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The Bronc Bustin’ Bascom Boys

On Friday July 8, 2016, the Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremonies at the Historic Union Station in Ogden, Utah. 
On that occasion, the Bascom brothers - Raymond, Melvin, Earl, Weldon and their father John W. Bascom - were the first to be named Emeritus Honorees, being honored for helping pioneer the sport of rodeo and for contributing to the “western way of life.” 

With well over a hundred years of rodeo and cowboy history to their names, the Bronc Bustin’ Bascom Boys as they were sometimes called, left a name and fame on the trails of the American and Canadian west.

John W. Bascom, patriarch of the family, was born in Mona, Utah in 1869, being one of the sons of lawman and rancher Joel Bascom. Along with the Swasey boys from the neighboring ranch, John helped put on ranch rodeos during annual roundups and brandings. In 1889, the Bascoms moved to the Uintah Basin in eastern Utah. Bascom worked on ranches in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. He married Rachel Lybbert and served as a deputy sheriff chasing members of Butch Cassidy’s outlaw gang. He also served as constable of Naples, Utah. In 1914, a couple of years after his wife Rachel Lybbert died, he moved with his children to Raymond, Alberta Canada where he worked as one of the foremen on the Knight Ranch. He later ranched on his own, running cattle on the open range. In 1918, he married Ada Romeril Dawley, and acquired a stepson. Five more children came from this union, making a family with eleven children. Along with his sons, John helped put on local rodeos and furnished rodeo stock of bucking horses and steers. 

Raymond “Tommy” Bascom was born in 1901 in Naples, Utah. He helped his father gather wild horses and trail them from their Utah ranch to Rifle, Colorado. In Canada, he cowboyed, ranched and rodeoed. He tried his hand as a bronc rider but was a champion chariot racer and roman standing racer. For 20 years he was a rodeo pickup man with 10 years in the arena at the Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Stampede committee called him the greatest rodeo pickup man in the world. He served on the Raymond Stampede committee before moving his family to Eastend, Saskatchewan to ranch with his brother Melvin. Their father, John W. Bascom, also lived on the ranch with the youngest of his children.

Melvin “High Pockets” Bascom was born in 1903 in Naples, Utah. He cowboyed, ranched and rodeoed. He contested in the three rough stock events of saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding as well as the timed event of calf roping. He was the first to ride the famous bull Romeo in 1928 at the Raymond Stampede. Romeo had never been successfully ridden in 5 years, bucking off every rider until Mel rode him, riding the bull with a saddle. He served as arena director, furnished rodeo stock and produced rodeos, including the Murraydale Stampede. In the 1920’s, he and his brother Earl were extras in a Hollywood movie filmed in Lethbridge. Mel and his brother Earl were rodeo contestants at the Eastend Stampede and at the Maple Creek Stampede in the early 1930’s and helped roundup horses on the old 76 Ranch on the Frenchman River and on the Armstrong Ranch near Maple Creek. Mel acquired a ranch in Eastend, Saskatchewan and lived out his days there with his family.

Earl W. Bascom, who was called by the nobility title of Lord Bascom as a child by his British grandmother, was born in 1906 in Vernal, Utah. He invented several important pieces of rodeo equipment and rodeo gear which shaped the sport of rodeo and gave him the titles of “father of modern rodeo” and “rodeo’s greatest inventor.” The rodeo bucking chute, the hornless saddle, the modern bareback rigging and the modern rodeo chaps were all of his creation. He cowboyed and rodeoed from Calgary to California to Mississippi, contesting in the three rough stock events as well as the timed events of wild cow milking, steer decorating and steer wrestling. In 1933, he set a new world record time, two arena records and placed third in the world standings in the steer decorating event. He tried his hand as a rodeo announcer, rodeo producer, rodeo clown and bull fighter, trick rider, rodeo news reporter and historian, He helped with roundups and brandings on his brother Melvin’s ranch in Eastend. Always a designer and artist, he graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in fine art. Following the example of his relative Charlie Russell, he became internationally known for his western art and sculpture. He was called the “cowboy of cowboy artists.” He was a movie actor as well, working with cowboy actor Roy Rogers and others.

Weldon “Preacher” Bascom was born in 1912 in Naples, Utah. He cowboyed and rodeoed, contesting in the three rough stock events as well as steer wrestling and wild horse racing. He rodeoed from Calgary to California to Mississippi to New York to London, England. He attended Brigham Young University. He and his brother Earl have been called the “founding fathers of Mississippi rodeo” for having produced the first rodeo in that state in 1935. That rodeo was also the first in the world to be held outdoors at night under electric lights. He and his brother also introduced brahma bull riding. They both were listed among the world’s top 10 bull riders of the 1930’s. During his rodeo career, he bucked off the famous saddle bronc Midnight in London. He was a Hollywood actor, stuntman and movie producer. 

The Bronc Bustin' Bascom Boys have all contributed to the world of rodeo and to western culture. As one historian exclaimed - "The Bascom family is unparalleled in its contributions to the history of the American and Canadian West."