Early Settlers: Alvy Dixon Ranch evolves into LeBeau Family Partnership
The Alvy Dixon Ranch was homesteaded in 1888 after a two-year search for land by the Marshall and Margaret C. Dixon family. The ranch found its resting place on the upper Rock Creek Valley in Carbon County. Marshall filed on 160 areas which became the Brokaw Ranch, and sons Alvy and Joe filed an adjoining 160-acre tract in the north half of Section 10-19-78, roughly two miles southwest of present-day McFadden.
Today, these properties are owned by the LeBeau Family Limited Partnership.
Early day ancestors
On April 19, 1896, Alvy, Gerald’s grandfather, married Minnie Ann Etling and had five children; Edith Brokaw, Lloyd Dixon, Charlotte Rosenlieb, Margaret LeBeau and Alpha May.
In 1897, Alvy bought neighboring land from John Cullom and in 1889, Alvy’s brother Joe sold his land to Alvy. Through the years, other homesteads were purchased.
Larger tracts were purchased by Alvy and his children from the Harrison and Cooper estate until they owned much of the land in the township when he died on Nov. 27, 1944.
Gerald’s parents Margaret Dixon and Arch H. LeBeau married on March 28, 1926 and had Lawrence Alvin and Gerald Richard.
Gerald notes his family has resided on the ranch ever since its establishment.
Prior to Gerald’s involvement, his grandfather Alvy worked on the Currier and Diamond ranches and on tie drives on the Medicine Bow River. Shortly after homesteading, he joined the government survey party in the Snowy Range and later delivered mail from Rockdale (now Arlington) to Lookout.
The ranch’s brand was a 2X brand for the left rib of cattle and left thigh for horses. Square metal ear tags were used in each ear.
Alvy’s V2 brand for the right hip of both cattle and horses came with the purchase of the Hixson homestead in 1929. No ear tags or ear marks were registered to this brand.
Gerald notes Alvy tagged each calf with a square metal tag measuring an inch on each side fastened to the top of the ear with a hog ring. Metal from tin cans was cut into one-inch strips, then into one and one-quarter inch pieces.
The extra one-quarter inch was folded back to give the tag a reinforced edge. To finish the tag, a hole was punched through the folded edge with a punch or nail.
The 2X brand used by Alvy on the home ranch was passed down to Margaret and was used by A.H. LeBeau and Sons in their Wyoming operations. The Colorado brand was quarter circle 2X.
The ear mark for both states was a notch in the bottom of the right ear. Efforts to purchase the Colorado 2X were unsuccessful, and the V2 brand passed to Charlotte Rosenlieb, then to Howard Brokaw and is presently owned by Albert and Marilyn Rosenlieb. Holly Beumee now owns the 2X brand.
The ranch was a cow/calf operation for many years until Gerald got out of the service in 1956 and went into business with his brother and father running the ranch. For many years, the LeBeau brothers ran the ranch together, and they eventually acquired a finishing operation in Colorado in 1994, he notes.
“Right now, we have the ranch under lease to our neighbors,” he says.
In 1917, oil was discovered below the hill of what came to be called the McFadden campsite. In November of 1919, the first Alvy Dixon well was completed on the former Cullom homestead. Ten more wells have been drilled since, two of which continue to run.
Nearby, a gasoline plant was constructed in 1920. The finding of oil was profitable to Alvy, but ranching and raising a family and livestock remained an interest.
Alvy believed he had the choicest part of Rock Creek Valley. There was plenty of water for spring irrigation. He built a herd of Hereford cattle by putting out hay in the winter until green grass came in the spring.
The ranching operation tried running sheep for a few years, but a bad winter storm in 1907 scattered them all over the country. The ranch then strictly remained a cattle business.
For almost 10 years following the death of Alvy and the settling of the estate, few cattle were on the LeBeau lands. Hay was cut, baled and sold.
All of this changed at the end of 1953 when Lawrence quit his job and returned to ranch with his father. Gerald joined in 1958 after his college graduation, military service and job on the J.W. Ringsby Ranch. With this collaboration, more expansion in cattle numbers and land occurred, and A.H. LeBeau and Sons began.
“We don’t run a picturesque outfit by any means,” Gerald once said in an interview. “We operate everywhere. We don’t fit the picture book like most people think about good, solid ranchers. Most of our ranch is leased. Cattle run on our deeded lands, plus adjoining ranches and the Maddock Ranch near Herrick Lane.”
Two-day cattle drives happen each fall and spring to move cattle between the home ranch and leased pastures.
Gerald notes there is no farming in the area where they reside because of very little moisture. Due to the rangeland and uphill grazing, their conditions were best suitable for cattle and sheep.
“Early on, of course, there were central markets across the country, and as time progressed, we began selling cattle to the packers,” he mentions. “Things changed on that end, but basically the operation, on the plateau we live on at this elevation, has to be grazing.”
Initially, A.H. LeBeau and Sons marketed only calves in the fall of each year, but changes in the marketplace necessitated a different approach. This, coupled with geographic and weather conditions, prompted the corporation to purchase land near Greeley, Colo. in 1980 where feedlots were built. The feedlots and farm were sold in 1994 after Gerald’s retirement.
Dennis Page, former local ranch manager, joined A.H. LeBeau and Sons and became the manager of the 300-acre farm. His wife Leslie and children T.C., Travis and Tracy calved heifers, raised the ranch’s Limousin/Angus bulls, backgrounded all returning grass cattle and finished cattle for the packer.
Gerald and Maxine
Both Maxine and Gerald spent many of their younger years skiing on mountains throughout the U.S. The story of how the two met depends on who’s telling the story, Maxine jokes, but they found a passion for skiing and the ranching industry.
“I’ve skied all my life, since I was about 12 or 13 years old, and Gerald skied in college but was too busy being a rancher to ski during those 40 years or so when we operated the ranch,” shares Maxine. “He had taken up skiing when he was in the army after college graduation in 1954, and I was teaching skiing up on Snoqualmie Pass outside of Seattle. He was skiing on the slope and we literally crashed into each other.”
Maxine says they’ve told the story so many times.
“Sixty-five years of marriage and we haven’t traded each other off,” she adds.
“Being able to ranch in Carbon County has been a blessing to this family,” concludes Gerald. “Right now, we’re not having all of the interference the rest of the country has on many issues, so I think we’ve been very fortunate to live here.”
On May 16, 1997, Gerald and Lawrence established the LeBeau Family Limited Partnership for the sole purpose of passing the lands onto future generations carrying the LeBeau bloodline. The lands are presently leased to the Sims Cattle Company, LLC.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.