Ernest on the left, Frank on the taller horse on the right.
Frank Johnson and his son, Archie
Both Frank and Ernest Johnson were born on what is today the Broken Box Ranch. The ranch is located southeast of LaGrange, Wyoming in both Goshen and Laramie counties. Jelmer and Janet Johnson bought the ranch in 1907 and added to it through 1930. In 1940 Frank and Ernest bought the Smithburg place which consisted of several homesteads. In 1949 Frank and Ernest bought the original ranch and added a considerable amount of land to it.
The Broken Box Ranch is named after the brand and has been in operation for 110 years. The Broken Box brand was given to Frank for riding race horses for C.B. Irwin in 1936.
Frank attended the University of Wyoming and was a member of their Polo Team. We still have his saddle and mallets. Frank served as a county commissioner in Goshen County for several terms.
Ernest served in the World War II, was in The Battle of The Bulge and was with one of the first outfits to cross the Rhine River.
Both Frank and Ernest rode colts, broncs and horses of any and all kinds. In partnership with their brother-in-law Earl Marsh of Chugwater they raised remounts for the army. One story had Frank get on a Sorrel in front of the army inspector and the horse blew up and bucked from one end of the corral to the other, in those days about a 1/4 mile. When Frank finally got him back to the barn the inspector said “Well at least he has a good amount of air, and so do you!”
The Broken Box has always been a cowboy’s ranch. We do everything horseback. No four wheelers, side by sides, or motorcycles allowed here. If it needs done, we do it on the back of a horse. This includes, but not limited to, calving season, pairing out in the Spring, branding, putting out and gathering bulls, checking water (consists of 20 miles of windmills in the summer pastures and another 15 in the fall pastures), gathering, moving and preconditioning cattle, roping, tying down, doctoring, shipping and helping neighbors and friends do the same. It all amounts to a lot of wet saddle blankets and broke horses. Frank once told his youngest grandson Patrick, who had just gotten his first young horse, to stay on him, take him everywhere you go, and only ride that one horse. That’s how you get a “broke one”.
Frank and Ernest started with Hereford cattle and raised Herefords and commercial cattle since 1940. We still use Hereford bulls to this day. The cattle are the bread and butter of this operation.
Frank and Ernest were both cowboys of the first order. Born and raised on the ranch they died on. They instilled a love for ranching, a respect for horses, and a knowledge of cattle to the generations of cowboys that follow in their footsteps on the Broken Box Ranch today.