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Wyoming's 88 Ranch

A tale of a brand lost for half a century.
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Credit: Julie Howard The 88 brand was chosen more than 100 years ago for the ability to make two hard-to-alter marks with one iron.

Credit: Julie Howard The 88 brand was chosen more than 100 years ago for the ability to make two hard-to-alter marks with one iron.

In the 1860s, 13-year-old Mike “Judge” Henry boarded a ship to America. Arriving stateside, he lied about his age and joined the Union Army as a suddenly 16-year-old bugle boy. After the Civil War, he stayed with the military, fighting Indians on the Great Plains.

Stationed in present-day Glenrock, Wyo., at the Deer Creek Station, where he was protecting settlers along the Bozeman Trail, Judge found what would become the 88 Ranch.

“There had been an Indian raid on a wagon train,” Judge’s great-great-grandson, Garrett Henry says. “They went to find these Indians and camped where the present-day headquarters of the 88 Ranch are. He said if he survived the Indian Wars, he’d come back to that spot and make a ranch out of it.”

That’s exactly what he did in 1878. Judge chose the 88 brand for one simple reason: he could pack a single iron with him on the range and make two marks that would be difficult to alter. He registered the brand to go on the left hip.

After being used for 100 years, Garrett’s grandparents let the brand registration lapse. The brand board would not relent, but did allow a new registration of the 88 on the right jaw of cattle and horses. Being very impractical, the Henry family used a Rafter Cross on the left ribs instead, and called the ranch the Henry Ranch. However, they did maintain the 88 registration. 

 “For the last five years, every year, I’ve sent in a registration to try to get the 88 brand back,” Garrett says. “Finally, there was a lady at the brand office who said, ‘You’re awfully persistent about this. Let me see if there’s any place besides the jaw we can find to put this.’ She called back last fall and allowed us to have it on the right hip for both horses and cows.”

This spring, for the first time in some 50 years, the 88 Ranch was able to put the 88 brand back on cattle. “It kind of came full circle,” Garrett says. “It’s fun to see that brand back on our livestock.” Now, the ranch goes by the 88 Ranch.

“We’re trying to make it all work and expand the operation where [we] can all make a living doing what we love.”

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