Migration, Bankers, and Social Capital. The Rise of a Basque “Industrial Cowboy” in the American West: John Etchart, 1900-1943





Basque Immigration, Agricultural Ladder, Sheep Industry, American West


The present article contributes to the general topics of migration, banking and social capital. It analyzes the business career of John Etchart in the American West from 1900 to 1943; from being a wage-earning sheepherder to becoming one of the most prosperous stockmen in Montana. The biography-centered approach is patterned after the work of other scholars who have studied ranching businesses with emphasis on the dynamic individuals behind the companies. The biography of John Etchart offers a window into important issues for the study of Basque immigration and sheep industry in the West. Etchart’s story exemplifies the Basque immigrant’s climb up the agricultural ladder that involved the emergence of partnerships within the Basque community. Etchart is also tied to the creation and development of cooperative initiatives among woolgrowers beyond the Basque community. Finally, the Etchart history enhances understandings of the various business practices undertaken by livestock outfits in Montana in the 1920s and 1930s.


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