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BRIAN CLAYPOOL AND LITTLE DAN

Brian Claypool was one of the great rodeo cowboys from Canada during the decade of the seventies. He was a two time NFR qualifier in the bull riding as well as the Canadian champion in the same event. Although he didn’t enter the saddle bronc and bareback riding as often, he was equally talented in those events as well. Brian was one of those “confident” guys that believed he could accomplish anything, and he was never hesitant about offering his opinion on just about any subject. He was my good friend.

Back in those days, contestants of the big winter rodeos were permitted to be in the arena and squat along the wall to watch the performance when you weren’t up in a particular performance. Of course, the bucking stock would occasionally buck into the area where the cowboys were located. The walls were low with a pipe fence attached on top so it was easy to hop up on the fence if a horse or bull came close.

One year at the Fort Worth, Texas rodeo a group of rough stock riders were strung out along the wall watching the bareback riding. A horse came out of the chute and proceeded to buck down the wall where we were squatting. Naturally, we all jumped onto the fence to get out of harm’s way. Everybody except for Brian, that is. He stayed put and then proceeded to lecture all of us about being in more danger by “getting up high where it would be easier to get kicked.” He patiently explained to us that if we stayed low we would have far less risk of getting kicked.

The very next bareback horse out of the chute was Little Dan. Little Dan was a spectacular high kicking bucker. He bucked in a straight line towards us and then turned at the last second and bucked back into the center of the arena. All of us climbed onto the fence except Brian, of course. He stayed in place and stayed low…and he was really low because Little Dan had kicked him directly on top of his head and knocked him out cold. Brian woke up about ten minutes later in the first aid room. Naturally, all the pals gathered around wanted him to explain his “stay low” theory once again.

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A TRUE STORY WITH NAMES AND DATES LOST TO HISTORY

Bryan Tucker was an old timer that occasionally worked for my dad. He was one of those endearing people that never had much money but did have a multitude of friends and a real fondness for Eastern Montana. It was Bryan that told me the following story that happened sometime around the turn of the last century.

Mae Moore was a little girl residing on her father’s ranch located approximately 90 miles southwest of Miles City, Montana. She became deathly ill with appendicitis. A cowboy, who was temporarily working for the Moore ranch, gathered Mae up and holding her with one arm, mounted his horse and headed for the nearest doctor in Miles City. Riding hard and fast, he changed horses four times at various ranches along the ninety mile journey. In those days, everyone kept a horse in their corral to have a ready mode of transportation.

Twenty miles out of Miles City, with night falling fast, the cowboy and Mae arrived at a ranch on an exhausted horse. The rancher just happened to own one of the very first automobiles. The rancher, the cowboy, and little Mae Moore loaded up and took off for Miles City. Unfortunately, the first automobiles didn’t have headlights! So the cowboy sat on the hood holding a lantern to light up the trail for the rest of the journey. They made it to the doctor in Miles City in time to save Mae’s life.

Bryan couldn’t remember the name of the cowboy or where he came from. He said he had heard years ago that the cowboy had died in the vicinity of Sheridan, Wyoming in the 1930’s. Now over a hundred years later, nobody knows the name of the cowboy or the rancher or the horses rode on this heroic journey. Nobody knows the name of the doctor who performed the surgery that saved little Mae.

However, I bet the Big Boss Upstairs knows all their names…especially the drifter cowboy that carried a little girl with one arm and rode horseback non-stop seventy miles and then twenty more miles on the hood of a automobile to save the life of Mae Moore.

I grew up on the same creek as Mae Moore’s descendants who were hard working, God fearing neighbors whom I consider friends.

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A HORSE CALLED WILL

Will traces back to Tooke bucking horse bloodlines. He started his career as a three-year old Pracțice bronc for the Miles Community College rodeo team. After a year he loaded onto a trailer of broncs bound for the JS Rodeo Company at Great Falls, Montana. Two years later Will found himself closer to home in the Newman Rodeo Company at Melstone, Montana. Newman’s company eventually went to breeding bucking horses instead of contracting. Being a gelding, Will was temporarily homeless once again until he found himself at the Ross Rodeo Company located north of Jordan, Montana.

