BRANDS of Local Ranchers and Farmers

We needed a place to display our many donated blacksmith items and many other priceless treasures we have been so lucky to acquire over the years, so our Blacksmith shop/Storage building was completed in 2018.

The Blacksmith by Wayne Gallup

“By definition, a blacksmith is a skilled ironworker. He has the ability to make tools, horseshoes, and a variety of metal objects by heating iron in his forge and pounding it into a desired shape on his anvil. In the 1800’s many iron goods and tools were unavailable or else prohibitively expensive, so many people made their own. Farms and ranches had their own basic working facilities and most rural people could work metal with varying degrees of skill. But a blacksmith was a professional. He could shoe horses, treat lameness if necessary, and do any sort of skilled, custom ironwork and repairs. James Hall had a blacksmith facility at his stage stop in the early 1850’s.”

In 2018, Cindy Mahon from the local Pioneering Mahon family thought it would be a nice project to recognize many of our local ranchers and farmers by displaying their brands on the side of the building. Aided by historical society facilities manager John Ross, they went about finding and asking for branding irons. They gathered a bunch, branded each on a piece of wood, ordered name plates and started mounting them on the shop wall. They continues to add more and see it as an open ended project.

Thank you everyone for your contribution.


Brands are one of the most interesting tools used by livestock people to mark their animal possessions. Each brand by necessity is unique to the owner or family, often conveys the character of that owner, and is permanent.

The origin of branding livestock dates from 2700 B.C. Evidence has been found in Egyptian tombs and Greek and Roman’s would even brand their slaves. Hernando Cortez who introduced branding from Spain to the new World in 1541, which initiated California’s branding roots.

There are many requirements for developing a brand. Each brand is unique, can’t be used by anyone else, must be registered each year to keep it active, and requirements may vary from place to place.

Some animals must be branded in certain places and some are different whether the animal is a horse or cow. Certain types of horses must be branded in certain spots as registered Arabians on the right side of the neck and Thoroughbreds on upper lip.

The brands on this wall are from local farmers and ranchers. Also, in our research library we have a book that lists all the current brands in California.

Below in alphabetical order by last name are what he has been able to assemble so far.

Anonymous – Wilton

Jim, Kevin, & Nick Backer – Franklin

Clarke Brown – Elk Grove

Al Buscher – Franklin

Buscher Family – Franklin

Lee & Nora Coe – Elk Grove

Helen/Cantrell Castello – Sacramento

Castello Family – Elk Grove

When Helen Anita Carr and Clinton Cantrell Castello were married in 1934 the branding Iron H/C (Helen/Cantrell) was created in the Levi Castello blacksmith shop on Main Street (EG Boulevard) in Elk Grove. The branding Iron was used to identify the beef cattle on the Cantrell ranch on Bandeen Road. The Guernsey milking herd of the Castello Golden Crest Fairy was identified using ear tattoos indicating ownership and ear tag numbers identifying the individual herd animal for production and calving records. In the early 1950’s the hot branding of the beef was discontinued and the beef cattle were also identified using ear tattoos and ear tag numbers. This method was much quicker since the tattoo device could be used repeatedly with no waiting time between uses while there branding iron had to be reheated often to give a clear crisp brand. This made the yearly project of branding and vaccinating the beef herd much faster and far less stressful for the animals.

D Ranch – Siskiyou County

Joe & June Daehling – Elk Grove

Douglas – Utah

Elk Grove Meat Company – Elk Grove

Feickert Family – Elk Grove

The Feickert Dairy Farm was also known as the A & D Feickert Dairy, the Adam and David Feickert Dairy, and the Feickert Brothers Dairy.

Milk production operation started post World War II in 1945 with daily shipments of milk to Crystal Creamery in Sacramento, Thirty-plus years of milk production ceased at the Feickert Ranch in 1974 when the herd was dispersed.

The Adam Feickert Branding Iron

The “Lazy A over F Connected” hot brand is technically considered “combined or conjoined,” or in other words a partially overlaid type of brand, rather than a connected brand.”   A full descriptive call of the brand as it is properly read might include:  The Lazy Down/ Lazy Right, Capital Letters A over F, Combined/ Conjoined.”  Lazy Down/ Lazy Right means rotated 90 degrees to the right.

