Thunder Butte

October 11, 2009

Babe Mansbridge - Champion Bronc Rider

Babe Mansbridge 1924

A year ago, I posted some of my Dad's recollections of Babe Mansbridge here. Babe, who's real name was Ralph, was a champion bronc rider from what I call the Thunder Butte area. My Dad knew Babe, who among other things was famous for riding the local legend, Tipperary, who was one of the most famous bucking broncs of the early 1900's.

On a recent visit to California, I found the above print in my Dad's basement. The print is framed and inscribed (barely legibly in the upper right hand corner) by Babe with a note to my Uncle Joe (now deceased), which reads:

"To my friend Joe
a real cowboy
a real friend
Your Pal
Babe M."

I'm not sure whether the print represents a colorized photo, a painting, or some other form of caricature, but brush strokes seem evident on the horse's underbelly. But, this print does give us a sense of Babe in his heyday and perhaps gives us an idea of what Babe may have looked like while riding a bucking bronc in competition.

The print shows Babe riding the bucking horse, Sure Fire, in finals at the Black Hills Roundup in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, in 1924.

In the lower left of the print, the printed inscription reads:

"Black Hills Roundup
Babe Mansbridge
Champion Bronc Rider, British Columbia
Riding "Sure Fire" finals at
Belle Fourche - 1924"

I believe that Babe Mansbridge died in January 1968 a couple of months short of his 66th birthday, but here is some additional information about Babe that I found in a newspaper clipping in my grandmother's photo album:

"Babe Mansbridge Dies At Spearfish

Funeral services for Ralph "Babe" Mansbridge will be held at 1:00 p.m. today, (Wednesday) at the Masonic Temple in Spearfish, with Rev. Arthur W. Westwood of the United Church of Christ officiating. Burial will be in the Rosehill Cemetery under the direction of Fidler Funeral Chapel.

Mansbridge, a well known rancher, cattle buyer and rodeo rider, died in the Lookout Mountain Hospital, Spearfish, Jan. 21 following a siege of pneumonia and other complications. He was about 70.

Babe was a true westerner at heart although he was too young to take part in the activities of those days of "Cattle Barons and Roundups." As a little boy of 5 or 6 he learned to ride a horse and became the cowboy of the Mansbridge estate at the old Bismarck Trail crossing on Rabbit Creek where his father ran cattle in connection with his general store and postmaster duties. In 1923 he won the saddle bronc championship belt of British Columbia and according to Charles Wilson, of Buffalo, made the best ride on the famous bucking horse "Tipperary" at a Lemmon Fair. For several years he sponsored a matched saddle bronc ride at the Faith rodeo."

While the clipping isn't dated, if Babe passed away on January 21, 1968, the clipping probably ran in a local paper and funeral services were held on Wednesday, January 24th.

--Mike Crowley

Editor's Note--Apologies to any copyright holders for the above newspaper clipping. I have no information as to the newspaper or the clipping's provenance other than that it was in my grandmother's photo album.

Mike Crowley Sunday, October 11, 2009



Thanks so much for your post ... I just shared the poster with Babe's great grandchildren .. .which they thought was "cool"!

I know it is quite a long shot but do you have any idea where I might try to find a copy of that print?

thanks agian and I appreciate your reply in advance.

Kind regards,

Lance Mansbridge

Great to hear from you! Sorry, though, the only copy of the print I know of is the one my Dad has that used to belong to my Uncle Joe, who also must have known Babe.

Send me an email at thunderbutte [at] and I'll try to email you a larger scan that you can print.

Best wishes,

Dear Mr. Crowley

My company is currently putting together a digital book about South Dakota from 1907-1957. The book is a celebration of all things Dakotan, particularly rodeos. We would like to reprint this poster for the Black Hills Roundup in our book, pending your permission. If you could email me at, I can give you more information about what we're doing. Thanks so much, I hope to hear from you soon.

Zach Smith
Hi Mike

Sitting here in Brighton, England, giving help to my grand-daughter with her homework project on the American west, when the Babe Mansbridge image came up on Google. Amazing! Babe was a distant relative, his father William, and my great-grandfather John were brothers. I met his daughter june Newcomer Mansbridge in Spearfish SD when I visited in 1997. She gave me some of his photos of life in Ada SD, and a copy of this poster. I have subsequently written a book about the mansbridge family, printed privately by my US cousin Fred Merrill in Chewelah, WA.
Best wishes
Rob Upward

Thanks for stopping by and letting me know of your relationship to Babe Mansbridge. It's pretty exciting to think of how far and wide the connections go in this world with people who used to and still live in the area!


Dear Mr. Crowley,
I just wanted you to know that Babe had a three children. His third child's name was Marge. She married Cecil Ice and lived in Pierre, SD. My children are Cecil and Marge Ice's grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of Babe Mansbridge. We vacationed in South Dakota when they were young and visited Grandma Mansbridge in Spearfish. Some of Babe's great grandchildren are: Jimmy, Chris, Jeff, Rendee, Tara, Kristi, Randall, and Cecilia Cher Mansbridge Ice. Marge Ice's son, Randall Ice is their father. Randall had many fond memories of his grandpa Babe.
Yvonne Breeze

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