Joe Applegarth was destined to be a cowboy. His father and mother had a homestead north of Bingham, Nebraska. They raised horses for the Army and when the boys were old enough to ride, they broke them to ride and work.
Andrew Joseph Applegarth was born March 23, 1098. He was born to Andrew Joseph Applegarth and Ellenoram Agnekene (Nellie) Welsh. Both of Joe’s Grandparents on his mother’s side were of Irish descent and his father’s parents were from England and homesteaded north of Antioch. To this day, the lake in the area of his home place is known as Applegarth Lake.
Joe was the second of six children. His brothers were Bill, Barney and Hank and sister Catherine. Joe only finished his sophomore year of High School. His mother passed away about that time and he and Bill went to work so the other children could finish school.
Joe’s father decided to become a veterinarian after the death of his wife. Andy was the first veterinarian in the sandhills and treated more horses than cattle.
Joe married Maxine Taylor on June 26, 1935. They have five children: Dean, Nancy, Linda, Kay and Lori. Joe worked on various ranches until 1946 when he went to work for the Dumbbell Ranch. He was promoted to Foreman after he had been there several years.
Family and friends recall Joe counting cattle through a gate and tying a knot in his reins for every hundred that went by him, never missing a cow, steer, or heifer. His education was cut short, but he could do payroll without any problems.
The Dumbbell Ranch split up in 1958 and he went to work for Wearin Brothers. The Wearin’s were one of the three heirs to the Dumbbell Ranch. Joe remained there for fifteen years. He retired after he was badly injured in a feeding accident, but never got over his love for horses and the ranching life.
Joe thought that if it couldn’t be done with horses, it probably wasn’t worth doing. He loved the ranching life and lived by the rules of the Sandhills: honesty and hard work. Joe’s goal in life was to be the best cowboy he could and to live the cowboy life.
Although Joe never won any awards of any kind, his reward was living the life of a cowboy and the respect of all who knew him because of his ability and integrity.