Local cowboy, the late Henry Schneider, will be inducted into the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame in Williams Lake on March 18 by the BC Cowboy Heritage Society during the Kamloops Cowboy Festival.
Schneider (1917-1991) was nominated for the honour by Jean Jordan (nee Hughes) whose family was neighbours of the Schneiders.
“I had known the Schneiders ever since I was 6 years old,” she recalled. “I used to stay summer holidays over in upper hat creek with them. We lived in Pavilion.
“They never had children of their own so lots of neighbour kids would stay with them. While I was in Grade 2, our parents moved for a short time to Kelly Lake and were not close to a school, so with four children at home, two teenagers were home-schooled and Elsie Schneider, who had been a teacher, offered to take me and home-school me, so I spent some special quality time with them.
“In the winter Henry used to take me out on the sled pulled by horses while he fed the cattle. He would wrap the reins around the post and let me hang on to the end of the reins, thinking I was actually driving them when in fact they were listening to his voice command.
“The people who were kids at that time all have fond memories of Henry and Elsie. I wish I had known about the Cowboy Hall of Fame before Elsie passed as I would have done it before then.
“Henry and Elsie used to have neighbourhood New Year’s Eve parties and our family always went to help with Branding. Henry was a super horseman and we loved to watch him work with his horse in local rodeos.
“Henry was born in Ashcroft hospital and him and his parents spent his first night on his way home at the Hat Creek House. The following is the story I sent with my brother Bud (Hughes)’s help to the BC Cowboy Association:
“Henry Schneider’s parents, John and Lena Schneider, were both born in Germany but did not meet until they had moved to the United States. After they were married they crossed the border into Alberta with a four horse team and covered wagon, a buggy with a team and a couple of saddle horses. Everything was shipped by rail to Ashcroft.
“John then filed a claim to homestead in Upper Hat Creek. John and Lena had three children with Henry being the middle child and only son. Henry, his two sister, Edna (Schneider) Lehman and Helen (Schneider) Kerr all turned out to be great, hardworking ranchers, being more at home in the saddle than anywhere else.
“Henry met a school teacher Elsie Johnston, from the prairies who moved to Ashcroft to teach school and a couple of years later in October 1951 they married. They never had children of their own, but their love for children was great and many friends and neighbours’ kids happily stayed with them on holidays over the years giving them the biggest family of all.
“Henry raised cattle on the property homesteaded by his parents. He ran about 200 head of cows and kept the calves until they were long yearlings. He was an excellent grass manager and cattleman and his yearlings always brought top price.
“Henry and Elsie kept a couple of milk cows, a couple of pigs and a bunch of chickens and raised their own hay and grain to feed these animals. Henry was also a very good horseman and cowboy, and participated in some of the local rodeo’s in both calf roping and team roping. He was particularly good at heeling calves and was in great demand as a heeler at the various branding operation in the Upper Hat Creek valley and Ashcroft area. He was also a great friend to all who new him.
“They sold the ranch in 1965, worked on the Harper Ranch for a while, had two addresses in Cache Creek then moved to 16 Mile. Henry spent the rest of his life cowboying around the district for whoever needed a hand.
“It was a once in a life time pleasure for me to have Henry inducted into the hall of fame where his name so rightly belongs,” said Jordan.
When Henry passed away in 1991, then Journal editor Barry Tait wrote:
“I had intended to do a piece on Henry Schneider who I was proud to call a friend and neighbor, but when I heard Gordon Parke’s eulogy at Henry’s memorial service last week, I decided my humble effort could not possibly top it. The following is the context of Gordon’s words:”
“My own early memories of Henry go back quite a few years. Once when I was a lad and Henry a young man, he called in at the ranch on some business one day. My brother, Alan and I had put a pipe between two cottonwood trees and we were practicing some fancy moves on the high bar when he drove in. Alan and I stood back and watched as Henry went to the bar, reached up and proceeded to do several spins and flips landing neatly on his feet at the end. He also bent the bar into a big bow but that didn’t matter, we were very impressed.
“Henry was different things to different people. To some he was an excellent horseman. He rode a horse more miles, probably, than most people drive a car in a lifetime and no person knew this country better. He always had a good horse and he always had a useful dog. Both were trained to do his bidding and they DID his bidding.
“To others of us, Henry was a first class cowboy and top roper. To work with him sorting cattle was always a treat. Never in too much hurry and always in the right place making the right moves. As a roper he was quietly competent and few brandings took place for miles around without Henry to help “drag them to the fire.”
“To me he was all these things and also a first class cowman and rancher. Henry was a neighbour of ours in Upper Hat Creek until he sold out some years ago and we often saw his big Hereford cows with the HS brand on their left rib. I don’t think I ever saw a poor one and they were always on their property side of the fence. Henry’s ranch was truly well care for – he was as much at home with an irrigation shovel over his shoulder as he was astride a horse.
“He was a quiet and capable man who never tried to impress and because he didn’t try to impress he inevitably did. Once when I was driving some friends from the city into the valley we saw a lone rider with his dog coming over a hill and down toward the road. I recognized Henry and stopped to say hello as we often did. That simple everyday encounter would mean little to any of us but to my friends from the city the impression Henry made stuck with them for many years and they made mention of it often on later occasions.
“Henry won the respect and affection of all who knew him. I am proud to have been a friend as everyone here must be. Ranching, cattle and horses were Henry’s life.
“He was the best darn cowboy I ever knew.”
Gordon Parke was, himself, inducted into the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame approximately five years ago as a Ranching Pioneer.
The BC Cowboy Hall of Fame is located in the Museum of the Cariboo-Chilcotin, 113 North 4th Ave., Williams Lake.