Baldy Sox By: Anita Waggoner |
My grandfather Leo Samuel Moomaw entered this world on April 3, 1894 joining six other brothers and sisters all born to his parents Samuel and Ellen Moomaw in the late 1800's. Leo entered this world destined to forge a lifetime love of the industry of rodeo and western entertainment. At a young age he loved horses and other farm animals and enjoyed being around them in the barn yard while his father worked close by. He'd been born with a cleft lip, a condition that didn't keep him from enjoying an active, determined life. One day, at a young age, while playing in the barn he was kicked in the face by a horse, further splitting his cleft lip. Frontier medicine was primitive and corrective surgery was not an option. His mother Ellen, the family medic, carefully sewed up the torn upper lip making repairs to his cleft lip as she stitched. She shaped his lip into a more normal looking upper lip which eventually helped him to better form sounds into recognizable words. Being kicked in the face by a horse did not deter the young cowboy from his fascination with horses. Leo's father Samuel Moomaw was in the livery stables business in Colville, Washington in 1901. Ellen and Samuel recognized that it was a changing world and they strived to give their (by then ten) children an education. They enrolled their older children, including Leo at the St. Regis Mission near Kettle Falls, Washington. The school was run by a Catholic Priest and Nuns who offered both religious and academic training. Leo did not take well to the rigorous discipline and rules of the boarding school. He was taught basic reading and arithmetic but resented the confinement at the Mission. He'd occasionally find himself in trouble with the strict Nuns earning him a whipping by the Catholic Priest. Determined that his independence and spirit would not be broken, facing another whipping by the Priest, he escaped his tormentors by running away from the school. His father had taught him survival skills and he used them as he may his way on foot the twenty miles back to his home in Colville. He prayed that his father would understand why he'd left and figured that any punishment he might receive from his father wouldn't be any worse than what he would have endured had he stayed at the mission. He felt that no education was worth the beatings he'd endured at the hands of the Priest.
Samuel Moomaw did not insist that his son return to the St. Regis Mission. He chose instead to keep him at home and to teach him the business of running a livery stable. His father was a great mentor teaching the young Leo to ride horses, drive a team of horses, to keep the barn clean and to build fence. Samuel taught Leo everything he felt a farm boy should know in the era of the horse and buggy. He learned about the care of horses and he developed excellent skills in handling them. In 1905 Samuel sold the livery stable and moved his family to the Enchelium Country about a mile from the small town of Meteor, Washington. The area was more rugged and less populated than the town of Colville. Their new home was within the boundaries of the Colville Indian Reservation. Proving her Indian heritage, Ellen and the children were enrolled with the Colville Indian Tribe and became entitled to allotments of land. As Samuel and his son Leo drove a buggy around their land looking for horses for their new farm; they came across three young Indian braves named Roger, Pinhook and Gregware. The young braves had horses for sale. Encouraged by his father to do so, Leo excitedly picked out his favorite horse. Samuel recognized that the horse Leo chose had the potential of furthering his son's education. Samuel bought the unbroken horse under the condition that Leo ride him back to the ranch. The two year old sorrel gelding had a blocky, powerful quarter horse build. His big bald face and four white stocking legs made him the best looking horse the young Leo had ever saw. Although he was a bit frightened at the apparent power of the horse, he was proud and determined as his father encouraged him to trade the Indian braves for the gelding. The Indian braves appeared skeptical that an eleven year old boy could be much of a horse trader. They weren't aware that Leo had watched his father Samuel trade for many horses in his time. He had a good understanding of the give and take of the trade. Playing the trading game back and forth they finally struck a deal and for one dollar and fifty-cents and a used horse bridle, Leo bought his first horse. Leo named the young gelding Baldy Sox and keeping his word he rode the wild horse six miles back to the farm. Each time Baldy Sox bucked him off along the way a determined Leo crawled back on. The horse soon began to enjoy a single footing gait and eventually Leo enjoyed a comfortable ride back to the farm. Owning Baldy Sox was Leo's ticket to freedom enabling him to meet up with friends from nearby farms and to explore the hills scouting for wild horses. Leo Moomaw's first horse, Baldy Sox, started him in the horse trading business. His love for horse trading lasted a lifetime.
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