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Text of MEETEETSE AREA STORIES
A type-written work by Elmer Carlson
Presented originally to the Park County Historical Society by ElmerCarlson. Later a copy was given to the Meeteetse Museums by theP.C.H.S.
[This has been re-typed exactly as it was presented in the typedform from Elmer Carlson’s work in order to be available oncomputer. All spelling and punctuation is exactly as is in theoriginal work. January 2012 Meeteetse Museums.]
[Handwritten across the top of the page.]
Presented to P.C.H.S. by Elmer Carlson – Copy given to MeeteetseMuseum from P.C.H.S.
Written about The Dollar Kid Dollar Kid is living
The Butterfield’s brought in some of the first sheep to the BigHorn Basin, they were from Utah arriving on Owl Creek in the Fallof 1890. John Lynn had come in to the area around Lovell in thesummer of 1890 from Montana. Lynns brought in two big bands of ewesof about 3000 each. All of these sheep were a coarse wooled sheep,Cotswold and Lincoln. They looked big but sheared a big lightweight fleece. They were easy to shear, no wrinkles or wool on thelegs or belly. They didn’t settle down to feed like the smallerfiner wooled sheep that came in. David Dickie came in here to lookover the ranch in 1890, so the next year 1891, he and PeteBrotherson brought in two bands of Merino and Ramboulettes ewes.They summered over on the head of Crow Creek and came to Gooseberryin the Fall of 1891. Dickie had left Scotland and gone to NewZealand where he went into the sheep business for a few years, hehad good sheep but, wasn’t satisfied with the climate and types offorage. Sold out and came to Rock Springs, where he started in thesheep business again. The area was what he thought was overrun withsheep, he would go to some new place where he could have room toenlarge his lands and herds of sheep. His ideas were long thoughtout in advance. This country had been overrun with cattle in themid 1880’s but the winter of 1887 and ’88 was the longest andcoldest that has ever been recorded in Wyoming history. The summerhad been hot and dry so consequently there was very short grasscrop on growth. No one had ever tried to raise any hay. Winterstarted in last part of September and snows just fell at will. Thesun would come up in the morning but there was no warmth to itsrays. By November 1 there was two feet of snow and they didn’t knowhow cold, but the air would be blue around the horizon. By December1 nearly all the old cows and young calves had died. Sliney toldthat the next spring he could walk on cattle bones from the oldPadlock Ranch to Thermopolis, said they lost 5000 head of cattlethat winter.
The summer of ’88 was a good year. The grass grew tall and rich,but now there were no livestock to eat it. That winter killed offmost of the buffalo and wild game animals. The coyotes and wolveslived a fat life that winter, didn’t even have to chase their prey,but the next couple of years they lived on old dry hides and bones.Had it not been for this bad winter no doubt some history ofWyoming would have been different. Rothwell bought the remnants ofSliney’s horses and brought in three bands of sheep from theRawlins country. He was a good business man. Only German sheep orstockman in this area. He put in a system of irrigation ditches andraised a lot of hay. They had all heard how vicious a winter couldbe in this area. Along any of the creeks years afterward you couldsee evidence of the
tops of cottonwood trees that had been cut off to be used for feedfor the few cattle or horses. That was their only feed for thosefew months of vicious cold. The winter lasted until the last ofFebruary. Took the heart out of a man to lose all of his livestock.The stockmen now took to planning for supplement feed to carry hisanimals through in the event of another vicious winter. But in afew years there was a thick growth of feed in the hills and forsome reason they had mild winters for a few years.
Billy, Bob Steele and Billy Carmichael came in from Rock Springswith two bands of sheep in the Fall of 1895 and stopped for thewinter on Buffalo Creek east of Meeteetse. There was blue stemgrass in all of the gulches as high as a horse’s belly, everyanimal was fat all winter. The Steele’s had leased sheep from PatSullivan and Jerry Mahoney of Rawlins and Rock Springs. There werelots of sheep on the Red Desert so when their three-year lease wasfinished, they headed their sheep North. Went up Big Sandy Creekacross the mountain and thru the Fort Washakie Indian Reservationto the Wind River, they made these big Catswold ewes swim theriver, Indians were down river to catch any sheep that couldn’tswim, said they only lost about fifty head of ewes. Now they wereready to cross the Owl Creek Mountains and in the Big Horn Basin.George Renner trailed in their sheep (two bands) from the John Dayriver country in Oregon. Got in to the Cody country in the Fall of1897 and wintered out on Dry Creek. Ad Renner and their family cameoverland that same Fall. The Renners introduced a new breed ofsheep called Delaine, they were of small body, one of thedistinctions of this breed was the fine staple of wool. They werethe greasy type, looked almost of a black tinge to their wool. Theywere a heavy fleeced sheep, fleeces weighing ten pounds. That wasunheard of most of the coarse wooled sheep would only shear sixpounds.
That same Fall the Ted, Adam and Bill Hoggs trailed in to theMeeteetse country with two bands. They were of a better grade ofsheep having about a half blood wool variety, they were a big sheepand had the heavier fleece. They were descendants of the RobertTayor herds of Rock Springs. Tom and Jim Thompson came up from theSweetwater Country with a band of sheep taking two years to makethis move. These sheep men had increased their herds. The onlyincome was from the sale of wool, .07 per pound. A ten pound fleeceof wool would be priced at 70. A herd of good shearing sheep wouldearn $2100.00 per herd of 3000 head. They had no market for wetherlambs as they have today. They were saved and run in big herds of5000 head. They were paying business and were shipped to Omaha orChicago markets when they were four or five years old. TheButterfields had increased their number of herds and controlledareas by having this area surrounded by these big wether herds, ifsomeone decided to come into their acquired country, the wetherherders were instructed to run their big herd into the challengingherd and mix with them. Now they would have to go to a corralll andrun them thru the dodge gate to separate them. If the new herd didnot turn back but continue to stay in the area there would beanother herd of wethers thrown into the herd. After the new bandhad been jammed around in the corralls another time they usuallywent back. The herders in those days would fight for theirrespective outfits. It has been said there was a herder that workedfor Hogg’s, he was nicknamed the “Buttin Dane”, after one encounterwith him, he using his head to butt his opponent down, the otherherder would use his dogs to round up the herd and hit for othergrounds. He had been in many a barroom fight and subdued a fewopponents, said the only way you could hurt him was kick hisshins.
About this time the sheep became infested with Scabies, a parasitefungus causing the wool to fall off in spots and causing raw sores,that in turn would be fly blown, causing maggots and of course thedeath of that sheep. The magpie and the raven also took their tollliterally eating the sheep alive. The sheepmen sent in to getveterinary analysis of the disease and to come up with a solution.A. c. Dent was born in Scotland and a real sheepman and gentleman,he was appointed scab inspector for this area. It was decided thatevery sheep would have to be dipped in a solution of Blackleaf 40Nocotine [sic] dip, and quarantined to that particular area, somany dipping vats were built and in the presence of A. C. Dent beput thru the dipper. Bad cases three times that first year. Thatwas an ordeal, the wool was contaminated so had to be put thru asolution before it could be sold. After three dippings the scab wasmuch better but it took several years before it was completelywiped out. Dipping was carried on for many years afterwards just tobe sure there were no recurrence and to rid the sheep of ticks. AlSandberg was herding wethers for the Padlock now owned by H. P.Rothwell. Al had a big herd of about 6000 big wethers 4 and 5 yearsold, they could travel ten miles in a day if they wanted to. AboutOctober 1 Rothwell started Al and Tom Tway down Owl Creek to crossthe Big Horn River below Thermopolis. They found a shallow bar anddrove the sheep into the river, make them swim across, that wouldsave a long trail over Stagner mountain and cross the Big WindRiver west of Shoshoni. They were two days crossing the two bigherds, they had started up Warm Springs Creek intending to go upBuffalo Creek and over the mountain at Bird’s Eye Pass andeventually Casper. Al said he came around a bunch of rocks andthere was a who had a rifle, hammer back looking down the barrellat him. First thing he said was that a “sheep herder in the hillslooked about like two bits worth of dog meat”. When he lookedaround he saw men on horseback on every hill all well armed. Theleader came and said “get these stinkin’ woolies back across theriver and do it now.” Al said he really tried to push his bunchback but these fellows thought they were going too slow, so theygot in behind the sheep and flogged them with their ropes. All thiscommotion caused the sheep to bunch up tight and of course go noplace, then the riders started shooting into the bunch and runningtheir horses over the top of the sheep. The camp tender knew someof these fellows and came back and tried to get them to let theherders try their hand at moving them, but they kept up theshooting and shouting until they were worn out. The camp tender gota lead going, so they put the herders and dogs in the wagon andkept shooting as close to them as they could. When they finally gotto the river the sheep were thirsty so went in and swam back to thewest side.
This one big fellow told Al if he ever came across the river againhe would dry-gulch him. Al said nothing but paid close attention tohis looks, maybe they would meet again when the odds were not sogreat against him. The cattlemen said the Big Horn river was thedead line for sheep. East of the river was strictly cattle country.These riders killed and crippled about 300 head of these bigwethers. And they killed Al’s best dog, he swore vengeance for thekilling his dog more than he cared to admit. Now they had to goover Stagner Mountain and over the long trail to Shoshoni, toCasper. They were thirty five days on the road to Casper. H. P.Rothwell passed them two days out of Casper and had the cars readyto load the sheep out. Al went along with them to Omaha and tovisit his family at Oakland, Nebraska. He talked to hisbrother-in-law, Eric Carlson wanted him to come out to the PadlockRanch and the two of them could lease a bunch of ewes fromRothwell. Edna wasn’t interested in leaving her
old home surroundings and going to a wild Indian country likeWyoming was or she thought it was at that time. But that homesteadland interested Eric, he would have to go and see for himselfsomeday.
