Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Beloved police chief dies in Round-Up accident

A favorite son of Pendleton, brother of the famous Sheriff Til Taylor, died Sept. 11, 1925, in a freak accident in the run-up to the annual Pendleton Round-Up.

W.R. “Jinks” Taylor was born in Athena, Ore., in 1869. He spent time raising horses in Grant County but after his marriage in 1890 to Nellie Leeper, he made his home in Athena and Pendleton. Jinks Taylor served as a Umatilla County sheriff’s deputy under his brother, Tilman D. Taylor, for 18 years and took over temporarily as sheriff in 1920 when Til was shot and killed by escaping jail inmates. He was made chief of the Pendleton Police Department in 1921.

A well-known and respected Umatilla County resident, Jinks was given the honor of carrying the American flag into the Round-Up Arena every year on his favorite horse, King, to kick off the rodeo. He also made it his business to handle the stock for the Pendleton Round-Up each year. An ex-cowboy and one of the best riders in the county, Jinks and others were running roping steers through the arena and back to the holding pens when an open gate caused a general stampede for freedom across railroad tracks and toward the river. Jinks and King raced after the steers, but on the uncertain footing the horse stumbled and turned a somersault, trapping Jinks underneath him and breaking his neck. Seeing King running riderless, passers-by found Jinks and rushed him to the hospital, but his injuries proved too severe. He never regained consciousness.

His pall bearers were close friends and members of the Pendleton City Council. Honorary pall bearers were chosen from members of the Pendleton Round-Up board of directors. In honor of the fallen chief, all the city’s cigar stores were closed during the funeral services. Among those honoring Jinks at his funeral were the Pendleton City Council, fire and police departments; the Pendleton Round-Up; Universal motion picture directors Edward Sedgwick and Tenny Wright, and the Universal Company in Hollywood, who were in town filming a movie; patients at the Walla Walla veterans’ hospital; the federal prohibition office in Portland and its agents; and the county sheriff’s office and friends at the Umatilla County Courthouse.

Jinks was laid to rest in the Athena Cemetery. He left behind his wife Nellie, two daughters and three grandchildren.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happy Canyon bucks fund WWI outing

Those familiar with Happy Canyon’s annual gaming tables know that you can’t bet with real money — you have to buy Happy Canyon Bucks to fund your fun. During World War I these souvenirs of the annual Pendleton Round-Up after-rodeo festivities became common in care packages from home for the soldiers stationed in Europe. And a group of Pendleton locals were able to use their hometown funny money to finance a night on the town when their coffers ran otherwise dry.

A group of Pendleton’s finest formed Troop D, cowboys recruited to the war effort after the United States joined World War I. Several hundred locals were sent a few Happy Canyon Bucks, along with other Round-Up memorabilia, and the fake money soon became a high-value exchange item that was often was used in the place of cash in craps games. The French were familiar enough with American money that Happy Canyon Bucks couldn’t usually be passed off as real money. But in Germany, a group of soldiers was able to finagle a night on the town using only the souvenirs in their wallets.

John Kelley and a group of friends were part of the occupation forces stationed on the Rhine River in Germany, an out-of-the-way posting, and were seldom able to score real money. During a liberty outing in the winter of 1918 the group traveled by train to a small village where there were no American troops stationed, and were pleased to find a group of attractive young German ladies at the station.

The Americans soon exhausted all the cash they had buying drinks for the ladies, and were scrambling to find more money to continue their outing. Kelley happened upon a few of the 10 Buck Happy Canyon bills in his pockets and, nonchalantly, passed them along to the proprietor of the establishment. The Germans were surprised to see the Americans spending so freely and gladly took the Bucks as payment, not realizing the soldiers weren’t using real money.

Kelley and his crew declared that, even on the Rhine, the Bucks lived up to their slogan: “Good for nothing but fun.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sundown took gambler’s chance in famous 1916 ride

Jackson Sundown, a Nez Perce Indian, was named the champion buckaroo of the 1916 Pendleton Round-Up with a sensational ride on Angel to win the saddle bronc contest. But while the crowd cheered their acclaim for the 50-year-old’s feat, only a handful in the arena that day knew just how Sundown won the judges’ approval against fierce competition.

Sundown’s closest competitor in the final go-round was Rufus Rollen of Claremore, Okla., a renowned champion rider, who drew the famous Long Tom as his mount. Both men had successful rides, but the crowd was wowed by Sundown’s flashy style and roared their approval. The judges acceded after just a few minutes, but based their decision on very specific points of difference between the rides of the two men.

Sundown rode first, using an old saddle with a slick tree and the standard-issue halter and rope provided by the Round-Up. He constantly spurred Angel throughout the ride, waving his large hat in the air, long woolly chaps flapping like flags. It was an all-or-nothing ride and a huge gamble.

Rollen, who rode last, was the favorite to win the contest. He used a saddle with large, square-cut bucking rolls designed to help the rider keep his seat, and brought his own halter rope, which was made of cotton and braided and plaited at the end to give him a good grip. Cowboys familiar with Old Tom also suggested that Rollen keep his spurs in the cinch and “ride safe,” which he did.

The bucking rolls and braided halter rope were legal, but in the end they may have been Rollen’s downfall. The judges marked Rollen’s ride down because Sundown had neither advantage. Rollen’s decision not to spur his mount also contributed to his second-place finish.

Sundown was pretty sore and fighting a cold the day following his championship ride, and told the East Oregonian that he was done with riding bucking horses. He planned to return to his Idaho ranch and teach young Native men how to ride. And when he went to Hamley’s to claim his $350 championship saddle, he was disappointed to find out he couldn’t have his wife’s name engraved on the silver plate reserved for the champion’s inscription.