Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Amerine: The man and the mountain

The most prominent landmark on the western side of Granite County is Mount Amerine of the Sapphire Range. Current maps name the mountain Mt. Emerine. The same peak was called Mt. Baldy when Nez Perce Jones made his escape from the Indian renegades in 1878. 

Mount Amerine and the currently named Emerine Gulch on the north side of the West Fork, were named after a miner-rancher that settled in the area. This fact is documented by frequent mention made over the years in The Mail of E. (Erastus) Amerine such as “He traveled to Philipsburg to do business from his mine and expected to have his mill operating by spring (December 2, 1898 Mail). 

Erastus was kicked by his horse and had recovered enough to return to his mine according to the July 13, 1900 news. He had been in town and returned to his ranch on the West Fork of Rock Creek stated the November 1, 1901 and the January 10, 1902 Mail. Erastus’ name was among many on a petition to appoint Nicholas Connolly as Justice of the Peace in the Citizen Call October 4, 1893. All these articles verified he was established in the area in the 1890’s and left the area in 1910. 

Erastus sold his ranch to George C. Downing of Anaconda the week of May 13, 1910 for $6,100.00 in cash. The parties met in Philipsburg on Tuesday where the deal closed. The price included all the property, stock, wagons, tack and farm implements. The article stated Amerine had lived for seventeen years on the ranch and mining claim meaning he settled there in 1893. 

Local recollections establish the hay and pasture were used by American Gem Mining Syndicate. Also, the Hans Luthje family lived there while referring to it as the “Werning Place.” John Werning worked for The American Gem Mining Company and they probably leased the ranch from Downing prior to him selling it to Walt and Anne Sanders in 1938. As early as 1901 Erastus sold fourteen head of beef at an average of $40.00 per head. The cattle brand was capital A over a bar. But there is no record of the brand registered with the Montana Stock Growers Association.

On January 10, 1902 the Mail stated a son of E. Amerine, after not seeing his father in twenty years, arrived from Illinois and planned to stay for a month. Through the next years are news comments regarding deterioration of his ability to hear and finally that he was going to Illinois to see if the doctors there could help him. According to his obituary, after Amerine sold the ranch to George C. Downing, he spent time in California and returned to Philipsburg in the fall of 1910. 

Before Christmas of 1910 Erastus left to visit his son Bainter. On, June 30, 1911 The Mail received a letter from Bainter which stated Erastus had experienced improvement in his health and traveled to Hamilton, Illinois in search of investments where Bainter joined him on July 19. The news article continued with the following details: As they arrived at the depot the next morning, Amerine found a concrete platform being erected at the depot and had to go onto the train tracks to get around the construction. An eastbound T. P. and W. Freight train was approaching. Due to the inability to hear, Amerine did not realize a train was near. The engineer, being on the opposite side of the cab, did not see him in time to avoid the accident. Bystanders tried to get his attention, to no avail. The train struck him and the outcome was a severe head injury, amputations of the right leg just below the hip and his arm, at the elbow. He died in the depot waiting room, at the age of sixty-eight. 

Born on January 1, 1843 in Somerset, Ohio Amerine traveled to Montana in 1878. His wife Mrs. (Bainter) Amerine died in 1881. I am unable to find her death notice in the New Northwest, which was the local paper of that period. The obituary stated son Bainter was in Philipsburg to arrange for the funeral and services were to be held after the body was released by the Illinois coroner. Research has failed to reveal a funeral notice or record of Amerine in the Philipsburg cemetery. 

The Mount Amerine (Emerine) Look-out was built during the summer of 1920 and “was thirty feet high with a small room on top which would furnish living quarters for the vigilant guard who had command of hundreds of miles of forest which are endangered by forest fires.” I made many trips horseback up the trail to the look-out as a youngster.

Winas .T. and Susie Hull



North of the Ike Sander’s ranch was the ranch owned by W.T. Hull. Hull was another person moved from Georgetown Lake area by Paul Fusz. The earliest references found stated “Twenty acres of placer ground located on the West Fork of Rock Creek, May 11(1893) by J. Calhoun and W.T. Hull.” Then in December 1893 “W.T. Hull and partners have a gold prospect on Rock Creek they plan to tunnel this winter.” Weekly trips to town are recorded and “Messrs. Calhoun and Hull recently made a shipment of a carload of ore from their mine in the upper Rock Creek district, and another shipment is now being hauled to the railroad” in the December 19, 1895 Mail. 

W.T. served on a jury in December 1896 and January 1897. Then in May of 1897 “a quiet marriage ceremony was performed at the residence of Mrs. Susie Berthoud when the lady became the wife of W.T. Hull.” Although W.T. came to town weekly and often with step-son Bill it was not until January 10, 1901: “Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Hull of Rock Creek visited the city Monday. It was Mrs. Hull’s first visit to town for several years.” 

In the November 8, 1901 Mail. “W.T. Hull…made application for a patent for 18.01 acres on the Susie placer mining and dump ground claim bearing gold and sapphires and it is situated in the southeast quarter of Section 6, Township 6, north of Range 15 West, Granite County.” Then Frank E. Wileman of Granite filed notice in the United State Land Office in Missoula contesting the claim. Wileman alleged that the land was non-mineral and therefore not subject to the mineral claim of Mr. Hull. A hearing was scheduled for January 14, 1902, but I cannot find the resolution.

In the August 31, 1917 Mail “W.T. Hull has bought the Ike Sanders ranch on Rock Creek adjoining his old home place. Mr. Hull is now one of the largest land owners in the entire Rock Creek valley.” Also, Susie’s son Alex filed notice to make a three year proof under the new homestead law for an area in Section 27 and 28, Township 7, North, Range 15, West on September 10, 1914, No. 05470, with witnesses: Edward Sanders, George Van Norman, George W. McCale and Alex M. McDonald, stated the publication in the March 8, 1918 Mail. I am not certain what became of this homestead. I found a Notice for Publication on March 5, 1920 in the Mail for Winas T. Hull stating: “…on the 15th day of April, 1919 [filed] to purchase the lots 3,4,5,6, Section 6, Township 6 N, Range 15W and the timber thereon….” (Located west of Rock Creek and probably included some of Montgomery Gulch.) 

Research also found W.T. Hull was paid $20.00 a month by Granite County for an old age pension in June, 1925. According to his obituary, Winas T. (Tom) Hull, born in 1851 in Carbondale, Pennsylvania came to Butte, Montana around the age of twenty and worked at the Elm Orlu mine. A few years later he moved to “Brown’s Gulch at the Georgetown Lake area where he operated a dairy for a few years. Then he came to Granite county where he and his partner Mr. Fuller operated a large cattle ranch and dairy which was extensively known as the Hull and Fuller ranch. After the death of Mr. Fuller, Mr. Hull was engaged in the sheep business and also operated several mining claims on Rock Creek.” 

He was in good health until July 28, 1928 when he complained of indigestion. He continued his ranch chores as usual until July 30th when he got up at his usual time but chose to stay in the house and died about 11am. Winas was the oldest member of the Knights of Pythias in Montana, joining the organization in Pennsylvania. He was interred in the Philipsburg cemetery. Survivors were: wife Suzie, son Henry who was living in Butte and step sons: Alex Berthoud of Washington and William Berthoud of Missoula. 

Suzie born in 1862 in St. Louis arrived in Philipsburg about 1880. Prior to marrying Hull, Susie (Downs) was the wife of A. G. Berthoud, Harvard educated and Justice of the Peace of Philipsburg Township. He died on September 24, 1893, leaving Susie with sons: William, fourteen and Alexander, twelve. After Winas died Suzie went from Rock Creek to Butte and lived with son Henry where she died in a hospital December 30, 1933. 

Winas and Suzie‘s son Henry is buried next to his parents, but has no headstone. The Mail December 20, 1935 stated H.H. Hull age thirty-three died on December 19, shortly after being married. I have not found an obituary.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

To be or not to be the Skalkaho Road

In the Mail, October 20, 1916 Dr. R.W. Beck of Hamilton wrote a letter to Mr. Martin, the secretary of The Good Roads Association, stating “…They are coming to Anaconda to meet, regarding the benefits of a 28 mile highway.” He had also sent a letter to the Granite County Commissioners hoping to meet at both Philipsburg and Anaconda on October 22 and 23, 1916. This road was to be constructed over the Sapphire Mountains in a divide crossing of about 6000 feet with a southern exposure for a total of twenty-eight miles. There would be no extreme grades or difficult construction according to Dr. Beck. The proposed road would make the Bitter Root valley an alternative part of the trip from coast to coast instead of a side trip. In addition, taken in connection with the much praised route from the Bitter Root to the Big Hole valley and back over the Mill Creek Hill road to Anaconda it would form a loop that would make a scenic trip for a day or two not to be surpassed anywhere. 

