Celebrating a Living Inductee MT Cowboy Hall of Fame: Billy Greenough

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, January 30, 2020
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Courtesy Photo
Bill Greenough’s life is a part of Carbon County, Fromberg and Red Lodge Rodeo’s history and he was recently honored by induction into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.

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(Left) Don Gay, 8 times world bull riding champion, with Francie and Billy Greenough.

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Billy Greenough, shown here in 1968, in Billings on a saddled bronc.

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Photo by Larry Mayer, Billings Gazette
Drovers gather at the Montana Centennial Cattle Drive, 1989.

Fromberg and Carbon County’s own famous cowboy from cowboy family nobility, the Greenoughs, was recently inducted as a “Living Inductee” into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame; 82 year old Bill Greenough.

Greenough's first comments in reaction to the honor were, “I’m sure there were more people worthy of it.” Nevertheless he said, “I’m really proud to be inducted. There are a lot of great old cowboys. I’m happy to be in that group!”

His wife, Francie said, “I’m sure the first thing he’d say is that there’s a lot more people than him that could have deserved being been chosen.” When told that’s pretty much what he did say, she laughed. “He’s pretty humble!” 

Francie had been wondering why he wasn’t inducted into the Montana Pro Rodeo like his son was recently, but realized they focus solely on rodeo. “He’s done rodeo, but a lot more than that. He’s done a lot his whole life. But,” she reflected, “The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame knew it!”

She thanks Christie Stensland, Executive Director of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center, Inc., for helping her put her thoughts on paper into cohesive form as she related his story for the Center (see tribute this issue). Stensland demurred and said she gives full credit to Francie.

All said, Francie observed, “I just am very proud of him. It’s well deserved! He’s 82 and still shoeing horses!” She thought about the generations. “His father, Bill, rode and was working on the Beartooth Highway. If you ever see a photo of a man riding down at that time on a white horse-that’s him!” She believes the picture is part of CCN archives.

She also noted, “His grandfather was Packhorse Ben! The lake (Greenough Lake) is named after him.” Asked for a story about Ben she thought a moment and said, “He was a big, tall guy! And an ice skater! Can you believe he could do that!” 

Packhorse Ben, like a number of men and women in the early history of Red Lodge, he came out here from New York. 

Of course, she also referred to Marge and Alice his two aunts, famous bareback riders, as well as his Uncle Turk, all glorified for making Red Lodge Rodeo as well as being outstanding nationally. They are given tribute in the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum in Red Lodge. The museum was even founded with their memorabilia being the lead attraction. 

“He was in the cattle drive of 1989,” she reminisced, honoring the state’s Centennial. “They drove thousands of cattle from Roundup to Billings. He was a drover.” She explained, “They not only ride horses but care for the cattle.” 

“I’m very proud of him. He packed a lot of memories away in his life,” said Francie. See montanacowboyhalloffame.org.



Greenough Jr., Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, Class of 2019, Pt 1.



William “Billy” Greenough, Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame,  Class of 2019, Part I

Reprinted by permission: Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center, Inc

William Edward Greenough, Jr. was born in Billings, Montana on January 22, 1938 to William Edward “Bill”, Sr. and Dagne (DeBourg) Greenough. “Billy” joined his older sister, Barbara who was born in 1936 at the family home in Wyola. His younger sister, Carol was born in 1943. 

Billy warm-heartedly remembers his father competing in bronc riding and working as a pickup man at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His aunts, Marge and Alice Greenough, were both well-known lady bronc riders as was his uncle, Turk Greenough who was a world champion bronc rider.

Billy’s uncle, Frank Greenough was a foreman of the Antler Ranch on the Crow Indian Reservation. They ran 10,000-15,000 Mexican steers at any given time. After Frank bought a ranch and moved to Recluse, Wyoming, Bill was appointed foreman of the Antler. One of Billy’s fondest memories on the Antler Ranch was of the roundup wagon. There would be around 15 cowboys, which included reps from other ranches. Each man had seven to eight horses that were held in a rope corral and would often change horses, depending on the work. Billy’s dad was the wrangler assigned to rope the horse the cowboys chose to use that day. Breakfast was served at three AM, dinner around ten AM and supper by four PM. While growing up at the Antler, all Billy knew was cowboys, cattle and horses. He felt privileged to work with great ranch hands; John Hammett, John Shreve, Pistol Abbott, the Abarr boys, Jim Barrett and Al Smith. Billy learned young, by listening, keeping his mouth shut, and paying attention to what was going on around him. “One step at a time, and always in the right direction.” “When trailing cattle - remember, slow is faster.” “Make sure every step those steers take is, where you want them to go.” 

Later on, Bill, had Hale Jeffers and Billy breaking horses for the ranch. It was not unusual to have 30-40 colts nearby, to break. They managed 250 broke horses and ran two broodmare bands. Billy learned soon on to be polite to women and to never ride in front of anyone. In 1957 and ’58 the Antler shipped one of the last big shipments of 10,000 head of cattle by railcar out of Hardin, Montana. The Antler Ranch disbanded after owner Matt Tschrigi died. The family later moved back to Montana near Sage Creek in the Pryor Mountains. 

Billy began elementary school in 1944 at Wyola went to high school in Lodge Grass, Montana graduating in 1956. Billy remembers well when he, Gary Hoovestal, Willard Spotted Horse and Hale went to their first High School Rodeo held in Glasgow. They traveled in a single cab pickup with a stock rack, loaded with two horses and their bed rolls. The young men were entered in the bronc riding, steer undecorating, and calf roping. Life just couldn’t have been any better at that time. 

He went to the community college in Sheridan, Wyoming and was on the rodeo team with Hale and Jerry Kaufman. Billy headed south to the University of Arizona for one year, was on the rodeo team where he competed in saddle broncs and bareback riding. 

Billy married Alice Steffan in 1961 and later divorced. They had three children, Stephanie born in 1964, Wendy 1969 and Deb 1963. 

History Continued Next Week


The Carbon County News

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