George Hereford’s family has been in the West since the white
man came west. “Uncle Jack” Robinson whose real name is John Robertson
came west as early as 1826 with Joe Meek, Robert “Doc” Newell and Kit Carson.
There was a receipt for $2 to John Robertson dated January 1, 1826.
On September 5, 1829, there was a receipt from Charles B. Tomlinson to
John Robertson for $18 with William L. Sublette’s name written on the left
corner. There was a story that a girl of Uncle Jack’s choice in Missouri
chose someone else and he set out for the mountains.
Uncle Jack sent a letter to his father from the rendezvous at Pierre’s Hole in 1832. He also sent two letters from the rendezvous in 1835 and 1837. Sarah Robertson of Owens Station, Missouri, which was near St. Louis, was Uncle Jack’s mother. His father must have died between 1832 and 1835.
In 1834, Uncle Jack with his Indian wife, Marook, built a cabin on Blacks Fork of the Green River. Other trappers moved there and settled which brought about the first permanent settlement in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Laramie. This place became known as Robertson and was the first permanent home in Uinta County, Wyoming. Robertson is still a Post Office in 2003.
Thomas Jefferson Farnham in August 1839 arrived at Fort Davey Crockett in Brown’s Hole. The fort was not built as a fortress, but as a center of the fur trade in the area during the 1830s. Uncle Jack had a tepee where he traded goods from with Indians and trappers. Farnham had the following quote in the book, The Romantic and Notorious History of Brown’s Park: “Here were also the lodges of Mr. Robinson, a trader, who usually stations himself here to traffic with Indians and white trappers. His skin lodge was his warehouse; and buffalo robes were spread upon the ground and counter, on which he displayed his butcher knives, hatchets, powder, lead, fish hooks and whiskey. In exchange for these articles, he receives beaver skins from trappers, money from travelers, and horses from the Indians. Thus, one would believe, Mr. Robinson drives a very snug little business.” In 1840, Uncle Jack went into a trading partnership with Jim Bridger, Jim Baker and Henry Frapp. Uncle Jack stayed in Brown’s Hole while the others were on Henry’s Fork.
In 1843, Uncle Jack quit the trading partnership to go into business with Robidoux bringing horses and mules from Santa Fe to trade with Indians and emigrants. He wintered his horses on Henry’s Fork. When the government surveyor came in 1878, he said there was a cabin and cultivated fields claimed by Jack Robinson. Uncle Jack’s cabin stood in Linwood for many years.
Uncle Jack had two Indian wives. The first was Marook. Marook had married a trapper by the name of Manard. They had a daughter named Lucinda in about 1841. Manard abandoned Marook and Uncle Jack married her in 1841 and adopted Lucinda when Lucinda was about four months old. Uncle Jack’s second Indian wife was Toggy. She had a son before she married Uncle Jack named William (Bill).
Uncle Jack was one of the interpreters for Chief Washakie of the Shoshoni tribe when they signed the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1863.
Uncle Jack Robinson or John Robertson died in 1882 and was buried at the Old Post Cemetery. His remains were later moved to Carter Cemetery on the Fort Bridger grounds. Uncle Jack was apparently about 77 years old when he died because he was supposed to have been born during 1805 in North Carolina. Sir Richard Burton wrote that Uncle Jack had been in the west for 34 years where he was well known between South Pass and Salt Lake City. Burton stated Robinson had saved $75,000 which had been properly invested in St. Louis. Here is a quote about Uncle Jack from the book, Flaming Gorge Country, as follows: “Our Uncle Jack was remarkable in a number of ways. He was honest, jolly, slouchy, dirty, seldom sober. When he got a clean shirt, he would just put it over the dirty one until he was wearing three or four.... Jack had a fair education and gave shrewd advice. It was he, they say, who persuaded Bridger to set up shop at Bridger Bottom and later suggested Black’s Fork as the location for Bridger’s second fort.... Generous to fault, he helped many settlers get a start lending them money and cattle to the tune of thousands of dollars, seldom receiving a penny in return. Some brave was always bringing a papoose and threatening to kill it unless Uncle Jack agreed to take care of it. He usually had a dozen or more of these wards.... Usually inclined to be silent, he would, on occasion, open up. He once told a group of tale-swapping officers at the Fort, ‘Well, I made three hundred Injuns run oncet.... Well, you see it was this-a-way. I was purty well surrounded by ‘em afore I knowed it, and I put out with the hull pack arter me. You bet they made good time and so did I. But I was on the fastest hoss. And that’s the way I made ‘em run.’”
Now in the early 1850s, Uncle Jack had a visitor at his Smith’s Fork place. This visitor was Robert Hereford, who was related to Lees, Washingtons and the royal family of England. He was studying medicine, but decided to come West.
Robert Lewis Hereford was born on June 17, 1827 to Robert Ammon and Virginia Lewis Hereford at Mercer Bottom, Mason County, West Virginia. Robert was in Montana in 1857 and living with an Indian woman who died of small pox. Robert was supposed to become a doctor, but came west before his education was completed.
On June 14, 1859, Robert married Lucinda Manard Robertson. Lucinda was 18 and Robert was 32. Nineteen children were born to this marriage as follow:
Robert was born in 1857 and George was born in 1860. There were Martha, Virginia, Lewis Robert, Betty, Lawrence (Tude), Flora, Kate, Robert, John R., Josephine, Albert, Ellen Lewis, Mary, Viola, Charles, Lucinda and Hereford child who was born in 1884.
