Western Colorado cattle brand fetches $44,000 | VailDaily.com

Western Colorado cattle brand fetches $44,000

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent file photoFrank Starbuck, a Divide Creek rancher who died about two years, asked that brand be auctioned off for scholarship fund

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” A historic cattle brand from Divide Creek raised $44,000 for the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association Scholarship Fund.

Most importantly to some, the brand is being kept in the area and will still be used by a family that runs cattle up Divide Creek.

The quarter circle slash cattle brand, registered with the state in 1915, was donated to the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association auction Saturday night at the Ramada Inn.

Frank Starbuck died about two years ago and had indicated 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 “was used by the Starbuck ranch since its inception,” said Garfield County Commissioner John Martin. “It’s one of the oldest brands in Colorado.”

Starbuck’s cousin is Marvelle Couey, who bought the brand with Martin doing the bidding 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 was once featured in the Denver Post as a woman in business because she used to run a cattle ranch.

Couey’s son, Kelly Couey, plans to keep the cattle brand and use it running cattle near their ranch on Mamm Creek. He said Starbuck’s wife, La Verne, who is known as 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 like 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 it wasn’t a tough decision because before Frank Starbuck died, “He had made his wishes known what he wanted done to the brand if anything had happened to him. 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. 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 up 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. “100 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.

How did Bubbles get her nick name?

“That was my father’s nick name,” she said. “I used to blow bubbles in the crib.”

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