The brand dates from circa 1970 when the hot brand was designed, and first registered with the State of California, Department of Food and Agriculture
Animal Health and Food Safety Services, Bureau of Livestock Identification by Adam Feickert.  Later it was again registered by Hans Feickert in the 1980s.  If used to brand livestock, the brand must be currently registered with the State and applied in the registered location on the animal. In the case of the “Lazy A over F Connected,” the branding iron must leave its mark on the left hip of the cow.

Edward Lane – Elk Grove

Other brands associated with the Feickert Place include the EL hoof brand. (Note: This brand is only 1″ tall) The EL hoof brand was not registered with the State of California; however, it may have been registered with the County of Sacramento.  It was likely the brand of Edward Lane, a prior owner of the Feickert Place. Hoof brands are typically used on horse hooves as a temporary mark that needs to be renewed every six months because the hoof like a fingernail does grow out.  Hoof branding was at one time common in the British military.  The EL branding iron was left behind, deliberately or simply forgotten by Edward Lane when he moved on to points unknown. Unused, the EL brand hung from a nail in the north wall of the old granary on the Feickert Place for 75 years until 1987 when it was removed for preservation. 

Flying Triangle Ranch – Siskiyou County

Frey Family – Franklin

Wayne Gallup Family – Wilton

Graybill Family – Sheldon

Hungry Pecker Brewing Co. – Elk Grove

Preston Hanford III & Family – Wilton

JR Hardesty – Franklin

Greg & Paula Hardesty – Elk Grove

Dick Harry – Elk Grove

Hayse Brothers Family – Elk Grove

Jessee – Wilcox, Arizona & Sheldon, CA

Used by Fred Jessee (EGH ’68) Great Grandfather “Archibald” Jessee (1872-1954) in the early 1900’s on his ranch in Wilcox, Arizona. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, Grandfather “Archie” Jessee (1897-1987) used the brand on the old Calhoun Ranch in Sheldon at the end of what is now Wrangler Drive.

Jim Jordan – Elk Grove

“I needed something to mark my tack for the County Fair in the Spring of 1965, I was 15. I came up with my Mark using all J’s shaped to look like my initials, JRJ. Later on in High School I made it into a branding iron and eventually registered it. To avoid  “burn out’s” I had to put spacing between the J’s so it’s registered as “Lazy Letter J, over Letter J, offset Letter J” and so when you look at it you see… J & R & J, my initials. I used it in my Company logo for over 40 years.” – Jim

Ed & Ethel Keema – Franklin

Gordon Krook – Elk Grove

John Lewis – Elk Grove

Frank Loretz – Franklin

Frank Loretz – Franklin

John Machado & Sons – Franklin

Marc Page – Wilton

Lester Mahon – Elk Grove

Dick Mahon Sr. – Elk Grove

Roger & Joan Mahon – Franklin

Jason & Sarah Mahon – Franklin

Tony & Annette Merola – Wilton

Mo Ranch – Siskiyou County

Morris – Sacramento

The MR brand stands for the Martha & Ronnie Morris who lived in Sheldon. They ran cattle on land they leased at Jaeger Road in Rancho Cordova from 1994-2020. They decided it was time to quit when someone used two of their cows for target practice, one died and one lived.

O Bar Ranch – Klamath River

Jack & Debbie Robin – Wilton

Saner – Elk Grove

Peter Saunders – Franklin

Leland Schneider – Sloughhouse

Leland & Jared Schneider – Sloughhouse

Seco Cattle Feeders – Herald

Smith Steel Co. – Elk Grove

Jesse Silveira (1920-2010) Family – Elk Grove

Brand: The “J rolling C” – for John and Clara Silveira – Created by John Silveira (1891-1954) and wife Clara (Vincent) Silveira (1899-1987) in Valley Ford, California in the 1920’s.

Handed down to son Jesse by his parents, branded his dairy cows and horses and was last to use it. He started his dairy at the Bud Jones property in 1951. The two story house is where BJ’s brewery is presently, on the southwest side of the of the Bond/Laguna overpass, the dairy barn was about at the intersection and two hired hands houses were about where Home Depot is. He ran a dairy for three years then moved to Galt for two and then returned to Calvine Road for the remainder of his life.

Joe Simoes & Sons Dairy – Franklin

Steve Spiva – Wilton

Randy Valensin – Hicksville

Brett Waddell – Wilton