Al soon went back to Thermopolis and back to the Padlock to takeanother herd for the winter. The Padlock Ranch was originallystarted by Colonel Torrey and Quartermaster clerk, Sliney, theybeing with the U. s. Cavalry stationed at Fort Washakie on theShoshone Indian Reservation near Lander. J. C. Woodruff was thefirst settler on Owl Creek, he having trailed in a band of ewes,thru Montana to Red Lodge, to Corbett crossing on the StinkingWater. In 1880 the Jack Prices moved to the (M-) Embar Ranch,foreman for Captain Torrey. They are both buried on the oldMonument Hill Cemetery in Thermopolis. Mrs. Price never thought ofher life as being a hardship, but just as a part of a pioneerwoman’s experience. Dr. Shuelke was the first doctor in the BigHorn Basin, going to the old town of Thermopolis which as locatednear the mouth of Owl Creek. Josh Deane established the first mailroute by pack horse into the Big Horn Basin, coming from as farsouth as Rawlins, Lander, to points in the Big Horn Basin, 1892. Hewas paid 25¢ for each letter and 50¢ a pound for tobacco, he madethe round trip to Rawlins about every thirty days, 30 head ofhorses. When Deane made his first trip into the Big Horn Basin, J.D. Woodruff and Ben Anderson, who were operating the M- Ranch weresome of his best customers, on one of these trips he met Otto Francwho was looking over the county in view of locating. He laterhomesteaded and called this the Pitchfork Ranch, later Franc boughtthe Z-T from Colonel Ashworth, who like other Army men or scoutswere given these land grants. That is how Buffalo Bill acquired hisholding. Deane related when he came over the ridge into Sage Creekhe could hear the tune “Arkansas Traveler”, for a minute he thoughtnature had really got to him, riding some farther he saw an oldwhite haired whiskered man sitting on a log in front of his tentsawing away on a fiddle. This was George Marquette, trapper,fiddler, he was the first musician in the Big Horn Basin and wasmuch in demand. He had a homestead at the forks of the North andSouthforks of the Stinking Water (now Shoshone) Rivers. He laterhad a store and Post Office called Marquette. When the Buffalo BillDam was completed he was flooded out. Cody at this time wascomprised of some log buildings and tents just west of the De MarisHot Springs. Meeteetse was moved from the mouth of Meeteetse Creekto its present location and was enjoying its prosperous new life.Kirwin was booming, working 1,500 men in their gold and silveroperations. The miners were a thirsty group so at the height ofoperations there was seven saloons and a dance hall, the boardwalks were soon dented with hob nailed shoes. Bill Hogg, HarryCheesman[sic] and Angus McDonald opened up the First National Bankof Meeteetse in 1903 [sic]. The original building even to the safestill occupies that corner today. The Hoggs and Alex Linton startedthe Meeteetse Mercantile General Store. There were two hardwarestores, Benbrooks and Bowman. Dan Weller built the Weller Hotel, R.J. McNally opened up the Meeteetse State Bank in 1905. Meeteetsewas getting more substantial, many people were building frame andlog houses, even brick. There were two livery stables, one owened[sic] by John Faust, other by Frank Lundy. The saloons were ownedby Al and Ed McGuire, People, Frank Huett, Dan Weller, GrahamMorton, Henry Rivers, “Lucky” Doorman. There was a lone chinamanwho ran the first laundry, he had his place down near the presentriver bridge. He washed the clothes in tubs but rinsed them in theGreybull River. The Mormons were baptizing some converts in theriver below the laundry, the chinaman was curious that so manypeople were ducking people in the river so he watched from behind abank. Deaf Charlie, Laughin’ Smithie, and Bud Bridges sneaked upand pushed the chinaman in the river, too. That night the chinamantook his
few belongings and left town and no one ever saw him again. Aboutthis time there was a Baptist church built, Mrs. E. P. Bowmanserved as pastor in the absence of a roving minister from theAmerican Baptist Publications Society. Bud Bridges didn’t thinkMrs. Bowman had a very good attendance so he went to all thesaloons and gathered up all the hangers on and marched them up thehill to church. When she saw them she really gave a sermon on theevils of drink, now they would sing “What a Friend We Have InJesus”, Bud poked these fellows in the ribs with his six shooterand would whisper “Sing, Sinner, Sing”. Anayway [sic], when shepassed the collection plate by these fellows they donated realgood, thanks to Bud’s prompting.
There were three horse drawn stages, one from Meeteetse to Cody andRed Lodge, Montana, Meeteetse to Thermopolis and from Meeteetse toKirwin. There were many horse drawn freight wagons operating thesesame roads. They would freight food and machinery to Kirwin,general merchandise from Billings and from Casper by way of BirdsEye Pass and Thermopolis to Meeteetse. They would always have backfreight during the summers hauling bags of wook [sic], either toBillings, Casper, railroad came into Cody in 1903, so the long woolhauls were over.
“Bronko Nell” [sic] was a colorful personality. She had beenmarried and had a daughter, Ruth, I believe. She freighted with thebest of them, driving six and eight horse team, hauled freight ofall kids. She and the daughter were on the road for years. Aboutthis time “Weary Willie” and Dan Delahanty came to herd sheep forDickie, they were camped side by side and a couple of miles apart.They agreed to each herd both bands one day, then the other wouldlook after both bands next day, that way they would each just haveto work every other day, give them a day each in camp every otherday. That worked fine for a few days then they got mixed up andboth stayed in camp the same day. Dickie happened along that dayand seeing sheep scattered all over the country, rode over to thewagons and found both of the herders in their camps, resting up. Hefired both of them and went to Meeteetse to get help to round thesheep up again and got new herders. He brought out Mickety Mike andJoe Blackstock, one Irish and one Scotch, you couldn’t get thosetwo fellows to stay within four miles of each other. “Handsome”Harry was herding for Hogg and Taylor, Renners pulled Lee Rookerand Jack Hughes down in the Buffalo Creek area, Bob Baird waspulling camp for the Steele Bros. outfit. Gus Johnson, and TonyFoxton were herding the ewe herds. Billy Montgomery and FarquerGillies were herding wethers for Dickie. Hugh Dickie was movingcamps, John Lind crossed to the west side of the Big Horn River andwas wintering in low 15 miles. Everybody on the west side of BigHorn were concerned so they all pulled down in there to keep Lindsurrounded with wether bands. The Butterfields were not friendlyand would surround a piece of country and that way keep other sheepout of that good area. It was said no one ever got a stray sheepout of any of their herds so by the same token Butterfields nevergot a stray sheep out of any other herds either.
Butterfields wethers were sure good eating. It was a custom when aherd of sheep went into a corral to be worked the other sheepmenwould be notified and would be notified and would get any sheep oftheirs out of this herd, but it had to work both ways. Dickie couldspot one of his sheep in other bands just by wool conformation manytimes before he saw the earmark or brand. Henry Doores had marriedCarsie Renner and was sheep foreman for Renners. Pete Brothersonwas foreman for Dickie. Duncan Gillies leased a band of sheep fromMahoney and was located near the mouth of Spring
Gulch. He was one of the first bag pip players in this area, andmany an evening was spent in Meeteetse following the pipes from onesaloon to the other and all over town.
Donald Edmonson brought in a bunch of ewes from Casper and locatedon Gooseberry Creek, he and Andy Wilson were together for a time,Andy Wilson built a sheep corrall across the creek from the BobBaird house. Edmonton located on top of the hill from Baird’splace. About this time “Soapy” Dale, “Dutch” Nick, “Big” Alberttook to herding, Soapy having graduated from the Tie Camps, Nickand Albert from Casper. They were all big men and good herders andcamp tenders. Swede Pete came up from Douglas and tromped wool forCarlson and Sandberg at the Jim Dickie shearing pens at the forksof Grass Creek and Cottonwood, he packed the wool so tight in thebags, they were so heavy the wool buyer wouldn’t buy it. So theyhad to cut open several bags to make sure that there wasn’t rocksor sand shoveled in the middle of the sacks. That trick had beenpulled on the buyers a few years previous. The only fences on GrassCreek was at the Mayfield and L. U. Ranches. Later the LittleJohns[sic] and “Dutch” John Pinkerton homesteaded in the area of theGrass Creek oil fields.
Ed Gynn had a stage station on Grass Creek called Ilo, where theMeeteetse-Thermopolis stage driver changed horses and fedpassengers. This was the run that Jimmy Wooten drove for a yearbefore he had the runaway and was apparently thrown out of the rigand died of exposure in December, 1909. About this time there was afederal land survey, the Government was setting up the ForestReserve boundary lines and having taken all school section landsout of the Forest Reserve and were allotting it to stockmen insmall tracts called State select lands, still in existence today.Topographical maps were made and piles of rocks were piled up onmeets and bounds and corners of all Range and Township lines. SwedePete moved a herd of sheep over on Cottonwood Creek, Rothwell camealong and told him he was in the middle of his school section, sohe immediately moved a mile away. This move put Pete right in themiddle of Rothwell’s school section. Rothwell didn’t want thisoutfit around so he ordered Pete to move again. Pete said “have yougot this school section on wheels?” Words and tempers flared sothey started fighting. Pete was much younger but smaller. They bothwound up with black eyes, cut lips, Rothwell got tired so he saidto Peter, “Ve go home, forget about fighting, but by gosh I comeback in three days and you are not moved away ve vill go at itagain..” Pete moved on, said he had all the feed anyway.
