More information about Lee Whitlock

Lee Whitlock was featured in an article that can be found here:

Age doesn’t stop 89-year-old cowboy

By John Hollenhorst  |  Posted Nov 28th, 2008 @ 9:21pm

Lee Whitlock celebrated his 89th birthday today. That’s not such a remarkable life span these days, but suppose we tell you he’s still doing the same job he’s done for three-quarters of a century? And suppose that job is being a cowboy? Now that’s a story.

Whitlock rides for the Baker Ranch out on the Utah-Nevada border. We can’t say for sure if he’s the oldest working cowboy in the west; he told us he knew some in their 90s, but they’re all dead.

As a hired ranch hand, he’s been riding herd nearly eight decades. He’s not as sure-footed as he was, and his hearing’s not what it used to be, but Whitlock still knows a good horse when he sees one. When it comes time to get those cows moving, Whitlock gets back in the saddle again, ready for action.

“Sometimes it’s easier than other times,” he said. When we reminded him that plenty of people his age can’t walk up one flight of stairs, his reply was, “Well, stairs, they’re not the easiest thing for us old people.”

What is easy, apparently is riding, and punching cows. “It’s been my life. I mean, I never did anything else but work on a ranch,” he said.

Whitlock started as a hired cowboy when he was 13, more than 75 years ago. He says, “I rode bareback for quite a few years.” He’s been riding horses ever since. “I just grew up with them, and I love them, you know.”

Ranch owner Dean Baker said, “I wish I was holding up that well. I’m a lot younger, and he’s holding up better than I am.”

Whitlock has been on Baker’s payroll for a third of a century. “Well, as far as I know, he’s the oldest operating, functional, productive cowboy around,” Baker said.

Most people consider it an accomplishment to go 100,000 miles in an airplane. Well, the cattlemen’s association gave him an award for going that distance on horseback! And that was 15 years ago!

“I doubt if there’s a day hardly goes by in his life that he doesn’t get on a horse,” Baker said.

In his early years, Whitlock was a rodeo cowboy and did a lot of roping with partner Ladd Davies. Davies said, “We won our share. We roped kind of the top-end of amateurs and a little pro. But we won our share of money. He’s the top. You don’t find them better, I guarantee you.”

You’ve got to wonder what a guy like this will do when he gets to the end of the trail and can’t ride anymore. No one has a good answer.

Baker said, “You know, somebody asked him when he was going to retire, and he said, ‘When they throw dirt in my face, I’ll retire. Otherwise, I’m working.'”

Whitlock told us, “Well, as long as I can get up and go, why, I’m going to go.”

All we can add is, Happy 89th Birthday, Lee. And Happy Trails, wherever they take you.


Lee Whitlock’s Obituary

Lee Whitlock was married to Darlene Swallow, who is a relative of Ray G Swallow.

Lee Charles Whitlock, 91, well-known cattle and horseman of Baker, Nev., passed away Friday, July 22, 2011, from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident while working at the Baker Ranch.

Lee was born Nov. 28, 1919, in Mayfield, Utah, to Bardella Geaska Nielsen and Merrill Nels Whitlock, the second of four children. He grew up in Mayfield, attending Manti High and Snow College. His true passion has always been cattle and horses, having begun riding at the age of five.

He met his future bride, Darlene Swallow, at age 18 at an LDS Mutual activity; they were married May 3, 1941, in Pioche, Nev. In 1940, Lee began his career as a cowboy for the Swallow Ranch in South Spring Valley, Nevada. To earn extra money for their wedding, he also worked at the nearby Minerva Mine. After their marriage, Lee spent the summer riding for the Horse and Cattle Association in the mountains above Mayfield, returning to the Swallow Ranch for the ensuing 24 years.

In 1966, he and his friend, Devon Bellander, leased the Snake Valley Dearden Ranch in Garrison, Utah, for three years. At the end of the lease, he continued working at the ranch until in 1975, Fred Baker enticed him to the nearby Baker Ranch where he was cattle foreman for many years. At the time of his passing, he had enjoyed a most fruitful and happy working relationship with three generations of Bakers for 36 years.

For recreation, Lee had a great love of and ability for Team Roping, traveling around Utah and Nevada, winning many purses. He was still winning belt buckles well into his eighties. Not until his failing eyesight prohibited night driving did his rodeo and team roping days come to an end.