The Road Booster’s on October 23 met with County Commissioners and businessmen of Philipsburg. There were two proposals: one route going over the Skalkaho; the other by way of Rock Creek and Stony Creek (over the “Old Burnt Fork Trail”). They favored the Stony Creek route because it would bring travel through Philipsburg and would not require as much road building. The promoters felt the Forest Service would pay half of the expense and liberal contributions would keep Granite County expenses low. 

In December, The Good Roads Association met a second time with the Granite County Commissioners. The commissioners endorsed the project but insisted that finances of the county would not permit any contribution. The visitors believed they needed to send an endorsement from all counties involved before the end of the year to the Forest Service. So county commissioners A.S. Huffman, F.A. Beley and S.M.C. Hughes dictated a letter to the group stating they believed in the benefit of the proposed road but that Granite County would not be able to give any financial support to the project. 

By January 26, 1917 the Road Boosters changed their focus to “slicing off part of Granite County.” A letter received by the Mail from Representative John R. Page stated he was approached by Dr. Beck of Ravalli County regarding this option and he assured Granite County that he and Senator Mershon would not support any measure of that kind coming up in the legislature. Shortly after receiving the letter County Assessor W. E. Albright and Commissioner S.M.C. Hughes attended a meeting in Helena and came back to Philipsburg with the news that both north and south portions of Granite County were being eyed by covetous neighbors. Missoula was looking at a portion of railroad right of way and the new bridge that had been paid for by Missoula and Granite County near Bonita. 

 January 26, 1917 (Anaconda Standard) stated: “A committee will interview citizens of the north end [this should say south end] of Granite County relative to the situation and if no appropriations can be secured from the road fund of that county the proposition will be offered to segregate the portion through which the highway would pass, and add it to Deer Lodge county, which could then make an appropriation toward the construction.” The portion to be segregated was the Flint Creek Power House, all of the Trout Creek district, everything south of Eagle Canyon, all of West Fork, including the Sapphire Mines and all of East Fork, Middle Fork and Ross Fork of Rock Creek. The Legislators assured the county there was nothing to be concerned about. 

By August 31, 1917, the Forest Service had set aside money to survey the area for the highway. The only other obstacle was to find money to pay for the expense of the twelve miles through Granite county. The Missoulian , September 7, 1917 quoted Dr. Beck: “We have at last found a way to overcome this objection and the way seems clear to build this much needed highway. The road has been mapped by the U.S. Forest Service for a long time as a much needed improvement and the government has been willing to do their part in aiding this work. Missoula, Hamilton, Butte and Anaconda have determined to raise the funds necessary to complete the gap and the government forestry department is about to make the necessary survey.” Dr. Beck stated there is every indication that Butte, Missoula and Anaconda will support the project and raise the $15,000 to insure the completion of the proposal. 

Then came World War I. So everything was put on hold. As World War I was winding down The Mail on February 14, 1919 published the following argument regarding the Hamilton-Anaconda Road: “This contemplated thoroughfare between the cities named will pass through the south-west corner of Granite county where there are only a few hundred acres of hay and no grain land, with a few limited area of pasturage and a few ranchers altogether engaged in stock raising. From its exit in timbered elevations of the West Fork to where it enters the Georgetown Basin the distance does not exceed 12 miles. Throughout its entire course between the points noted it passes through rough open country, and along narrow defiles largely, it may be considered first: A scenic route of great interest to the touring automobilist; An interchange of profitable business relations between the few living along its line and the mercantile interests of Anaconda and Hamilton; As of no possible benefit to all the remainder of the county… It will be understood that by presenting the matter in the light it should appear to the taxpayers of Granite no sentiment of animosits [sic] enters it. It is a question of expense followed by no possible benefit save to those interested in the project.” 

The Commercial Club on February 28, 1919 stated that bringing the road through Philipsburg would add ten miles more than if the road was built past the Sapphire diggings with the group not agreeing and expressing the need to build it up Stony Creek and then down the north fork of the Skalkaho. Agreement was also expressed that the road would be completed that summer. This was not to happen. 

In April 1920, miners in Frog Pond basin (Fred Lutz and Price Townsend) were vocal about having the highway pass through Frog Pond basin because many promising mines were being developed and big producers should mean the road needed to travel that way. Also building through Frog Pond and Moose Lake would bring the road south of Mungas Hill and south of Georgetown Lake negating the Flint Creek Grade. 

On April 3, 1921 a telegram was received by Dr. Beck from the Forest Service stating: “Skalkaho has been designated as a post road. Ninety thousand dollars in post road money has been allotted. This completes all required details.” This support brought the funding up to $300,000.00. Of this funding $100,000.00 in bonds had been raised in Ravalli County with the bonds being sold to Mrs. Marcus Daly and the money becoming immediately available for use. The forest service gave $110,000.00 toward construction costs. Work was certain to start in 1921. 

The survey started in May of 1921 and due to the difficult terrain on the west side of the mountains it was not completed until September. Federal Project 161 would be 16.20 miles long in Ravalli County, beginning thirteen miles east of Hamilton and connecting with a Forest Project of the Bureau of Public Roads in Granite County. Actual construction began in late September 1921. The road traveled at water grade along the Skalkaho Creek for six miles and then rose five feet every 100 feet to reach the summit. Starting at 4,310 feet it rose 2,948 feet in the 16.20 miles to reach the 7,258 foot summit. On the eastern side of the Sapphire range the road followed West Fork of Rock Creek past the Sapphire Mines. 

In May,1922, Frank D. Monty (District Engineer) began construction with a work force of 600 men. He hoped to complete the Granite county side of the highway by September 15, which did not happen. A news article May 8, 1924 stated the roadway will be completed to Al Brennan’s by Saturday with Ben Walton Construction Crew doing the work on the Ravalli side. 

Ten or twelve “jalopies” made the seventy-two miles trip in late May of 1924 from Hamilton to Butte. The official baptism was heralded on June 20, 1924 with about 300 cars traveling from Anaconda and Butte on the East and Missoula and the Bitterroot valley on the west. The Sunday before The Intermountain Transportation Company started a regular bus schedule leaving Anaconda at 9 o'clock and arriving in Hamilton at 1 p.m. and starting the return trip to Deer Lodge County by 2 p.m. 

In 1927 interested parties were looking for $17,000 to move the road south of Georgetown Lake thus eliminating the Flint Creek Grade. Obviously that project never happened. 

The 1865, Flathead Dictionary, deduced Skalkaho means “place of beaver.” W.W. deLacy, in 1865 had the stream named Ska-ka-ke in the first Montana Territorial Legislature and Barbara Hammond stated in June 1951 that Skalkaho means “Game Trail.” Whatever the word means, it is God’s Country and hopefully will never be over populated. 

Early day trip over the west side of the Skalkaho grade
  

                                                              Skalkaho 
                       ( The Mountain Highway between Philipsburg and the Bitter Root Valley) 
                                         --------------------------------------------------------- 
On the Skalkaho where cool winds blow from a rugged mountain side, 
Where the “rocks and rills and templed hills” of America abide, 
Where the great outdoors with its charm outpours on the cars of all who pass, 
And the summit holds in its skyline folds deep snows ‘mid flowers and grass; 
Where blue lakes rest at the mountain’s crest to picture Heaven’s expanse, 
And the clouds that float, each a lazy boat, 
God’s sketching to enhance; 
Where the trails soar high and the startled eye looks below to depths that chill, 
 And a variant scene o’er a great ravine makes the heart with wonder fill; 
Where pathways swerve into clinging curve on the edge of a green clad wall, 
Where there springs to view just ahead of you a laughing waterfall--- 
There you’ll find the way to a sunny day, for you’re nearer the Great Big Blue, 
And your soul will sing as the woodlands ring in a place that’s full and true; 
There spirits rise to the sunny skies and man means more to man, 
For it’s a trail that leads to better deeds---
and a friendly caravan will bring great cheer to it’s neighbors dear, each hour in a western glow,
And there’ll move along like the lilt of a song, a world on the Skalkaho. 
May the “rocks and rills and templed hills” of America abide 
For e’er and aye like a peaceful day on that sunny mountain side! 
(author Barbara Ann Scharr, Helena Montana, published in the Philipsburg Mail December 19, 1924)

The Allendale Colony and the East Fork Dam

According to “The Flint Creek Valley, Montana”, (Ivy Hooper Blood Hill, July 1962):“Some time in the early 1900’s Nathan Allen, a fur trader, purchased four thousand acres of land in the heart of the lower valley. His home place was the Colonel Morse Ranch, including the Coberly Station. He gave it the name of the Allendale ranch. It was bounded on the east by the McPhail Ranch (William Enman’s), on the south by the Thayer ranch (Wayne Hill’s) and Henderson’s, it extended west to include McCracken’s, Job Miller’s, Magnussen’s, and Hans Kofed’s then north to include Rye Hill (Wayne Hill’s pasture), Bradshaw’s, Walter Olson’s, Bill Orhmann’s Seth Bradshaw and Floyd Harris’s, then east to include Art Bowles’ and George Lacey’s, to the point of beginning. It did not include William Manley’s or Lewis Hill’s ranches or the airport.” 

