By Sarah Pridgeon
Two Crook County natives will be inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame this year: Alden Robinson of Moorcroft and Donald “Dee” Clark of Hulett. Both will be honored posthumously for their contribution to the Wyoming way of life.
The Hall of Fame finds and celebrates the men and women who introduced this state to its ranching heritage, honoring the cowboys and ranchers who helped to break those first trails.
Donald “Dee” Clark
Donald “Dee” Clark was born to Lewis and Louise Atkinson Clark in 1926 on TL Creek in northeast Wyoming. He grew up on ranches northwest of Hulett, near TL Creek, New Haven and Prairie Creek.
He learned at a young age to harness and work the big horses for haying and ranch work and became proficient at harness repair.
Clark left school early to help his father on the ranch and found ranch jobs around the county. Even while working those jobs, he was leasing land to pasture the sheep and cattle he was acquiring and trailing sheep, cattle and horses over the northern part of the county.
Clark lost half his sheep in 1963 to an unseasonal blizzard, so he borrowed money and continued to ranch while also holding a job as a hand. As his herds grew, he was able to lease and buy enough land to ranch for himself, with the help of wife Barbara and children Merle, Denise and Cleve.
The sheep were sold in 1976 because the coyotes were eating the profits; instead, Clark increased his black Angus cattle herd. A good roper, he enjoyed rodeo, was a member of the Crook County Horseman’s Association and was a life member of the Hulett Roping Club, serving as the arena director for many years.
Clark also served on the local co-op and school boards, was on the board of directors of the Hulett National Bank and held the record for making the most motions to adjourn the bank board meetings. After retiring at the age of 80, he and Barbara divided the ranch between their three children; Clark passed away in October, 2012.
Alden Robinson was born in 1923 on the Robinson Ranch near Moorcroft, to Lucian “Herb” and Emily Sapp Robinson. From an early age, he rode behind the cantle of his grandfather’s saddle, or with a hired hand, as they worked cattle.
As a young teen, he hired out to cowboy on his own. Fifty cents a day was considered top pay at that time, unless you could bring your own horses and make a hand; Robinson humbly credited his dollar-a-day income to “having a lot of horse flesh to choose from”.
Robinson diversified the ranch with cattle, sheep and quarter horses. He married Effie Camp Nefsy in 1946 and raised five children, buying the ranch in 1956 along with brother Lucian on the passing of their grandfather.
The brothers managed the ranch together, adding the HN Ranch at Ranchester in 1960. In 1962, the partnership was dissolved and Robinson continued to own and manage the Moorcroft ranch, which is now operated by his son, Justen.
Passing on horse knowledge and expertise was important to Robinson. He encouraged his own children, Pam, Dee, Toni and Justen, as well as serving as a 4H Horse Leader and clinician and co-founding the Crook County Horsemen’s Association in 1963.
Robinson also rodeod in the Northwest Ranch Cowboy’s Association; was a long-time Wyoming Stock Growers Association board member; helped start the Moorcroft Jubilee in 1965 and led the parade with Old Glory annually until 2001; participated in the Centennial Cattle Drive from the old Thornton railroad stockyards in 2006; and represented Crook County by winning the WSGA Centennial Team Roping in Cheyenne in 1972. He passed away in March, 2013.