They were the ones who rode horses and drove cattle and other livestock to market. They also were in charge of branding the animals to prevent cattle thievery.
They also delivered calves and doctored cattle that were sick or injured on the range.
With the advent of ATVs, semi trucks, trains, the image of the horse-riding cowboy has dwindled.
But they haven't disappeared. That's what Jadie Billings and her husband Brian have proven for the past nine years during their annual horse sale event at the Oakley Recreation Complex.
The couple invite their friends to sell horses and give free demonstrations to the public.
This year's event will take place Friday and Saturday, June 21 and June 22, Jadie Billings said.
"We'll open Friday night at 6 p.m. and give a team doctoring demonstration," Billings told The Park Record. "That's when the cowboys will show off their skills and take turns heading and heeling steer."
Heading requires a team of three cowboys to take down a cow like they have to do when they're on the range and a one of the animals needs medical treatment.
"This is an important skill because sometimes the herd of cattle the cowboys are driving are miles away from any care facility," she said. "One of men will rope the cow's head and the other will rope its back legs."
When the calf or cow is on the ground, the third cowboy will jump off his horse and rush to take the rope off from around the cow's head and tie up the front feet.
"They do this so the cow doesn't kick and injure, or sometimes kill, the cowboys who are taking care of the herd," Billings said. "We'll do a timed roping competition and it will show how well the boys work together and stuff like that."
Saturday's events, which will start with a horse preview at 10 a.m., will not only feature the horse sale, include a team roping event called the reining cow/horse competition.
"We're taking a pattern from the Utah Cow/Horse Association and the participants will do a reining pattern and then work a cow," Billings said.
Reining patterns are series of movements horses must do in a competition and riders guide the horses through circles, spins and stops, which are judged.
"The judges take notes on precision, smoothness and ease," Billings said.
Likewise, when a horse works a cow, it will guide the animal through circling and turning.
"These things are ways to show potential buyers what the horses can do," Billings explained. "Our goal is to show well-rounded horses, because there are a lot of horses that just do team roping or just reining horses or do just one thing.
"But when you're a cowboy, you really want to have a horse that can do a bit of everything," she said. "A lot of these cowboys pride themselves on their horsemanship. They want to show how horses can respond to foot cues without really pulling them around with the bit and rein."
There will be 15 cowboys involved in weekend event.
"They will come from Wyoming, Nevada, Montana and Colorado," Billings said. "We hold this for the working cowboys, because there aren't many of them anymore.
Although we've changed it up a little, the event has always been about the cowboy, and it's a hoot getting everyone together and having fun."
Brian Billings said many things drew him to the cowboy lifestyle.
"What keeps me intrigued are the horses," he said. "There is something to be said about learning about your horse and learning how to read what the animals may do and how to handle them better."
He also enjoys being out on the range.
"The basic duties are still the same, as they were in the 1800s," Billings said. "The actual work like branding calves isn't much different than what they did, and even today when cattle graze on the open range, they still run into the same situations as back then as well. It's great to get up in the morning and not know how my day is going to go."
The Oakley Recreation Complex, 4300 N. S.R. 32, will host a cowboy gathering on Friday, June 21, that will feature roping, doctoring and team-working skills, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. On Saturday, June 22, the event will feature a horse sale and reining demonstration, beginning at 10 a.m. Admission is free. Dickey's Barbecue will be on hand to serve food. For more information, visit