In 1912 Allen sold this entire tract of land to the National Savings and Trust Company of Utah. Then it was sold to Utah Savings and Trust Company. Next it became the property of the Allendale Land Company and was divided and sold to the Utah people in 1915 and 1916. In the last transaction the name of Francis J. Allen was the successor to Nathan R. Allen. 

Ivy states, John Hill read an advertisement saying three cows could be pastured per acre of land and he went to see the area, certain that no land was that fertile. He was convinced and purchased in August 1915 the 90 acres that became the George Lacey place, the 60 acres to the west, across the railroad, the Art Bowles place, the 40 acres east of it and fifty acres north of the airport. A month later John Hill shipped cattle from Idaho but the family stayed in Logan, Utah until May 1, 1916. 

Prior to Hill’s move three Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saint families had already located on the Allendale property. They were the Frank Ashby family, the Thomas Measom family of Spanish Fork, Utah and the Robert Hawley family from Monroe, Utah. During the winter of 1915-1916 John Hill acting as the real estate agent for the Allendale Land Company, sold most of the remaining land to families from Cache Valley, Utah, totaling about twenty-five more families joining in the community life named the Utah Colony. 

Following are these families: 
John E. and Ivy Blood Hill and children: Armin, George and Wayne 
Sam and Elizabeth Gunnell 
William and Isabelle Leishman and children: Eva and Claud 
Herb and Christina Leishman 
William Leishman and his family came later (father of Herb) 
Hyrum and Scerene Hall 
Louis and Luetta Hall 
Fred Parker and later his bride Edna Maughn 
James and Maggie Parker and their family 
Reuben and Hazel Karren and Ted, Earl and Vida 
Karren and Reeder James and Rhoda Thorpe and children: Ada, James, George & Beth 
Job and Elizabeth Miller and children: Ilene and Heber 
John and Nettie Stuart and children: Alvin, Ruby, Phyllis, Jack, Rosalie, and Nettie 
Charles and Elizabeth Bradshaw and children: Louise, Margaret, and Charles Seth Bradshaw 
Elmer and Marguerite Kerr 
Irving and Elva Glenn and Margaret Leishman 
Joseph and Agnes Mitton and children: Fern, Vera, Lavon, Harold and Reed 
Floyd and Pearl Bailey 
Luther and Martha Hill and children: Afton, Vera, Martin and William 
James and Olga Ainsworth and children: Vonda, Utahna, and Glenn 
Newell and Kermit Leishman 
Rulon Cooper 
Ronald Hansen 
Smith Parker 

A ditch completed on the west side of the valley in 1915 was called Allendale Irrigation Company. In 1917 they enlarged it to carry all available water to the lower valley but the irrigation amount was not sufficient to supply all the ranches. Ivy Hill stated a group, starting in 1935, including John E. Hill worked with the State Water Conservation Board to establish the plans for East Fork Dam and the distribution canals. 

An article in the October 4, 1935 Philipsburg Mail stated: “Messages received by representatives of the various organizations throughout the county [state] the Flint Creek Irrigation Project has been approved by President Roosevelt and an appropriation of $500,000 ($275.000 a loan; $225,000 a grant) has been made to carry on the work.” The projects total allotment was for construction of a dam and reservoir on the East Fork of Rock Creek with canals and laterals for flood control and irrigation. It would employ three hundred men and store 25,000 acre feet of water for supplemental supply. Those from Granite county associated with “furthering the cause of the Flint Creek Irrigation project are the Philipsburg Rotary club, The Granite County Stockgrowers Association, James McGowan, Senator John R. Page, Representative Everett Doe and George M. Mungas.” And thus was the success of the Allendale Colony.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Team and Wagon Deadly in the Night (The Sander's Family Ranches)

Ike Sanders, born in Wasa, Finland in 1867, moved to America after marrying Johanna. His brother John immigrated with them. Ike, John and another brother Herman worked on the original Sanders ranch on Georgetown Flats. These families were moved by Paul Fusz et al, when the Flint Creek dam was completed. In the family documents are quit claim deeds for the property in 1899 and then homestead claims for the same property in 1904. Apparently, they filed homestead claims on the property Fusz deeded to them to assure they had a clear title. 

Ike’s brother John, born in 1854 came to America and located in Grand Rapids, Michigan before he brought his family to America in 1893. Wife Johanna, children: Ella, Mathilda and Edward (12) made the trip on the cheapest passage: a cargo ship taking months to arrive in New York. After a short time in Michigan, John, moved first to mine at Superior, Montana and then Southern Cross Mine. John then staked a homestead on Georgetown Flats. Both John and Ike’s wives were named Johanna. The Rock Creek ranches were established with Ike’s ranch on the west side of the road and John’s on the east side. 

Their lives’ were happy until August 3, 1912 when John went to town for supplies and started home in his wagon with his brother Charles who lived in Tower and had agreed to come out and help put up hay. The wagon loaded heavy with sugar, flour, seed wheat and canned goods weighed about 1400 pounds. Traveling up Marshall Creek the night was very dark making it hard to see the road. They stopped and tied the team to a fence for a while, but grew impatient and decided to travel on. Starting down the west side of the grade the wagon wheel got off the rut and hit a large rock, throwing both men from their seats. The brothers got into a discussion about who should be driving the team. It was agreed that John owned the team so he should be in charge of them, but Charles refused to travel any farther in the dark, so he found a comfortable place to lay down and go to sleep. John proceeded on: “…the tracks made by the wagon showed that he got back into the road just where it crosses the spring. There is a little bridge made of poles over which he drove diagonally and got the near horse up on the bank of the grade on the left side. The left wheel followed and a few feet farther on the wagon was turned completely over into the middle of the road and Mr. Sanders was caught under it. The back of the seat caught him across the lower part of the abdomen and pinned him to the ground”. John was found by F.A. Taylor coming in from The Crescent Mine, Sunday morning [August 4]. Life was then extinct. He saw the horses still hitched to the overturned wagon, one of them lying on his back with the wagon tongue between it’s legs so it could not get up. Cutting the horse loose and away from the wagon, he attempted to get the dead man out from under it but could not, so hurried on to summon help. The first person he met was John Peterson’s eldest son [Mathilda Sanders was his mother] who hurried home and got his father and they hastened to the scene with Mr. Taylor going on to town to report the accident. Judge F.D. Sayrs (coroner), County Attorney D.M. Durfee, J.J. Carmichael and several others went to the scene. 

In the meantime, Prof. F.L. Houston (teacher at Spring Creek School) found the overturned wagon with the man underneath and as fast as his horse could run, rode back down to the Rupp/Greenheck ranch for help. They all arrived shortly after Peterson and his son. The wagon was righted and the dead man laid out. Charles was found asleep where he had left the wagon to camp and did not know his brother John had been killed only a short distance below where he had left him in the night. 

Survivors were: wife Johanna, son Edward, daughters: Mrs. John (Mathilda) Peterson of Marshall Creek and Mrs. Joseph (Ella) Conquist, of Michigan; brothers: Ike of Rock Creek, Herman, Charles and Alfred of Tower and one sister in Finland. 

Johanna Kvevlander Sanders born August 11, 1854 lived on the ranch until about 1918. She then sold her share of the ranch to Edward for fare to “the old country” and lived with a sister in Wassa, Finland where she died September 4, 1941 at the age of eighty-seven. 

When John died his son Edward took over the ranch on the east side of the road. He had married Ida Elizabeth Anderson Ernst on April 26, (1906?)1907. Ida brought two children to this marriage: Jennie and Charles whom Edward adopted and they then had: Arthur, Leonard, Walter and Esther Elizabeth who died age two months June of 1918. Mrs. Edward (Ida) Sanders died at her aunt’s (Mrs. Mary Carlson) home in Anaconda. The cause of death was a blot clot that occurred after a surgical procedure on November 16, 1939. Ida was fifty-eight years of age (December 12, 1889 in Finland). She had been married for thirty-three years and lived in Granite county for thirty years. Survivors were: husband Ed, five children; six grandchildren and her aunt Mrs. Carlson in Anaconda. 

Ed, born March 14, 1881, came to Montana at the age of eleven and died from a heart attack at his ranch home on May 18, 1952. Survivors were: sons: Leonard on the ranch, Walter of East Fork, Charles and Arthur of Anaconda; daughter, Mrs. William (Jennie) Mitchell of Anaconda and twelve grandchildren: Edith, Charlene, Robert and Elizabeth (children of Charles); June and John Thomas (Tom) (children of Leonard); Helen and Naomi (children of Walter); Dora and Mary Ann (children of Arthur) and Arcile Vicicich and Edward Toole (children of Jennie). Mrs. Philip Schneider and Mrs. Hans Scheiffle of Philipsburg were nieces. 

