Ranching: Pre-1940s

Jim Harmon
2023 Nominee

James Buchanan and Lulu Lebo Harmon Family

James (Jim) Harmon was born in Washington County Iowa on August 18, 1856. He came west by boat spending some time in Minnesota before traveling West by an ox team to Glendive Montana. He spent a couple years in Glendive before moving to Billings County area in North Dakota, which was Dakota Territory until 1889. Jim worked for the HT Ranch for AC Huidekoper known as the Little Missouri Horse Company running 5,000-10,000 horses.

Jim Harmon married Lulu May Lebo on November 24, 1884. Lulu was born in Illinois on March 5, 1868. Lulu’s family moved to Minnesota and later to Medora in 1883. Norman Lebo, Lulu’s father, was a scout, hunter, teamster and cook for Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting trips. Jim also knew President Theodore Roosevelt and was present at his reception in Medora on 1903.

The Homestead
James B Harmon homestead April 14, 1906 is located approximately 9 miles south of Medora. The Harmon Ranch consisted of numerous sections where they ran cattle and lots of horses. In those days horses were essential for transportation and the military. When the ranch sold to Ludwig Tetly on July 21, 1910, the cattle were sold to King and Philips and 90 head of horses were sold to the “Harmon Boys”.

July 22, 1915, Jim, Lulu and the children moved to the west side of the river where they purchased the homestead and additional acreage from their son Robert (Bob) and his wife Cora Harmon.

Lulu quoted, “Our first house burned and Grandpa saved only the stove by roping it and having his team pull it out before the rope burned through. We had to live in a leaky tent for a while. When it rained there was dry spot on the bed just large enough for baby Pearl. The house was later rebuilt on the same plan.

All the Harmon Boys were good cowboys, it is said that they could use anybody’s rough string of horses. Who is to say – who is the best rider? Louie Pelissier said he thought Bob was the best roper. Elders have said that Roy was an exceptional bronc rider. Melvin Griffin an 2009 inductee – pre 1940 rodeo category, said he witnessed him standing on the outside end of the chute gate and when the bronc came out, jump on with a mane hold and ride him easily.

They all worked with Eddie Tetly, who ran Thoroughbred and Morgan horses and used government stallions for Years. They broke and sold horses to the Army for Cavalry horses.
Some of the ranches they worked on were SN Lebo, WJ Follis, Bill McCarty, Little Horse Company, JB Stodard, George Hawkins and the Parson Ranch north of Wibaux, MT where they ran lots of cattle and horses. They told about being weathered “in and out of grub”. They sifted the mouse droppings out of the bottom of the flour bin and made biscuits.

The rodeo days were in their younger years in the early 1900’s. The Harmon boys were in the mix of tough competitors in an arena anywhere between Miles City, MT and Bismarck, ND. Bert Harmon won a saddle made by the Rattan Bros Saddlery in Dickinson ND. It burned down in about 1913, other locations were TX and CO.