Perfecto made a name in ropingDriving cattle across the prairie and an uncanny talent for roping are some of the things people remember about Perfecto Fernandez.
By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
Driving cattle across the prairie and an uncanny talent for roping are some of the things people remember about Perfecto Fernandez.
Fernandez, who is also known as Georgie Baye, will join the ranks off the greatest cowboys in history when he is inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora this weekend. Fernandez passed away in 1935 and will be inducted into the Pre-1940 Ranching Division.
His grandson, Morris Baye, was 4 years old when Fernandez passed away. Morris Baye doesn’t have any memories of his grandfather, but said he has heard plenty of stories about him.
“He was an excellent horsemen and he was a champion roper,” Morris Baye said.
Lorraine Baye, whose late husband Pat Baye was also Fernandez’s grandson, never met Fernandez, but remembers many of the stories her husband told her about Fernandez.
She said Fernandez would get into the middle of a horse arena and “rope everything that went by.”
“He never missed,” she said.
Lorraine and Morris Baye said Fernandez had several other talents.
“He made a lot of things with rawhide and horse hair, like hat bands and different things like that,” Morris Baye said.
He loved music, as well.
“He played all the string instruments there are from what I can gather,” Morris Baye said.
Fernandez was born in Brownsville, Texas in 1861, according to NDCHF information. However, Lorraine Baye said her husband told a different story.
“He said his grandpa came from Spain with a load of horses with his father and his sister and then he never went home again,” she said.
Fernandez’s first cattle drive was to Wyoming when he was a teenager.
“He was 14 years old when he made his first trip out of Texas with longhorns,” Morris Baye said.
Fernandez then moved on to Dakota Territory, according to NDCHF information. He reportedly helped Pierre Wibaux drive longhorns from Texas to Montana and worked as a horse wrangler.
Fernandez rode for the Little Missouri Livestock Association and reportedly took part in a roundup with Theodore Roosevelt in 1884.
In 1885, Fernandez moved to the White Earth Valley and was the horse foreman and bronc buster five miles north of Hall’s Trading Post, according to NDCHF information.
Lorraine Baye said Fernandez was also known for his facial hair.
“My husband told me that he always had a mustache — a big droopy white mustache,” Lorraine said.
She said Fernandez once shaved his mustache off and went to Sydney, Mont., but nobody there recognized him.
“He came home and he said he was never going back until he had his mustache back,” Lorraine Baye said.
The Marquis de Mores gave Fernandez and Ed Hall matching Colt 45-caliber revolvers, according to NDCHF information. The two were reportedly frequent guests at the Chateau de Mores in Medora.
Fernandez went to Mandan when Roosevelt came to North Dakota in 1903. He then took a train to Medora with the president and, according to NDCHF information, Roosevelt orchestrated Fernandez’s citizenship and gave him the name Georgie Baye.
Fernandez continued a horse operation with Ed Hall, breeding draft horses.
He settled on Bennie Peer Creek in McKenzie County to raise sheep and horses. In the late 1890s, he married Margaret Smith in Sanger, and they had three sons.
Fernandez’s final resting place is near the Cross Ranch, near Sanger, according to NDCHF information.
Lorraine Baye said she believes Fernandez was “a good man.”
“My husband thought the world of him.”