Earl W. Bascom
Cowboy of Cowboy Artists - Father of Modern Rodeo
|Born||June 19, 1906
Vernal, Uintah County, Utah
|Died||August 28, 1995
Victorville, San Bernardino County, California
|Education||Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah County, Utah and Victor Valley College, Victorville, San Bernardino County, California also University of California - Riverside, Riverside County, California|
|Occupation||Cowboy, rodeo champion, rancher, inventor, school teacher, western artist, international sculptor, Hollywood actor|
Earl W. Bascom (June 19, 1906 – August 28, 1995) was an American painter, printmaker, rodeo performer and sculptor, raised in Canada, who portrayed his own experiences cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West.
Earl Bascom was born on June 19, 1906 in a sod-roofed log cabin on the Bascom 101 Ranch in Vernal, Utah. His father, John W. Bascom, had been a Uintah County deputy sheriff and a constable in the town of Naples in northeast Utah, who chased members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch Gang and other outlaws.
Earl's grandfathers,Joel A. Bascom and C.F.B. Lybbert, were Mormon pioneers, ranchers and frontier lawmen. Joel Bascom was a cattle rancher and a member of the Utah Militia fighting in the Utah War of 1857 and the Utah Black Hawk Indian War of 1866. He also served as Chief of Police in Provo, Utah and as constable in Mona, Utah. C.F.B. Lybbert, who served in the Danish army before coming to America, was a rancher and blacksmith who served as constable of Levan, Utah and Justice of the Peace in Naples, Utah.
Bascom's paternal ancestral background was a colorful aray of nationalities and ethnicities including Quaker, French Basque and Huguenot, as well as an American Colonial Governor, John Webster, and a Revolutionary War soldier, Oliver Greene. His maternal family was of Norwegian, Danish, Dutch and German ancestry. As a child growing up, he was sometimes affectionately addressed by his British-born grandmother and aunts as "Lord Bascom - King of the Canadian Cowboys," as he was a descendant of European royalty back to Charlemagne.
In 1912, when Earl Bascom was just six years old, his mother Rachel died, leaving five children ranging in age from 11 years to nine months. In 1913, Earl's father, who had cowboyed in Utah and Colorado, and worked in sheep shearing crews in Wyoming and Montana, went to Alberta, Canada securing a job as a foreman on the Knight Ranch. John Bascom's brother-in-law, Ike Lybbert, was already working there as the ranch blacksmith.
In 1914, the Bascom family loaded their belongings into a covered wagon, traveled a week to the nearest railroad in Price, Utah and rode the train to Canada. After working for the Knight Ranches headquartered on the Milk River Ridge in Alberta, Canada, John W. Bascom, with the help of his sons, began ranching on his own using the Bar-B-3 brand. Over the following years, the Bascom family ranched at Welling along Pot Hole Creek, New Dayton on the Fort Whoopup Trail near Deadman Coolee, Lethbridge on the Old Man River and Stirling east of Nine Mile Lake.
By Canadian law, all minor children who emigrated to Canada before 1915 and whose parent became a naturalized citizen, then the minor children automatically became Canadian citizens. Earl Bascom's father became a naturalized Canadian citizen. Earl Bascom was technically an American Canadian. During the winter of 1916, the Bascom family moved back to Naples, Utah, returning to Canada in the spring of 1917.
Schooled mostly in one-room schools, Earl Bascom quit school while in grade three to work on the Hyssop 5H Ranch, east of Lethbridge. It was not long before a Canadian Mountie, who was visiting the Hyssop Ranch, thought that one of the cowboys was just too young looking to be a seasoned cowpuncher and bronc peeler. The Mountie asked Earl Bascom just how old he was - he was 13 years old. Earl returned to school. Attending school felt better after Earl's father, who had a school district transportation contract, gave him the job of driving an old stagecoach pulled by a team of Bascom horses each day to the surrounding ranches transporting fellow students to and from school.
In 1918, Earl Bascom gained a stepmother and a stepbrother, Frank, when his Earl's father married Ada Romeril Dahly. To this new union was born five more children, making eleven children in the Bascom family.
