Two current or past Lake County legends will be inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame during the Circle of Wagons gathering Feb. 8 and 9 at the Best Western Heritage Inn in Great Falls.
Carl V. Moss, who lives in Polson, will receive a Living Award from the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame (MCHF) and Western Heritage Center (WHC), while former St. Ignatius resident Asa Clayton “A.C.” Brooks will be presented with the Legacy Award posthumously.
Moss and Brooks will be inducted from District 10, which includes Lake, Flathead, Sanders and Lincoln counties. They enter the MCHF’s 11th class of Montana cowboys honored.
The inductees were chosen from a field of candidates nominated by the general public. Inductees are honored for their notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana.
“Our volunteer trustees around Montana vote on nominations that come from the district in which they reside,” said Bill Galt, MCHF & WHC president. “This process gives the local communities a strong voice in who will represent them in the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their part of the state and represent Montana’s authentic heritage for future generations.”
The MCHF & WHC board of directors has designated 12 trustee districts across the state from which up to 20 trustees may be appointed. Nomination criteria established by the board for the Class of 2018 inductions allowed the election of one Living Inductee and one Legacy Inductee from each of the 12 districts.
Carl Victor Moss
Carl Moss was the sixth child in a family of 11 children born to Reuben R. and Elmyra Carey Moss. He was born on May 29, 1947, in Jackson, Teton County, Wyo.
In 1952, when Carl was 5 years old, his parents sold their cattle ranch in Wyoming and moved to a ranch across the Flathead River from the Moiese Valley in western Montana.
And it has been within the shadows of the beautiful Mission Mountains that Carl grew to manhood learning and developing his skills as a horseman, cattleman, good neighbor, honorable man, and, most importantly, raising a family with his beloved wife, Kathy Hammond Moss. They take pride in the fine family they raised, which includes eight daughters and two sons.
Carl graduated from St. Ignatius High School. But his main cowboy education came from the “School of Hard Knocks,” real life experience, and natural ability.
He is a humble man where discipline of religion serves a big part of his life. You get that sense when you walk into his home and see, at his place at the table, his scriptures and reading glasses.
In 1963, Carl and his brother, Howard, took over the 7,500-acre ranch (plus an additional 8,000 acres of leased land) when their parents moved to a smaller ranch in the valley. This land, under the care of the two young brothers, located a long way from town and somewhat isolated, with both mountainous terrain and irrigated hay fields, could be considered their freshman year at that School of Hard Knocks. But they learned and prospered. Five years later, Howard moved on to another ranching opportunity.
CARL’S COWMAN skills are outstanding. Some, such as performing most of his veterinary needs, were developed in part out of necessity because of the distance to his ranch and the blessing of veterinarians who were willing to advise and guide him along the way.
He does his cowpunching horseback, so he can go into the places cows go. He rides year-round checking, trailing, gathering and managing the herd of 500 to 600 head. Other time is spent “preg” testing, calving, branding, castrating and vaccinating not to mention irrigating, haying and feeding.
Although Carl is a good cow man, his first love is his horses. In 1969, Carl started his Quarter Horse operation using sons and daughters of the specific blood lines of Jet Deck, 3 Bars, Leo, Depth Charge, Sugar Bars and Joe Reid. These lines are still strong in their pedigrees and have a good all-around reputation for usability in ranching, racing, roping and barrels. They are not pampered horses but live in conditions that have benefited them in their athleticism and durability.
In 1993, his herd of approximately 250 were featured in an episode of “Backroads of Montana.” His horses have been photographed for years for the iconic Marlboro ads that have been seen by millions all around the world. Even now, Marlboro photographer Norm Clasen teaches photography workshops and brings his students to Montana where thousands of new photos are taken every year of Carl and his outstanding herd.
One man said, “Carl is the kind of person you want for a neighbor” and another, who has known Carl for 65 years said, “If you are looking for a true Montana cowboy, you will never find one more qualified than Carl Moss.”
