Jim & Nellie McPherson
Trails – With James T. and Nellie Irene Kingsley McPherson
As told by Nellie McPherson in 1993
Jim McPherson Family Background
Jim’s dad, James McPherson, was born in Laramie, Wyoming. He married Tora Seamount in Provo, Utah in 1894. Tora was married at 16 years of age and Jim was 22. Following their marriage, they came to Thompson, Utah on the train. They then rode horseback into Florence Creek by way of the Green River from the little town of Elgin. They summered on the Range Valley Mountain in the Book Cliffs, and packed supplies from Sunnyside, Utah. They had to ford the Green River from Florence Creek to the mountain.
James and Tora had five children and Jim was the youngest. David, first born, died in a fire on the mountain at the age of two. Next came Iona, Fern, Pearl, Zelpha, then Jim. When Iona was a baby, they lived a winter in a cottonwood cabin at Woodside, Utah, on the Price River.
McPhersons built a home in Elgin, quite close to the highway and river. It still stands today. It was a forty-mile ride, horseback, from Elgin to the ranch. Everything had to be packed by mule; a long galvanized bathtub (like the porcelain ones of today), a small organ, machinery, stoves, and supplies.
In 1929 or 1930, Mr. and Mrs. McPherson and Jim sold the Florence Creek ranch and holdings to Pearl and Budge Wilcox (their daughter and son-in-law).
During Jim’s junior year in school he rode to the ranch. His dad asked why he had come that time of year. Jim said he had quit school. Mr. McPherson said, “No, you are going back and on to college. Why do you want to quit and what will you do?” Jim said he wanted to “punch cows” and the colt he was riding needed more work and exercise than he could give him in town. So he stayed.
After selling to Pearl and Budge the McPhersons moved to Crawford, Colorado and rented a farm. In the five years they were there Fern had married Les Peterson from Springville, Utah; Zelpha had married Bill McClure from Greenriver; and Iona had married John Burritt, who owned a farm and property on Red Mesa, between Delta, Colorado and Hotchkiss, Colorado. Fern, Les, Zelpha and Bill were with James and Tora part-time. Iona and John lived on Red Lands Mesa. So most of the family was near and that is what the older McPhersons wanted.
In 1934 Jim said he could see the “outfit” going broke, what with “running in common” on gazing land with other cattlemen, decreases, and feeding hay from September ‘till June. Those were the bad Depression years.
Having heard the Fisher Valley Ranch was for sale (south and west of Cisco, Utah, belonging to Amasa Larsen), Jim decided to investigate. (Amasa and Budge’s mother— Rena—were brother and sister, and Essie White is a daughter of Amasa.) Jim came down and got George White, Essie’s husband. George and Essie had a small ranch on the Colorado River between Cisco and Moab. They went into Fisher Valley to investigate. The big house, made of adobe brick, had burned. So had a small one-room cabin. But the “huge” logs were scattered about.
Amasa Larsen and his son, Brig, were camped in a tent. Jim decided to lease the place with the option to buy. He farmed the ranch that summer, with help of the Cleveland boys whose parents had “homesteaded” a piece of ground across the valley and dug a cellar to live in. Jim and the boys rebuilt the cabin and put on a dirt roof.
The winter of 1935 and 1936: Mr. McPherson, with the help of a hired hand, Paul Haskett, and a friend, Charlie Childress, moved the cows from Crawford by railroad to Cisco. Jim unloaded his good horse, Pat, from the train. The horse fell and broke his leg and they had to put him away.
They got the cows to Dewey, where Lester Taylor had quarters for their “sheep outfit.” It was a bitter cold winter, 30 degrees below zero that night. The cows had to be corralled. They were thirsty and hungry. Jim and Paul had chopped the ice down on the river the length of the ax handles. It was solid, no water. Jim had night watch and the cattle milled all night long. Next morning they were covered white with frost. They moved them into Fisher Valley by way of the Dolores River, over Seven-mile Pass, up Cottonwood, and into the lower end of Fisher Valley. This country would be the winter range.
McPhersons, Jim, Bill, and Zelpha rented an apartment in Fruita, where Mrs. McPherson stayed winters. Bill soon went to work for the railroad as depot clerk, but was in Fruita between jobs, until he got established and got on full time as a dispatcher. Fern and Les went to Salt Lake City, Utah where Fern finished nurses training and Les went to barber school.
For clarification in telling this story, and so as not to get the two Jims confused, Jim Sr. will be referred to as Mr. Mc and Tora will be referred to as Mrs. Mc, which is what most of the family and friends called them.
Nellie Kingsley Family Background
Nellie Kingsley was born in Bedford, Iowa to Sam and Nell Kingsley. She was next to the youngest of five living children. The oldest daughter died a birth. Brother Carl had asthma. The doctors and family said he would outgrow it, but at age 15 he was six feet tall and didn’t weigh a hundred pounds. Mother had a brother in Fruita, Colorado, so on New Years Day, 1926, Mother and the five kids landed in Fruita. They had come by train, which took three or four days. The climate agreed with Carl. He worked in the hay fields that summer. Pearl had Rheumatic Fever and leakage of the heart. She was quite a sick kid.
In November of that year, Dad’s parents and Mother’s parents celebrated their 50th anniversaries. Unusual. Mother and Pearl went back. Dad moved out with everything in February 1927 and we lived on farms. These were some rough years, but many families were the same.
I graduated from high school in 1934, at age 17. No chance for college. I worked at housework. On one job the lady, Maude George, had a maternity home. When she had more than one patient I would help her. She lived across the alley from the McPherson apartment.
At that time the WPA and NYA government projects had come into being, so I worked in the Fruita Library and helped Maude. In 1937, I went to work as clerk in the District NYA Library in Grand Junction. Later I worked as clerk in the District Office. I bought a 1934 Chevrolet car and paid $640.00. It was second hand, but a good little car.