Pete Brotherson brought a young Irishman “Red” McGowan out ofCasper to help with lambing, after they had crossed Bird’s EyePass, one of Pete’s horses died right there in the road. Now this“Red” McGowan was a strapping big young fellow, so they unharnessedthe dead horse and dragged him up a gulch away from the road. Petewas noted for his ingenuity so he said to Red, “Lad, get over bythe poor beast and hold up the yoke, its not far to “Toon” (town).So Red got down beside the horse and held up the neck yoke all theway to Thermopolis. Red said that was the longest “no far to toon”he had ever heard of in his life, 35 miles. Gust and Herb Sandbergcame west from Nebraska to help with the sheep, Gust was a goodsheep herder and stayed with the Carlson and Sandberg outfit forthree years. But this lonely life was not for Herb, he never couldsit down and let the sheep spread out and get their needed forage.He always was afraid he would lose them if he couldn’t see everyone all the time. He drove them around all day so the sheep had nochance to fill their stomachs. Herb dogs and sheep were tired bynightfall and all were hungry. Herb and the dogs laid down and weresoon asleep, not so with the
sheep, they were still hungry so they pulled out. Next morning Herbhad no sheep, it was said Herb took off on a high run but in thewrong direction. He was worn to a frazzle by night fall, now he hadno sheep and couldn’t find his sheep wagon. Nothing to eat all dayand now nowhere to sleep or eat, that settled it for Herb. You willnever know how long a night is until you have sat up, perhapsaround a sage brush fire, look at your watch every five minutes. Hewas worried sick and wandered around until noon the next day beforeAl found him. Al had found the sheep the night before, he justflagged them and went to Herb’s wagon only to find him gone. So herode over to another camp and got the camp tender to help himlocate Herb. For one who is new to the country and new to sheep itis very worrisome. Herb was not the first to lose the whole band ofsheep, nor will he be the last. After that Herb set his alarm clockfor every hour all night long to check up on his band. That fall hewent back to Nebraska no more woolies for him. Gust got tired ofsheep and went to Ryolite, Nevada to work in the copper mines. Hepassed away there the next year and is buried in the old minersplot in the ghost mining town of Rhyolite.
“Buller” Baird came to work for Dickie, he had been in the Boer Warand under General Bullers command. John L. Baird came over fromNewcastle and went to work for Steeles. “Red” Finlayson, Bob Gow,Bob Lind, Bob Little, and Bob Blakely all came from Scotland to addto the sheepmen’s labor group. All good sheepmen and workedsteadily at this business most all of their lives. Olaf Bengtsen,Frank Dillon, “Jumpy” Miller, “Goggles” Gould, “Wingy” Shane, “LongBill” Moore, “Jock” Kinlock, “Big Alex” Alexander all workedsteadily for Henry Hillberry, he had these eight men to tend tofour bands of sheep. Alex McConahay, Bill Robb, Alex and BobDickie, nephews of Dave Dickie, Dave Richmond came in with JimDickie from the Rawlins country in 1903. Bob Richmond came fromScotland in 1905. Tommy Alexander and Scotty McNab came over in1909.
A tale was told of an Englishman who came into Meeteetse andengaged Henry Miles Rank, a youngster of some twelve years old todo the menial chores that would be necessary to further theEnglishman’s comfort while they were out looking over the rangewith the idea of homestead and establishing a ranch. He would sayto Henry, “Urchin, extricate these quadrupeds from the vehicle andsupply them with sufficient nutricious [sic] element.” And when thegreat Aurora shall rise over yon horizon you shall be rewarded witha pecuniary recompense for your kind consideration.” Henry said“I’ll do no such thing, I hired out to unhitch the horses andhobble them set up the tent and make the fire and wash your dishesand that is all I will do.”
Scotty McNee came over from Scotland and went to work for Mrs.Moore, he was a sickly soul, not having one hair on his head andvery pale, in fact, he was frail. Mrs. Moore put him out to herdbucks at half wages. He wore no hat and very little of anythingelse he didn’t have to. He became sunburned and each day he grewmore sunburned and stronger. That fall he had gained forty poundsand thought that he would like to herd a big band of sheep thatwinter. This he did, still wearing no hat or cap so he became knownas the bare-headed Scotchman. He herded for Mrs. Moore for sevenyears, during this time he had gained his health, grown a full headof hair. He decided to go back to his old home in Scotland. He hadnot drawn his wages for five years. Mrs. Moore became disgruntledand spoke in unrefined words. Scotty said that was not ladylike touse those unrefined terms. She said “I’ll use worse than that onyou, you bareheaded boar ape.” Then she sat down and cried becauseshe had
lost a good friend and herder. Dave Hanner leased sheep from BillKyne and ran them on Dry Creek, Guy and Bill Hanner leased fromLynn, summered up on Shell Creek.
J. B. Oakie ran twenty bands of sheep, their headquarters was atLost Cabin. He employed mostly Basque herders, as did the Padlockoutfit after Lee Simonson bought out Rothwell. Simonson sold out tothe Bureau of Indian Affairs, it is now one of the largest cattleoutfits in Wyoming.
“Jumpy” Miller came back with Putney from New Mexico in 1920. LukeMcNeil started in the sheep business in the 1920’s. Hugh Vassstarted in about this time. Arthur Hedgecock was in business beforeeither, he wintered his herd of sheep on Ole Johnson Draw thevicious winter of 1919 and 20. He did winter his sheep on nothingbut sage brush and cottonseed cake and most all of his sheep livedalthough there wasn’t any tallow on their ribs. Severe cold weatherwould require about a third of a pound of corn or cottonseed cakeper head, that and the sage brush leaves would keep them alive.There is where the camp tender earned his keep. Perhaps have to gotwenty miles to the store house or even to the railroad warehousesto get his load of feed. Some of these roads were just trails, sothere was need for four horses to pull a ton of feed to the camp.Now that was go get a load of feed blizzard or not, when it isforty to sixty below zero and that’s not pleasure for man orbeast.
“Buller” Baird was taking care of a bunch of lambs that were beingwintered on the Big Horn River at the Woestenberg Ranch. A newyoung minister just out of college, was sent in to deliver servicesin these out lying areas. He held services in a school house, notfar from “Buller’s” sheep wagon. A terrible blizzard came upsuddenly so on one else ventured out but “Buller” and the minister.This being his first sermon, he had prepared what he thought to bea sermon that would be most impressive to any congregation. Hedelivered the sermon, sang several songs, and his prayers wereheart warming. Buller sat thru it all, and on being asked what hethought of the services said “Parson, I don’t know much aboutpreaching, which is my fault, but in this sheep business if I cameout to the feed ground with a big load of hay and there would beonly one sheep that came out to the feed ground, I sure wouldn’tgive it the whole load of hay.” “Buller” invited the minister tohis wagon to stay all night, so they blew out the kerosene lamps inthe school house, bundled up in heavy coats, and with the light ofa kerosene lantern, the minister, Buller and his two dogs took offin the black of a blizzard night for his wagon. A great and lastingfriendship was started on that night of two people of verydifferent backgrounds.
Jim Black, Red McCorkle, Lame Mike Gomez were herding for Dickiethat same hard winter storm out on Fifteen Mile around the “SuckerDam.” All of their sheep blew off that night and just kept driftingwith the storm. The storm lasted three days and nights. These sheepall mixed up and kept following the leaders. Many a hole or cutgulch was filled with sheep until the ones following could justwalk across. They lost 1400 head out of these three bands.
THE $ KID
Mr. Dollar and the kid got tired of Texas hot weather night andday, we had heard about big bunches of sheep being trailed in andraised in Montana. They left Texas in April by train going toKansas City, Omaha, and Billings. They heard of a job near ThreeForks, Montana, and rode the Northern Pacific R.R. to Livingston,jobs were not too plentiful.
They were short of money and anxious to get on the job. They hadadvertised by mouth for a herding job. A man talked to them but wasskeptical about feeding two mouths besides that was unheard oftaking a 12 year old boy out in a camp. He could find no other sohe gave us a ride to his camp. The sheep were poor, the camp wasjust a flat wagon box with bows and canvas covering. The door wasjust like tent flaps. We were glad that the winter was over. Wewere to be paid $30 per month and our board. We had bought heavyshoes and slickers, added some blankets to our bed roll. We had anold fashioned coal oil lantern or a candle for a light. We had anold axe to cut firewood, always chopping enough before the sheepleft the bed ground to fill the space inside the wagon behind thestove with wood. Nothing can be worse than coming in at night andno dry wood to start a fire. Chopping by moonlight or lantern canbe painful for your toes.
Some green grass had started and not too much old grass so thesheep left the bed ground early, about sun up and if you think youcan watch 3400 ewes go up the gulch, over this hill down and upanother one. Nearly every herder would get a couple of boxes of hobnails to be driven in the soles of his shoes, you could walk alongat night and see little flicks of light at every footstep when onrocks.