In the mid 1870s, Robert went into partnership with Uncle Jack and a few years later he set up a ranch of his own on Birch Creek. Robert and Lucinda took over Winn and Bill Moss’s cabin. They moved to Montana to prospect for gold. Robert was a sheriff while in Montana. They came back to the ranch on Birch Creek in a few years. Robert Hereford recorded his homestead filing on July 9, 1887 in Green River, Wyoming.
In 1896, Robert and Lucinda moved to Fort Washakie where Robert was the superintendent of the Indian farms. Robert shot Eugene Gonzales on October 12, 1897 on the Shoshoni Reservation for murdering his mother-in-law, Marook. Gonzales was convicted of murder. The story was Gonzales wanted to take one of Hereford’s daughters to a dance. Robert would not let his daughter go with Gonzales. About midnight Gonzales came back with a gun to get the girl. Robert and Gonzales had a confrontation. Marook was sleeping on the porch and heard the noise. She rose up to see what was going on and Gonzales shot her.
Robert Hereford died on December 3, 1903 at Fort Washakie. Lucinda died on June 20, 1931 at Fort Washakie. The book, Flaming Gorge Country, had the following quote about Robert: “Robert was a great reader and was looked on with respect and a bit of awe by his less literate neighbors who considered him an authority on a wide range of matters.”
Robert and Lucinda’s second son was born in 1860 at Salt Lake City, Utah. George was a very capable cowboy at age 10. He went out on his own when his parents moved to Montana in 1870. George went to work for Lige Driskell, who was a member of Colonel Pat Connor’s California Volunteers. George Hereford and George Finch became great buddies. George Finch’s father was a French-Canadian who worked for Judge Carter and disappeared when he went to a Shoshoni jamboree. Lige Driskell lived with George’s mother after this. Gavin Barr took the boys in and taught them a lot about horses.
In 1881, George Hereford married Sarah Perry and took over the Perry ranch. He still rode with Lige while working his small place. Sarah’s father, Henry, was born on January 26, 1826 near St. Louis to John and Theressa Marshall Perry. John Perry came from Canada and was from France where his last name was Paria. Henry Perry freighted on the Santa Fe Trail when he was young. In 1851, he came to Wyoming with John and Jim Baker driving a 6-yoke oxen team on two wagons. For six years, he trapped and hunted buffalo. He had a livestock business after that. Sarah was born to Henry and Louisa Wade Perry in 1866.
George Hereford filed on a brand on October 30, 1884 in Wyoming. During the spring roundup of 1887, the boys made a bet with George to see if he could ride a horse with a silver dollar under each foot and under his seat while not losing them. George took them up on the bet and rode the horse without losing tin can lids. They did not have the three silver dollars to use.
Soon after that event, Buffalo Bill came to Evanston with his Wild West Show. He offered a prize for the best rider in the area when Buffalo Bill had a contest with the Black Fork Riders and the Bear Valley boys. George won by beating Oscar Quinn, who was the champion of Wyoming and Utah. Cody offered George a job, which entailed going to England and Europe. George was in Laramie with Buffalo Bill when he received word that his brother Robert had died. His dad asked him to come home and he did.
In the summer of 1897, George filed on the Birch Springs and reclaimed his oat field with the water. Keith Smith from Yale University came west and bought George Hereford’s place, which in part was Uncle Jack’s along with the Large and Alvin Smith places in 1901. George did file on water rights out of Beaver Creek a tributary of Henry’s Fork on March 16, 1908 for 133 acres. On March 22, 1912, George filed on a homestead of 160 acres in Daggett County, Utah. The Flaming Gorge Reservoir covered all of this land in 1962.
Sometime after 1912 and by 1914, George brought Sarah and their family of twelve kids to the Big Piney area. George and Sarah had a child, Frances Vernon Hereford, who was born December 9, 1914 and died December 25, 1914, was buried in the Cottonwood Cemetery. George had a brand registered in 1919 and it said he was living at Halfway, Wyoming, which was on Cottonwood Creek north of Big Piney. While George was in Big Piney, he entered a contest where he roped a hundred calves and never missed a calf.
The Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 took six of George’s family. The following children passed away during the flu epidemic:
Nellie Rae Hereford January 19, 1903 to November 6, 1918
Eugene Hereford December 9, 1901 to November 7, 1918
Lon “Slim” Hereford to November 8, 1918
William Hereford November 29, 1890 to November 8, 1918
Galvin Cleophas Hereford June 2, 1890 to November 9, 1918
Inez Lucinda Hereford December 14, 1897 to December 5, 1918
Jessie Frances Hereford was born on March 24, 1907 and lived through the flu epidemic. Jessie Frances Hereford Davis Redden passed away on December 30, 1976.
The Hereford family was living on the Munn Place at the time of the flu. Sarah Perry Hereford passed away on January 27, 1923. George died in 1939 and was buried at Fort Bridger. The following quote was from Carrie Murdock’s article in Seeds-Ke-Dee Reflections: “Most people who knew George said he was jolly and full of fun. His one fault was a quick temper. If he thought someone was trying to take advantage of him, he didn’t hesitate to speak his mind. He seldom carried a gun and never used one against anybody. He was handy with his fists, and with his 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he could pulverize anyone taking issue with him. He liked people, but he once remarked, ‘I take greatest pleasure in the company of horses.’”
Sublette County Artists’ Guild
June 12, 2003