Jack Frusetta was born April 1, 1878 in New York to Charles and Margarette
(Cullen) Frusetta. Charles was a native of Prugiasco, Switzerland. Margarette
was a native of Kilkenny Ireland. At a young age Jacks family moved
to San Benito County in California and ranched in that area. He attended
the Platea School riding five miles to and from school every day.
He ranched with his family on the San Benito Ranch and the Syncline Ranches.
At one time he also worked as a cowboy in Butcher town outside
of San Francisco where hundreds of cattle were processed. His family believes
this is where he became an expert with the bullwhip he always kept with
him tied behind his cantle when not in use.
It is unknown just when Jack first came to Nevada but once he did, the
desert lured him away from a successful family ranch to the life of a
buckaroo in the high desert. Nevada was home to him. He was a tall wiry,
red headed man, happy go lucky with a grin from ear to ear. His family
remembers him as a real prankster. Always pulling jokes on his nieces
and nephews. The cowboys who buckarooed with him recall him as being a
quiet well-liked cowboy.
It is uncertain which outfits Jack worked for. Tom Pedroli seen him and
visited with him at Toms brother Petes some 15 years before
working with him in May of 1937 on the Circle A wagon. It is presumed
he had at one time worked for Able and Curtner for he knew the Circle
A country well. He worked for the CS Ranch in 1934. Frank Petronvich recalls
a team running away with Jack, the tongue broke but Jack kept hold of
the reins, the horses drug him but he held on until they stopped. In Franks
words Jack was fearless and tough. This was a man that was 56 years
Jack took great pride in his outfit and was well known for always having
a good outfit. He rode a black D.E. Walker Visalia Stock Saddle with a
rose stamp, Spanish style riggin. He had beautiful silver mounted bridles.
One was a black flat leather headstall with silver conchos in the shape
of a heart, spade, diamond, clover with a horseshoe shaped buckle and
silver mounted spade bit. Another was a round rolled leather headstall
with silver conchos every inch. His spade had silver or copper ferrules
rather than the copper wire. He always used a bosal and mecate. Tex Bonnet
recalls when Jack would run low on cash while in between jobs he would
hawk his bridle to Pete Pedroli for $25.00, Pete would always keep it
and Jack would get it back next time he was in town.
Jack was a reata man using a 70 foot reata, first 30 feet being 5/8 for
the throwing and the last 40 feet being 3/8 in making it easier to dally.
He always carried his reata with a day herders loop. (Meaning he
had a half built loop with his coils) He was a beautiful roper. Tom Pedroli
remembers he took long coulee shots, always in the right position. Good
head set on his horses with a nice mouth. He was a good hand.
In May of 1937 Jack was working for the IL Ranch, semi-retired staying
at the winter ranch. Mark Scott asked Jack to be the IL rep in the Circle
A wagon. Jack didnt want to go. Jay Fowler remembers him arguing
with Scott and wondered why he didnt send one of the younger cowboys,
but Jack knew the desert better than any of the other hands. Jack agreed
That night he told Lawrence Jackson he had a strange feeling about going
out on the desert again. The next morning Jackson helped him get started.
Jack took 5 saddle horses and a packhorse though he was an experienced
packer that morning he seemed to stall and fumble with the packing. Jackson
told him hed see him when he got back. Jack shook his head and said
I dont know. I dont know.
Jack helped the Circle A buckaroos for a couple of weeks or so, gathering
cattle, branding calves and parting out strays. Jack had about 17 head
of IL cattle in a holding field at the Willow Springs. June 3rd he trailed
them cattle to the Little Owyhee field; Frank Sellers and possibly Tom
Bodie helped him. He left the Little Owyhee the morning of June 4th with
his cattle and his cavvy.
Late in the evening of June 17th Fred Bunting, boss of the CS went to
the North Fork Ranch. Joe Bob the Indian that was irrigating told him
he had found a horse up by the fence with the saddle turned and a rope
that had been cut around his neck. Fred walked into the barn and there
was Jacks saddle. He immediately went to Winnemucca and notified
the IL. Coincidently at about the same time Jay Fowler and some of the
other IL buckaroos had picked up the rest of Jacks cavvy at the Winters
Ranch. They notified the IL headquarters and they had recently heard from
June 19, two groups of searchers set out, one group of cowboys came south
from the Little Owyhee and another group went North from the Little Humboldt.
About the time they met half way to Evans Lake Buck Tipton recalls they
started finding articles from the pack, a dress boot and other articles
of clothing. The one party had found the packhorse tangled in the brush
a mile or so up from the Little Humboldt. About 3 miles from the guard
corral they found a stack of brush, a cut rope and the remains of a fire,
and what was left of Jacks bullwhip.
They surmised that Jack must have been hurt there, used his bullwhip to
gather the sagebrush and to try and mount his horse, when that failed
he cut his horse loose. They were never sure what had happened to Jack
whether he was kicked by the packhorse as he was redoing his pack that
had apparently came undone. Whether his packhorse blew up jerking him
from his saddle, or causing his horse to blow, no one knows to this day.
The cowboys continued to follow Jacks trail as he drug himself along,
finding fires along the way, a dozen or so. At the guard corral they found
his final fire but even after running out of matches he kept dragging
himself along the trail. It had stormed on him giving some relief to the
thirst. But the desert cold that can change to desert heat in a matter
of minutes had to quickly dry things out. The cowboys trailed him another
mile or so to find his body in the protection of some tall brush; they
could see where he had drug himself around the brush, possible seeking
shade. At the very end he still had his pride and his dignity as he laid
his spurs neatly beside him on his gloves and tilted his hat over his
Dr. Seymour J. Kranson, physician at the CCC camp in Paradise Valley,
Nevada, gave the report the right hip seemed to have been dislocated and
in his opinion death came from pain, dehydration and exposure to the elements.
Jack lived a Buckaroo life and died as a Buckaroo, in the rugged Nevada
Desert he loved.
Jack Frusetta was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September
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