Cattle brands play an important role in identifying an animal's owner. The practice of branding is ancient. Some Egyptian tomb paintings, at least 4,000 years old, depict scenes of roundups and cattle branding, and biblical evidence suggests that Jacob, the herdsman, branded his stock.
Burning an identifying mark into the hide of an animal was, until the invention of the tattoo, the only method of marking that lasted the life of the animal.
The practice of branding came to the New World with the Spaniards, who brought the first cattle to New Spain. Cortés branded his cattle with three Latin crosses. This may have been the first brand used in the western hemisphere.
When Gila County was created in 1881, all ranchers were asked to register their brands at the county courthouse in Globe. A few did; many did not. By 1896, many brands had been registered.
Now, we connect old brands to old families. My talented husband, Jinx Pyle, has made a beautiful coffee table with 24 old brands burned on it. The coffee table instantly becomes a topic of conversation. Following are the brands he used:
The T Turkey Track was owned by George Cline of lower Tonto Basin. He originated the brand in the early 1900s and owned it until he died in 1976. George Cline was World Champion Calf Roper in 1923. He was the first man to rope a calf in Yankee Stadium. George was a first class rancher and race horse man. He owned many other brands that have been passed down to his descendants who live in the Tonto Basin today.
The O Bar C was originally registered by George Cline's brother, Oscar B. Cline, in 1916. It was later registered by Leck Cline. Then in 1955, Dale Cline, who is Oscar's son and a brother to Leck, acquired the brand. Dale and his wife, Lorraine, still have it today. The couple has ranched on the lower Tonto for many years.
The Frying Pan was originally recorded by Florence Packard, second-great-grandfather to Jinx Pyle. Florence lived and ranched in the Greenback area. Roy Tucker, Ed Conway, and E.C. Conway have also owned the brand.
The Tin Cup was first recorded in 1912 by Alfred M. Packard, son of Florence Packard, a lion hunter, who was one of the first settlers on the Lower Tonto along with his father-in-law, David Harer, in 1874. Packard's cattle ran west of Tonto Creek from the ranch headquarters to Slate Creek. Alfred's brother, Fred Packard, registered the brand in 1931. Then in 1951, Doc and Dorothy Cline recorded it. Doc, the son of George and Roxie Cline, was killed in 1958 in a horse accident.
Slim Ellison's favorite brand was the Buzzard X. He was the son of Perley Ellison and the grandson of Colonel Jesse Ellison, who arrived in Gila County in 1885 with a large herd of cattle. Slim was a cowboy, author, and artist. His most popular book, "Cowboys Under the Mogollon Rim," gives a lot of insight into early-day ranching in the Tonto Basin. Slim sold the Buzzard X in 1949.
Zech Booth of Gisela, the last man hung in Gila County (1905), branded the Dollar Mark. Zech was convicted of killing two sheepherders at Brushy Hollow in 1903.
The Valentine first belonged to Ellen Neal, the great-grandmother of Jayne Peace. Then Ellen's son, Riley, branded his cattle with a Valentine. He sold to Calvin and Anna Mae Peace in 1961. They branded the Valentine for 40 years. Today, Jayne Peace owns the brand.
The XZ Bar was recorded by Duke Hale. It was a brand he brought with him from the Blue in 1904. Duke branded it for many years, then the brand was recorded to his son, Ralph Hale in 1955.
Andy Wilbanks, also known as Carrel Wilbanks or Andy Long, branded Box One. He came to Arizona from Oklahoma in 1890 and settled in Gisela. Later Andy bought the remnants of the Flying W Ranch from Colonel Jesse Ellison and was a successful rancher. At one time he ran 4,000 head of cattle in the Tonto Basin. He used several brands, including the Box One. Due to a problem over ownership of cattle, Andy was shot and killed by his brother, Bill Wilbanks, in 1922, near Spring Creek. Bill was acquitted of murder charges.
Isadore Christopher, the man who settled Christopher Creek, branded his cattle with CI. During an Apache raid in July of 1882, the Apaches struck at Christopher Creek one day when Isadore was out hunting. They burned his cabins, took his supplies, and escaped. Shortly, troops pursuing the raiding Apaches arrived at Isadore's smoldering cabin. The charred remains of a bear Isadore had killed the day before had been skinned and was hanging on the porch of the cabin. The soldiers thought the burned bear was Isadore, and they buried his remains. Isadore returned from hunting to discover that not only had his cabins been burned, but he was also dead and buried!
Al Despain, Tonto rancher who branded the Rafter Eleven, or out house, married Susie Hardt and had two sons, Monroe and Paul Despain. The brand has a more common name that cannot be mentioned here.