Bascom was known as the Cowboy of Cowboy Artists due to his wide range of western experiences as a professional bronc buster, cowpuncher, trail driver, blacksmith, freighter, wolf hunter, wild horse chaser, rodeo champion, cattle rancher, dude wrangler, and Hollywood actor. Bascom was among the last of those who experienced the Old West before the end of free-range ranching. Bascom reminisced:
|“||I worked for some of the big open-range outfits from Purple Springs to the Sweetgrass Hills and Kicking Horse Creek to the Milk River Ridge and the Canadian Rockies. On one roundup some 7,000 horses were gathered in one bunch a mile wide. And the Knight Ranch dipped 18,000 head of cattle. What a sight to see. The sight, the sounds, the smell I can still remember.||”|
For Bascom, ranch life and cowboy life was his life. "The life of a cowboy and the West, I know," he stated. Bascom worked on some of the largest horse and cattle ranches in the United States and Canada — ranches that ran thousands of cattle on a million acres (4000 km²) of land. He broke and trained hundreds of horses. He worked on ranches where he chased and gathered horses, cows and even donkeys in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Washington, California and Canada. He worked on cattle drives out of the Rockies and horse drives through the Teton Range. He took part on large roundups of horses and cattle, and brandings. He made saddles and stirrups, quirts, chaps, spurs, bridles and bits, ropes and hackamores, and even patched his own boots. Earl's brothers and their father, John W. Bascom, were all experienced ranch hands and professional horsemen who were known as the "Bronc Bustin' Bascom Boys."
A professional rodeo cowboy, Bascom followed the rodeo circuit internationally where he won several all-around championships and set a world record time. He rodeoed from 1916 to 1940 in the rough stock events of saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding, and in the timed events of steer decorating and steer wrestling. He also was a rodeo announcer, performed trick riding and competed in the rodeo events of wild cow milking and wild horse racing. He held memberships in the Cowboys Turtle Association, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association (now the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association) and the National Police Rodeo Association.
Honored as a rodeo pioneer and as a rodeo champion, Bascom has been inducted into several rodeo Halls of Fame in Canada and the United States. He received international acclaim for his rodeo equipment inventions and designs. Earl's brothers - Raymond "Tommy" Bascom, Melvin "High Pockets" Bascom and Weldon "Preacher" Bascom, along with their father John W. Bascom - were also professional rodeo cowboys and Hall of Fame inductees. Rodeoing financed Earl Bascom's college education at Brigham Young University where he was given the title of "Rodeo's First Collegiate Cowboy" and from which institution he graduated in 1940.
Earl Bascom has been honored as the "Father of Modern Rodeo" and known as one of rodeo's greatest innovators and inventors. He is known in rodeo history for designing and making rodeo's modern bucking chute in 1916 and modified in 1919. He also made rodeo's first hornless bronc saddle in 1922 and rodeo's first one-hand bareback rigging in 1924, for which he has been called the "Father of Rodeo Bareback Riding." In 1926, he designed and made the modern rodeo riding chaps, and then in 1928, a rodeo exerciser made of iron.
Earl Bascom has been listed among Canada's greatest inventors and among the world's most famous excogitators and thinkers.
During his college years, Earl and his brother Weldon produced the first rodeos in Columbia, Mississippi in 1935, 1936 and 1937 while working for Sam Hickman's B Bar H Ranch near Arm, Mississippi. Hickman financed these rodeos. Between rodeos of 1936 and 1937, Earl was a missionary for the LDS Church in Mississippi, serving under Mission President LeGrand Richards of the Southern States Mission.
In 1939, Bascom married Nadine Diffey, who was part American Indian, Creek and Catawba. He met her in Mississippi while cowboying and rodeoing there. They were married in Salt Lake City, Utah and raised five children. Later in life, Nadine Bascom became a sculptor in her own right, creating bas-relief sculptures.
Besides being a professional rodeo contestant, Bascom tried his hand as a rodeo clown and rodeo bullfighter during his rodeo career. Just after his 89th birthday, Earl was honored as the oldest living rodeo clown in the world.
While working for the Nilsson Rafter-E-N Ranch, Bascom happened to read a story in a western magazine about Native American Jim Thorpe. Thorpe had been working as a horse wrangler, but got fired. The camp cook gave him some advice - go to school. Thorpe took that advice, went to school, excelled in sports and became an Olympic champion.
Jim Thorpe’s life touched Bascom. "I felt like I had walked in his boots," Earl said. "Like Jim Thorpe, cowboy life was the only life that I knew. But what about my art, what about art school?"
