STORIES
Earthkeepers Heroes

Velma Bronn Johnston

by Channelle from Cornwall

"Wild Horse Annie"

A hero for me is a person who is doing something good to help society, animals or even change one person's life without asking for something in return for their good work. Someone who does these nice things, because they want to, not because they feel they have to or have the power to do it or just because they want to be known as a hero. Often they will be selfless. They will work hard to achieve their goal of doing something incredible and unforgettable.

Velma Bronn, her maiden name, was born March 5th 1912, in Reno, Nevada. Sadly June 27th 1977 she died of lung cancer. The nickname "Wild Horse Annie" was given to her for what she did to protect the wild horses.

She grew up on a ranch with her parents and three siblings. Annie often helped her dad on the ranch with the horses. On her own time, she liked to draw and write poems. When Annie was 11 years old she had to get treated for polio. Polio is a disease that affects your spinal cord, which can cause paralysis, stop your lungs from working the way they should, and even death. Annie was able to keep her hopes up and she made it through. She was a very courageous and a hopeful person throughout the time when she had to get treated for polio.

Annie later met and married Charlie Johnston, who was part Delaware Indian. During her life, she worked as a secretary for Reno Insurance Executive, as a rancher, a wild horse advocate and an activist. She was also a lecturer, writer, organizer and a day camp owner. After Charlie's death she moved back to Reno to live with her mother.


I consider her a leader and responsible when she decided to go public about the treatment the horses were getting. Annie showed the inhumane ways wild horses were being treated and stopped it. Ranchers, hunters and "mustangers" were the ones doing these cruel things to them. This caused Annie to start a campaign. She got children to write letters to Congress about the way the wild horses were treated. With lots of legislation, the vehicles and aircraft used to kill them were finally banned. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Bruno law was enacted. Former President Nixon signed it. This law was to ban the death, banding and capturing of wild horses on public lands.

Taking care of this, her work and the campaign, was a very big responsibility. She definitely had lots of skills. You have to really know what you're doing when it comes to something big like this, to go public and go through the law. Also, all the work that she did at the ranch with her father and then with her husband, was impressive.

Annie devoted lots of her time to helping animals, especially the wild horse. When she was being treated for polio (she was in a full body cast for six months) it gave her a good empathy for suffering animals. To me she's a hero because not everybody would be willing to give lots of their time to helping animals.

Myself, I love animals and I don't like the fact some people treat them so badly. Maybe not everybody likes animals but why put them through lots of pain? Animals need to know that someone out there cares for them and loves them. In a way, I would like to thank her for doing this for the wild horses. The girl who grew up on a ranch, had a serious disease and yet helped the animals is something that will never be forgotten on my part and hopefully others too.

Page created on 6/16/2009 11:58:34 AM

Last edited 6/16/2009 11:58:34 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Annie Bronn Johnston - Nevada Women's History from University of Nevada, Reno
Annie Bronn Johnston - "Wild Horse Annie"
National Cowgirl Hall of Fame
Velma Bronn Johnston - MY HERO story by Samantha from St. Clair

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