The coyotes were thick and hungry, we sure didn’t want to feedthem. A new herder and to let the coyote get a sheep a day wasn’tgood for your reputation. There was a few snow storms and wind.Wind at night and blowing snow caused us to have to sit up most ofthe night to hold the sheep on the bed ground. The grass had grownto where you could see a greenish tint to the ground by May fifth.Now I was to have my first experience at lambing, most ewes willtake good care of their new born lamb, event to fighting a coyoteor bob cat, if the coyote is not detected by the herders he willnot give up easily, many times he grabs the lamb and goes off tohis den, the ewe will stay around where she last saw her lamb forperhaps a day before she will leave the spot. Sometimes thepredator gets both ewe and lamb. We were given saddle horses inorder that we could get around faster. The herder now called thedrop herder, holds the herd until all the ewes with lambs aresorted to one side and left at that location. The young lambs don’tusually go far until they are three days old. The drop herder takesthe remainder of the herd out to get something to eat. If the eweshave enough feed they may stop an hour or so in the afternoon, atthis time more lambs are born and cut out and the drop herd moveson. These new lambs and ewes are watched to see that the lamb isable to suckle, if the lamb doesn’t get the wax broken on the ewe’stit she will have to be caught and the lamb hand suckled. If a ewewon’t let the lamb suckle or runs away from the lamb she is caughtwith a sheep hook (hook large enough to catch a sheep’s leg andhold it.) This hook is put on the end of a 12-ft. handle, and thatis a feat to get close enough to catch her. Then she will either betied by a front leg to a brush or stake until she will
claim that lamb, it don’t usually take long to make her claim thelamb when they are left all alone. If she still don’t claim thelamb she will be tied to another brush or stake where there is somenew feed. The idea of tying the ewe to a sagebrush is that she caneat some of the brush. All of these tied up ewes have to be lookedat each morning and night.
As the lambs are old enough to travel short distances, the dropsare bunched together in order to be better taken care of. The usualis when the bunch is enlarged to 200, a man will put up his teepeeand be there to watch over them, being continually watchful for thepredator. When the bunches are small, they are flagged or some usea red lantern or burning sulphur. Flagging is usually done byputting cloth or old clothing on sticks completely surrounding thelittle herd. Some outfits furnished sulphur which was burned ortrees set on fire. I have heard a dirty pair of socks have savedmore lambs than anything. That’s a dual purpose, maybe it will rainand wash the socks so you can wear them again. So they can getdirty, to be hung on a stick again. If the socks last out thelambing, you will have a good crop of lambs, and all because younever had time to wash your feet.
The lambing usually lasted 40 days – 3400 ewes. After the first 20days the hard work was over, we could get a little breather, therewere five men in our crew, did our own cooking, if you had time togo in to camp, if not you just postponed a meal. Each week we wouldtake a bunch of ewes and lambs to the docking corralll where thelambs were castrated, earmarked, docked and branded, then when thelambs were healed up, all were put with the other docked lambsuntil all were in one or two bunches, ready for the shearingpens.
There were about 20 shearers, tried to shear 1500 ewes a day, wewere at the pens for nearly a week on account of rain. Can’t sheara wet sheep, besides the wool would mold. As each sheep was shearedthe wool fleece was tied with cord and kicked out in an alley whereit was picked up by the wool tosser and carried to the wool rack,where a sack 3 feet wide by 10 feet long was hung on a ring on therack and the wool tromper would let 3 fleeces go in bottom of sack,then get down in the sack and then ask for four more fleeces, goingaround the sack packing it tight. Usually 30 to 40 fleeces would bepacked in each sack. The shearers were paid 7 per head for eachsheep sheared. A good shearer could shear 90 to 100 sheep per day,some weren’t so good. Wool tosser was paid $2.00 per day and thetromper $3.00. Many nights the wool tromper could get cramps in hislegs. Shearers were classed by some as the orneriest people onfoot. Most sheep men would not stand for anyone cutting sheep withthe shears, many shearers were asked to be more careful or theywould have to leave their pen. There was usually a captain in everyshearing crew, if they did good work they were asked to come backnext year. The early day shearers did not travel far. Some wereranch hands or coal miners in the winters.
The herd was divided in two herds for the summer, so dad and I eachhad a herd of about 1700 ewes with lambs. Summer herding was easy,we had a horse, two dogs, and the sheep usually shaded up duringthe hot part of the day. The lambs grew fat as did the ewes. Theonly time the sheep were unruly was when we ran out of salt to feedthem. All domestic animals go crazy for salt. The salt and food wasbrought to us by pack horses, each horse carrying about 150#. If ahorse was mean and bucked off his pack, he would be reloaded, andwith a heavier load. One horse bucked of 200# of salt so theyloaded him down with 300#. That fixed him, all he did was to laydown, the packer put on 150#
and tied it down with a double diamond hitch. He was a good packhorse by the end of the season. The flies are of all kinds, noseflies to torment sheep, green heads and black horse flies eat onthe horses, then the deer fly and house fly for man. The dogssometimes have to go hide in the brush to get away from flies.There can be white frost each night but these flies survive.
We had a main tent camp, where we ate and stored salt and food,then each night we would set up our teepee and bed the sheep in anew location. The predators would have a feast if the sheep werenot protected. That was ideal for target practice on livepredators; we were visited by black bear, mountain lion and ofcourse the ever present coyote and bob cat. When my dogs wouldgrowl at night, I could be sure a predator of some kind would benear, then you got up and looked into the darkness, fire a fewshots and go back to bed.
The sheep would start feeding soon after daylight. I would staywith them until they had filled up, then go to the tent for mybreakfast of oatmeal, fried mutton, and sour dough hot cakes. Baconor ham was a delicacy. Some time during the summer we would havefog and rain, then the sheep would not settle down, so you drovethem by the tent and had a quick breakfast. Would wonder if we hadall of the sheep, listen for the different sounding bells was allyou could do. After three or four days of fog and rain, I wouldnever gripe about the sun again, even if it was ever so hot. Thearea was at about the 8000 to 9000 foot elevation, good stand ofgrass in little parks all kinds of wild flowers, flowering plantsare very much to the sheep’s liking. I have seen a flowered parkbefore the sheep got there, then after they had gone it would bejust green, never matter, that same park would be just as flowerynext week. There was a lot of white mountain clover in the sparsetimber. The sheep would go into the thick timber about 10:00 a.m.,we would wonder if we would ever see all of them again, but when itwas cool enough they would all come out again. Baa, baa, baa, wecould hear that from the tent, and were ready to go with the herduntil bed time. Sheep do not like to stay in the timber at night.Left to do almost as they please they will go to top of any ridge,the nights you salt them they will never leave the bed ground. Theground is licked by the many tongues to get that last drop ofsalt.
The days were getting shorter and there was ice on the water bucketby mid-August. Any moisture now would be the coldest of rains orsnow, by September 5 the sheep would almost certainly head downcountry, so we would be ahead to turn them back for it was hopedanother ten days. If you lost a little bunch they would go down thetrail they had come up July 1. We would count the black’s (usually3 to the hundred) then the bells to see if there were any missing.Didn’t dare to leave the herd to go look for the runaways, whileyou would be gone the whole bunch would head down country.
