In 1913, when he was 21, William Patrick "Pat" Dew drove a wagon from Nebraska to Pinedale where he soon found a cowboy job in the Big Piney country, spending most of his time on the round up and on the range. He had learned to handle horses and cattle on his family’s ranch in Nebraska, but found his true calling in Wyoming.
Once the family relocated to Sublette County in Wyoming, Pat Dew was quickly recognized as a good cowboy. He began working with Alex Price (a member of the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame) and for other outfits.
By 1914, the Pinedale Roundup reported that he was the foreman of the Bootjack outfit. During that same period, he worked on the Upper Green River. He rode for the 400 Cattle Association and the Twin Creek Association and continued to help his family, who had continued north to settle in Jackson Hole.
The family included his parents, two sisters, and five brothers. In 1914 they moved to a ranch they bought on the Gros Ventre River about 30 miles up the river from the small town of Kelly.
Following his family to Jackson Hole was a good move for Pat who met Roxie Walker when they both worked on the Pederson ranch about eight miles northeast of Jackson. Roxie was the cook and Pat took care of the cattle. On November 22, 1916, they married and moved to the Upper Gros Ventre.
That winter they traveled by horseback, around and through large snow drifts, to the Upper Green River area to the Kendall Ranger Station. Cowboys don’t have as much work in the long winters, so Pat carried mail during the winter of 1917, using a dog sled to make the deliveries. He would later work out of the Kendall Range Station as a trail hand and fire guard for Forest Ranger W. D. Rickert.
In the spring of 1918, Pat and Roxie took up a homestead on Rock Creek about four miles below the Kendall Ranger Station. Eight years later the family, which included a daughter Nellie, and son Bill, moved to the Black Butte Ranch where Pat became a partner in the ranch.
This would be their home for decades. Pat registered his P/D brand in 1927. His grandson, Jim Rogers of Laramie, said Pat was a great horseman. “He had a way of making a horse trust him, and he could put a horse where very few could. He and the horse were just as one when they were together.
Pat was also a great cowman. He could move a lot of cows all by himself. He rarely drove cows from the back of the herd. He would move cattle from the side and get them to string out for a long way.”
Rogers helped his grandparents move their cows and calves from the Rock Creek pasture to their summer forest allotment, which was the Roaring Fork Allotment, north of Green River Lakes. We would go from Rock Creek to The Bend on the Green River on the first day.”
Keeping cows and calves together on a long drive is challenging and sometimes a cow or calf will turn back trying to find each other at the end of the day. Pat Dew was good with his cattle, making sure the cows and calves reunited – or mothered up – before leaving them overnight.
“One of the times I helped my grandfather, we were trying to leave Rock Creek and after we got them across Rock Creek, the cows did not want to take off,” Rogers recalled. “My grandfather had a 16-foot bull whip. He took it down and started cracking it over their backs.
Those old cows grabbed their calves and lined out for The Bend. We just rode along the side and had a great visit. It was always fun moving cows with my grandfather because of his vast knowledge of cattle.”
Once they got the cattle to their new range, the cowboys would ride back to the ranch, and Rogers recalled, “That was a long way for a twelve-year-old. This was a long time before horse trailers."
Another grandson, Donald W. Rogers, Jr. said his grandfather liked Morgan horses. Once after horse trailers were available, he had a young horse that he used to move cattle with a neighbor. When they were done, the neighbor offered to haul Pat and the horse back to the home ranch, but Pat declined saying, “A young horse needed to learn how to walk and heading home would be a good time to learn.”
The grandsons often helped move the family cattle herds, usually starting early in the morning, and putting in long hours in the saddle. On one trip, Pat took the lead, with the younger riders in the swing and drag positions. “Pat strung those cattle out, and we trailed those cattle to the Bend,” Donald said, “Then, the next day we trailed them on up to Roaring Fork.” After that trip, Pat told his grandsons, “About anyone could drive a cow, but it took a ‘hand’ to trail cattle.”
The work he did cowboying in in Wyoming, including some 37 years riding the Green River Drift, will place Pat Dew in the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame (WCHF) during the induction program to be held in Casper Sept. 15 and 16.
This year’s 10th Anniversary induction program will recognize the Class of 2023 along with earlier men and women inducted into the WCHF. Registration is now open for anyone interested in attending. To register visit: https://www.wyomingcowboyhalloffame.org/upcoming-events