The Mail, June 4, 1937, stated “V.C. Hollingsworth, liquidating agent for the Banking department, presented a petition asking authority to sell certain real estate known as the Van Norman lands [George Van Norman homestead]. Ed Sanders was the highest and best bidder and the court authorized the sale of the lands to Mr. Sanders for $800.00, the buyer to assume the payment of delinquent taxes.” 

Son, Leonard married Florence Peck of Underwood, North Dakota on July 16, 1945 and they had a son and daughter: June and Thomas. Leonard died June 25, 1996 at the Anaconda Community Hospital after a short illness. He was born at the family ranch on Rock Creek August 21, 1914 and ranched his entire life. At his funeral, “Home on the range” and “Remember Me” were performed by Fay and Ed Howery on the fiddle and guitar and “The old Rugged Cross” and “Somewhere My Love” were performed by Edward and Hans Bohrnsen on accordion and guitar. Florence had preceded Leonard in death on October 26, 1968 in Philipsburg. 

Tom told me (2008) the only original building on the ranch is the main house built of lumber from a hotel in Granite. The lumber was hauled by wagon twenty some miles and added on to the one room cabin. That cabin is currently the kitchen. The barn was built in 1914 by Ed Sanders and Oscar Anderson (Ida’s Uncle).The family brands are Bar over KT and an X standing S. 

On the west side of the road, the ranch owned by Ike was ran by him until he retired from ranching in 1918 and moved to Philipsburg. His son Wilbur operated the ranch with Ike returning in 1928. He died at the ranch on May 17, 1930 after being in poor health for about a year. Survivors were his wife, son Wilbur, brother Herman of Philipsburg, sister, Mrs. Mary Knip in Finland and nephew Ed Sanders and family of Rock Creek and niece Mrs. Peter Olson of Philipsburg. Ike’s wife Johanna was born on March 16, 1869 in Finland and they were married before immigrating to Montana. After Ike died their son Wilbur helped her run the ranch. Named only as Mrs. Ike in her obituary Johanna died at her ranch home on May 23, 1939, after living in Granite County for fifty years. 

Wilbur Sanders married Goldie Nebecar and lived on Ike’s ranch with their sons Monte and Gene. Wilbur, born August 22, 1909 died on May 19, 1953 at the age of forty-two in the Granite County Hospital. His headstone mistakenly has his death date as 1952. 

Goldie and her parent’s (who changed their name to Marker) inherited Ike’s ranch. They sold it to Harold and Bob Kaiser. In 1955, Kaiser’s sold to Chuck Nicely from Anaconda. In 1998 Tom and Barbara Sander’s bought back the original Ike Sanders ranch. 

Tom and Barbara had a son Carl and daughter June. Carl and wife Kayla have Beklan age seven and Delaney one and a half which makes six generations now living on these ranches. 

June married Don Farwell. Now a widow June and children: Jennifer and Jess live in Washington. Jess married Julie and have daughters: Katie and Lily. 

Barbara lost a valiant battle with cancer May 31, 2019 leaving Tom and his son Carl and wife Kayla running the ranches.

Monday, May 20, 2019

God Made the Country, Man made the City and the Devil Made the Small Town

Drawing of Philipsburg by Granville Stuart on September 6,1867
Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections Harold B. Lee Library,Brigham Young Library, Provo, Utah


I just finished viewing the DVD “Saving The Burg” and was reminded of an earlier sociological interpretation of this same place. The DVD will always be viewed in a positive manner because it was meant to be. The earlier presentation done by Albert Blumenthal originally as a thesis in the 1920’s for his degree in Sociology and then published in 1932 as “Small Town Stuff” was never “loved” by the population because it created a great deal of discomfort. So much so that prominent “folks” spoken of in the book spent considerable time and money to try and buy up all the known copies in the state of Montana, hoping to keep their family secrets quiet. It looks like they were fairly successful because when I went looking for a copy I found only four in the United States and one of then was already sold when I tried ordering it. The one I bought cost me $129.00 and had come from the personal library of W. Allen, the long time president of Boeing. The other two were school library books and in very poor shape. 

Blumenthal changed all the names of the county, towns and people but for anyone living in the area it was not hard to realize that “Mineville” was Philipsburg; Gold was Butte and Smelter was Anaconda. Crystal was the name given to the ghost town of Granite and the county and Junction was the name for Drummond. 

This compilation of data was made possible because Albert was the youngest child of Emil Blumenthal, an Assayer at the Bi-Metallic Mill. Emil was engaged to Emma Augenstein prior to moving to the ‘Burg and married Emma on March 20, 1900. Their children were all natives of the ‘Burg and when Albert left to attend college (six years of under-graduate and graduate training), he was able to view this population with detachment and somewhat of an outsider. The result of his sociological methodology produced a “document typical in varying degrees of every small American community.” “This fund of concrete knowledge which everyone has of everyone else in the small town naturally emphasizes and accentuates the role of the personal in all relationships and activities of community life. Approval and disapproval of conduct, likes and dislikes of persons, play correspondingly a tremendous part in social life, in business, in politics and in the administration of justice.” 

“The dominance of ‘intimate face to face association’ in the small town naturally entails as one consequence the almost absolute surveillance and control of the individual by the community. In the small town is to be seen in its elementary aspects the very process by which personal interaction forms public opinion, which almost always enslaves and not infrequently destroys its creators.” “He who would indulge in pretense in Mineville must be very cautious lest he be wasting his time or making himself a target for scorn, ridicule or amusement. to be sure, a certain amount of bluffing can be done, since after all, persons have some privacy, even in Mineville. But this bluffing must not be of a sort that easily can be uncovered, for the people have little patience with pretenders. persons long in the community know that there is scant use for them to “put on front” of the more obvious sort such as wearing fine clothes or them purchasing of a costly automobile. 

Men without automobiles and who rarely “dress up” occupy positions of highest community esteem alongside of others who make every external appearance of prosperity and sophistication. And by a ferreting out process the people soon discover whether or not a newcomer “has anything to be stuck up about.” 

“One must be ‘common’ in Mineville. That is, while there are countless ways in which people are rated as ‘not as good as’ or ‘better than’ one another in social hierarchy, everyone is expected to be democratic. Those who appear to ‘think they are better than anyone else’ are not well liked and need not expect favors from their townsfolk such as election to public office.” 

I have chose to omit the intimate details of personal lives written about in the book, for a number of reasons. First, only the natives of advanced age would recognize who was being discussed. Second, some of the disclosures are less than kind. Third, in the era discussed by Blumenthal most residents of the county were blood relatives, in-laws, or “had been married to…” so you learned as a very young child to not disparage anyone for fear they were a “shirt tail” relative. 

In conclusion, Small towns can be “mean” but provide a safe environment to grow and bloom.

Luxury of Rural Mail Delivery on Rock Creek


In early years the residents of Rock Creek did not have mail delivery. Bearmouth to Coloma route was established in 1897. Rural mail route contracts for Granite County in 1901 were: “Drummond to Helmville to Ovando and back [Contract pay $1,229 per year]; Philipsburg to Granite and back [Contract pay $264.79 per year]; Princeton to Flint Railroad station and back [Contract pay $260.00 per year]; Bearmouth to Garnet to Coloma and back [Contract Pay $417.68]. Thomas Parks who homesteaded at the mouth of Trail Gulch petitioned and received the appointment as Postmaster for the Post Office of Wilma which existed from 1903 to 1905, allowing the people in the south western part of the county to receive their mail for at least a couple of years.

Lawrence Hauck, Postmaster of Philipsburg met with Congressman Dixon on September 24, 1904 to request a rural mail route for free delivery of mail “for the people of Rock Creek and Willow Creek in Granite County.” A petition was given to the Congressman with signatures from all the residents on the route. During the week of June 16, 1905, Mr. Fogerty (Postal Inspector) made a tour of the proposed mail route with James Hickey.

In August, 1905 bids were let to carry the mail from Philipsburg to Wilma, a distance of 18 miles. The term would be from September 19, 1905 to June 1906 and the time schedule would be: “Leave Wilma Tuesday and Saturday at 7 a.m. and arrive at Philipsburg at 12 noon. Leave Philipsburg Tuesday and Saturday at 1 p.m. and arrive at Wilma at 6 pm. A bond of 800 dollars will be required with each bid.”

