Historic Garfield County cattle brand fetches high price
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GARFIELD COUNTY ” A coveted, historic Garfield County cattle brand ” apparently among the oldest brands in the state ” was sold at auction Saturday, raising $44,000 for the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association Scholarship Fund.
And more importantly to some observers, the brand will remain in the area, to be used by a family that runs cattle up Divide Creek ” an area south of Interstate 70, between New Castle and Silt.
The quarter-circle-slash brand, registered with the state in 1915, was donated to the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association auction, held Saturday night at the Ramada Inn in Glenwood Springs. Its prior owner, Frank Starbuck, died about 2 1/2 years ago, but indicated before he died that he wanted the brand to be auctioned to raise money for the scholarship fund. The brand can be traced back to his grandfather, Asa Starbuck.
The brand has been used by the Starbuck ranch since its inception, according to Garfield County Commissioner John Martin. “It’s one of the oldest brands in Colorado,” he said.
Starbuck’s cousin is Marvelle Couey, who bought the brand, with Martin handling the bidding on her behalf at the auction.
“That’s been in the family for many many many years, and some of the neighbors and of course myself didn’t want to see it leave this creek,” Couey said.
Couey’s son, Kelly Couey, plans to keep the cattle brand and use it for cattle his family run near their Mamm Creek ranch. He said Starbuck’s wife, La Verne (known by her nickname, “Bubbles”) got caught in a tough situation because a lot of people wanted the brand.
“These old family brands ” they’re kind of like the China and jewelry that get passed down from generation to generation,” Couey said.
He said his family feels it has a claim to the brand because they’re the only Starbuck descendants still running cattle up Divide Creek, but a number of people thought they were getting the brand.
“Bubbles is a wonderful woman,” he said. “She got caught in a really, really tough situation because there’s no way to make everyone happy. There’s over 100 people in this valley that could trace their family back to Asa Starbuck.”
Bubbles said selling the brand wasn’t a tough decision, though, noting her late husband’s wishes.
“He had made his wishes known what he wanted done to the brand if anything had happened to him,” she said. “He had been on the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association scholarship committee for years and years. He knew that the funds were running low and he thought that that would be a good place to leave it.”
The bidding Saturday for the cattle brand Saturday started out at $1,000. Most brands are sold for far less than $44,000, and Bubbles said the sale price was probably a record in Colorado.
“It went fast and furious,” Martin said. “Everyone seemed to drop out around $15,000.”
At that point, it was just Martin and former Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson in a bidding war that drove the price to $44,000. Dickinson and his family own a large cattle ranch in Moffat County and are reportedly connected to a cattle operation in South America.
“We wouldn’t want that brand from Divide Creek to go to South America,” Martin said. “A hundred years of ownership of a brand is the family name. It’s the family honor. It’s the crest. It’s like taking the Queen of England’s crest and giving it to someone else down in Venezuela.”
Silt Police Chief Levy Burris said people do seem proud of the cattle brand.
“It’s long standing in the area. Certainly it means something to the cattlemen and local ranchers,” said Burris, who is married to Marvelle’s daughter, Jacque.
Starbuck was born in 1922 in New Castle and lived his entire life in the Divide Creek area as a rancher and a cowboy. He died in a horse accident in July 2006. His brother, Joe, is still ranching in the area.
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