Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame inducts local legends

Jack and Ann Hirschy, Hubert Latimer “Tex” Smith, Jay Frederick Nelson
Jack and Ann Hirschy


Jack and Ann Hirschy

When Ann Hirschy moved up over the pass from Salmon, Idaho, to the Big Hole Valley, she fell in love with the place and never left.  Of course, it helped that she had fallen in love with Jack Hirschy, a man who would become one of the largest cattle ranchers in the Big Hole, a high mountain valley in the southwest corner of Montana.  It’s a place where winters are long and summers short, but living is good if you take it all in stride.  And that’s exactly what Jack and Ann did for over 62 years, taking cattle business in stride and building up on the cattle trade that Jack’s grandparents began in the Big Hole in 1894.

Jack’s grandparents, Frederick Louis Hirschy and Cecile Wenger, were both born in Switzerland.  They traveled to the Big Hole Valley of Montana from a Swiss Colony in Indiana in 1894.  Jack’s father, Frederick Lewis, was born in Indiana in 1884.

In 1910, second-generation Fred Hirschy borrowed from an area bank to buy a neighboring ranch so that he could begin his own ranching operation raising beef cattle.  He was an extremely good businessman and a tireless worker, and over the years, other ranches were added to the original property.

In 1916, Fred Hirschy married Flora Shaw, born in 1892 in Hawarden, Iowa.  They raised four children: John Frederick “Jack”, born April 21, 1921; Frances Lee “Jill”, born in 1923; Cecile “Joyce”, born in 1927; and Ernest Richard “Dick”, born in 1928.

Jack’s mother always said; “Jack was born old”, meaning he never acted like a kid, he was always working.  He went to grade school in Fox, Montana.  It was a one-room school down the road about two miles from the home ranch.  He also attended two short term business schools.  He worked on the family ranch, and in 1941, he bought his own neighboring ranch adding to the family ranching operation.  

In 1944, Jack married Josephine Ann Carl who was born June 27, 1921, to Fred and Alice Carl.  Fred was working in Winnemucca, Nevada, for the railroad at the time of Ann’s birth but moved back to Salmon, Idaho, within a year.

After their marriage, they moved on to the ranch that Jack had bought and lived there the rest of their lives.  They ranched side by side, with Ann riding, haying, logging, feeding and cooking for the hired men.  Many of the men that worked for them came and stayed for over forty years.  These men were like family.  In 1950, Cecile Jann was born and Frederick Carl was born in 1953.  They worked alongside their parents.

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Hubert Latimer “Tex” Smith

Hubert Latimer Smith, known as “Tex” was born January 21, 1921 at Amarillo, Texas to Hubert L. Smith and Margaret (Williams) Smith.  Tex was raised on the family’s ranch at Dillon, Montana.  He worked as a Ranch Cowboy (riding the big circle) for several Montana ranches.

His love of horses followed Tex his entire life. He was always well mounted and loved to “match” race his favorite horse at rodeos and fairs.  He trained horses and bought, sold, and traded thousands of horses.  Tex was proud to be a cowboy and practiced the “cowboy way” throughout his life.

Tex started his rodeo career in the late thirties and continued to compete until hanging up his spurs in 1993 at the age of 72. Tex competed in rodeos from Salt Lake City to Calgary, from Pendleton to Omaha and many places in between....winning some and losing some.  At Omaha, Nebraska he won a go around in bulldogging and placed in calf roping. At the Calgary Stampede he made the calf roping finals and placed there. Some of his special memories included winning the all-around at Missoula in 1945 and the calf roping at Dillon in 1950. He won bulldogging in Red Lodge, Helena and Dillon. Tex competed in calf roping, bulldogging and team roping.  In his younger years he rode the rough stock including the bull riding, the bareback bucking horses and the saddle broncs. 

Tex was a member of the Cowboy Turtles, the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and a Gold Card holder with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.  He was  a member of the Senior Pro Rodeo Association.  He was also a member of the Idaho Amateur Rodeo Association and the Montana Amateur Rodeo Association.

Tex passed away July 8, 2002, at Dillon, Montana and is buried at Dillon.



Jay Frederick Nelson

Jay Frederick Nelson was born in Butte, Montana, July 3, 1923 to Fred L. and Margaret (Woolaghan) Nelson of the Big Hole Valley in Southwestern Montana. Margaret’s father was an Irish Miner in Butte who died of “miners’ lung” in 1907, leaving her mother with four daughters to raise on her own. She cooked at the Daly Mansion in Hamilton for the hired men to earn a living. Fred’s grandparents, Fred and Cecile Hirschy were Swiss immigrants who came to the valley as cheese makers but soon went into cattle ranching. Fred’s father, Soren P. Nelson, was a Danish immigrant who walked into the valley with a quarter to his name but soon filed on a homestead when he could qualify and then bought his brother’s homestead and several others and was ranching full time raising Hereford cattle. He married Lena Hirschy in 1899 and they raised 3 children, Fred and sisters, Stella and Isabel. The original barn on their home place was built around 1907 and still stands today looking much like it did back then. They lived in the cow barn while the two- story home was being built. 

Jay was the oldest of three sons, John Thomas and William Peter “Bill”. When Fred married Margaret she was the school teacher at the East Fox School and his dad had just bought the Joe Kramer Ranch about two miles from the home place. It was here that they began their married life which lasted over 65 years. Jay and Jean also began their married life at the Kramer Place. Electricity didn’t come to the valley until about 1947 so the cooking was done on a wood cook stove. There was an artesian well for water and Miner Creek ran just down the hill from the house. Jay’s early job was milking the cow; feeding the chickens and helping his dad make the family cheese. Jay and his brothers spent their summers riding horses all over the mountains on the west side of the valley and would camp out days at a time cooking over a campfire. They knew every lake and creek and climbed many of the mountains during their childhood. 

Haying was done with horses and the teams were changed at noon so they had a considerable horse herd. Jay always liked mowing and was soon the lead mower-he put up hay for over 70 years before he gave it up. The Beaverslide hay stacker had been invented in the Valley in 1910 by two men about ten miles down the valley, Dade Stephens and Herb Armitage, so it was used to build the 20 ton haystacks that fed the cattle in the winter. Jay spent his winters pitching hay onto a hayrack and feeding the cattle. All the hay in the Valley is native grasses and the animals thrived on it. 

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