James H. “Jim” Cheney was born at the family homestead on Corral Creek in southern Natrona County in 1905. He went to the local country school through the eighth grade.
His father died when he was a young boy and he went to work on the family ranch. The ranch was lost during the great depression. Jim was 15 years old when he left the ranch on horseback with everything he owned in a sack tied behind his saddle.
He went to work for the Two Bar Ranch, one of the larger ranches in the valley and worked at various jobs the next few years and then in 1925 he met and married Josephine Fenton.
They took up a homestead on Chalk Creek in southern Natrona County. They bought milk cows and sold cream for several years. They sold the homestead and bought a section of land and leased another section west of Casper on Iron Creek. They decided to sell the milk cows and bought Hereford cattle.
Three boys were born to this union. Roy James in 1926, William in 1935 and Vern in 1949. Jim worked out on nearby ranches while his wife took care of the cattle and the boys. He did his cow work horseback. He liked a horse that had a fast walk, and rode many horses that had lots of “cow sense”.
He would run his cows on the larger ranches in trade for his work and riding skills. In 1947 Jim and Jo bought the Charley Richards ranch from the Harry Iba estate. This was an 11,000 acre ranch with the headquarters on Bates Creek and summer range on Muddy Mountain. In 1965 he bought the Fremont Michie land from Femont’s widow.
Jim died in 1967 at the age of 61, after which his wife and son Vern continued the operation. Vern was later killed in an accident on the ranch, after which it was purchased by William and his wife Pat. This same ranch is currently run by Jim’s grandson Robert.