We would look for the packer until our eyes were sore, until hefinally would come. That is the loneliest time of the year, you arethe only human for 10 miles, everything is so still the wind don’teven blow, the snow is about a foot deep and you have to cross ahigh ridge where you know the snow will be deeper. You have anotion to put your bed on your horse, put up a few sandwiches andlet them go down country. Tomorrow we will go, but tomorrow istoday and we are having a heavy snow, now I knew we should havegone down yesterday. About mid-afternoon the packer came, he saidthere was three foot of snow up on the ridge. His horses are tired,he can’t turn them loose to graze, they won’t stay at night, sothey are tied to trees and we are all packed up ready to go in themorning snow or
shine. Well, it was still snow so we took all the horses to wherethe sheep were and broke a trail, if one sheep would start down inthis trail they would all come. We went to the top of the ridgethen back on the same trail. I got in behind the sheep and finallygot a lead started, we crossed the ridges and down thru sometimber, that was the end of the horse tracks. I went back to helpthe packer bring the tents, stove, etc. It was dark when we gotback to the herd, they were in three feet of snow. We unpacked thehorses, had to tie them again, poor beasts. If you think that isfun to be a packer in that circumstance, ropes wet and iced, tenfroze stiff, horses ornery and the men the same. Sheep are eatingbark off trees, horses haven’t had anything to eat for 2 days. Wehave a hard time to get a fire started. Must be 10 o’clock beforewe have anything to eat. It is still snowing so we will skipbreakfast and break more trail. We leave the tent and everything wedon’t need, and break trail over to another ridge which we canfollow for ten miles. The sheep followed us so we had a long stringof sheep, Baa! Baa! Baa! That was music just to know they werecoming, it had stopped snowing so we turned off the trail where wecould see a few spears of grass sticking up and hobbled the horsesand set up the teepee and built a huge fire, dried our clothesright on us, that was good to feel dry again, and incidently, wegot our stomachs filled. We never knew mutton tasted so good, wefried up a hind leg and ate all of it, just we two, then slept likelogs. Next morning we ate another hind leg of mutton, threw thepack ropes in the fire to melt the ice, then pack up and left. Thesheep were right behind us, we were now down to where the snow wasonly about a foot deep, the sheep could break their own trail andwere hard to stop, had to night herd them to keep them from going.Killed another mutton, had a hind leg for supper and breakfast, allI had to do then was ride in the lead to held them back, we wereall glad to get down in the foothills where there was only about 6inches of snow. It still wasn’t very comfortable, no stove or tent,just the teepee, so I had to have an outside fire to cook by. Thepacker rested the horses, then went back up and got the tent andstove and some food stuff we had left. I didn’t envy him going backup there to get it, was glad when I saw him coming and could get inthe tent again. We had all had enough of that snow. We were luckywe didn’t lose anything but our good dispositions. Theseexperiences are not forgotten easily, but anyone who has lived onthe range knows nature can be very cruel at times, and try as wewill, we get caught in similar circumstances again. After the firstbig snow the weather turned warm and the sheep were completelysatisfied, easy time for the herders. The coyotes followed us downoff the mountain and did come in and kill a fat lamb, maybe biteseveral more, if a sheep has been hit by a coyote enough to drawblood it will most often die within a week or two. I would like tohave these conservationists actually see what a lone coyote can doto sheep or any young animal, wild or tame. I have seen a coyotecatch a big fat ewe by the throat, for a time the sheep could run,jump, roll over, but that coyote hung on. As the sheep tired andrelaxed, in that instant the coyote would get through to the windpipe and start tearing flesh. The coyote would begin licking bloodwhile the animal was breathing its last. I saw one ewe that hadlost all the skin off its lower jaw, so had to be killed by theherder. Other sheep with a big patch of loose hide danglingexposing the rib cage. That was the day I left my rifle in camp.They do that same ting [sic] to the young, weak, or old, of wildgame. By the same token the coyotes will gang up on a cow with ayoung calf (wild or domestic) the cow will chase one of the bravestof the coyotes, the other two will pounce on the calf just a matterof time until the calf is dead, soon to be a delicacy. Seeing someof these atrocities made us decide to try a hand at trapping. Weleft the Livingston area to go to Flathead Lake country aroundPolson, Mont. We used mostly the bait idea for coyotes and bobcats.Good coyote pelts were worth $8.00, cats about $6.00, thenthere
was $1.00 state bounty, stockmen furnished us a place to live andin our case a horse and its feed. The sheepmen that didn’t furnishthe horse and feed put up $100 per pelt. We had about 80 miles oftrap line, so we were busy working each line every other day. Inextreme cold days try to work them every day. A coyote caught onenight will have the trapped foot frozen and will chew off the pawsduring the next night and be a three-footed predator, those are thebravest of coyotes, they cannot catch a rabbit or squirrel, so theyraid sheep camps or live on fallen carcasses. They are trap shy,having had previous experience with the steel trap. If athree-legged coyote gets started on your sheep, only the hound orthe rifle will stop his urge to eat sheep. We were urged to use ourtalent in many areas. If we could find a normal kill by coyotesthat was ideal for a trap set. Maybe the original killer would notreturn but another coyotes would come for a tasty bone or scrap. Wedid well at trapping until late February, when the sun warmed theground in day time and froze the traps open, and would not springwhen the pan was pressed down. The fur would begin to shed with thecoming of warm days, then we went to the lakes and streams to setthe same No. 4 traps for beaver, mink and otter. Those setsrequired as much care as coyote trapping, only we didn’t have tocover as much country. March 20 we decided to go back to Gardiner,Montana, and try to get a job with the sheep again. We were knownso were soon put to work to build some fence. The ground was rockyand frozen in many places, we did manage a few miles of fencebefore lambing time. Being 13 years old I could easily handle thedrop herd, I could out run my dogs at times, but the sheep neverlived that I couldn’t outrun if it neede [sic] to be caught. Icould catch a big ewe, but not necessarily stop her. She sometimeslet me down in cactus or thorns, we live and learn. The old grasswas short that spring and not much new grass so we had to let thesheep spread out a lot. The few lambs that were born during the daywere left behind and I had a roll of red cloth, try to get two orthree ewes with lambs together and tie red flags on brush, anythingto try to keep the predators away. If the sheep would stop at noonwe would have a new bunch of lambs to leave behind. Someone wouldcome to these small bunches later to bunch more together or flagthem better. We made a good lambing, 85%, that was good those days.We each got a herd for the summer, my bunch went south of Gardiner,Montana, near the Yellowstone Park boundary. Sometimes I wish Icould go back up in there to see if I would remember the lay of theland. This was good sheep range, a lot of open country, some smalllakes and creeks. All had the native speckled trout. My fishingoutfit was a short willow pole. Couldn’t find a long straightwillow in that whole country. I did have some fish cord but noleaders and a plain hook, now to catch a few grasshoppers. I nevercaught more fish than I could use that day. Eat fish every day fora week, then we would really relish mutton for about the samelength of time. The boss gave my packer a new set of horses tobreak to pack, you can load them down with 150# of salt in 50#sacks. He had to tie up a hind leg on each one every time he packedup, generally they were tired when they got to their destination sohe could unload them without much trouble. He had to move my campthis trip so he took two of the easiest managed horses to pack thetent and stove and food supply. All was well until the stoverattled (it was made of tin), then the horses really made a mess ofall the flour, coffee, bacon, pots and pans. That night we hadflour, coffee and bacon soup. I wouldn’t let him try to pack my bedand teepee, didn’t relish sleeping in a bunch of ribbons and ragsthe rest of the summer, so I loaded it on my pony and had it allintact into my new camp. This packer was a good horseman, neverfought his horses. Some men would tie the horse up to a tree andtry to beat him into subjection with a club or rocks. When thispacker was finished tying on the packs, he would lead this horseout tied to his saddle horn and let him try to buck the pack off,if the
pack stayed on, he would try another and so on until all had beenroughed out, then tie this one to the one in front, head to tailuntil they were all tied in, then go on his way. It usually took ahalf hour to get them going. When he first started out one horsepulled back, hurt the front horses tail, if you tie them up shortand solid I have heard of but one instance where the tail waspulled out by the roots, and that was in a ten horse pack string.When all of the pack horses pull back at once, you go back withthem. On these switchback trails it is much better to turn the packhorses loose, many a horse has been jerked down and caused theother pack horses to cut corners and roll down in a pile. Now thereis where a packer has a job, untangling and getting the horses ontheir feet again, many a bent can has been reloaded, many a horsehas been skinned up to where it was pitiful to see them have to bepacked again that soon, but the herder and sheep are hungry so youhave to load up and go again. Now this doesn’t happen to everyone,but it has happened to some, the more careless or inexperienced youare the more trouble.
We brought the sheep off the Forest Reserve September 10, lookedand felt like snow, we had been through one storm on the highmountains last year and that was lesson Number 1, not to get caughtup there like we did last year. When we got down on the home rangeand put the herds through the dipping vats, the government sent outtheir sheep inspector. If your sheep had scab it was to owners goodto have all herds dipped twice a year. This was a nasty job, awooden or cement vat was built about 60 feet long, 2 feet wide and10 feet deep. Put the sheep in the big pens, sort off smallerbunches and run or push them up a chute, the man at the head of thechute would grab the sheep by the tail end and push them head firstinto the vat. The dip was a nicotine solution usually called (blackleaf 40). It was foul smelling. Both men and beasts fought againstgoing back through a dipping vat. We had crew enough to put a bigband of sheep through in one day, the poor sheep would be proddedor completely immersed in the liquid and it would take them aminute or so to swim down to the far end where they could touchtheir feet to solid board walk and go up into the drainingpens[sic] where they would stay until the dip had quit dripping. All ofthis drainage ran back into the vat to be used on other sheep.There were usually two men that stood by the vat, and holding on toa 14-foot handle would push the sheep under a couple of extratimes. If a sheep became strangled they could hook the sheep underits neck and hold the head out of the dip, sort of drag it alonguntil it could get out and up the ramp. Sometimes we would have toget down in there and drag the sheep to dry flooring.
When we were through dipping the boss asked us if we would trail abunch of dry sheep to Hardin from White Sulphur Springs area inMontana. There were over 4800 head of mixed ewes and wethers, theywere a sight to see when they left the bedground. At first the herdwas in a tight bunch, after the first mile they were spread out fanshape getting wider each minute. I would have to work the one sidein, then the other, took a lot of hot footing to keep them allgoing east. This Mussellshell River country is a stockman’sparadise, but we didn’t have time to admire the country too much.We tried to average over five miles per day. On a cool cloudy daywe could have made ten miles, but on hot sunny days the sheep wouldstop about 10 or 11 o’clock and just stand in tight groups, seemsthey all wanted to get their head out of the sun, but closeexamination, the nose flies were bothering them. They would standthis way until about 3 o’clock, very few would lie down. We passedwithin shouting distance of Harlowtown after passing through theJudith Basin and Judith Gap. We were not always welcome to
come into the river so the sheep could drink, had to give away afew mutton to get to water. Two days was the most these animalscould do without a drink. They were hard to manage when they werehot and thirsty, beat them in the face with your jacket and theywould run in behind you. We followed the river to Lavina, thenheaded south and east getting in to Pompey’s Pillar where wecrossed the Yellowstone by ferry. We were three days crossing theYellowstone River, sheep had lots of water but no feed, had tonight herd both bunches one on each side of the river. When allsheep were on the south side of the river we all were glad to moveon. The sheep may have walked the 160 miles but I believe I walked400 miles to see that they were headed in the right direction. Wewere 35 days on the trail and I wore out seven sets of hob nails,with out the hob nails I would have worn out four pairs of shoes.We then decided to go back to Texas for the winter. It was good tobe where it was warm, but then again I missed these old mountainsand the clear pure water in the creaks [sic] and the clear blueskies, couldn’t see over a half mile down here on their clearestday.