The Cross Vee brand was owned by Al Vaughn. When Gene and Malcolm Pyle bought the ranch from Mr. Vaughn, they also acquired the brand which they used from the early 1950s until the early 1980s. The Cross Vee cattle ran all the way from Star Valley to Clear Creek, on top of the mountain (the Rim).
The Boy Scouts of America have owned the R Bar C brand for about 50 years. There were three different ranch locations, all under the Rim and east of Kohl's Ranch. The Boy Scouts bought the ranches so the boys could camp, hunt, and learn survival skills. Edd Haught first ran the R Bar C for the Boy Scouts. He sawed a tree down on himself and died in 1952. Gene Pyle was hired to take over the ranching operations and did so for eight years. During Gene's tenure at the R Bar C he killed more than 80 mountain lions and many Boy Scouts were privileged to hunt with him. Jinx also learned to cowboy and lion hunt on the R Bar C. Many stories of this ranch can be found in his book, "Mountain Cowboys."
KS stands for Kate Siddles. Elwood Pyle, great-grandfather to Jinx Pyle, traded 160 acres in downtown Los Angeles for 160 acres in Star Valley in 1891. With the ranch, Elwood acquired the KS brand. Elwood used this brand until his son, Floyd Pyle, took over the cattle operations in 1906. Floyd branded the KS until he sold the Myrtle Ranch to his sons, Gene and Malcolm Pyle, in 1954.
The P Bar L brand belonged to Floyd Pyle and Fletcher Beard (who married Nellie Pyle). The P Bar L Headquarters was located in Starr Valley and was first owned by the Houston brothers. The Ranch, but not the brand, was later owned for many years by the Raymond Cline Family.
The H Bar was first owned by Samuel A. "Papa Sam" Haught, who drove his cattle to Gila County from Texas in 1885. He first settled on the headwaters of the East Verde, near the Railroad Tunnel. In 1890, he moved his cattle operation headquarters to Rye and founded the ranch that is today owned by the Chilson family. Charlie and Fred Chilson owned the H Bar Ranch from about 1950 to 1980, then members of the Haught family bought it. Later John Chilson bought it back. In 1905 Sam Haught was an Arizona Territorial Legislator, the lone representative for Gila County. At this time, he was the postmaster for Rye, the owner of a general store, a rancher, and a miner. In 1912, he moved to Walnut Creek, near Pleasant Valley.
The Doll Baby brand was owned by Dick Taylor, father to Bill, Richard, Fritz, and Ed Taylor. The ranch is located five miles west of Payson on the East Verde. The brand was first called the Cross Triangle. A little girl thought the brand looked like a baby doll, thus the ranch was called the Baby Doll, then finally the Doll Baby.
The H Four brand is an old brand. According to the History of Tonto, "Captain W.C. Watkins brought cattle to the Slate Creek area in 1882. These cattle were branded with the H Four brand. This is the oldest recorded brand in Tonto which is still in use today. It is now (1976) branded by George Cline." Joe Basset once owned the H Four brand and ranch. Today, Jim and Connie Brown own the H Four Ranch.
Marshall Brown registered the Three V brand. His cattle ran in the Rye-Gisela areas. Marshall was a brother to Harry Brown.
The Seven Open A brand is owned by Raymond and Pat Cline. They ranched at Star Valley and used this brand for more than 40 years. Walt Lazear first owned this brand.
The Muleshoe Bar is an old brand, used under the Mogollon Rim.
Pink Cole first registered the Bar T Bar. He bought the land from Jim "Hog" Jones, and he bought the cattle from Early Hubbard. The ranch headquarters was located on Deer Creek, near Highway 87 today. Pink sold the Bar T Bar to Jess and Charlie Chilson in 1916.
The 76 brand was recorded by Edward Charles Conway, grandfather to the E.C. Conway who lives at Greenback today. Edward Charles established a ranch five miles south of Gisela in 1884. Four years later, he married Alice Harer, daughter of David and Josephine Harer. The Conways later owned a place in Gisela. They sold it to Duke Hale in 1910. But the brand remained with the Conways. Today, Troy and Judy Neal own the 76 Ranch.
If you are interested in seeing the coffee table with the historical brands, stop by Sue Malinski's Art and Antique Corral on the north Beeline Highway.
Holiday gift idea: Give a book written by Payson Town Historians Jayne Peace Pyle and Jinx Pyle, owners of Git A Rope! Publishing, Inc: "Looking Through the Smoke," "Blue Fox," "History of Gisela," "Mountain Cowboys," and "Rodeo 101, History of the Payson Rodeo," are available at Jackalope Books and Sue Malinski's Art and Antique Corral in Payson and Lorraine Cline in Tonto Basin. Jayne's and Jinx's newest release "Calf Fries and Cow Pies," which includes heritage recipes of the Peace and Pyle Families and some of their friends, along with old-time remedies, and a little humor. The book sells for $15, a great gift idea.