Big Horn Basin


From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: C. J. Belden photos continued, the Meeteetse Barbecue, Josh Deane.

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About This Site

Branding in the corral. John B. Sayles, Henry "Harry" Sayles, Sr., Dan Wilson, and Slim Wright branding a calf.

The Sayles brothers were reared in Johnson County. Their father, Frank Sayles, was in the military at Ft. Kearny and participated in the Wagon Box fight. Harry, with Belden's father-in-law, L. G. Phelps, was a partner in the Sayles Sheep Company.

Roping on the Z Bar T, 1922.

Dude with Rope. Jack Rhodes, Sr. and Lee Wentworth look on. Photo by Charles J. Belden

Belden once said, "If a picture does not tell a story, it is not worth taking." Belden's Pitchfork photographs invariably tell a story which requires little explanation.

Horses, photo by Charles J. Belden

Cecil McMillin on bronc at Meeteetse Barbecue. Frank Owens is alongside.

Annually, on Labor Day weekend, Meeteetse throws a rodeo and barbecue.

John W. "Josh" Deane

The barbecue dates back to 1912, when stockman, John W. "Josh" Deane (1857- 1930), decided throw a barbecue. The barbecue has been held ever since with Deane serving as "chief engineer" until his death. Deane received his nickname as a result of his love of telling tall tales. Deane was one of those legendary characters who roamed the west. Born in Philadelphia, he ran away from home. Inspired by thrilling novels of the west, he made his way to Ogallala and trailed cattle for a while. He made his way to Green River and for three years worked as a bullwhacker and range rider. He then worked for the post trader at Fort Washakie and contracted to carry mail from Fort Washakie to Stinking Water. The mail was carried once a month. Later he carried mail to Otto Franc's Pitchfork. In 1887, he settled on Wood River and acted as the postmaster for Sunshine located about nine miles from Meeteetse.

In 1912, Deane moved to Meeteetse where he ran a restuarant. Meeteetse, at the time, because of the presence of the Pitchfork, was one of the leading towns in the Basin. It had three hotels, the Meeteetse House, the Peoples Hotel, and the Wilson Hotel. It also had a number of saloons and three fraternal orders. Later he was elected mayor. Following Deane's death, the barbecue continued under the leadership of William G. "Bill" Feyhl and Charles F. "Charlie" Feyhl. Later the rodeo and barbecue were sponsored by American Legion Post No. 85. More recently, the barbecue has been sponsored by the Meeteetse Cowbelles. Deane is buried west of the rodeo grounds.

The three day event now includes in addition to the rodeo and the barbecue, a cowboy church service at the rodeo grounds south of town, a parade, foot races, and concludes with a "yellow ducky" race on the Greybull. Additionally, in July the town hosts a National Cowboy day with a rodeo and barbecue.

As indicated by the next set of photos, Belden was not limited to Wyoming. His photos from elsewhere are, however, mostly forgotten.

. . .
Left, "A doorway in Taos"
Right, "San Fernando Hotel, Taos"

In 1940, Frances and Charles Belden divorced. Belden subsequently married Verna Steele. The divorce ended Belden's relationship to Wyoming and the Pitchfork. Tt was the Wyoming photographs for which he is known. As discussed on the next page, Belden's attempts to rekindle his photographic reputation elsewhere may be regarded as a failure. Thus, with the divorce, Belden was, as it were, left out in the cold.

"Homeward Bound from Mountain Pasture."

Following World War II, Belden received several assignments from National Geographic Magazine including assignments to Yugoslavia where he obtained a photo of Tito and an assignment to Bavaria, "Dinkelsbühl Rewards its Children," National Geograhic, 1957.

Next Page, Charles Belden in Florida.