Wanting to be an artist since childhood, Bascom filled the pages of his school books in the one-room school house he attended with cowboy scenes. His desire to be a cowboy artist was greatly enhanced after seeing art works of the two great icons of Old West art, Charles M. Russell and Frederic S. Remington - both cousins to his father (Remington and Russell were both related to Bascom through their mothers, Clarissa "Clara" Bascom Sackrider Remington and Mary Elizabeth Mead Russell, respectively). Both Remington and Russell were artists that spent time in Canada producing art.
Charles Russell was on the Knight Ranch when Bascom was working there, and had drawn a sketch on the bunkhouse wall and also finished a large oil painting of Raymond Knight on his favorite mount, Blue Bird, roping a steer.
Although Bascom was educated in one-room school houses and only completed one full school year and never finished high school, he never lost his desire to be an artist. He subscribed to a correspondence art course wherein both Russell and Remington gave instructions on their drawing techniques. "Through those art lessons these two masters of western art were my first real art teachers," Bascom recalled. "In fact the only instructions I ever had in western art were from Remington and Russell."
Even though he had no high school diploma, the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah accepted him as a student in the fall of 1933. “There I was a 27 years old college freshman who hadn’t been to school in years,” Bascom recalled. “I felt like a wild horse in a pen.” But he was persistence, taking every art course the college offered. He studied painting and drawing under professors E.H. Eastmond and B.F. Larsen, and sculpture under Torleif S. Knaphus. He graduated from BYU in 1940. Later he attended classes at Long Beach City College, Victor Valley College and the University of California Riverside.
After graduating, Earl, with his wife Nadine, moved to Southern California with the intent to attend art school. But World War II broke out before that was accomplished. He was too old to be drafted and he had a children, so he worked in the shipyards in Long Beach building ships for the war effort. As a shipfitter, he was a member of the trade union of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers of America. After the war, Earl worked for the Flying V Ranch before entering the booming construction trade, first working in the plumbing trade and then the plastering trade.
In 1917, Bascom saw his first Hollywood movie "The Silent Man" with William S. Hart. Earl and his older brother Melvin were extras in a silent movie in 1920 being filmed in Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1924, a team of palomino horses from the Bascom Ranch was used by Hoot Gibson in a roman race in the movie "The Calgary Stampede." Earl worked in the movie industry with his brother Weldon Bascom in the Hollywood western, "The Lawless Rider", starring Weldon's wife Texas Rose Bascom. Earl was one of the outlaws in the movie. Weldon was the sheriff.
After graduating from college, Bascom and his wife moved to California. Retiring from rodeo after one last season, he pursued his art career and ranched. Earl Bascom and his brother Weldon Bascom worked on a ranch in Perris, California which was formerly owned by Louis B. Mayer of Hollywood's MGM Studios.
During World War II, Bascom worked as a shipfitter in the Long Beach shipyards building ships for the war effort. As such, he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers. After the war, Bascom entered the building trade, joining what is known today as the Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association of the United States and Canada.
Later Bascom and his son-in-law Mel Marion did TV commercials with Roy Rogers for the Roy Rogers Restaurant chain which was then owned by the Marriott Corporation. When the Roy Rogers Riding Stables operated in Apple Valley, California, managed by Mel Marion and later Billy Bascom, Earl and his son John worked there wrangling horses and driving the hay wagon.
In 1966, upon getting his teaching certificate from Brigham Young University and teaching art classes at the Springville (Utah) High School held in the Springville Art Museum as a student teacher, Bascom taught art classes in Barstow, California at John F. Kennedy High School and at Barstow High School. He also served as president of the High Desert Artists (now Artists of the High Desert), and later as president of the Buckaroo Artists of America.
With his classic cowboy look and dressed in his athentic cowboy attire, he was a popular art studio model. Other artists who associated with Bascom were Bill Bender, Charles LaMonk, Leslie B. DeMille, Glen Turner, Cecil Smith, Trevor Bennett, Ray Bennett and Grant Speed.
Earl Bascom was a published historian with his writings on cowboy and rodeo history printed in books, magazines and newspapers. He was interviewed on radio and television. He was a popular lecturer on pioneer and cowboy history at schools and other academic centers. He also assisted his nephew Billy Bascom in teaching horsemanship, as well as cowboy and rodeo history at the Victor Valley College in Victorville, California.