John Moore Photo

There he stayed until a year of drought and grass shortage caused the Ross outfit to cut back on their number of broncs. So, ten years after leaving Miles Community College, Will came full circle and was back at Miles City providing practice for the rodeo team. Will was always bucked out at least twice and sometimes four times at practice sessions, saddle bronc and bareback. This is where one of those ‘twists of fate’ happens.

The Creator of Earl, who was also the rodeo coach for Miles Community College, found himself without a personal horse to ride. Will, now seventeen, and the Creator of Earl, sixty-nine, are both retired from rodeo but not from general cowboy work…however, Ol’ Will still occasionally takes a nostalgic look back at the bucking chutes.

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ONE OF THE WEIRDEST TRUE RODEO STORIES EVER TOLD

The year was 1967.  Ronnie Rossen was the reigning World Champion bull rider.  In the decade of the 1960’s, Rossen was the dominant bull rider in an event where ‘toughness’ was obviously a requirement.

Ronnie Rossen

Ronnie had also won the World Championship back in 1961 as well as the National Finals Rodeo in 1964 and 1965. Following his second championship year, he geared back on his rodeo travels and was staying a little closer to home. The first week of June Ronnie scheduled a bull riding school in his home town of Broadus, Montana. I was a freshman in high school and had paid my tuition to this ‘school of hard knocks’ in advance. Another boy by the name of Bill Stovall had also signed up for the school. We were the two youngest students…but I’m getting ahead of the story.


The previous Memorial Day weekend an amateur rodeo was held near the small town of Lame Deer, Montana, which is located on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. The rodeo arena was located in a lovely bowl shaped valley back in the pine hills. Spectators sat on the hillsides surrounding the arena in their lawn chairs or on blankets on the ground.


Bill and I were too young to be allowed to enter the rough stock events, but we were in attendance with some of our family members who were participating…and who else showed up at the rodeo? The reining World Champion bull rider, Ronnie Rossen! Ronnie wasn’t competing. In those days if a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association (now the PRCA) was caught competing in an amateur rodeo he would be stiffly fined and not allowed to compete in another RCA rodeo until his punishment was fulfilled. Ronnie was just enjoying the day off.

Ferrell Butler photo


Bill and I spotted him before the rodeo started and immediately went up to him to let him know that we would be attending his bull riding school the next week. Ronnie let us hang out with him the whole day. It couldn’t get any better than this! We were with the reining World Champion bull rider! He knew our names! We were his pals! Being a famous guy, he attracted a lot of attention all day, and we were his entourage!


Late in the afternoon, we went to the concession stand where Ronnie bought cokes for both of us. We were there for quite a while because of all the attention Ronnie attracted everywhere he went. He was signing autographs and visiting with his fans. What we didn’t know was that while we were there, a big black bull was on the fight and had broken out of the arena on the opposite side of the concession stand. We also didn’t know that a cowboy (or cowboys) had roped him, dragged him back to the arena, and tied him to the loading chute on THE OUTSIDE OF THE ARENA! Back in those days pipe arenas were very scarce, and the pine boards and poles of the arena weren’t going to hold that bull. Also, when they tied the bull to the chute, they tied him at the knot which gave him about thirty-five feet of nylon rope before he hit the end of it.


Finally, we walked away from the concession stand and started to head back to the other side of the arena where Ronnie’s car was parked. We walked around the north end of the arena and approached the loading chute which was connected to a short alleyway. The alleyway caused the loading chute to protrude out several feet from the arena holding pens. The three of us had to walk around the loading chute to get to our destination. The bull was on the other side of the loading chute, and we had no idea that he was there. As we started around it, suddenly a black freight train was in front of us and coming at full speed. We had absolutely no time to react. Bill and I were walking on each side of Ronnie. The bull missed me, but he hit Bill a glancing blow that knocked him rolling for about twenty feet. The black tornado hit Ronnie dead center and proceeded to ‘hook’ him unmercifully. The black tornado pushed him all the way to the end of the thirty-five feet of rope…and then Ronnie still couldn’t get away from him because there was an outhouse against the fence exactly at the end of the rope! The bull actually rolled him up the side of the outhouse, dropped him, rolled him up and dropped him again before Ronnie was able to scramble and crawl to safety. Poor Ronnie! There he was, shirt almost ripped off, belt tore loose with his world champion buckle dangling down between his knees like the pendulum on a grandfather’s clock, and not a breath of air left in his body.