There is no evidence a bid was let for this route but instead I found an advertised examination for a rural mail carrier for Rural Route No. 1 to be held on November 25, 1905, if at least three applications were received by November 15, with delivery beginning January 4, 1906. Because the description of the route was in section lines I will condense it to read: beginning at the P’Burg Post Office they will travel south 6 ½ miles, then west ½ mile to school house then southwesterly (over Mungas Hill and down Trail Gulch) to Wilma 6 ½ miles, then passing the Middle Fork School and over the Kaiser Hill and up Ross’ Fork to the Naef Place (Schillings Gulch), then retrace route to Middle and East Fork; then northwesterly to West Fork and Rock Creek then down Rock Creek to Willow Creek; down Rock Creek to Wyman Ranch and retrace route to Willow Creek to Luthje Ranch then retrace 2 miles and continue easterly over Marshall Creek Hill to P’Burg Post Office. Distance 59 ¾ miles;  number of houses 80; population 310. Schedule: Leave Post Office Mondays and Thursdays at 8a.m. arrive at Naef place Monday and Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. Leave Naef place Tuesdays and Fridays at 8a.m. arrive at Wyman’s place at 4 p.m. Tuesday and Friday afternoon; leave Wyman’s place Wednesday and Saturday morning at 8 a.m. arrive at Philipsburg Post Office Wednesday and Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Restrictions listed to apply for the test: not being able to do the work, such as persons with only one arm or one leg or who have crutches; wages paid each month totaling $720.00 a year. Families desiring mail service must supply a mail box. The cost of the approved boxes  ranged from 75 cents to $4.00. John H. Ley was named carrier with Henry Dissett as alternate, in January. Obviously Mr. Ley did not pan out as the January 11, 1906 Mail stated “January 12th the Rock Creek Mail Route will start with Millard L. Bashor as carrier.
            
            December 1, 1910 there was a vacancy on the Rock Creek Rural route with new wages starting at $900 a year. By January 1911 “Rural mail carrier Farrington turned back this morning at the lane beyond Schoonover’s being that the snow was too deep after high winds Wednesday made drifts as high as the fence. 

Then    Then by April “W. N. Fessler has been appointed temporary rural carrier on the Rock Creek route. Ward Carothers resigned to go on his father’s farm in Idaho.” W.N. (Wilbur) then became the permanent mail carrier. In 1916: “Mrs. W.N. Fessler is serving as substitute rural mail carrier” while her husband was on vacation in Spokane. “Mrs. Fessler reports very high water… with the roads  impassable below the Gillies bridge and the West Fork bridge has gone out. Yet this plucky little woman hasn’t missed a trip making the lower Rock Creek route one day and the upper route the next.”  

            Wilbur Fessler and his wife were the mail carriers until the route was cancelled in 1917, when “The Rock Creek rural mail route appears to be a thing of the past according to a letter received by Postmaster Clara D. McDonel. Legislative action limits rural routes served with horse drawn vehicles to 25 miles. Relief is expected by amending the postal laws and the rural delivery to Rock Creek can be re-established..

I did not find any follow-up to this story. Obviously the country was so pre-occupied with World War I that a minor issue such as ranchers not having any mail delivery was a moot point.


Wyman: Sawmills, Horse Thief's and Lions

According to Alphonso Wyman’s obituary, he arrived in Philipsburg in 1879. One of the first newspaper articles found regarding the Wyman family was in the September 22, 1887, Citizen Call: “A. Wyman arrived from a visit to Whitefield ,Maine, where he has been since April. He has brought wife and family home with him. His sawmill ran steadily during his absence and he will now take charge.” Obviously, Alphonso lived in Granite County for eight years before going back to Maine and moving his family here. 

he next reference I found was in the Philipsburg Mail, May 17, 1888: “The sawmill man, A. Wyman, is erecting a handsome dwelling just beyond James Vallely’s residence. The building is frame but very large and roomy.” This home was located in Parkerville and the family resided there during the winter for a number of years and Alphonso and Lizzie spent their later years in this home. 

Alphonso(1841) and wife Elizabeth (Lizzie) (1844) were married in 1863 and brought to Montana their children: Henry Sylvester ( 1869- 1952), Forrest Alphonso ( 1871-1960), Cyrus King (1867-1920) and two of their three daughters: Edna Etta (Hunt) (1876-1977), and Hanna (Annie) Carleton (Boyd) (1874-1907). Daughter Hattie Jane (Moody) (1865-1930) did not come with the family in 1887). 

During his lifetime, Alphonso operated sawmills in numerous locations: Rock Creek, Flint Creek, Willow Creek (1891), Wyman Gulch and Boulder Gulch (July, 1891). According to his obituary, Alphonso, furnished all the lumber in 1888 for the Methodist Church to be built. He hauled the lumber to Philipsburg by ox teams. Alphonso also had a sub-contract when John A. Spencer, was awarded a contract for 15,000 ties for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The article in the Mail January 22, 1898 stated “Wyman …will start up his mill on Willow Creek on the job.” 

I also found a court case of J.W. Morse versus A. Wyman with judgment for the plaintiff ordered on August 8, 1894 in the Citizen Call and Mail. Alphonso won a law suit in a jury trial, brought by D. Charest in 1893 and finally settled May 24, 1894. 

I am not certain, the exact date the family began their life on Rock Creek, but prior to him applying and being rejected on a homestead entry for 160 acres in Sec. 12, Township 5 N. Range 15 W. in 1911 on Mungas Hill. As the Wyman’s saw the need for more land for their cattle and homes for the marrying children, they bought up neighboring properties creating ranches on both Upper Rock Creek and Rock Creek Road. 

When their sons Henry and Forest grew up they married the Wanamaker sisters Grace and Maggie. The Wanamaker girls, born in Suffern, New York, came with their parents to Montana in the early 1890’s. Henry and Grace were married in “One of the most noteable events that have transpired in Parkerville society of late.” on December 22, 1898. 

Originally both Forrest and Henry took up ranching on Rock Creek. Henry’s address in 1912 was “Unsurveyed “ land on T. 7, N. R 16 W. and Sec. 3, T.6, R 15 with 3,006 acres and more than 100 cattle in the 1954 Ranch Directory. 

When Forrest’s wife, Maggie died in 1914, he was left with three children: Clyde, Eva and Nina. (Clyde married Lavina Hess in 1920). Forrest married Augusta Ballard Potts (1917) and had moved to California by the time Alphonso died. This left Henry and Grace with their son Harold running the ranches. 

Elizabeth died at her home in Parkerville of pneumonia January 27, 1901 after being in delicate health for several years. She was an active member of the Pearl Chapter of Eastern Star. Alphonso died at Henry‘s Ranch home on Rock Creek at the age of eighty-four in 1925. He had attended the execution of the horse thief that shot and killed his son Cyrus in 1920 (See below) and was an active member of The Flint Creek Chapter of the Masonic Order. Although Henry lost a hand after a hunting accident as a youngster he was always busy, such as being elected as Road Supervisor of Lower Rock Creek District 12 in April 1900. Also, Henry was awarded the contract for hauling the machinery to build the Stony Stamp Mill for the Crescent Mining Company in 1909. The news article stated the ore on Stony was assaying at $14 per ton. 

 After retiring, Grace arranged for Henry to celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday: “in their new home in Philipsburg.”(1944). Henry was eighty three when he died in 1952 at GCMC. Grace died at the hospital after a short illness in 1968 and was buried beside her family in the Philipsburg cemetery. 

Cyrus Wyman, referred to as C.K. was deputized frequently for incidences that occurred on Rock Creek. He ran for Constable of Philipsburg Township in November 1900 and won serving one term. 

November, 24, 1904, Cyrus was involved in the Brady shooting. The newspaper article stated that Frank Brady “the noted outlaw” was killed on lower Rock Creek while resisting arrest. “News of the tragedy reached here yesterday afternoon when Special Deputy Sheriff C.K. Wyman, telephoning from Bonita informed County Attorney D.M. Durfee that Frank Brady was dead and asked what disposition should be made of the body.” Brady had been a fugitive from justice for some time. He was wanted for horse stealing and other offences. “Last winter he was arrested in Anaconda for killing beaver, having twenty beaver skins in his possession.” In a hearing before Judge Connolly, he was bound over to the District Court, with a $500 Bond. Out on bond, he was arrested again for stealing a horse of David Deejardin. Again released on bail of $100. When the case was called for preliminary hearing, Brady failed to appear and forfeited his bond. 

 It was believed Brady had left the country and gone to Idaho. Shortly thereafter, it was learned Brady was on lower Rock Creek. He visited at the camps of different miners and prospectors, but always managed to elude the officers. Brady became more bold as time passed and was frequently seen and heard from. “Special Deputy Sheriff Cyrus K. Wyman and Harry Morgan, the well known hunter, had been after him for some time. They finally located his camp on lower Rock Creek, some five or six miles above Quigley, and set out to capture their man. Brady, it is said, was in Bonita yesterday morning and was told that the officers were after him. His reply was that they would never take him.” He then went right up Rock Creek, and shortly after noon the officers came down to Bonita with the news of his death. “When commanded to throw up his hands Brady pulled his gun and commenced to shoot, but both officers were ready for him. 

He was known to be a good shot and the officers could not afford to take any chances.” “Brady was not a bad fellow. He was not without his good qualities and he had a good many friends, but he was daring and reckless and always in trouble. He was setting a bad example for the younger men, some who looked up to him as a hero and a brave bad man. His death, while deplorable, may have a wholesome influence over others with leanings in the direction he was going.” 

The December 1, 1904 inquest returned a jury verdict “that Brady resisted arrest and Harry Morgan and C.K. Wyman were justified in firing upon and killing him.” Brady was hit with two bullets, one from each lawman. 

