June 28, 2013
I'm doing a True West Moment for the Arizona Republic on my cousin Billy Hamilton winning the world championship steer roping in 1964 and I interviewed Billy by phone this morning. I couldn't use all of the info, but here are my notes. I love what he said about Aunt Jean.
A Kingman Cowboy Wins World On Outlaw Horse
In 1940, Billy Hamilton, was so little he had to have help getting up on a horse. But once, the five-year-old was in the saddle, he started roping anything that moved. His grandfather, Bob Guess worked as a cowhand at the Turkey Track Ranch in northern Mohave County, and he supplied Billy with "Ketchum Horses", a string of mares out of Texas belonging to Barry Ketchum, brother to the infamous outlaw Black Jack Ketchum. Schooled by his father Choc and his grandfather, Billy won the junior team roping at the annual Dig 'N' Dogies Days in 1945 and never looked back. He won the world championship steer roping in 1964 and with his earnings (some $35,000) he paid cash for the Turkey Track Ranch, which he still owns and operates to this day.
In 1945, Billy and another local Kingman boy, Johnny Neal, won the junior team roping at the annual Dig 'N' Dogie Days in Kingman.
When he won the world, he got $12,900 from the PRCA and then won another $25,000 in jackpot roping. His grandad, Bob Guess, and his father, Choc Hamilton worked on Bill Bonelli's Turkey Track Ranch.
Billy Hamilton quotes: "I consider my grandfather the person who got me started in roping. He had goats at his place on Hilltop and would turn 'em loose and they would run back toward the house and me and Jean would rope 'em and turn 'em back. By the end of the day our arms were so tired we could hardly raise our hands. But Jean was better than me. She could rope better and ride better. I could never beat Jean at doin' nothing.
Jean Guess Linn, aboard Sooner, one of the horses out of the outlaw Ketchum line, 1945
"I was five years old at the time. We both were so little we couldn't get on our horses without help. Bob Guess gave us lots of pointers on roping. Bob Guess really helped me, and of course, so did my dad and my mother Mary."
Bob Guess with a baby Billy Hamilton on a Ketchum horse at Tap Duncan's Diamond Bar Ranch, 1936 or '37.
Bob Guess and Donna Duncan, c. 1945
"Bob Guess also raised really good race horses. He had Barry Ketchum mares, got 'em through the Duncans. Famous stud, Durnit, a sorrel mare, my grand dad made good money doing match horse racing with him. We got several great horses out of those Ketchum mares: Scooter Dun (a buckskin stud), and Patchie. That's what really helped me win so consistently. I was always so well mounted."
"Well, congrats to you and the horse you rode in on."
—Old Vaquero Saying