Koonce, Robert 1981-12-10

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Robert Koonce speaks on his experience as a cowboy on several ranches including the Pitfork Ranch.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Robert Koonce

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: December 10, 1981

Location: Jayton, Texas

Interviewer: David Murrah

Length: 00:54:51 (54 minutes)


BACKGROUND: Grew up in Scurry and Kent county, born close to Ft. Worth in Collin County, father was a farmer, loved to ride horses from when he was three/four years old, always wanted to be a cowboy for as long as he could remember
WORKING ON RANCHES: started working for someone other than his father at age fifteen, worked for Red Simms, then worked for W.W. Barron from Rotan year round, then worked for OXO Ranch southwest of Clairemont, moved to Snyder for three years, moved to Buckle L Ranch, went to Pitchfork Ranch around 1940-1
PITCHFORK RANCH: Rudolf Swenson hired him when there was an opening, went to the North Camp to work, didn't have to work the wagon, there were no furnished pickups- only horses to ride, Pitfork wasn't all that different from other ranches, Rudolf was killed while Koonce was there, Mr. Burns came in, roughest part in Pitchfork's history was when Harve Adams was the wagon boss, didn't know how to handle wagon, Floyd Adams was also at ranch, Floyd was good man and good cowboy, in the end Harve became close to the Williams and tolk stories about Koonce and made him leave, but before he did Harve would run off more than the cattle could eat, so Koonce took over it awhile and when he did they weighed 100 lbs. over what they did when Harve had them, After Koonce left Burns told the Williams either he left or Harve left, the pay was $40 when Koonce arrived and $75 when he left, didn't have a way tokeep beef in the bunkhouses-- headquarters did that, when he left they had just got a butane ice box, when at the Pitchfork he had 2 girls who went to school at Gardner, about 15 kids at the school, the average workday at North Camp was to start at sun-up, Burns and rudolf were both good men, best thing that happened to him was leaving, the Williams brothers were alright but they didn't know anything about the ranching business, they lived in St. Louis
HORSES AT THE PITCHFORK: the Pitchfork has had a reputation for good horses, in the begining the horses were always foddered, after some time developed good horses, the Williams brothers were polo players that may have had something to do with it, they started getting better horses when he bought from places like the King Ranch, had a lot of grey horses because of George Bailey
THE PITCHFORK IN WYOMING: been there once after he had left the Pitchfork probbably in the early 50's
STARTING HIS RANCH: went south of Colorado City for about three years, never thought about working at the Pitchfork after he started his own ranch in Jayton Texas THE PITCHFORK CATTLE: Pitchfork never sold calves, the cow herd was all over ranch, sold them as yearlings, didn't move the cow heard around, sold them at the ranch, after buying the Wyoming ranch sent some up there, trucked the old cows to Ft. Worth, water bellied cows-- bloated cow-- when it took in too much water, shelly cow-- old cow, kept cows until eight to ten years old
AFTER THE PITCHFORK: Ran about 125 cows, served as the sheriff of Jayton for about two years but couldn't earn money doing that, served again for eight years when the pay was better, never has regreted his career as cowboy, loves to ride horses

Range Dates: 1907-1981

Bulk Dates: 1907-1960

Access Information

Original Recording Format: cassette

Recording Format Notes:digitized, available on audio CD

Transcript: no



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