On August 25, 1908, a cowboy was born to Robert W. and Ida Johnson Harvey in Robertson, Wyoming. They named him Robert W. (Bert) Harvey. When Bert was about five years old his mother passed away and his father was left alone to raise two boys, Bert and his younger brother Harold. Bert’s father had to work, so he set out to find someone to watch the boys. He saddled up his horse, threw a packsaddle on another one, stuck Bert in one pannier, his brother in the other and headed out. It was winter time, and they had a fair piece to travel. When they reached their aunt and uncle’s place, they were cold but intact.
Bert told Dan Abernathy in an interview that when he was 16 or 17, he was moving some cows down by Mountain View. “I could never stand to have my ears covered. It seemed to throw me off balance or something,” he said. “You could always warm them up by covering them up with your hands, I always thought I was tougher than hell.” Bert’s ears got colder and colder and would not seem to warm up. When they started to get hot, he recognized the onset of frostbite. “My ears swole up, turned black and hung down like a gave-out mule,” Bert said as he reached to feel his ears.
Bert told Dru Roberts, “In 1942, I was in the Green River Bar (in Daniel, Wyoming) having a few drinks. Bob Miller (who owned the biggest ranch in Sublette County at the time) came in and said that he was having trouble getting help to brand his calves. I said I ain’t doing anything, I’ll help you. And I have been here ever since.” That was pretty much true except for just a few years.
Bert married Mary Katherine Rounds in 1932. To this union were born five children. They moved to the Kelly place and went to work for Bob Miller in 1942. Katherine died from complications of child birth in 1946. Their son died a few weeks later. Bert, unable to care for the children took them to the Bridger Valley to live with relatives. Bert didn’t stay very long in the Bridger Valley, but came to work for Bob Miller as a cowboy.
Bert worked for the Millers pretty much the rest of his life. Working for three generations of the Miller family. Bert rode where ever he was needed including the Green River Drift. Most years he would help trail the cows to the Scott place, northwest of Daniel. There he would help calve, the take the cows and calves to summer range near the Hoback rim and into the Hoback basin, where the calves were branded and turned out for summer pasture. Bert would ride, doctor and move them to fresh pastures.
In the fall they would trail them to the circle ranch near Big Piney. Here Bert would ride and check them for sickness. He would rope and doctor them when they needed it. Mike Miller said that Bert, even in his eighties could rope and doctor a coming yearling calf by himself.
Bert had an affinity for wild (feral) horses. He ran them when he was young and broke the ones he caught to ride. Bert told Dan Abernathy that if you chased wild horses on a windy day that you could sometimes get close to them by coming from downwind. Bert said, “Them hoses were wilder than hell. If you slipped up on them, they’d all come right up to you. They wouldn’t run if they didn’t get wind of you. They had to have a leader, usually an old mare. If they took off you’d just as well kiss them good bye, cause they were gone. Now if you were riding a pretty good horse and got close to them before they took off, you could bust right into them and catch one.” He said that he would like them handled with better care and consideration.
As with most cowboys Bert loved horses. He broke a lot of them through the years for Millers, but also for himself. He rode a colt most of his life. His grandson, Bret Harvey, said that he made sure all of his grandkids had a horse to ride if they wanted one. Bert was a great hand with a horse, but was also a good roper. A fact that he was very proud of. He roped a lot at Miller brandings and at the neighbors as well.
Bert had a good sense of humor and could laugh about things as they happened. He liked to tease and didn’t mind being teased himself. Bert was young at heart I guess, he spent a lot of summers in cow camp with young cowboys and cowgirls, even some newlyweds. Bert enjoyed having young people around.
In 1982, Bert was honored as Grand Marshall of the Big Piney Chuck Wagon Days rodeo. A fact of which he was very proud. Bert spent fifty plus years riding for Miller Land and Livestock. Bert cowboyed for Millers until sickness forced him to retire, shortly before he died on March 21, 1995. He was as tough as they come, a true cowboy from head to toe.