In 1994, the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association presented him with their “100,000 Mile Club Award,” documenting his years and years of horseback riding. On his 89th birthday, KSL-TV News spotlighted him for his devotion to his work , as well as being one of the oldest working cowmen in the West. On the morning of the accident, he was riding his horse, Whitey, checking on water for cattle. He died as he had wished: Working and riding. As a tribute to him, that evening KSL-TV News ran a segment on his passing.

Lee is survived by his wife, Darlene, brother Clair (Betty), and sister, Marilyn (Ross) Crowell. He was preceded in death by his parents and older brother, Don. While Lee and Darlene had no children of their own, they were surrogate parents to many of their nieces and nephews, as well as having a great and positive impact on countless others. Lee was an honorable and generous man, never hesitating to share his vast knowledge of livestock and skills. He was highly responsible, caring for everything under his stewardship, especially livestock, as if all were his own. One could always count on him to go above and beyond any expectations in everything he did.

Funeral services will be held Friday, July 29, at the Garrison LDS Church at noon PDT and 1 p.m. MDT. Viewing commences one and one-half hours prior.

My Pioneers: Dorius and Others by Myrna

I was asked to give a talk about my ancestors in Sacrament Meeting on the 20th of July 2008.  I wasn’t too thrilled – but I decided to read about some of my ancestors.  I checked out the book Sweetwater Rescue, the Willie and Martin Handcart Story by Heidi Swinton and Lee Groberg.   I looked through it, being thoroughly touched by the beautiful art work and the quotes from various people.  Then I flipped to the back and saw the names of the Handcart Companies and their participants.  My eyes were drawn to the name Ann Elizabeth Higgs (2).  It caught my attention!  Ann Elizabeth was my progenitor on my Father’s side.  She was only two years old when she and her family came across the plains.  I had heard about her from my Mom and Dad.  I remember her 90th birthday.  My Mother had purchased a beautiful birthday cake, we had driven to Mayfield where Ann Elizabeth lived (we lived in Salt Lake at the time), and then Mom let me go with her up to Cobble Heaven to give the cake.  I do not remember who she was living with at the time.  I just remember walking into the home and being able to greet her, even kiss her on the cheek and stand in awe that someone could live that long. She wasn’t terribly well at the time and was in bed so we didn’t stay too long.  When I saw her name on the list my heart was grabbed and I wanted to know more.

She and her family (Thomas, father; Elizabeth, mother; and Mary Suzanne, her seven year old sister were part of the Hodgett Wagon Company.  The Hodgett Company came right behind the Willie and Martin Companies and so suffered much deprivation and many trials as they made their way across the plains.  However, because they were well supplied they were better off than the Martin and Willie handcart companies.  This is the reason they had more supplies:

“A well-to-do land owner Thomas Tennant, Esquire, sold his Midlands estate for 27,000 pounds, millions by today’s measure, to bolster the empty coffers of the emigrating fund. He, age forty-six, his wife Jane, age twenty-six and their one-year-old son Thomas made the journey in the Hodgett Wagon Train.  His caravan included four wagons and a carriage.
“He was one of those whom Elder Daniel Spencer described as starting “with plenty of means to come through.”  Tennant “divided [his] means to help those that had none and [had] enrolled themselves as pullers of carts.”

When President Heber C. Kimball, counselor to Brigham Young, praised the rescuers in an address on November 2 in the Tabernacle, his words were a fitting tribute to those who, like Thomas Tennant, had sacrificed to help others reach the valley.  Said President Kimball, “Who has greater love than he that lays down his life for his friends?”

Tennant died a month before reaching the Valley.  Tennant was buried in ground far different from that of his native England-first in Wyoming, and later in Utah where his body was moved to finally rest with the Saints.”
Quoted from Sweetwater Rescue

My interest was now piqued so I bought two books and went home to read.  The books were The Journal of the Trail by Stewart A. Glazier and Robert S. Clark and Handcarts to Zion by LeRoy and Ann Hafen.  They were so informative.  Then, I was talking to Wendy (my daughter) and she mentioned that my Dorius progenitors were also among the Handcart Pioneers but came the next year and in a better weather situation.  OK, then I had to find the copy of The Dorius Heritage book by Earl Dorius to read.  It was better than a novel!

I loved reading it – and I felt such a kinship to the Dorius boys as I read.  They were super missionaries and I just enjoyed the experience of reading about them and their families.  I will quote from that book as I go, as well as some of the other books I referred to.

What I want to say here is that we are all pioneers in our own time.  There are still pioneers all over the world learning about the gospel and sharing it with their families and other people they meet.  In a way they are the heroes and heroines of today.