Bred to be a cowboy would certainly apply to George Hereford. His family tree includes the original breeders of the Hereford cattle breed in England. His American branch includes our first President, George Washington’s sister. His Wyoming leaf includes his Grandfather “Uncle Jack” Robertson an early partner of Jim Bridger and pioneer cattleman, trapper, horse trader known from South Pass Wyoming to Salt Lake City Utah.
When his parents went to Montana when George was 10 years old, he stayed here in Wyoming. With instruction from Lige Driskell and George Barr, he learned the cowboy trade in the real world that was Wyoming in the late 1800’s. He learned these lessons so well that he is arguably the King of our old time cowboys.
If riding and roping are the marks of cowboyship, George Hereford was the master of both.
A famous exhibition cowboy was known for riding broncs to a standstill while holding $20 gold pieces in each stirrup while holding another gold piece in the seat of the saddle. George and his friends didn’t have the sixty bucks to duplicate the feat. George was sure he could accomplish this challenge and wagers were placed and bean can lids were substituted for the gold pieces. The bettors supplied a bronc never ridden. Eared down and blindfolded their steed stood as young George climbed aboard putting the can lids in each stirrup and in the seat of the saddle. George rode this bronc to a standstill and collected his winnings, all three can lids still in place.
In a Bronc riding contest sponsored by none other than Buffalo Bill Cody, George beat the champion bronc rider Oscar Quinn who held title in Wyoming and Utah. Buffalo Bill invited young George to join his Wild West Show. George accepted, but was called back home at the death of his older brother Robert. He missed the proverbial boat and never actually was in that extravaganza.
He was a super roper as well. In a contest of that skill, he roped 100 calves in a row without a miss. A cowboy to the end, the last rawhide reatta that he was making is displayed, nearly finished, at his nephews ranch house. Nearby hangs his bridle with an original Garcia bit.
The leaves of his remaining family tree show how strong the cowboy DNA of George Hereford really were. His great nephew, Jack Hickey, was the first Uinta County cowboy to be inducted in the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame. Great great nephews and great great nieces continue the cowboy way as do their children.
George Hereford…..Destined to be a cowboy.