Next, Frank’s brother Thomas filed a complaint and warrants were issued for both officers charging them with murder. Both “were released on their own recognizance and in view of the verdict of the coroner’s jury it is not probable that any further proceedings will be had in the matter other than to dismiss the action filed against them” (December 2, 1904 Mail). 

The April 21, 1905 Mail stated: “Constable C.K. Wyman and James Schoonover, detective for the Flint Creek Stock Association, returned Monday from a trip through the mountains at the head of Harvey Creek. The two men had made a very difficult trip by horseback into the Gilbert Gulch area and found about eighty-five head of horses they believed were stashed there by Frank Brady. Apparently, Brady would round up horses until he had a herd large enough to drive to Canada and sell his stolen property. It was rumored that he had done this as recent as the previous July.” 

The snow was so deep that they left the horses there and planned to return in June. Next, Thomas Brady and Clyde Lee were arraigned in June, 1905 and charged with horse stealing. neither could meet the $1,000 bond so were held in the Granite County Jail. Apparently, Brady and Lee had ridden to lower Rock Creek to round up Frank horses when they were discovered with a horse having the Metcalf brand. The case did not go to court until March of 1906. After deliberating for seven hours the jury returned a not guilty verdict.

Cyrus and others in 1906


 Cyrus became a Forest Ranger in 1906 around Philipsburg. He was transferred as the Supervisor of the Big Hole National Forest working out of the Dillon office in 1907. Next Cyrus was elected Sheriff of Beaverhead County in 1916 and  in 1920 became was at the other end of a barrel from a horse thief. "He was shot twice: through the abdomen and the lungs, dying within an hour of receiving the wounds.According to reports,,,upon his arrival in Monida (to arrest the horsethief) the sheriff found the man and placed him under arrest. The outlaw made no protest and asked for permission to get his coat which was in a abin a short distance from where the arrest was made. Wyman accompanied the man to the building and as they rounded the corner the outlaw whirled with a gun in each hand and shot the sheriff who was following a short distance behind" (Philipsburg Mail, April 23, 1920). 

Cyrus was survived by a wife and daughter Thelma.

Henry and Grace had one son Harold H., born January 4, 1900 at Parkerville. As Harold grew up he became very involved in the Wyman ranches and spent a lot of time hunting as reported in the following new article January 13, 1922: “With only his thorobred [sic] dogs for companions, Harold Wyman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wyman of lower Rock Creek, went out hunting on Christmas day and was successful in killing one of the largest lions killed on Rock Creek this year, according to Mrs. Josephine Parfitt, who was in from the Walberg ranch in the early part of the week. Starting out on Christmas day with his dogs, Mr. Wyman ran across the tracks of the mountain lion a short distance from his home. After trailing the animal all day the dogs succeeded in getting it up a tree before dark, and by the time Mr. Wyman got to the location it was so dark he could not distinguish the animal clearly, but could make out its outline faintly against the starlit sky. The young hunter fired a shot and the animal fell from the tree in which it was crouching and rolled down the hillside into some thick brush. Harold followed down the side-hill and lighted matches to see where the animal had gone, and found it dead in a thick clump of brush. Last Monday he again went hunting in the mountains near his home and was successful in killing a lynx.”

He graduated with a diploma from the L.L. Cook School of Electricity in Chicago in 1926. Harold married Matilda Richards, from Hall whom he met while she was teaching at the Rock Creek School. The story goes that he went to the teacherage to ask Martha Murray for a date, but Joe Gillies got there and asked first. As he stood feeling remorseful Matilda who was living in the teacherage with Martha told the forlorn gentleman “well it isn’t all that bad” and thus began their courtship.

Matilda was one of the children educated at the Cow Creek School (previously discussed) and graduated from Granite County High School in 1923. She always spoke in a slow drawl. They were married June 20, 1928 at Ravalli, Montana. He and Matilda operated the Wyman ranch alone after Henry and Grace moved to town in 1943.

Harold and Matilda circa 1928
                                               

In May of 1960 Harold received a plaque from the Anaconda Sportsmen’s association for his dedication to wildlife preservation. After numerous hospitalizations and at least one major surgery, Harold died at St’ Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula from cancer in 1961 ( Social Security has his death date as February and Ancestry has his death date as September). Funeral services were held at the Wilson Funeral Home with Reverend Howard Huff of the First Methodist Church of Anaconda officiating. Pallbearers were: Howard Naef, Stuart Markle (Game Warden), William Ball, Vern Gormley, Fred Bowen and Joe Gillies. Survivors were wife Matilda and mother Grace, plus numerous in-laws from the Richards family and two aunts: Mrs. Edith (Wanamaker) Storer of Philipsburg and Mrs. Edna (Wyman) Hunt of California.

 Matilda died February 19, 1991 and is buried next to Harold in the Philipsburg Cemetery. There are two Wyman Gulches: one north east of Philipsburg and one on the west side of Rock Creek on the original Wyman ranch. A lot of research has failed to reveal who the Wyman Gulch near Philipsburg was named after, but it is my belief that the very first sawmill of Alphonso Wyman was located at the mouth of that Wyman Gulch.

Because many transactions have occurred with the property since Harold’s time I am not going to attempt to discuss the present history.

Trading Sapphires for Cattle



Raymond Rau, Henry Bohrnsen and Ruth Erickson Rau Bohrnsen on their wedding day


When banks began going broke in 1929 Henry Bohrnsen had about $7,000.00 in the Kroger bank. Because the bank had so many ranches they were foreclosing on, the bank traded Henry a ranch on Willow Creek for the money he had on deposit. To accomplish this deal, Henry had to buy the adjoining piece of property, to the north of the ranch, which cost him another $1,000.00. This was a lot of money at that time, yet very cheap acreage at less than $1.00 an acre. 

In the Montana Historical Society Files are the details of letters between the St. Louis Office and Joe Yob demonstrating that finances were becoming an issue in 1929 and 1930. “April 8, 1930-Wrote to Henry Bohrnsen last week and sending you a copy. We are increasing the board at Sapphire 25 cents a day. And in line with decreased wages in Philipsburg you can decrease the wages at Sapphire 25 cents a day. If you think advisable decrease wages 50 cents a day at Sapphire. Our Boarding House ran behind $900.00 last year and the income from operations showed a very small profit….I think you had better get Henry in and talk to him about them.” The reply April 14, 1930: “Henry was in today and is opposed to the cut in wages. 

On October 24, 1930 receipts showed General Electric had kept only 817 ounces of the total 2449 ounces of class “C” stones shipped to them. Rejected stones continued with almost every home in the county possessing at least one wooden keg of rejects. We used the kegs for weight in our vehicle and poured out the sapphires for traction whenever the vehicle got stuck. 

Seeing the writing on the wall, Henry Bohrnsen gave his notice of resignation to Mitchell, in 1936 and Mitchell hired Charles Carpp Jr. as foreman for the placer. American Gem was already in the process of convincing Carrp and Walter Kaiser to buy the placer. August Erickson’s Diary stated on October 29, 1937 “The (Sapphire) mines have been leased to Charley Carrp. 

Henry born in Germany to Hans and Mary Bok (Bock) Bohrnsen October 12, 1879, came to Montana at the age of twenty-three and began work shortly there-after at the Sapphire Mine. The parents, remained in Germany but all of the siblings (Clause, Magdalena (Lena Hollings), Margaretha (Luthje), Hans, John, Catherine (Mundt), Egert (Edward), Jurgen (George), Elsie, Bill, and Marie (Froehlich), immigrated to America. 

Henry’s wife, Ruth Erickson, born August 30, 1895 in Ashland, Washington arrived in Granite County with her parents Charles and Marie Erickson when she was one years of age. Her siblings were: Selma, Rodney, August, Anna, Signe and Victor. 

Time books in the Possession of Edward Bohrnsen (2008) showed Ruth continued to cook for American Gem Mining Syndicate employees through out the time Henry was foreman, taking time off only when she was recuperating from child birth with Edward in 1926 and Norman in 1927. I do not have any records for 1932 when John was born. But the event was documented in a letter from Leigh Wyman the secretary at St. Louis to J.C. Yob on November 7, 1932 “Dear Joe: Your payroll and other papers came in this morning with your message from the stork. I didn’t know he was headed for Sapphire this fall. That makes three huskies for Henry doesn’t it?” 

Raymond Rau, suffered a serious injury in 1934. The boys, (Raymond, Edward and Norman) were in the “jig” house hunting for rats. Raymond hit the butt of his gun on the floor to scare out the rodents. The gun discharged and the bullet struck Raymond above the eye with parts lodging in his brain. When discharged from the Butte hospital Raymond was able to use his left hand and arm, with little movement in his left leg. With his mothers constant care he recovered well. 

