|Louis Harrell. J. H. Hawley photo.|
Around 1870, Jasper Harrell, an older cousin, bought a ranch near Elko, Nevada. Jasper had followed the gold rush to California in 1850 and stayed to become a prosperous cattleman, grain producer, and real estate investor. However, cultivated agriculture was now replacing large-scale cattle operations in California. Jasper hired Louis as part of the crew driving a herd of Texas cattle to his new ranch.
Louis apparently remained in the area as a cowboy working at various ranches, including the Jasper Harrell operation. By the early 1870s, Jasper had “claimed” considerable summer range in south-central Idaho and ran cattle on several satellite ranches there.
In the spring of 1880, Louis moved to Cassia County (which then included today’s Twin Falls County) to work full time for the Harrell operation. Then, with major transactions in 1881 and 1883, Jasper sold his holdings to the Sparks-Tinnin outfit (cattlemen John Sparks and John Tinnin). Louis stayed with the ranch, and then, after Tinnin sold his share to Jasper’s son A. J. (Andrew), continued with the Sparks-Harrell operation.
Louis was among those who saw “Diamondfield” Jack Davis on February 4, 1896 … the day when sheepmen John Wilson and Daniel Cummings were shot [blog, Feb 4]. During the time he was not observed by witnesses, Davis would have had to ride all-out to the exact scene of the shooting – and even that might not have been enough. Yet Louis later told his sons that Jack’s horse showed no signs of hard riding – which other witnesses confirmed at the trial. (A jury of sheepman and farmers convicted Jack anyway.)
|Cattle brought to water. Library of Congress.|
In 1897, Louis started his own small ranch operation not far from today’s Rogerson. An incident the year before might well have played a role in his decision.
According to one of his sons, Louis had been roping wild horses when his riata – woven leather rope – snapped. The backlash flailed his eyes, almost blinding him. It took him over two days, on horseback and then by train to Ogden, to reach medical help. They could save only one of his eyes. He might then have decided it was time to settle down as a ranch manager rather than continue as a working cowboy.
Over the years, Louis expanded his ranch operation. Then, after the Oregon Short Line ran a railroad line south from Twin Falls in 1909, he invested in the town of Rogerson. That included a position as Vice President of the Bank of Rogerson. He also owned stock in a bank in Kimberly.
Louis remained active on the ranch until late in life. He listed his occupation as stock rancher, not “retired,” even as late as the 1930 U. S. Census, when he was 76. He finally retired in the Thirties and passed away in early 1946.
|References: [French], [Hawley]|
|Charles S. Walgamott, Six Decades Back, The Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho (1936).|
|James A. Young, B. Abbott Sparks, Cattle in the Cold Desert, University of Nevada Press, Reno (2002).|