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Hammond, Curtis “Ray”

Ray on left

 

Curtis Raymond “Ray” Hammond was born to Curtis and Pauline (Dockery) Hammond on July 23, 1942 in Thermopolis.  Brought up in the saddle, he is a true cowboy and ranch hand deeply rooted to Wyoming.  He grew up on various ranches, learning the skills of the trade that made him a real hand by the time he was a young man. He later passed those skills down to his children and many others that came to work under him.  Most of his knowledge was attained working for his father and those cattlemen whose brands he was proud to ride for.  Furthering his knowledge of veterinary medicine, he also attended Grahams Cattleman School in Garnett, Kansas in 1976.

In the early 50’s, Ray’s father worked outside Casper, at the foot of the Rattlesnake Mountains.  Ray and his brother Lyle rode their horses to a one-room schoolhouse.  In the summer, they would stay with the sheepherders in the mountains and when they got a bit older, they trailed cattle to the Powder River Rail Yards from the FJ Ranch.  Later, the family moved to the Arapahoe Ranch outside of Thermopolis where his father worked as the cattle foreman.  At 12 years old, he spent his summers with his father on the wagon, helped with brandings and gathered beef toward fall.  They shipped big steers at the Minnecela Yards at the mouth of the Wind River Canyon.  A few years later, his family settled in Parkman, Wyoming and worked for the Moss Ranch.   Ray and Lyle fed with a team on weekends, gathered calves to bunks and grained all the horses in winter months.   In summer, they put up loose hay with a haystack overshot, would halter and harness work horses and saddle a couple others to ride.   He grew up knowing what a dollar a day and found meant.

After attending Tongue River High School, Ray met his wife Deanna, his constant companion for the next 56 years.   Three sons and one daughter soon followed, and Ray made hands out of his crew.  They lived and worked at various places until 1964 when he went to work for the Little Tongue Cattle Association on top of the Bighorn Mountains.  He came to know the land and his love for the Big Horn mountains remains today. Ray worked as a hired hand on a few outfits in the area and opened a leather shop in Wyola, Montana where he made and sold riding equipment.  He also broke horses for his brother, Lyle outside Ranchester.  Ray soon hired out as a hand for the Padlock Ranch.  He rode the mountain, cared for heifers in the summer and went to fall roundup at Bear Creek two or three months.  He readied the team and wagon to feed 700 or so head of heifers on three feed grounds.  In spring, he helped with calving.

Ray hired out as a cowboy for the Little Horn Ranch in 1975.  They raised 4000 cattle, 46 mares and a stud.  He rode on meadows, doctored steers and heifers and worked on calving sheds.  Ray became cattle foreman and Deanna cooked for the men, raised gardens, and took care of their four children.  They remained for the next 10 years until the ranch was sold.  He spent one year as a hired hand working for the ADA ranch outside Cheyenne, before moving to the Antler Ranch above Meeteetse in 1986 working as cattle foreman for the next eleven years. Ray and Deanna moved east of Meeteetse to manage the YU ranch before moving to the Pitchfork Ranch tending to livestock and caretaking.  This would be the last ranch they lived on before moving to Cody where Ray managed the Old Trail Town Museum for 8 years before full retirement. His stories are a true testament to the rich tradition of the real Wyoming cowboy, raised in what he referred to as “God’s country”.  He met countless friends and neighbors along the way and shares a piece of history each time a friend stops by for a cup of coffee.  Ray and Deanna currently reside below the Big Horn Mountains in Greybull, Wyoming.