No! Not the end of the story yet! As I said, this all occurred at the north end of the arena, and if you were a spectator on the hillside you would have to be looking away from the rodeo action inside the arena to witness this incident. However, a little old lady sitting in her lawn chair close to the north end of the hillside did see the wreck. Ronnie was bent over, hands on his knees and desperately trying to get air back in his lungs. The older lady got up out of her chair, tottered down the hill to Ronnie and started bawling him out for ‘teasing the bull.’


“That serves you right you dim-witted twit for teasing that bull and I oughta report you to the humane society!” she shouted at him.


Ronnie is trying to answer her but is still having too much trouble trying to breath. Ronnie recovers enough to utter; “I wasn’t teasin’ the bull.”


“Don’t sass me you cement headed idiot!” she counters back.


Ronnie, finally getting his air and voice back retaliates, “You heard me you old hide!”

“That serves you right you dim-witted twit for teasing that bull and I oughta report you to the humane society!” she shouted at him.

– Little old Lady


I’ve often thought of this day over the years and considered how absolutely crazy the scenario really was. There were hundreds of people at the rodeo. In order to get from one side of the arena to the other, you had to walk around either the north or south end of the arena. Anybody could have unknowingly been confronted by that bull, elderly people, women or children. Who does the bull find? The reining world champion bull rider who makes his living on exactly that kind of bull. The champion bull rider is not even entered in the rodeo and doesn’t step foot inside the arena on that day. He is only attending the rodeo that day to relax and to visit with friends. Ronnie told me later that it was the worse ‘hookin’ he’d ever taken over his whole rodeo career.


Bill Stovall and I don’t see each other very often, maybe every four or five years. But whenever we do, we have to laugh and talk about it all over again, as if it happened yesterday. We are the only two surviving witnesses. Ronnie Rossen was killed riding a bull at an old-timer’s rodeo in the early 1990’s… and the old lady…well, she could possibly be jetting around on her broom, looking out for animal welfare!

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HER COUSIN WAS A COPPER KING; HER FRIEND WAS AN INDIAN WARRIOR AND HER UNCLE DIED WITH CUSTER

Following article about Margaret Daily, Wally Badgett’s grandmother, was written on May 14, 1972 by Roger Clawson for The Billings Gazette.

MRS. MARGARET DAILY OF BILLINGS ROGER CLAWSON PHOTO

An Irish colleen, given a $10 gold piece by Copper King Marcus Daly and bounced on the knee of a Cheyenne warrior who helped kill Custer, remembers Montana in the making.

Mrs. Margaret Daily, widow living at 14 Jefferson Ave, recalls a childhood touched by the degradation of a once proud people on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Mrs.Daily’s parents were Mahoneys and Lynches, natives of the Auld Sod who fought to make a poor living in Waterford County, Ireland.

ACROSS THE BOG lived her grandfather Patrick Lynch’s first cousin-a young, hard-working lad, Marcus Daly.

Young Daly was slopping hogs for a farmer when his fellow Irish Catholics were fleeing the religious and political strife of home to seek their fortunes in the “New World.”

Margaret’s Aunt Rose and Daly’s sister Honor-a pair of comely lasses with beautiful voices-sang together at church gatherings and clan picnics.

THE “ENGLISH TROUBLE” worsened and soon everyone-the Lynches, Dalys and Mahoney’s were boarding boats for America.

Daly went to California, later founding the Anaconda Co., becoming a legend in his lifetime as a copper king and king-maker in Montana politics.

Margaret’s grandmother Mary Lynch married John Mahoney and the family moved to Shullsberg, Wis.-first stop on their westering odyssey.

It was there in Shullsberg that her uncle Patrick H. Mahoney disappeared.

Young Pat, just 16, had joined a crowd of Shullsberg youths celebrating the arrival of the river boat one summer day in the mid-1800s.

THEY WERE DANCING on the deck of a sternwheeler when an insult roused Pat’s Irish ire.