He was honored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association as the first rodeo cowboy to become a professional cowboy artist and sculptor. He was the first cowboy artist to be honored as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London since society's beginning in 1754.
In the summer of 2005, the week-long Earl W. Bascom Memorial Rodeo was held in Berlin, Germany where his cowboy art was exhibited as an honor by the European Rodeo Cowboys Association for Bascom's worldwide influence upon the sport of rodeo.
Always one who had deep thoughts and religious leanings, Bascom was ordained a Latter-day Saint Bishop and Patriarch later in life. As the late cowboy celebrity Roy Rogers, who worked with Earl Bascom in TV commercials and was a collector of Bascom art, once said, “Earl Bascom is a walking book of history. His knowledge of the Old West was acquired the old fashioned way – he was born and raised in it.”
Bascom died at the age of 89 on his ranch in Victorville, California, August 28, 1995.
Awards and honors
|1930||3-Bar Ranch Stampede||All-Around Champion||Saskatchewan|
|1933||Calgary Stampede||Reserve Champion, Steer Decorating, North American Championship||Calgary, Alberta|
|1933||Lethbridge Stampede||World Record time, Steer Decorating||Lethbridge, Alberta|
|1933||Lethbridge Stampede and Raymond Stampede||Arena Record time, Steer Decorating||Alberta|
|1933||Rodeo Association of America||Championship of the World, Third Place in Steer Decorating|
|1934||Lethbridge Stampede||Bareback and All-Around Champion||Lethbridge, Alberta|
|1935||Raymond Stampede||Saddle Bronc, Steer Decorating and All-Around Champion||Raymond, Alberta|
|1936||Nephi Stampede||All-Around Champion||Nephi, Utah|
|1937||Pocatello Rodeo||Saddle Bronc, Bareback, Bull Riding and All-Around Champion||Pocatello, Idaho|
|1938||Rigby Rodeo||Bareback and All-Around Champion||Rigby, Idaho|
|1939||Portland Rodeo||Bareback, Bull Riding and All-Around Champion||Portland, Oregon|
|1940||Raymond Stampede||Saddle Bronc, Bareback and All-Around Champion||Raymond, Alberta|
|Grand Marshal||Cardston, Alberta||1982|
|Grand Marshal||Raymond, Alberta||1984|
|Grand Marshal||Columbia, Mississippi||1985|
|Grand Marshal||Vernal, Utah||1989|
|Grand Marshal||Hesperia, California||1997|
|"Earl Bascom - An American Hero"||Congressional Record, July 9, 1985|
|Bascom Brothers||50th Year Anniversary Rodeo, Columbia, Mississippi, 1985|
|Earl W. Bascom Award||Marion County Cattlemen's Association Rodeo, Mississippi, 1999|
|Earl W. Bascom Memorial Rodeo||Berlin, Germany, 2005|
|Earl Bascom All-Around Champion Award||Dillon Rodeo, Montana|
|Earl W. Bascom All-Around Champion Award||Hesperia Rodeo, California|
|Earl W. Bascom Bareback Champion Award||Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo, Vernal, Utah|
|Earl W. Bascom - Utah Heritage Award||Days of '47 Rodeo, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Earl W. Bascom - Lethbridge Heritage Award||Whoop-Up Days Pro Rodeo, Lethbridge, Alberta|
|Earl Bascom Saddle Bronc Rookie Award||National High School Finals Rodeo|
|Earl Bascom Bareback Rookie Award||National High School Finals Rodeo|
|Earl Bascom Memorial Scholarship||Rocky Mountain High School, Lovell, Wyoming|
Hall of Fame honors
- Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (Canada)
- California Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Cowboy Memorial Museum (California)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (London, England)
- Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame (Alberta, Canada)
- Marion County Cattleman's Hall of Fame (Mississippi)
- National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame (Oklahoma City)
- Raymond Sports Hall of Fame (Alberta, Canada)
- United States Sports Academy Walk of Fame (Georgia)
- Utah Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Utah Sports Hall of Fame
- Victor Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame (California)
- Victor Valley Museum (California)
Earl Bascom is known as an innovator and designer of rodeo equipment and rodeo gear. His inventions include:
- first side-delivery bucking chute (1916) at Welling, Alberta (assisted by brothers Raymond, Melvin and father John W. Bascom)
- first reverse-opening side-delivery bucking chute (1919) at Lethbridge, Alberta (assisted by his father John W. Bascom)
- first hornless bronc saddle (1922) at Lethbridge, Alberta
- first one-hand bareback rigging (1924) at Stirling, Alberta
- first high-cut rodeo chaps (1926) at Raymond, Alberta
- rodeo exerciser (1928) at Raymond, Alberta
- first night rodeo held outdoors under electric lights (September 24, 1935), at Columbia, Mississippi
- first permanent rodeo arena with bucking chutes and grandstands in the state of Mississippi (1936) at Columbia, Mississippi
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (June 2010)|
- Gordon, Kathryn Jenkins (2013). "Butch Cassidy and other Mormon Outlaws of the Old West" (Covenant Communications, pages 169-174). ISBN 978-1-62108-119-7
- List of Mormon pioneers
- "Earl's ancestors Herodius Long was a Quaker, Gilbertus Bask'omme was a French Basque nobleman and Robert Bascom was a Huguenot"
- "Earl's maternal grandmother, Antonette Marie Olsen Lybbert, was from Oslo, Norway; his maternal grandfather, C.F.B. Lybbert, was from Flade, Denmark but was of German, Prussian and Dutch ancestry"
- "Earl's father got the contract to drive the school district's coach wagon using a team of horses from the Bascom Ranch"
- Roundup Magazine "Rodeo Champion - Cowboy Artist Earl W. Bascom" (December 1995, Volume III Number 2)
- "American Hero Earl W. Bascom". (Summer 1995), United Lumbee Nation Times
- Alberta Beef "Cowboy Artist, Earl W. Bascom" (October 1995, page 30)
- Buckle News "Rodeo Champion - Cowboy Artist, Earl W. Bascom, Rides into Sunset" (November 1995, pages 6 and 7)
- The Sun News (July 21, 2013) "Cowboy legend Earl Bascom was a rodeo pioneer"
- ProRodeo Sports News "Bascom dies at 89" (September 13, 1995)
- Smith, Norma, editor, Our Town 2002: Raymond Stampede Centennial (Raymond Historical Society, page 53) ISBN 0-9685225-4-8 "Earl and Weldon learned trick riding from their boyhood friend and world champion trick rider Ted Elder who gave one of his extra trick saddles to them to perform on."
- "Bascom's influence on European rodeo is acknowledged by the European Rodeo Cowboys Association"
- Mahoney, Sylvia Gann; Hedeman, Tuff (2004). College rodeo: from show to sport. Texas A&M University Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-58544-331-X.
- Tri-State Livestock News (September 23, 2011) "Earl Bascom: The Father of Modern Rodeo"
- Elite Equestrian (June 13, 2013) "Cowboys in Alberta Sports Hall of Fame"
- Church News (November 2, 2013) "Earl W. Bascom: LDS cowboy receives national award"
- Daily Press (October 18, 2013) "Nadine (Diffey) Bascom"
- Vernal Express (August 30, 1995) "World's oldest living rodeo clown and bullfighter dies"
- United Lumbee Nation Times, ibid.
- "The bridle headstall shown on C. M. Russell's depiction of the horse, Blue Bird, was the same one that Raymond Knight gave to Earl as payment for breaking a horse for him"
- United Lumbee Nation Times, ibid.
- "Texas Rose Bascom"
- "Take Willy With Ya"/
- Desert Dispatch (December 16, 2013) "Bascom inducted into Rodeo Hall of Fame"
- Daily Press (March 3, 2012) "Earl W. Bascom honored at Alumni Hall of Fame"
- Johnston, Ron (2007). Famous Mormons, Interesting Profiles of Well-known Latter-day Saints (Spring Creek, pages 13-14). ISBN 978-1-932898-57-6
- The Lovell Chronicle (May 27, 2010) "Rocky Mountain seniors receive scholarship" page 14
- "Earl Bascom". Wn.com. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
- Bascom Web Portal
- Bascom's rodeo innovations
- Congressional tribute to Earl Bascom
- European rodeo tribute to Earl Bascom
- Canadian Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Utah Sports Hall of Fame
- Victor Valley College Hall of Fame
- Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
- Utah Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame
- Mormon wiki
- Poor William’s Almanack
- National Rodeo Hall of Fame