So we decided to go to Meeteetse, Wyoming, we had heard there werequite a number of sheep outfits in this country. We came toThermopolis on the Burlington, we took a few hot baths from thatstinking sulphur water, smelled like over age eggs, to put itmildly. The only buildings over on the east side of the river fromThermopolis was the State Bath House and a log building put up byDr. Jewell of Shoshoni. Martin McGrath ran a general store andhardware store combined. We then took the stage, horse drawn. Theold stage route went along the same route as Wyoming Hiway No. 120.The stage was owned by John Faust. Jim Mount was our driver. Wechanged horses at the McCumber crossing on Owl Creek, then changedhorses again at Ilo, on Grass Creek, which was run by Ed Guinn,then on to Meeteetse, 12 to 15 hours. Meeteetse was the largesttown in the Big Horn Basin at that time. Had a drug store owned byDr. Bennett, two banks, one run by Angus McDonald, Hogg andCheesman [sic], the other by R. J. McNally, two hardware stores,Benbrooks and Bowman, Weller Hotel, one lumber yard, fourrestaurants, several tent hotels, Huett, McGuire, Peoples, Weller,Rivers, Morton, seven saloons, one millinery shop, two mercantilestores, one Chinese laundry.
Freight wagons were coming in with merchandise daily, local outfitsgoing out. Meeteetse had three stage lines, from Red Lodge,Montana, to Thermopolis, to Kirwin and to Cody that came in everyother day. Kirwin was dying down from their peak mining years,early 1900. Mines worked 1500 men at the peak. Kirwin was abandonedsoon after this. Mr. and Mrs. Tewksberry stayed a few years and rana general store, patronized by sheep men who ran their sheep up inthat country, and a clean up crew from the mines. There was justone pocket of gold and some silver, reports were the $5 millionworth of ore was taken out. George Renner came in from theirheadquarters on Gooseberry, the Renner Sheep Co. and bought theMiller, McCoy ranch a few years previous. He wanted herders so wehired out to him. They were running seven big bands of ewes besidestheir wether and yearling herds. They took me down Gooseberry andgave me a herd of wethers, 5000 head. They had run the legs off aMickety Mike, the old feed was short and some new grass wasshooting up, and these wethers would leave early and be on the run,so we moved over to a straight Salt Sage country on Fifteen Mile.These wethers had left the bed ground a few times when Mike waswith them, took a few night to break them from leaving. Rough themup good with the dogs, make them believe you are going to killthem, main things was to let them spread out and feed all day,don’t let them trail around. When they go out in the morning goup
and stay in the lead if a lead starts some other way go over there.The winter had been severe, 1909 and 1910 was called the hardwinter of “1909 and 10” by the stockmen for years afterward. Thatwas the year Pete Brotherson and the stage driver Jimmy Wooten wereboth found frozen to death. The temperature was never above zeroduring December and January (-55). There were a lot of dead sheepand cattle found that spring after the snow had melted. I met aone-legged fellow by the name of Guinup. He had a wagon and teamand was gathering wool off these dead sheep. He would get abouthalf price for fallen wool. I think wool was selling at this timefor 15 or 16 per pound. We stayed down in this lower country untilit was hot and dry, then went into the Y. U. on the Greybull Riverto Skear. We stayed out south of the river until the lambing wasover, then they gave me two thousand dry ewes, and started over tothe Indian Reservation, South Fork of Owl Creek and over to thehead of Crow Creek. Had lots of room and good grass, bedded thesheep about one night in a place, did have some coyote trouble. Theone thing I liked about a dry herd of sheep, you could move themfive miles and none of the sheep would want to run back. Now with abunch of young lambs, they will run back to the starting point tofind their mothers if not checked. We had a good summer up there,the country was not too high so we stayed until in October. Thatwas a sight to see all those animals spread out and all going oneway to the dipping pens on Billy Steele’s range. That was thebiggest herd that had ever come into the dipping pens. I had nohorse, just me and two good dogs, when the dogs couldn’t get aroundthem I would hot foot it until I got around them. I was almost asgood as the fellow who took a bunch of ewes and lambs out and raninto a few jack rabbits. Said he had a hard time keeping those longeared lambs in the bunch.
We helped take the wethers to Cody to be loaded out for market inOmaha. We stopped in Cody for a couple of days, got some newclothes from Davy Jones, and especially some good shoes. Might aswell get some winter wear clothes as I had been promised a herd forthe winter. When we got back to Renners we had to work severalbunches of sheep, switch the lambs from this bunch to the next inorder that they would be weaned and give the ewes a chance to pickup weight before winter came. They took me out to Deer Creek toherd Jack Hughes lay off. Jack was real neat and clean so I had nodirty outfit to clean up. Not so with all of the herders. You couldsmell the herder before you could smell the sheep. Dirty Pete tooksick so they took him to Dr. Bennett. Well, they peeled clothes offof him, all fall before they got down to his hide, by that timePete was well. Pete ordered $100. Worth of clothes from MontgomeryWard to keep him from freezing that winter. Jeff Starkey opened upa barber shop in Meeteetse, and was a man of high morals, but thatdidn’t keep him from pulling pranks on any unsuspecting souls thathappened to come his way.
Al Sandberg came in from herding, had a full face of whiskers andshaggy head of hair, asked for the works, haircut and shave (75).Jeff Cut his hair O.K., then shaved one side of his face and said“quitting time”, “I’ve got to go to supper.” Al raved andthreatened but he left and locked the shop, once out on the streetthere was a mob that said they would protect Jeff so he may as wellcome into Huett’s saloon and Al could buy the round of drinks, thathalf shave cost Al $50. He soon forgot about the half shave, butremembered it the next morning when his head ached so bad. But Alwas one of the bunch after that, if that was any consolation.
A travelling man came into Jeff’s shop and wanted a shave, thewinks went around and Jeff said, “You are the next S.O.B.”, to thetraveler. He got in the chair and was lathered and steamed, Jefftook an old razor and went over to the stove pipe and was whettingthe razor. The traveler decided he wanted none of that kind ofrazor treatment so he jumped out of the chair and ran into thestreet. There was a bunch watching so he was asked to buy therounds of drinks. Sometime after this episode “Soapy” came to town,got shaved, shorn, and some new clothes and had a new hat set onthe side of his head. A horse buyer stopped and inquired abouthorses that would pass army specifications. He hadn’t had any luckuntil Soapy came up and said “I understand you are looking for somegood horses,” he had made a study of what kind of a horse suitedthe U.S. Cavalry, and he believed he had just what the Cavalryneeded. Soapy had been out looking over his horse herd and thebanks were closed, could he draw a couple of hundred dollars on thestrength of his horse herd. Of course, Soapy, the Army buyer andall the gang around Meeteetse had a real blow out. Soapy had a badhangover so he didn’t get up very early. The buyer inquired aroundat the banks and found out Soapy had no such herd of horses. Ofcourse the buyer was indignant to say the least, and demanded thatSoapy be brought to justice. The town turned out enmasse [sic] toraise all of the money Soapy had drawn on account to be paid backto the buyer. Some said Soapy could talk himself out of the devil’sden and I believe it. There was only one Soapy, and I believe theylost the pattern for another like him.
Renners owned or controlled all of the head of Gooseberry, havingbought out the Mantles and Mrs. Josh Deane’s holdings. Renners hadlots of range, at least a knowledge of good range from the GreybullRiver to Crow Creek and they used it for their 8 bands of ewes and2 yearling bands and a band of bucks. Ad Renner had been married afew months before he and his wife were going to Meeteetse by way ofIron Creek. A real cloudburst caught them about the Lone treebedground, they decided to hurry on into town. The road crossedIron Creek several times. At this one crossing they drove into theturbulent waters, this water was half mud but vicious. The creekjust swallowed them, buggy, team and all. Henry Doores wasfollowing them on a saddle horse. The bodies were found after theflood had run itself out half buried in the mud. Anyone who hasever seen an Iron Creek flood has witnessed a dirty mess, same waywith all other creeks and gulches. The Renners had crossed thesecreeks no matter when, except this one bad accident. Other teamtraffic waited for the floods to run down, so sat on the banks andwaited it out. There have been times in other people’s lives thatfood and lodging was just on the other side of a muddy stream on arampage. The water in these streams, if picked up in a bucket, willsettle half clear water, half mud. We had to use this water todrink after it had settled a bit. Really get sand in the biscuitsif you use the muddy water too soon.
I herded Jack’s layoff then had to take Lee Rocker’s herd while hewent to town for his blowout. These men would be frugal witheverything until they hit town, some never even took the trouble toget their appearances changed, got louped [sic] the first 15minutes after they hit the saloon. They would buy the drinks foreveryone and stay louped [sic] as long as their money lasted. Theythen would try to borrow more, maybe get knocked down and rug outthe back door to freeze during winter or roast on summer days. Leedid this about as well as anyone and for all the years of his life.Had to scrape extensively on his wagon to get it livable. Be gladwhen I would get a wagon that I would use steadily. We were campedat the Lone Tree bedground [sic] on Rooster Creek, good country. Atthis time there
came a man from the old sod (Ireland) by the name of A. O’Donahue,he could recite poetry or prose by the ream and did to all whowould listen. He was employed for a time by the New York Times, buthe and John Barleycorn became “bosom pals” this was his quite. Hemade up a song about himself, thus:
They tell the tale of a newspaper man The girls were pretty and thebooze was fine. Now he’s herding sheep in Wyoming.
