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Oakdale Cowboy Museum Lists 2009 Honorees
Special recognition will go to the Otis Rosasco family and ranch of Jamestown at the upcoming Oakdale Cowboy Museum honors dinner. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Oakdale Cowboy Museum has announced the honorees for its 2009 Dinner Auction Fundraiser, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Special recognition will go to the Otis Rosasco family and ranch of Jamestown. Posthumously, the Museum will recognize Colin Harvey, a well-known cattleman from Oakdale.

Otis Rosasco’s ancestors emigrated from Italy to Tuolumne County around 1870. They came to this country not seeking gold but looking for land suitable for farming and grazing. His grandfather Guisippe Rosasco herded cattle for the Bill John Lord family east of Oakdale near Warnerville, where he learned how to operate a cattle ranch. Later, he purchased land and built his own ranch on Old Don Pedro Road. Guisippe and his wife Louisa Conde had 11 children and the ranch was a family operation. They raised livestock and tended to cattle in the high country in the summer. The Rosasco cattle ranching history had begun and was spread over various counties.

Edmund Rosasco, Otis’ father started out as a blacksmith before building his herd and acquiring land. In 1921, the same year that Otis was born, Edmund built the historic Craftsman bungalow with the two tall palm trees along Highway 108, at Turner Flat just a few miles south of Jamestown.

“I guess you can say, I was born into the cattle business. As soon as I was old enough to work a shovel, is the day I became a rancher,” said Otis with a chuckle.

He attended the one room Montezuma School and graduated from Sonora High School. He continued his education at Modesto Junior College and UC Berkeley, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He enlisted in the Navy when World War II began and was sent to Columbia University in New York for officer’s training. He served for three years as a naval officer commanding a sub-chaser and a destroyer escort.

When he returned from the service Otis returned to the ranch to work for his father and started building his own herd of cattle. He met and married Jean Auser and they had three boys, Clayton, Edmund and Nathan. The Rosasco cattle ranching business, involved the entire family and Otis instilled a strong work ethic.

“When you worked for Otis, you also got a history lesson,” said long-time family friend Scott Haydn-Myer. “Otis not only knows cattle, he’s a wealth of knowledge.”

Both Otis and Jean have always been actively involved in the Farm Bureau, Beef Council and Cattlemen’s Association. They have received countless awards and honors for their service.

Nathan, the youngest son, chose to continue in the cattle business and now runs the ranch with his wife Doni and the sixth generation of Rosasco ranchers; his three daughters, Lindsay, Shelby and Rachel.

“We work together as a family, just like the Rosasco’s before me,” said Nathan.

“We are anxiously awaiting the release of Otis Rosasco’s book, ‘Early Day Tuolumne County Cattlemen – 140 years of Rosasco Ranching’,” said Museum Director Christie Camarillo. “It’s currently at the printers and the hope is that it will be here by the auction.”

The Director’s Memorial Recognition will honor rancher and cattleman Colin Harvey.

Colin Harvey was born in 1909 in Sonora on his father’s 150-acre ranch. He worked for his dad until age 13 and shortly after that left home to work in the mountains tending sheep and cattle. He worked for many local ranchers such as Ellenwood, Woods and Sanguinetti. When he turned 15, he and friend Curly Sardella hired on with the government, shooting deer during an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. There are many colorful stories about these friends, one involving roping a bear and having Colin’s horse buck him off.

In the 1930s and early ‘40s Colin had a pack station and riding stable in Pinecrest and packed fishermen and deer hunters into the Emigrant Basin country. He was also one of the first to pack trout, and stock some of the lakes in the back country.

Colin married Jean Sundborg of Sonora in 1941.When WWII broke, Colin was called to duty and had six months to sell his pack outfit. He served as a sergeant in the signal corps. During the invasion of Attu in the Aleutian Islands, he was shot by a Japanese sniper. After he recuperated, the Army made him a teacher in the Signal Corps.

He returned from the war in 1945, and he and his wife Jean bought a small ranch in the Oakdale area, while he was working for the H. Moffat Company. The Harveys had three children; sons Bill, John and daughter, Judy.

In the 1950s, Colin leased the Barnett ranch and started running cattle. Part of the ranch he used for cows, which he ran there in the winter and summered in the mountains, near Long Barn.

At the ripe age of 60, Colin returned to his beloved mountains where he started another pack station and riding stable in the Bear Valley area but in the early ‘70s he starting turning his interests over to his sons.

Colin entered many local rodeos around Tuolumne and Stanislaus counties. He loved roping and riding saddle broncs but rode whatever bucked. Colin Harvey enjoyed life and had the friendships to prove it.

The Cowboy Museum event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Rocha’s Valley Enterprises in Oakdale.

Tickets for the event, which include dinner, hosted bar, silent and live auction are $75 for Cowboy Museum members and $85 for non-members.

RSVP by calling 847-7049.

In addition, there will be a raffle for tickets to attend the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Dec. 3-12. Raffle tickets are $20 each and include two plaza seats for two nights, accommodations at the South Point Hotel & Casino and $250 in spending money. Drawing will be the night of the event and the winner does not have to be present to win. Tickets are on sale now at the Cowboy Museum.