Ranch History

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Hiram and John Mahoney (brothers) and their families homesteaded first in Centennial Valley between Spearfish and Deadwood then moved to this homestead south of Alva in 1886. They came from Magnolia, Iowa. One of the original homestead certificates is displayed in “The Homestead” room and is dated 1904 and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. The story is that after starting their original homestead in South Dakota, the brothers noticed that to find plentiful game animals they were traveling further into the hills to hunt. The area that seemed richest in game also had the best vegetation. They eventually uprooted and moved to this site where they had done most of their hunting. And this, of course, is still a factor as our wildlife numbers and variety are unequaled. They brought with them registered Hereford cattle, registered Belgian horses and chickens. The original log cabin built here was constructed with Ponderosa pine logs from the adjacent hill from the present home site and skidded down with oxen teams. The cabin still exists at ranch headquarters and it is easy to see the ax marks in the roughhewn logs. John and his family homesteaded at the neighboring (now Rauth Ranch). Hiram and his family had the adjoining ranch 2 miles further up Lame Jones Road. Hiram was married first to Belle Tuttle and later to Orah McClendon. From these marriages, 7 children were born. One of them being Jay Smith Mahoney who ranched here after his Dad (Hiram) passed away in 1920. Jay married Lorene Gray and they had 5 children. Their oldest son, Gerald Jay Mahoney with his wife Betsy (Owen) Mahoney, continued the ranching tradition until he sold the ranch to his daughter and son-in-law in 2008. Beth (Mahoney) and Pat Reilly operate the ranch today with their son, Sam.

The ranch has grown from several homestead parcels to its present size of 10,000 acres. Much of this growth occurred when Hiram bought out other neighboring homesteads as they failed. Many of the pastures bear the names of the families who hopefully put down roots here only to see that it was too difficult to make a living on these small tracts of land. More substantial growth came later as Gerald and Betsy (Owen) Mahoney bought several sizable neighboring ranches and added much to the size and versatility of the present ranch. The Diamond Seven Bar name is taken from a livestock brand that Gerald bought and began using. The original ranch brand was HR, initials of Hiram Mahoney. That brand is still registered in the Mahoney name.

Steeped in history and heritage, The Diamond Seven Bar Ranch, continues the ranching tradition started those four generations back. Much blood, sweat, tears, laughter and song is mixed with the soil of this place and it stands as testimony to the hard work and big dreams of the Mahoney family (and many families like ours). If you ask, you will hear stories of children dying of diphtheria (two in one day), pranks played on school marms in the one-room schoolhouse on the property, a double murder that ended in a hanging, the breaking of the locoed horse, and the list goes on. Or you can sit and let the burbling of Lame Jones Creek, the song of the red-winged blackbirds and the wind in the Ponderosa Pines tell you their story. One thing is for sure – adventure awaits. Let our history add to yours – become part of our story.