He worked for a time for John Patton in the Thermopolis Recordnewspaper office, but always he had to have his fling until theywouldn’t have him around anymore. He went out to herd for SteeleBros., and of course it took two men to keep his sheep rounded upfor him, he was reprimanded severely by his boss. So O’Donahuefired back, “Tis a man from the old sod you are interrogatingthusly with those derogatory statements.”
Doores sent Dutch Nick out to move the Dollar Kid down on BuffaloCreek, Lee came back from Meeteetse real sick and broke flatterthan a pancake. Doores made up a band of yearling ewes so they putthe Dollar Kid out with them. These sheep were from severaldifferent herds, so they had to be broken to the Dollar kid’s wayof herding. Every herder has some different version of how hissheep should act, main thing was to take an interest to see thatthey were in good feed and not let them trail too much. The way todo that latter was to stay up in the lead and just let them walkslowly forward. Nick pulled the Kid down in Grass Creek Basin,watered the sheep above the “Dutch” John Pinkerton place. That wasDickie territory, but the Kid stayed in there and held his own withJim Black on one side and Ed Waters on the other. The Kid had twogood dogs so when one herd was thrown at him, the dogs rounded thesheep up and started them back in a hurry. Soon got all the goodfeed, so Nick pulled the wagon down in the Ilo breaks, it was thesame old story now he had the Rankine Brothers herd on one side andDoc Greene and Ed Guynn on the other. Next move was over on BlueRidge, then he had Carlson and Sandberg with two herds and severalPadlock bunches. Stayed in there all the rest of the winter, thenpulled over into Fifteen Mile country on Salt Sage while the grasswas starting to green up. There was a lot of the Bud Sage, and atthis particular time this sage is very good feed for sheep. Thatspring we pulled back up country to Iron Creek to lamb, that was anideal Spring. Sun shone in the morning and some showers of rain inthe afternoon. After lambing, Nick pulled the “Kid” into theshearing pens that was the first week in June. When the shearingwas done Nick pulled the wagon up to Mormon Creek where they stayeduntil time to go to the mountains, about July 5. Bert Avery wasForest Ranger and was camped up at the counting pens on the stocktrail near the head of Enos Creek. That was a busy area. Each bandof sheep were wanting to be first up the trail while there was goodfeed. Sometimes they even had fights to see who was first, if aherd ever pulled off the trail next herd back would see his changeand be ahead, and if he didn’t hurry back on the trail two or threeherds would go past. Many of these sheep men had been up in theseareas before the Forest Reserve was set up and you beat the othersto your favorite spot. The Kid (I think it was Nick who startedthat nick name) was headed for East Fork of the Wind River, thatwas a high rocky permit, about half the ground was solid rock whereno grass could grow. Those days you teepeed [sic] out with thesheep every night. The Forest Service wasn’t so particular thosedays, you could bed the sheep up on a rocky ridge for a week or soat a time. There wasn’t a dozen bites of grass on forty acres ofthose rocks. A lot of this country was
about 9000 feet above sea level and there was frost about everynite all summer long. Sheep didn’t need much water on account ofthe tender grass, but if thirsty could go to a snow bank. There isalways a snow bank somewhere on this permit even today. Come off ofthat mountain with some good fat lambs that fall. Society Red washerding for Dickie and he forgot to get up one morning, let hissheep go and they mixed with the Kid’s bunch. Nothing to do now butlet them go down in one big bunch, that was a sight, about 5000ewes and lambs in one herd. Allen Edmonton had been up on what isnow called MacGregor Park, he was behind with his bunch. Mac washerding and very much displeased with being held up, there weretwelve herds behind him. Edmonton was newly married, had taken up ahomestead just east of Billy Steele’s place on Middle Creek.Whiskers Baird was running the Steele Bros. sheep and had a goodset of corralls so Nick got permission to cut the herds straight athis pens, run them through the dodge gate, yours go this pen, minego this pen until all are separated. That didn’t do anything forthe weight of those lambs, jamming them through those gates andchutes, and not getting out to good feed for two days. This madeextra work for Nick so none of us were too happy. So like JoeMcGill said that evening “take a teaspoon of harmony to quell thediscord.” He had to do something to get these men in good form sohe could sell them some new clothes. He took orders for woolengarments and just about every weather element clothing. Sun cameout next day and all was forgotten, but not to forgive SocietyRed.
Goldtooth McDonald and Lee Rooker were real thirsty when they cameoff the mountain, so landed in Meeteetse for a lay off. After a fewdrinks they became quarrelsome and started fighting with “HandsomeHarry” and Laughin’ Smithie. So Graham Morton took them off to the“Crowbar” Hotel for the night then locked the door. That little oldcement building with iron bars, housed many an unruly soul duringits lifetime in Meeteetse. That was a real riot when they gave acowpuncher and sheepherder lodging at the same time. Every timePeggy Nolan came to Meeteetse, Morton would shine up the lock onthe door and be ready. Nolan never failed to take up lodging there.Let him out in the morning and he would be back in there thatnight. There were three times yearly that the herders took layoffs, in the spring after lambing, in the fall after they came offthe mountain and at Christmas time.
The kid had short arms and sewed extra deep pockets in his pants,he never could reach the cash he dropped in the pockets, so healways had something to show for his year’s work besides lodgingtickets in the “Crowbar” Hotel or making the Huetts, McGuires,Weller, or Peep rich in the saloon business. There were manycelebrations that were attended by the fairer sex along with theirhusbands. One such meeting was held in the Emory Hotel inThermopolis, the “Sheep Queen” attended, along with her husband.She did not wear fancy frilly dress of her more refined sisters andcould talk of none of the finery that ladies talk about. She sortof ostracized herself when she spoke about how much wool a goodsheep should shear, and how worthless these herders were thatwanted to work for her. Mrs. Moore had a name for these sameladies, she would address them as “velvet-pawed kittens” with sharpclaws. She and her family were in Rome and on going to see theColiseum, declared “Throw a few logs in that gap, make a good sheepcorralll.” She wanted so much to have her daughter major in voice.She engaged a tutor in an Eastern Musical Conservatory, the mangave up trying to teach her to sing, so he said, “Mrs. Moore, yourdaughter has no talent.” “Don’t make any difference, order two orthree of
them things, I can pay the bill!” So she always sat in the lobbywith the men and talked sheep and grass, that was her life.
She at one time had ten bands of sheep, and she ran her businessfor the most part alone, telling each camptender where to pull thisor that wagon and band of sheep. Some of these toughs burned herwagons and shot her sheep and horses so she got a long barrelled303 Savage rifle and did a little shooting of her own. Some say shedrilled holes in a couple of black hats, many a night she sat upnext to a rock where she could watch for anyone who came to molesther stock or herders. She swore vengeance against Mexican herders,after one experience. She bought a few purebred Lincoln ewes andintended to raise her own bucks. She lambed them early and intendedthey would go with Sunday Pete’s herd for the summer. She didn’tsee this herd for a month, but on coming to the camp found a biglamb hanging in a tree. She was really riled at this sight so shehunted “Sunday Pete”, and he said “Rabeets in tree,”. “Rabbit, myeye, did you eat all my prize lambs?” “Si Senora, no eata the lamb,no herds the sheep.” She took a couple of shots at his feet andsaid afterwards she sure run some of that grease off that“Greazer”.
About this time one of the Butterfield herders was found deathlysick in his camp. His camp tender had been with Colonel Torry inthe Cavalry and had administered to soldiers in need. He had nomedicine of any kind and the doctor was a hundred miles away, nochance to leave this man and get the doctor. So he decided thissick man needed an enema. His ingenuity was not lacking, the herderhad a long barrellled [sic] 45-90 rifle. The camp tender put thebarrelll in place and filled the barrelll with water, then he put acloth on the cleaning rod end and forcefully injected the waterinto the sick man’s system. After a few doses of that gun barrelllthe herder decided to get well and he did just that. You guessedit, he was nicknamed “Gun Barrelll Parker.”
