades. They also participated in the wild horse race there. Jim rodeoed for several years and had planned a trip to go to Madison Square Garden and ride with Les Gore until Les broke his leg.
In 1961, after moving to Goshen County, he worked with his uncle Roscoe Peach on the 010 Ranch near Jay Em Wyoming until 1969. Also during this time, he was operating and building his own ranch where he worked the rest of his life.
For several years Jim served on the Ruckelshaus Environmental Institute of the University of Wyoming where he worked to express his beliefs on the importance of agriculture to the State of Wyoming and wrote many pieces of literature, which explained this. His piece “The cow made Wyoming comfortable,” is located on a historical marker on the side of a highway near Thermopolis, Wyoming. In this story he explained that the cow was the reason Wyoming was settled and was made a comfortable place to live.
Jim spent his whole life helping to enhance agriculture for himself, the state, and the country. He worked to obtain land and build his cow herd while also raising and training his own horses. He and his wife Marion served as foster parents for over 30 kids. They were recognized as National parents of the year in 1996, University of Wyoming family of the year in 2002, and Wyoming Livestock Roundup Agriculture family of the year in 2002. Jim was an honorary lifetime member of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, a member of Farm Bureau, member of Wyoming Wool Growers Association, and served in the legislature for 24 years.
The University of Wyoming experiment farm was named after Jim as well now carrying the title of “James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Center.” Jim also earned an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Wyoming in 2006. Jim and his famous horse “The Dun Mare” were the model for the statue at the entrance of the Wyoming State Fair grounds.