On a cold wintry day, William Byron Titensor was born February 26, 1925 on the Titensor ranch in Thayne, Star Valley, Lincoln County, Wyoming. He was the second son of Philemon and Martha Moser Titensor. He has lived on the ranch his entire life of 90 years. He was born and raised in the old ranch house that is still standing today. After his marriage to Wilma Sessions in 1945 they lived in the old home for approximately 20 years. Presently they live in a newer home which is also located on the ranch. Byron’s son and his family now live in the old ranch home which has been remodeled. His son and family, along with Byron’s watchful eye, now operate the ranch.
As a baby of 10 months, Byron was introduced to horses by accompanying his parents on a hunting trip. He rode tucked in a pack pannier on a pack horse behind his Mother in the steep rugged Snake River country where they spent several days hunting for elk. That could have been when he acquired his lifelong love for horses.
Byron was 5 years old when his Dad bought him his first horse. His name was Johnny, and Byron spent many hours on his back moving cattle. Around the age of 9 or 10, Byron and his friends spent many a summer day swimming their horses down the Salt River making one run after another. Undoubtedly his mother never knew about this until many years later. He received many bumps, bruises and lacerations caused from his horse escapades, but none so severe to dampen his love for them. Eventually old Johnny became rather ornery and his Dad sold him to the herder on the Grey River cattle allotment. Byron cried for days. Then one morning Byron woke up to find old Johnny standing below his bedroom window. He had walked all the way home from Grey’s River to get back to his beloved boy.
Growing up on the ranch, Byron’s Dad taught him how to be a good hand with a horse. At that time, all the ranching and farming was done with horses. By the age of 13, Byron was driving a 4 up team plowing fields, mowing hay, managing a buck rake as well as other horse drawn equipment. Along the way he made some mistakes, had a few wrecks, but had no serious injuries. As a young boy, he spent many a day in the saddle on the fall roundup gathering cattle from the summer range on the Grey’s River. This allotment covered hundreds of miles of pristine pasture for several big herds of cattle. Over the years Byron could be found helping neighbors and friends with this task. Even in recent years he could be found gathering cattle in the fall of the year in the Brockman Creek area near Wayan Idaho as well as on the home ranch. It would be hard to count the days spent in the saddle doing what he loved to do.
As a young cowboy, Byron and his friends spent many a Sunday afternoons bucking yearlings and horses on the Titensor ranch. The family always had a small remuda of good horses at any given time. At the age of 16, Byron decided he was man enough to ride bucking horses at the area rodeos. He rode in Star Valley, Jackson, Pinedale as well as in Idaho. In 1944 he won the bareback riding at the Henry Stampede in Soda Springs Idaho, which at the time was one of the bigger rodeos in the area. He was awarded a sterling silver belt buckle which he still proudly wears.
After marriage in 1945 he gave up bronc riding and took up another sport almost as dangerous. Cutter or Chariot racing consisted of hooking up two of your fastest saddle horses and pairing them with someone who thought theirs were faster and racing down a quarter mile snow covered track at break neck speed. This was all in fun until 1948 when the All American Cutter and Chariot Racing Association was formed. Byron was a Charter member and was actively involved for over 35 years. His team of fine horses was always one of the best groomed teams which reflected his tender loving care. For several years his team of racing Quarter Horses won the Association championships and qualified for the World Championships. After retiring from active racing in 1985, Byron was asked to be the Starter for the local association as well as the Starter for the Wyoming State Finals and the Jackson Hole Shrine Club annual races which he did for 14 years. He was awarded the “VIP of the Year” and has 14 “Cutter Pins” one for each year of service.
Byron was a member of the Star Valley Riding Club and an organizer and member of the Bar Nothin Riding Club. This club produced many of the early rodeos in Star Valley. Members of this club had the experience of rounding up wild horses on the Red Desert near Rock Springs Wyoming. These horses were used for the bucking stock for their rodeos. With these cowboys running at full speed across the desert chasing wild horses its miraculous no one was killed or injured.
Byron had no formal education but was very interested in the care and needs of sick or injured horses or animals. He studied many books and articles trying to learn what he could about veterinary medicine. He kept a few basic medical supplies on hand and when called on by friends and neighbors he was more than willing to give freely of his time and self taught expertise to care for a sick cow or injured horse as there was only one veterinarian in the area.
The Titensor Ranch brand which is the =TE with the T and E connected is unique in that it once belonged to the famous William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Byron shared the same birthday as Cody and was named William after him. Byron’s Grandfather acquired the brand years ago and handed it down to Byron’ s Father who handed it down to him. The brand had to be slightly modified by adding the double bars. The brand is still in use today. Currently the TE brand is on display at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody Wyoming.
In 1961, Dean Prosser, Executive Director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in Cheyenne Wyoming visited with Byron and offered him the position of Brand Inspector for the Lower Star Valley area. Byron accepted and took the job very seriously. He was admired for catering to the stockmen and providing short notice inspections. In 1973, he was invited to attend the annual Convention of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in Cody Wyoming and was surprised to be awarded the “Brand Inspector of the Year” award. After 34 years of dedicated service he retired in 1995.
After many years of running a cow/calf operation, the ranch moved to a yearling operation. This gave Byron more opportunity to do what he loved and that was to be on his horse. He could ride the meadows, pastures and nearby hills checking the well being each animal. With years of experience he could tell immediately if something was wrong. He loved his horses, cattle and dogs and it has been said of him “Lucky be the animal that gets to live on the Byron Titensor Ranch because it is sure to get good care”.
Byron is very fortunate to still be able to ride his horse with his Son, Grandchildren and Great-Grand Children, gathering, doctoring and checking cattle and just being in the nearby hills. This has occurred as recently and this past summer of 2014 at the young age of 89.
On the wall of his home are a number of plaques and awards including ones mentioned earlier. Among those tributes is a plaque of recognition from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for being instrumental in establishing the Trumpeter Swans in this area.
As far as public service, Byron was instrumental in organizing the Thayne Volunteer Fire Department and served in several different capacities of that organization. Some 50 years later he was recognized as a Charter Member. Byron also served on the Thayne Wyoming Town Counsel and is a lifelong member of his Church.
Byron and his wife Wilma have been married 69 years and together have a posterity of one son, Terry, one daughter, Connie, 6 Grandchildren, 13 Great-Grand Children, and their first Great-Great Grandchild is on the way. Byron has a deep and special love for his family and has tried to live his life as an example to them.
His life is characterized in this short bit of Poetry:
Let me live my life as it began,
Keep me as honest as the horse I love to ride,
Right me sometimes when I turn aside,
And guide me toward the Great Divide.