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Rustling and Branding

Written by Dick Perue

A century ago news in the hometown weekly newspaper featured the valley’s livestock industry, including these two articles in the Jan. 27, 1916 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

Killed calf

The following was this week received from H.D. Blydenburgh of the Jack Creek Land and Cattle Co. and contains some very unusual information:

We have just had an experience that we do not believe has ever happened to any other stockman in this valley.

A short time ago we received a letter from a former resident of the valley, asking if we were owners of cattle bearing a certain brand, that ranged on Jack Creek 26 years ago. We answered him that we were and that we still used that brand on our cattle and sheep.

You can imagine our surprise when we received the following letter from him by return mail.

“Many years ago I killed and ate a young calf on Jack Creek, branded with your brand. I did not need to do this as I had stock of my own I could have killed, so the act was that of a thief. I have tried my whole life to be square. I now wish to make restitution. Please find enclosed bank draft for $100, which I hope you will consider makes everything straight.”

It is so very rarely that anyone receives such a letter, that we think it worthy of notice. Most people, when they wish to ease their conscience, send the money anonymous, which keeps the receiver guessing as to who it is from and for what purpose it was sent. Not so with this man. He has acknowledged his sin and makes restitution, for the $100 was in the letter all right. We fully forgive him his fault and sincerely hope his conscience will cease from troubling him any longer.

While we did not know that this gentleman had killed and eaten our calf, we knew that this kind of work was going on in the valley at that time and may be going on yet for all we know.

Now if there are any others who have killed and eaten any of our cattle and sheep unknown to us, we would be very much pleased to have them relieve their conscience in the same substantial manner.

Duplicate brands

Very often the question is asked, “Why are there duplicate brands on the state records?” Nearly every mail brings in an inquiry of this kind. Before 1909 the recording of brands was done by the county clerks of the various counties.

The same brand could be recorded to different parties in every county in the state. There have been several cases where the same brand has been allowed to two parties who resided just across the county line from each other, and not more than 20 miles apart. This has caused a great deal of confusion.

When the state took over the brands in 1909, all of the brands on record in the counties and which were properly certified had to be accepted as state brands as the parties having them recorded had complied with the law then in effect. Since 1909 no duplicate brands have been allowed.

Hurry! Do it now! You stockmen who don’t want to loose your stock brand, re-record that brand today.