Henry took over full time ranching when he left the Sapphire mines. The Sapphire Ledger year 1934 included fifty doses of Blackleg Aggressin which Edward (2008) believed were given to the calves his father bought and took to Willow Creek about that time. Edward remembered the boys driving the cattle from the Sapphire Ranch through the old Amerine ranch around the back of the West Fork Buttes and down Brown Gulch to Rock Creek and then on to Willow Creek. These cattle had the brand of PF believed to be owned by Paul Fusz, but there is no record of it ever being recorded. Proving himself a successful rancher, 

Henry was able to provide a good home for his wife, three sons and step son. He died from cancer at the ranch February 21, 1960 at the age of eighty.

Henry Bohrnsen instilled strong values and work ethic in his boys while teaching them the business of ranching. Edward took over the ranch management when Henry became ill. He married Shirlee Moran the daughter of Mrs. Abbey (Dorothy) Owens on October 14, 1961 in St. Philip’s Church in Philipsburg. After the wedding they lived on the original Wilbur Sanders ranch (known as the Nicely Ranch) and now owned by Carl Sander’s. Edward commuted from upper Rock Creek to run the Willow Creek ranch.

Their sons, Hans and Eric were born while they lived on Rock Creek. Eric, born prematurely died October 29, 1963. Shirley died on February 11, 1964. Edward and Hans then moved back to Willow Creek so Ruth could assist in the toddlers care. Ruth died on March 27, 1974 at the ranch and is buried next to Henry.

Edward shared with me more than once, how as a boy he watched in awe as my Dad and Uncle (Harry and Walt) broke the horses in the spring at the Sapphire ranch. He was determined to be able to ride “like those guys did” when they climbed on a bucking bronc and rode it until the animal was trotting around the corral. He learned the art and he was still riding his “ really good horse” when she became tangled in wire and fell over backwards with him, at the age of eighty two, leaving some major bruises! Edward managed the Willow Creek ranch until his death at eighty four, October 27, 2010. To honor his brother, Norman rode Edward’s horse from the funeral service at the Gymnasium to the cemetery when he was laid to rest.
Edward Bohrnsen in the 1940's


Edward’s son, Hans and wife Carol (Petersen) built a home south of the original ranch house. Educated as surveyor, Hans took over management of the ranch after his Dad died. Carol, originally deputy clerk, has been elected as Granite County Clerk of Court since 2008. They have two daughters: Jacquelyn (Walter) and Stephanie (Gates), who both live in Granite County and a son Eric in college. They are also blessed with three (soon to be four) grandbabies.

Norman Bohrnsen in the 1940's


Norman married Coreene (Crook), daughter of Mrs. Henry Lee Crook of Jackson, Mississippi, June 3, 1949 in the First Christian Church at Jackson. They bought the William (Bill) Werning Ranch on upper Rock Creek in 1949 and with hard work built a lovely ranch, including a cattle herd to be very proud of. Coreene died at the Ranch on February 10, 2011 with Norman and daughter Martha at her bedside. Her ashes sit in a beautiful carved wooden urn waiting for Norman to join her.

Norman continues active ranching with help from his daughter Martha (Brandon) at the ripe age of ninety one. Martha’s daughter Heather (Holloway) and her husband Dana presented Pa with a great-grandson (Drayson) and Martha’s son Eric works on the ranch during calving and hay season. 

Norman and Coreene’s son Geoff and wife Elizabeth “Lisa“ (Fleming), built a home near the main ranch house. Their son Kyle, Private First Class, was killed in Baghdad, Iraq, by an IED April 2007. After a full Military Honor service, inurnment was at the Veteran’s Cemetery, at Fort Harrison, Montana. On July 2, 2007, the bridge over Rock Creek, referred to as the Gillies bridge was designated with full military honors as the PFC Kyle Bohrnsen Memorial Bridge. Their daughter, Danielle joined the Montana National Guard and served in Dubai and Afghanistan before becoming a Dental Technician. She now lives in Alaska.

The youngest Bohrnsen son John did not choose ranching as his career. He married Judith Pearson, daughter of Alice (Howard) and John Pearson of Philipsburg and worked as a logger. John and Judy had five children: Heidi (Annau) (1959-2018), Nicole (Hardin), Dan, Mark and Chris. John died in Great Falls, August 20, 1999 and is buried in the Philipsburg family plot. Judy retired from the local Forest Service office and lead an active life involved with the Republican Party and Granite County Cultural Center and Museum. Judy died from ALS on April 30, 2011 in Great Falls where she had moved to be close to her daughters.

Ruth’s first son, Robert Raymond Rau (May 4, 1919 - December 7, 2007), attended Business School in Spokane. He worked for the Boeing Company for twenty years then became a court clerk for King County Superior Court in Seattle. Ray and wife Mae had a son, Kenyon. Mae died in 1981. Raymond rests in peace in Waterville, Washington. He had moved there to be closer to Kenny, his wife Linda and grandchildren Jocelyn and Jeffrey.

Ranching is a really hard business and as I have heard from both Bohrnsen boys “You can support one family if you manage well but never two households”; “Always lots to get out of bed for.” “A really good year.” “So proud of this good bunch of cows.” God truly blessed the Bohrnsen Rancher.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Placer Post Office and The Gillies Ranch on Rock Creek

Names on the Face of Montana states “Placer (Granite County) was a post office 1896-1898 with James A. Gillies as postmaster. Near Philipsburg, placer mining no doubt gave it it’s name.” A large population of miners were living on West Fork, Stony Creek and Basin Gulch during this period. The location was on Upper Rock Creek at the Gillies (Gillis)/ Province ranch. 

The story goes that the original land was bought by James Albert Gillies and Frank “Rock” Province from the Northern Pacific Railroad who was in bankruptcy and sent out salesmen to sell the railroad sections for $50.00 a piece. With this land they operated a dairy and raised stock. Rock’s job was to tend to the “manufacture of dairy products. He was a master hand and his butter and cheese were known to many of the housekeepers of western Montana” stated his obituary. Frank “Rock” Province, also known as Shorty was born in Italy about seventy-one years before his death on February 22, 1931. 

The Gillies Ranch was the third place to be settled on Rock Creek, in the mid 1880’s. It is known they were there when the Cornish Gulch fire burned in 1888 and the big ranch house was built in 1893. Mail articles reveal that the County Commissioners on June 6, 1895 audited and approved: J.A. Gillis work on Rock Creek Bridge $20.00 June 18th. Also, J.A. Gillis, of District No.12 was paid $5.00 for one man and a team and $3.00 for one man by the Granite County Commissioners for road bills (May 21, 1897). In the September 1898 election, Precinct Number Five voted at the Gillies house with James Gillies acting as election judge. 

In articles listing persons that paid more than $100.00 in taxes for the year: 1904 is Gillies and Province $158.06; 1912 is listed Gillies and Province $262.27; and Gillies, J.A. & F. Province for 1927 were $449.36. 

The wedding date of James and Annie Walters McCale is unknown but prior to December 3, 1899 when “Mrs. James Gillies visited her sister, Mrs. Simpson in Parkerville (Philipsburg Mail). Annie E. Walters, born in Pennsylvania in 1864, came with her parents to their homestead at Sluice Gulch, when she was very young. Before Annie married James A. Gillies she was married to William McCale and had three children: Ida, Mary (Midge) and George. To the union of James and Annie was born Joseph April 2,1903. 

The Pullar brothers caught the measles in 1911 and Annie, being a good neighbor went to their house to care for them. She caught the measles and then a cold. Annie died from the complications on May 6, 1911, at the age of forty-seven years and left eight year old Joseph motherless in a house full of men. 

The location of the ranch has always made it a geographical site, such as: “The Gillies Bridge”; “The stop over for the Rural Mail Carrier two nights a week”; “The location of the Forest Service Emergency Telephone; and often the only telephone on Rock Creek. 

                                                               Frank "Rock" Province
                                               J.N Gillies (Father), J.A. Gillies and Robert "Bert" Gillies

James Albert, born in Australia September 7, 1861 moved to Canada at the age of seven and at seventeen came to America (1878). First settling in Butte and then Philipsburg, he engaged in the teaming business, before buying the ranch. James died on March 15, 1930 at the Northern Pacific Hospital in Missoula. His brother, Robert “Bert” Gillies born in Canada in 1871 also died in 1930. He was a lifelong bachelor. It is known that he studied music at McGill University in Montreal. 

The headlines of the September 26, 1930 Mail are “Rock Creek Rancher Meets Tragic Death” Joe Gillies went searching for his uncle Bert when he failed to come to breakfast on September 22 and a shotgun was missing from its usual place. Joe found Bert about 100 yards from the house in a barn. Sheriff Gus McDonald was immediately notified and a coroners jury empanelled. Their investigation revealed: “A note was found near the body written upon the back of an envelope which read as follows: Shot myself, after skunk, I am in awful pain, Going to put myself out.” Apparently Mr. Gillies while hunting for a marauding skunk during the night met with a serious accident. Returning to his sleeping quarters and frenzied by pain he wrote the note and decided to take care of his misery. Bert was fifty-nine years of age and had lived in the Rock creek area for thirty-four years (1896). Joe told his son Bob that Bert’s dog was guarding his master when Joe found him and they had difficulty getting the dog to let anyone near the body 

Reminding everyone how strong our ancestors were, the Mail stated: “After Annie’s funeral Mr. James Gillies with his eight year old son, mounted his horse and returned to the ranch.” There must have been some type of estate left for Joseph when Annie died as the March 1, 1918 Mail on the March Court Calendar lists “Estate of Joseph Gillies, minor, … annual account. 

