Local pioneer joins Cowboy Hall of Fame

Rhonda Stearns

Submitted photo

This is a photo of the daughters of Julius Bock, pictured, Clara Bock Engle and Tillie Bock Sewell. 


Julius Bock came from abroad, in Germany, then settled and made a reputation in this area of Wyoming. According to everyone I’ve known or heard talk who knew Julius, he followed the Golden Rule. He was a good American and a good neighbor in an era when having or lacking one could be the difference between life and death. He was a good steward of the land and of all his livestock, and that of his neighbors. 


His descendants carry those cowboy traditions of honesty and hard work down the generations to the present, to his great-grandchildren and their children — some still ranching in Weston County. Those involved in other industries continue to personify the brilliance, honesty, fairness and tenacity that is their family legacy — a legacy that has now earned Julius a rightful place in the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame.


Julius F. Bock was the third born in a family of 10, of which two died in infancy. In 1872, at the age of 5, he came to America with his parents, two brothers and seven sisters. Cass County, Nebraska, was the Bock’s first home in America. There, Julius attended country schools until he was 13, then worked on the family farm until he was 19. 


With “the clothes on his back and a dollar in his pocket,” Julius rode a train into South Dakota, as close as he could get to the famed T-E Ranch in Crook and Weston counties in Wyoming. That was most likely the railroad stop at Dewey. History says the young man walked from there to the T-E. Today’s Google Maps tell us it’s about 45 miles to Osage, and the ranch was a ways from there — a ‘pretty fair walk and hard on shoe leather,’ one would think!


Knowing the value of land, and perhaps realizing someone would grab it quickly, Julius took a preemption claim as soon as he arrived. He found employment with prominent horse rancher Lagrave Delaney for a year and a half, then settled on his own land in 1888. Julius built a log house, bunkhouse, barns and sheds, all of which remain standing as reminders of pioneer days and testament to his carpenter skills and expertise.


Julius partnered in business with an uncle for a time. That partnership dissolved in 1892, and he continued ranching on his own. His wisdom, skills, industry and determination paid off, and he continued to prosper.


He married Bertha Jahrig (a migrant from Saxony, Germany, via Nebraska) on June 3, 1897. By 1912, they had accumulated some 8,000 acres of rangeland. Julius built what history records as “a very attractive modern home” with “furnace, bath, and all modern conveniences.” He also built “one of the largest barns in his section of the state” with “an extensive granary where he keeps his seed,” and “two teams could drive in at once to unload hay.”


The Bocks became parents to Clara, Tillie, Julia, Ella, John, Fred and Carl, “who was born on the ranch.” History tells us “the two eldest were expert riders and could rope as well as any cowboy” and that they “attend contests and roundups statewide.” Julius was undoubtedly proud of those daughters; and their children and grandchildren continue to carry on the same ranching traditions.


  As late as 1911, the local newspaper reported that “Julius Bock was in from his Skull Creek ranch buying supplies to paint his new house.”  


He wisely continued purchasing land, some of it homesteads, and by 1912 the ranch was known as “Double Spear Ranch.” Buildings included “a new house,” along with “blacksmith shop and a lumber camp where all kinds of lumber were cut from the timber, canyons, springs and creeks,” which “abounded on those acres.” The land was stocked with “many horses, two bands of sheep and 1500 head of cattle.”


After well over a century, it’s difficult to estimate the amount of land Julius accumulated. It’s been said that homesteads purchased brought the property to more than 60,000 acres in the immediate area. There are further indications that he expanded his holdings far beyond that. The livestock numbers he was reported to own would have required a lot of acres to survive and prosper, particularly in some of the hilly, rugged areas.


It is known that Julius leased pasture land from many neighbors, which would have greatly expanded that “60,000 acre” figure. Some land he accessed included parts of Horse Canyon, Black Canyon, the Fherman Place, Farley, YT Ranch, Mangus, Williams, Long, Double Spear and Stewart holdings. 


As a founding member of the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame who viewed every nomination for over 20 years and continues to read the biographies of each new honoree, I have to say that Mr. Bock’s story is outstandingly impressive. Two of his daughters, Clara Bock Engle and Tillie Bock Sewell, were recognized by knowledgeable cowboys and ranchers of the area as supremely capable ranch hands. It is said that calf wrestlers in the branding pen never had to wait when those girls were roping, and they brought them in by the heels. 


If rodeos had been common, as they are today, both surely could have held their own against the men of their day in any roping or riding competition. Had they been inclined to travel (as some cowgirls of their era did, by train and ship all over the world), they might have become world champion cowgirls. That would definitely have been a positive reflection on the father who raised and trained them. 


(Editor’s note: For another account of Julius Bock’s adventures in early Weston County, see page 282 of the book Weston County: The First 100 Years)

News Letter Journal

News Letter Journal
14 W. Main St.
P.O. Box 40
Newcastle, WY 82701
Ph: (307) 746-2777
Fax: (307) 746-2660

Email Us