Okay…Joseph Francis Cartwright – who is that? First, just let’s get rid of the “Joseph” part of my name. I really, really do not like it. It seems whenever it is used someone is angry with me with doing something I really, really did not do! (most of the time). They called me “Little Joe” and that was alright until I decided that Joe was better.
I cannot tell you a lot about the first years of my live only that I was born in 1848 on the Ponderosa Ranch and that I was not a very big baby (hence my name “Little Joe”), loved my mom Marie an awful lot and that she died when I was five after a riding accident. My Pa and brothers Adam and Hoss have been taking care of me ever since. And boy did they do a good job. They were hovering over me something fierce just looking out for me and trying to help me whenever they could (even if I did not want them to, jeez, I am a man…I can do things by myself don’t you think?). For a long time I have been trying to prove to those three that I really can do and think for myself.
I have black curly hair (which my Pa says is too long most of the time and I disagree about that wholeheartedly). Hazel green eyes and a nice figure (some of my fans say it’s perfect but…being the humble one I would “never” agree with that!). Some say that my laugh is infectious; just have a look at Hoss and the Leprechauns and see if you agree.
I love to play jokes on others and my dear brother Hoss would – most of the time – love to help me. Sometimes it took a little persuasion but…
Horses…I love horses; work with horses, live with horses…just love horses especially my horse Cochise. It has been said that I am fairly good with them (me being humble again).
There is a special place on the Ponderosa I go to whenever I have to think or just want to be alone. Kind of a safe place. It’s where my mother was buried. It’s a beautiful place looking out over Lake Tahoe.
Okay my family: what to tell about them. Pa is just the best Pa there is in this world. He can be very, very strict but he loves me and my brothers a lot. Adam is the oldest, most reliable brother you can think of. He will always be there for me whenever I need him. He can be an pain in the butt though. Hoss is the one who loves everything about nature and animals. He is so good with animals and always knows what to do when an animal is sick or hurt. He also is a great partner in crime. But just as Pa and Adam will always be there for me if needed.
I have another half brother, Clay Stafford – son to my mother and Jean Pierre. My mother was told that he was dead but he wasn’t. He came to the Ponderosa looking for me but could not stay. Boy did that hurt when he went away.
I have had my fair share of very nice ladies I loved but married only one – Alice. Alice was great, she really was and we were going to have a baby! A tiny little Cartwright oh boy…She and the baby died when the house we were building was set on fire. This really devastated me and it took me a long time to get over it. Although I never really got over losing my wife and baby but then who could?
All in all I have had a really good life on the Ponderosa with my family, friends and all the adventures we’ve gone through. Oh yes, about those adventures…I got hurt a lot but always recovered very nicely with the help of my Pa and brothers.
So that is it for now. If you want to know more about my live on the Ponderosa just have a look at the Bonanza episodes that were made about me and my family. I hope you will love them.
As far as the rest of the story goes, Joe stayed on the Ponderosa with his father and Jamie (adopted by Ben) after his brother Adam left to explore other destinations around the world and Hoss died. He went to battle in the Spanish-American War and was listed as Missing in Action and presumed killed in 1899.
Written by Bonanza Brand Member Kirkan
Photo collage designed by Bonanza Brand Member Littlejoy