Young Joe was not the only youngster on the ranch. His Mom’s older daughter, Ida had traveled to Grand Forks, Canada where the Joseph Gillis family lived. (The Family name is spelled Gillis in Canada and Gillies in the U.S.) She planned to attend school there but instead fell in love with Mr. T.R. McKinley and married him on October 24, 1899. Mr. McKinley was the step son of Joseph Gillis and Ida was the step daughter of James A. Gillies. From this short lived marriage a son Robert was born in 1901. After this marriage failed Ida resumed the name of McCale until she married Jack (John) Guinnane January 18, 1905. After her new marriage Robert spent most of his time with Grandma Annie and remained at the ranch after her death. 

The following story confuses Robert (Bob) with young Joe: “Master Robert Gillies of Rock Creek was the hero in a runaway Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Gillies left his team standing in front of a store while he went inside on business and Master Robert was left in the sleigh holding the lines. Something frightened the horses and they ran away. The young man was not strong enough to stop them but he managed to keep them in the road until they tired of running and were ready to slow down. Then on the flat west of the depot he turned them around and drove back to town. The team crossed the railroad tracks only a short distance in front of the afternoon train which was just pulling into the yards. No harm was done.” Robert McKinley would have been about twelve and Joe almost ten at this time. 

Another priority issue causing the ranchers a great deal of financial stress was the wolf population, killing off or “hamstringing” their stock. According to the Granite County Clerk and recorder’s office, Albert Rupp et al, bought, in 1905, the appointment of bounty inspector for the Willow and Rock Creek area of Granite County. By 1912 Gillies, Rupp & Greenheck, Rodda and Province were all suffering huge losses to the wolf packs. In the Mail December 27, 1912 an article stated that: George Metcalf, Rupp & Greenheck, John Rodda, Gillies and Province set up a fund to pay a $75.00 reward “for each wolf killed during the next 30 days in the district south of Maxville embracing upper Willow Creek, Rock Creek, Trout Creek and upper Flint Creek.” In addition to the $75.00 bounty individuals killing wolves would also receive the bounty from the state of Montana. No small sum of money during that day and age. 

Young Joseph grew up to take over the Gillies ranch and met a young school teacher who came to teach at the Spring Creek School. Martha Murray, born November 28, 1905 in Missouri lost her mother at the time of birth. Her father was left with a motherless home so the grandparents raised Martha until she was five years old. By that time her father had remarried and in 1909 he moved the family to the Flathead Valley where eighty acres of land plots from the Indian reservation were available for veterans. Martha recounted to her children how they stayed overnight in Kalispell and then crossed the Flathead Lake on the “Klondike” and claimed their land at Round Butte. Joe and Martha were married at her parents home at Round Butte on February 15, 1927. To this marriage was born three sons: Jack in 1929, James in 1930 and Robert in 1934. Jack died as an infant and is buried in Ronan, Montana. 

                                                      Joe and Martha Murray Gillies circa 1927

Joe and Martha took over running the ranch after James, Bert and Frank died in 1930 and 1931. Life on Rock Creek was never easy, even after the automobile, because the rutted roads were either knee deep in mud or snow. If you could make it to town once a month it was a really big deal and stated in news articles along with Gillies Ranch temperatures. 

 Joe and Martha moved into Philipsburg in 1958 due to Joe being ill. When he recovered he worked on the East Fork Irrigation Project and then drove school bus for several years. Joe died January 27, 1987 and Martha joined him April 9, 1995 and is buried next to Joe in the Philipsburg Cemetery. 

Hard working ranchers enjoyed picnic’s, fish fries and dancing. Early on these were held at the Gillies ranch and Rock Creek School. Later, Uncle Tom built the dance hall and picnic grounds at the West Fork Bridge. One of my best memories was when the Gillies or Bohrnsen boys graciously asked this much younger girl to dance. To overcome the height difference they would let me stand on their well polished dress boots as we whirled around the floor. T

The Gillies sons, Jim and Robert, attended Rock Creek school for their primary grades and then as all the rural children did at that time, Jim boarded in Philipsburg to attend Granite County High School. When the rural schools closed in 1948 Bob began riding the school bus to High School in Philipsburg. At first, Bob had to find a way to the West Fork Bridge. Then the School District recognized they had to provide better service to the ranchers and began bringing the school bus over Marshall Creek Hill and making a loop up Rock Creek to the Skalkaho Highway over Mungas Hill to Highway 1 (Hwy 10 at that time) and on into Philipsburg. 

This route was driven by Forrest “Buster” Merrifield and he watched over us with eagle eyes in the rear view mirror. Bob, Joe Haggard, Wesley Sutherland and I were given assigned seats so we could not sit together and tell “Dirty” jokes. The school bus was a reliable service, but Buster refused to drive it when the temperatures reached forty below. He arrived on time at thirty-nine below but not forty. Often there was a three foot drift at the mouth of Trail Gulch and he would ram through it after having to back up a few times, but we never doubted he would get us to our destination. 

At that time in history the young men were drafted after they finished High School. Jim worked for a couple of years on ranches and doing construction work until he performed his Civic Duty in 1950. When Jim returned from his military tour of duty he was so very handsome in his uniform. He worked as a combat engineer rebuilding Germany and when he returned used those road building skills to work on the Marshall Creek Road, Trail Gulch and Kings Hill. 

Jim met Lorraine Grimes while she was working summers at The Sweet Palace in Philipsburg and attending Carroll College in Helena. I clearly remember the two gliding across the gymnasium floor at the Junior Prom when I was in the eighth grade. At that time everyone with a date or spouse attended the school dances. 

                                         Lorraine Grimes and James Gillies on their wedding day

They were married June 16, 1956 and Jim began work at the Scratch-All Mine. In 1958 he moved Lorraine and Karen on to the ranch in a modern home built south of the original ranch house. Jim and Lorraine had three daughters: Karen in 1957; Kathy in 1959; and Maria in 1962. The original ranch house was demolished in 1977 and a new house built at that site in 1986. Daughter Karen and son-in-law Sam Peterson moved into the new ranch house to assist Jim. They have a daughter Jenelle. Karen and Sam worked hard to continue the ranch productivity.

Jim and Lorraine’s daughter Maria married Jamie Conn and they live in Hall. They have two children: Danny and David. Danny and his wife Kiara have two sons: Riley and Dillon. Their youngest son David has recently moved to Missoula and is enjoying his independence. 

Bob suffered all of his childhood with severe atopic allergies exacerbated by allergens on a ranch. After graduating high school in 1952, he worked at logging; the Taylor and Knapp Mill with Vince and Stub Fessler; the Mill in Stumptown for Jess Evans; then in 1968 began hauling chips at the Mill in Bonner until he retired with his wife Alice at Mill Town. They bought property up Willow Creek east of the old Mungas ranch as a second home after selling the acreage he received on Willow Creek when Martha died (Bob, 2008). Alice continues to live in Mill Town and Bob is in a Memory Care Facility in East Missoula suffering from the late stages of Altzheimer’s. 

Jim worked from daylight and into the dark, twenty-four seven to keep the ranch producing and provide a living for his family with outside jobs and running a sawmill on the property in the 1960's. Lorraine died October 20, 2012 in a Care Facility in Anaconda and is buried in the Philipsburg cemetery. 

Jim proudly watched while the fifth and sixth generations of his family assumed the ranch responsibilities. Daughter Kathy (Kulaski) Graybeal had two children: Paul and Billie Ann. Kathy currently lives with Jim. Her son Paul Kulaski, wife Genevieve and children Sophia, James and Wyatt have taken over the major ranching duties. They built a nice modern house in 2016, just south of Jim and Lorraine’s home.

Jim died peacefully at the ranch on May 20, 2019 at the age of 88 years 8 months and 25 days. He was buried at the Philipsburg Cemetery on May 29, 2019. Jim was survived by brother Bob and his wife Alice (Milltown); Daughters: Kathy Graybeal, Karen Peterson and her husband Sam; Maria Conn and her husband Jamie (Hall); Grandchildren: Jenelle Peterson, Paul and his wife Genevieve Kulaski, Billie Ann Kulaski, Dan and his wife Kira Conn and David Conn; Great grandchildren: Sophia, James and Wyatt Kulaski; Titus Kulaski; Riley and Dillon Conn. 

The area of Granite County has been able to survive the economic ups and downs related to mining because the hard working ranchers keep a stable basis for taxation. Their hard working contribution needs to be recognized.