This story is written by Angie Ferguson, Walter's daughter-in-law.
Walter Chester Ferguson, Jr.
Like his father before him, Walter Ferguson, Jr. was always the complete rancher.
He was born February 23, 1924, the sixth of seven children born to Walter and Julia Ferguson. They were ranching west of Cheyenne, and their home was on the Crystal Lake Road. Walter was just six years old when he broke his first horse. Some army men were camped nearby and when one of their mares had a colt, Walt was told he could have it if he could raise it. That was Baldy, his first horse and the first of countless horses he would break for himself and many other people.
He became so proficient at handling horses that as a teenager he was offered a chance by a neighbor, Mark Cox to be a jockey. The necessity of helping at home, and a sudden spurt in growth, put an end to that idea.
When it came time to put up hay, Walt was more than ready to do his part. At age eight his father told him that if he could harness a team by himself, he could rake. It took all morning, but after lunch he was in the hayfield with the other hands.
His eagerness to take care of his rake got him in trouble once. He was sent to get oil for the mowing machine. On the way he used just a little on his rake, then a little more on the tongue and a little more on the frame until he had to return with an empty can. When his father saw his extremely well oiled rake he got a licking for wasting oil.
By the time he was ten Walt had more than a little experience as a cowboy. In March, 1934, he and his dad and a hired man were trailing cattle from LaGrange when a storm came up. The cold was so severe the little boy could no longer hold his reins and his dad had to lead his horse.They were stranded in Meriden for a week; a trip that should have taken six days took eighteen instead.
At age eleven he was staying alone in the "reserve" (the military reservation, now Medicine Bow National Forest). He had sole responsibility for the cattle that were pasturing there, moving the cows and bulls regularly for uniform breeding and grazing.
In addition to that he did regular daily chores. He took care of the family's chickens, gathering the eggs and killing enough chickens every day for two meals. He and his dad and sister, Martha also milked 30 to 40 cows twice a day. They took the milk to Cheyenne where it was sold to the Sunrise Creamery.
On one of those trips to town, when Walt was twelve years old, he made a fateful stop at the dimestore. As he told the story, he ducked around a mirrored post and saw the cutest girl with long blond curls. It was love at first site. But before he had the chance to talk to her she was gone.
A year later Martha took her family to the home of her fiance` John Salsbury. There he again saw the girl from the dime store, John's younger sister, Dorothy. After that the two families saw each other frequently and Walt and Dorothy later began dating.
On July 14 1943, before a justice of the peace in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, Walter Chester Ferguson, Jr, and Dorothy Eileen Salsbury were married. He was nineteen, and she was eighteen. There was no honeymoon. Walt went back to work in the hayfield and Dorothy began her job as a homemaker. With that ehy began a life that lasted for over 53 years.
Check out Dorothy's story by clicking this link: Dorothy Eileen Salsbury Ferguson
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