GIL MANGELS of Polson became personally acquainted with Carl over 30 years ago through church affiliation and Gil’s business, Mangles Machine Works and Welding. Gil remarked, “His checks were always good, and he would often tip me because he didn’t think I was charging him enough for equipment repairs, even when cow prices were down, and hay prices were up. Carl would literally give you the shirt off his back in the middle of a Montana blizzard, if you were cold.” Gil, founder of the Miracle of America Museum, would occasionally invite Carl and his faithful wife, Kathy, to share their oral and video presentation about their string of horses. Gil further remarked, “They are clean-talking, clean-living and ‘old school’, real ‘salt of the earth’ folks.”
His wealth would not be impressive if you looked at the bottom line of his bank statement, or his pickup, but look at the army of friends and neighbors that are always glad to see him, come to him for advice, or just a friendly conversation — now that is a rich man.
For a little time off, he and his wife Kathy saddle up and enjoy a peaceful ride into the country they love so much. After 65 years in the Mission Valley, they relocated to the magnificent Big Hole Country of southwest Montana in the spring of 2017. The location will change but you can rest assured, Carl will not.
From taking his first steps on the platform of the Missoula, Montana, train station, Asa Brooks left a big footprint on the lives of many Montana cowboys.
The Flathead Indian Reservation opened to homesteaders in 1910 and that same year the Brooks family arrived to claim their land adjacent to the National Bison Range. They bought lumber to build their house and settled in the Mission Valley.
At the tender age of four, “A.C.” sat on the corral fence keenly observing his older brother, uncle, and Indian cowboys wrangle wild horses for “breaking” to be ridden or harnessed for domestic purposes.
Selling their homestead, the Brooks family moved near St. Ignatius. With nearly 400 horses and 200 head of cattle, they hired local cowboys to assist with the work, including his uncle Charley Crowder, who taught “Little Acie” a great deal about roping and good horsemanship.
The family sold horses to the United States Army during World War I, for service overseas. A.C. later sold horses that he trained, to the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.
AT AGE 7, A.C. acquired his first horse, a pinto mare and became adept as a horse trader when offered five horses in trade for his favorite horse, Roanie. On July 4, at the age of eight, he rode Buck in his first horse race and won $50. Over the next three years they continued to race and win — later selling him for $150. He became true friends with his neighbor, Abraham, a Flathead Indian who shared many insights on how to be a gentleman and a knowledgeable horseman.
When A.C. was in grade school, his father traded for a young white mare with spirit and speed. The cowboys called her Snowball but A.C. named her White Swan and was his pride and joy. He trained the mare to jump over a rope tied between two gate posts. After learning to jump the rope, she began jumping 4-wire fences at A.C.’s command and then the family’s old Model T car.
During his childhood A.C. had ridden through many miles of the Bison Range as it had no cross-fences. Later, his good friend, Cy Young, Operations Manager of the range, and he would take young ladies on rides through the “park.” Both managed to enlighten the hearts of Gladys Gillis and Katherine Smock into marriage proposals on these adventures. Encouraging others to ride the range, A.C. proposed to the Mission Range Riders Saddle Club that they sponsor an annual ride each May when the park was opened to outside horsemen. This ride grew from 36 riders in 1951 to over 500. A.C. served as the state president of the Montana Saddle Club Association and was a charter member of the Mission Valley Back Country Horsemen’s Association. He, Katherine and their daughters were actively involved in the sport of O-Mok-See.
WHEN A.C. was 85 years young, he bought a rank cayuse, stating, “After a few days, it’ll be a really good one!”
A.C. was thrown from that bronc and died instantly of a broken neck, but not from a broken spirit. His family remembers endless and memorable horseback outings into the Mission Mountains to fish, ride, explore and enjoy each other. A.C. often said, “Well, we kind of like to ride horses.”
His philosophy shines in his sons-in-law, who admired him for his ranching skills and his grandsons, who have carried his legacy into the roles of ranch manager, fish management, and rodeo pick-up man.
A.C. was buried June 1994 at the Pleasant View Cemetery, at St. Ignatius. His X 9 bar brand, representing the year 1910, and the welcome sign to his ranch “Cows and Cayuses” continue to reflect the image of his footprints.