Weary Willie was herding for Bill Dickie and was camped west ofSchuster Flat. Bill had to go to Worland for a load of supplies,well he got the supplies and of curse got a couple of gallon jugsof whiskey. He always said he kept it around in case of a bad coldor snake bites. This was the hard winter of 1912, George B. True(Negro) had a homestead on Gooseberry and had hired out to driveDave Dickie around to his different sheep camps to get first-handknowledge as to the sheep’s condition. Bill Dickie had one of thebest teams of horses that ever was used in this country, “Buck” and“Dolly”. They had left the road and were heading across country tothe camp when Dave Dickie and True saw the tracks in the snow.Following up they overtook Bill. He was sound asleep in the bottomof the wagon. Dave jumped out of his buggy and hollered “Whoa” tothe team, got up in Bill’s wagon and found the two jugs of whiskey,and broke them over the wagon wheel. George True was aghast, had heknown Dave’s intentions he would have been first in Bill Dickie’swagon and saved the whiskey for himself. He said, “Mr. Dickie,that’s highway robbery to break a man’s whiskey like that.” Davesaid True was the most unpleasant black man he had seen, all therest of the trip. Bill Schuster came from New York to seek fortune,he took up a homestead in the middle of what is now known as“Schuster Flat”, west of Worland. He was a batchelor [sic] and hetook orders for food supplies, clothing, yard goods, you name it,he would take an order. He came to Dirty Pete’s wagon one night andstayed with him. He hadn’t been used to filth, that extensively. Sohe tried to interest Pete in some good soap. Pete was verycongenial, ordered new clothes and of course some good strong soap.When the order came Schuster
delivered the same to Pete at his sheep wagon. Soap and Pete hadbeen strangers up to this time. Schuster advised Pete how to usethe soap in his bath and laundry. Pete had been used to putting onclean clothes over the top of the ones he was wearing. Pete melteda bug [sic] of snow water, put in a bar of soap and stirred hisclothes around in the suds, smelled so good he took his bath, too.Pete never bothered to rinse himself or his clothes in clear water.He put the soapy clothes on his soapy body and soon he was on fire,he thought. That was the last time he ever tried soap. He herdedfor years in that area but he said Schuster’s soap would dissolve awoolen blanket so he never used it again. The Dollar Kid had herdedup on Fatman mountain all winter, it had been a steady cold and hisband had thrived better than most because he had a young bunch ofsheep. They pulled up to Iron Creek to lambing grounds. Roy Shoupe,“Dutch” Nick and the Kid lambed out the herd and did their owncooking. After lambing they pulled in to shear, then went up toMormon Creek to wait to go to the Forest Reserve, that year JackJones parked the outfit over to East Fork of Wind River to summer.That was a good summer. Jack was good company and would herd andlet the kid go fishing. That was a grand place, catch plenty offish then bury them in a snow bank, keep like in a refrigerator.Came down that fall with 60 pound lambs. Went back down in theFifteen Mile country for the winter. After lambing that spring theKid decided he would try ranching so he went into Meeteetse andhired out to O. B. Mann to help put up hay. O. B. sent him out witha young team to rake hay, he did all right as long as he was in thefield, when the boss range the dinner bell, the Kid started in butby a different route than he came out in the morning. Now on thisroute there was a gate in the fence, this rake is a contraptionabout 10 feet wide used to gather hay and leave it in rows. Whatthey didn’t tell the Kid was that this gate was only nine feet wideand the rake was ten feet wide. The Kid was watching one wheel andthe other hit the post. The tongue cracked and away went the teamdragging the rake crossways, well the Kidd fell off but hung on tothe lines until he lost about all of his clothes. That sure skinnedthe Kid up shameful, O. B. came out and caught the team and gavethe kid his time. To this day he hasn’t figured out how you get aten foot rake through a nine foot gate.
The Kid went back to Doores and got his bunch of sheep and he andTom Upton went to Bear Creek for the summer. The next summer TomUpton packed him up to the head of the Greybull River. All of thesecamps in this area are in high country where there is some snowthat never completely melted before the new snows came. That iswhere you wear woolen clothing all summer long. Freezing or frostnearly every night, and inch of ice on your canvas water bucketnearly every night. All kinds of flies, just about pest you beyondendurance during the middle of the day. The Kid would always kill amutton in the cool of the evening after the flies had holed up,then at first break of day take the carcass from its cooling spot,usually hanging on the limb of a tree, put the meat in a wool sackand hang it in deep shade during the days, taking great care tohang it in a tree each night as long as it lasted. That was theaging and refrigeration process followed by all sheepherders.
O’Donahue had attempted to give a lecture to some ladies club. Hissubject matter was not exactly to their liking so they snubbed him.Later he heard that these ladies were excellent horse women. Hecould not forgive, so he said “When feminine pulchritude was givenout they got very little, in fact, the looks on their faces wouldscare any bronc into absolute submission.” Patton was awizard
with words, so O’Donahue was a sizable thorn in his abdomen in thefield of high falutin’ words. Paton described O’Donahue thus:“Oversized word man with an undersized cerebellum”.
Bill Murdock leased the two bands of ewes from “Jock” Brown and ranthem during the summer on Lake Creek and the head of CottonwoodCreek, wintering down on lower Fifteen mile. Alex Leiper ran twobands of ewes, summering near Kirwin and wintering on Fifteen Mile.Tony Foxton was a regular herder for Leiper. Big Albert Myers was astalwart herder weighing over 200 pounds. He once told Leiper “yougo to town and get me some good grub or I’ll eat all of yourmutton.” “Thirty day Peter was a jovial fellow, well for the firstten days he worked he could get along with just about nothing toeat or wear, the next ten days he would suggest the boss bring himsome staple articles of food and clothing, but the last ten dayseven Tea Garden jam wouldn’t satisfy him. He raved to thecamptender that he wanted his wagon moved over about ten feetsouth, that being done it still didn’t suit him, but he waiteduntil the camp tender had unharnessed his horses, then he demandedthat the wagon be moved back near the original spot. Needless tosay, there were two people with a big grouch. Pete said if youdon’t move that wagon back you can’t stay here tonight, so the camptender harnessed up again and was about all night getting back toheadquarters. Anyway, he didn’t have to move Pete’s wagon. Next dayPete brought the sheep in and said he was ready to go to town.Every sheepman was wise to Peter, never needing him to work onlyfor a short period. Alabama Bob was a character, he would leave hissheep and walk five miles to head off some one he had seen with aidof field glasses, try to get them to come to his wagon and givethem a meal, he always knew all the news but could neither read orwrite a word. Bill Chesney was a good sheep man and usually was acamptender. He worked mostly for Steele Bros. on Middle Creek. Itwas here that he was struck by a bolt of lightning. He had been onthe high mountains for many years where the lightning isterrifying, just a flash and a crash, sounds are magnified ahundred times when you are alone up there in one of these severestorms. Adam Weiss worked for Joe Winninger he was the one whoreally had the short arms and deep pockets. He herded for sevenyears without ever going to town, said he robbed the scare crows ofold clothes left on sheep bed grounds. He bought a thousand head ofold ewes from Winninger and went over to Gooseberry and into apartnership with Henry Hillberry. Henry furnished the range andAdam Weiss the sheep. It was here that Weiss spent another sevenyears with very few times that he could afford to go to town. Hewas a jovial story teller, and was the life of any party heattended. Adam nicknamed Henry “the vest pocket camp tender”,anything that Henry couldn’t get in his vest pocket just wasn’tmeant for Adams camp.
At last Katie came from Germany and she and Adam were married inOhio. She soon dissolved the partnership of Hillberry and Weiss,she shook her fist under Henry’s nose when he objected to her wayof each partner taking a half of each age group of their bunch ofsheep. Katie herded while Adam moved the wagon. She trailed thesheep while Adam led the pack string. “Soapy” said he happened tobe near their camp on Steer Creek, came on what he thought werebear tracks. He followed and they led right into Katie’s tent. Hethought, poor people, the bear has devoured them by now. Peekingthrough the tent flap, he saw Katie lying on her bed asleep, herfeet bare. He had been tracking Katie. When Katie heard this taleshe was furious, needless to say Soapy stayed over on the otherside of the ridge away from Katie after that. That was one timeSoapy was at a loss for words. One day Soapy was
going to help Ketchum kill a beef at the Dickie ranch. Soapy wasalso known as the crosseyed kid, one eye always looked in the wrongdirection. Soapy took aim, so Ketchum said “Hold on, Soapy, whicheye are you using for the beef?” Soapy said he used both eyes, soKetchum said “I’m getting out of here, that one eye’s looking in mydirection.”
There was one Mahaffey on the Dickie pay roll whose particular jobit was to feed and care for a few mangy coyotes. These coyoteswould later be turned loose to infest the healthy coyotes on therange, a mangy coyote will not live through a winter, this was onemethod of controlling the coyote population in those days. Thetrapper was a very necessary person in the control of predatoranimals. A prime coyote pelt those days would sell for three to sixdollars per pelt, and there was a State bounty of one dollar, thenthe sheepmen would band together to put up another dollar. Ketchumwas a hound man, he had sheep on lease from Dickie, but someonewould do his chores if he would go around the country and catcheither the coyote or the bobcat. He had both the trail hound andthe greyhound or staghound, this writer has ridden with Ketchum andhis hounds, that was real fun to have a good fast horse and racealong and be there to watch the kill, also to get in there and kickthe dogs away before they tore up the hides. One time Ketchum took“Whiskers” Baird along and the dogs treed a bobcat in a smallcottonwood tree. Ketchum told Baird to climb up the tree and shakethe bobcat off of the tree limb. Baird got up there near the cat,who spit and growled and all its fur stuck straight up. Bairdlooked at the cat and hollered down to Ketchum, “If you want thiscat, come up and get him, I haven’t lost any cats.” Ketchum went upthe tree and shook the cat out where it fell in the midst of adozen dogs. They made that cat short-lived, but not without the catleaving a lot of long claw marks on the dogs. Ketchum never missedan opportunity to play a trick on anyone. Henry Hudson and “Little”Ford came to work for Renner. Now there came a man from Germany, heclaimed of nobility and would vociferously acclaim his name asCarl, Charles, Henry, DeFerdinand Von Schill. He went to work forthe Padlock and herded the one summer. Came down to the dippingpens, he