Pat answered  slander with his fists.  When the brawl  had ended, the author of the insult sprawled unconscious on the deck and Pat blanched white with fear.

“He thought he had killed the fellow,” his niece in Billings recalls, having heard the story from her parents.

Patrick H. Mahoney fled in terror, and was never heard from again until many years later.  Then his name was found on the store records of a fort in Minnesota.

Pat had joined the army.

Indian warrior, a friend

Margaret’s photo of Cheyenne chief Two Moon, never before published, she says, was taken in 1912 at Lame Deer.

TRACING ARMY RECORDS, the family learned a half century later that Pat was the first of the family to make it west.

He was also the first to meet Two Moon (and thousands of other Indians).

Riding west with Col. George Armstrong Custer, Pat died in the “battle of the greasy grass” with Custer and his men.

Both the Lynches and the Mahoneys made a second move.

THE DUST HAD HARDLY SETTLED from the battle on the Little Bighorn when both families moved to Butte.

Margaret Mahoney was born in the mining city’s Centerville District in 1890.

Her father, a miner, told her later of the renewed Irish-English conflict that festered in Butte, thousands of miles from their homeland.

Orange Day walks ended in riots, a careless political remark by daylight was frequently answered with clubbings and shootings by night.

MARGARET WAS STILL an infant when the cousin who had made good, Marcus Daly, gave her a $10 gold piece for Christmas.

It was not long after that when her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Mahoney, moved to Lame Deer where there was no more religious friction for the Irish.

(The Mahoneys were not alone among the Irish moving to the reservation country.  Margaret, when only 18, met a handsome young Irishman, Eben Daily.  She was a country schoolmarm, he a dashing cowboy.  They were married in Miles City in 1911).

It was there, in the heart of Cheyenne Country, that the Mahoneys found a people more oppressed than their kinsmen back in Ireland.

THE PROUD MORNING STAR PEOPLE, victors at the Little Bighorn, victims at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, were reduced to poverty and disgrace.

Margaret remembers a pair of paupers who were once leaders in both war and peace.

Two Moon, Cheyenne chief who led braves into battle against Custer, and Little Chief who fought for his people in the treaty negotiations in Washington, D.C. were both friends and neighbors.

“I can’t remember when I didn’t know Two Moon.” says Mrs. Daily.

“HE USED TO BOUNCE ME  on his knee and say: ‘You’re a pretty little girl.  You’re a pretty little girl.”

Two Moon knew Margaret’s mother as “Am-I-O-Ne,” Cheyenne for ” Walking Woman.”

Little Margaret he called, “Am-I-O-Ne” Histona,” which translates “Walking Woman’s Daughter.”

The chief and his people had fallen on bad times, she recalls: “The rations promised the Indians did not reach them.  Millions of pounds of beef went instead to the military, the white Indian agents and others.”

She recalls the “grub dances,” celebrations that marked the rations day on the reservation.

Mrs. Margaret Daily’s photo of grub dance at Lame Deer, which marked ration days on the Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation.

WHEN THE GREAT WHITE FATHER dispensed his meager dole, the people who had once whipped the U.S. Army gathered around as starvation was again delayed.

Little Chief, the Indian statesman left a poignant scar on the memory of young Margaret:

“I remember going to see him with my mother and another woman.

At 18 Margaret traveled the Cheyenne reservation on horseback with her mother to visit friends and watch the Indian ‘grub dances.’

“His wife warned us he was in a bad mood when we knocked at the door.”

INSIDE THEY FOUND THE CHIEF lying on a pallet on the floor.  His woman, nearby, kept the flies from the aging leader with a tuft of shredded newspaper tied to a stick.

“Have you any bread?” the elder Mahoney woman asked.

“No,” said Little Chief.

“Any meat?” Mrs. Mahoney probed.

“No meat,” he said.  “No meat, no milk, no bread.”

“What about the government?”  Mrs. Mahoney asked.

THE OLD CHIEF ROSE  and retrieved a box from the corner of the small cabin.  Inside were stacks of yellowed documents.

“This is what the government gives us,”  Little Chief said.

“Treaties!”

“You cannot eat treaties.”