I still worked for Maude on Saturdays, as she was a Seventh Day Adventist. So was Mrs. McPherson, so they got acquainted, as did Zelpha., for she never met a stranger. She had told Maude, “I want Nellie to meet my brother Jim.” On a Saturday morning in 1939, she came over to Maude’s and introduced herself to me.
For a couple of years I had driven to work, taking sister Pearl and two other friends. Pearl worked at the Chamber of Commerce. They all helped pay for the gas. It was 25 cents a gallon at that time.
The summer of 1939, Pearl got a job at the Visitor’s Center at the Colorado National Monument. I could ride to work with a friend, Arabelle Maude Patrick, who worked for Social Services. Pearl used the car. On good days, I would walk to the corner of the Catholic Church and highway. Arabelle would pick me up on stormy ones. This took me by the McPerson apartments. I visited with Zelpha off and on.
On July 21 (Dad’s birthday), I was working home and noticed a pickup at the apartment. Zelpha called to me and said, “Come meet my brother.” Zelpha and their son Billy had been to the ranch for a while. Jim brought them out with “apricots.” We passed the time of day, weather, and common subjects. I left and Jim said: “I’ll see you.” He kept his word. The next time I saw Jim was early September. Mother and Dad were canning peaches. I came from work and had put cornbread in the oven for supper when Jim and Zelpha drove in. She asked me to come and have supper with them. Jim came back for me. After we had eaten Jim went upstairs. He changed his clothes and came down and said, “Let’s go to the show.” We had to go to Grand Junction. We left.
Zelpha had to be in the “know” so in a few days she asked, “W hen did Jim ask you to go?” Time went on and Jim’s oldest sister, Iona, and children came down. I met them in the back yard, as I was walking home.
About the last of October or the first of November I took a car load of “Guild Girls” to a meeting in Grand Junction. When I got home that Sunday evening, Mother had seen Mrs. Watson. Now, Mrs. Watson owned the home where McPhersons had the apartment. She had a small connecting one. Mrs. Watson said, “Tell Nelllie to come see me.” I did. She said Jim and a friend were in town. She called to Mrs. McPherson. She, Mrs. Mc, asked me to come in and have a bite to eat with them. I did. Jim’s friend was Buchanan, who was with the Pace Cattle Company. He lived on a ranch in the lower end of Castle Valley. They had taken the calves and wieners from both outfits to Kansas City to market and were on their way home. When stockmen went like that they rode the caboose to wherever they were going, then come home by passenger train. Jim and Buck were catching the train out of Fruita to Cisco that night.
We went to the show. Fruita had a theater in the back of a store. It was short lived. The fellows wouldn’t let me take them to the train. Guess they thought it wasn’t a safe place to be.
Jim said he had started up to the house the night before, a foot. I didn’t see him, but Saturday night I always took Mother, Dad, and Emma to town with the Cream and eggs. Guess he saw me and went back to the apartment. I didn’t see Jim until Christmas night. If he was in over Thanksgiving, we were gone.
Dad Mother, Emma, Pearl Monte, and I went to Mildred and Everett’s at Little Bonanza.
On January 11, Jim was in. He and his dad were going to the Western Livestock Show in Denver. He said, “I’ll take you with me, but Dad is going.” That would have gone over big with Mother. That night he just up and said, “Let’s get married.” My car was paid for but I had one or two obligations, so we waited. Quite a birthday gift, for the next day was my 23rd birthday.
In March, the movie Gone With the Wind was showing. Jim, too, had heard about it and said, “Let me know when it will be here.” I sent him a letter, not knowing the mail only went down on Wednesdays in the winter. Then they had to ride 15 miles to pick it up. He either got the letter in time or heard it on the radio. I had gotten tickets for the four of us. I was a great show.
Meanwhile, I kept on working and Zelpha kept asking questions. She couldn’t get answers from Jim. From my folks kitchen window i could look through the fields and see the slab where McPhersons parked the pickup. So when I knew he was in and I was watching I could see him leave the house. Zelpha and his mother watched too. Instead of turning north, he turned south and went around the block as to come to the house. Neither family had a telephone, so it was come and see. At that time, I had a green tweed coat with a gray fox fur, really pretty. I heard that Zelpha and Mrs. Mc would check after Jim left for the ranch for gray hair on his top coat. In those days we always dressed up for a date.
In April, Jim came out and asked when I would quit my job. We decided on June 1. He said, “I’ll be out.” He was out another time for supplies. Oh, Mildred and Everett had a baby boy, Jon, born the 29th of march .
I quit on June 1. On the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th I went by and no Jim. I wrote him a letter telling him I was going over to Mildred and Everett’s for a week. After all, Jim was 29 years old. I advised that if he came in the meantime to come get me. I came back in a week and still no Jim.
I didn’t give up, but decided to trust him and wait. I had sold my car to Pearl and Monte, so was afoot; as was Zelpha. After the second week and a Saturday night, she walked up to the house. I know curiosity was getting to her. On our way back to town she said, “Bet you dread going back to work Monday.” I crossed my fingers behind my back and said, “No, I still have a week paid vacation,” which I did. I can’t say I didn’t look for Jim every day.
On Thursday, June 20, in the afternoon, Jim came. All he said was, “Are you going back with me?” My reply? A big yes!
We went to Grand Junction the next day to get a load of rock salt for Mr. and Mrs. Joe Titus. They lived on a ranch on the banks of the Colorado River where they had a few cows, but no transportation. Mr. Titus was on the school board and grazing board for years. He rode a horse to town and stayed with a son.
Colorado required blood tests before a couple could be married, with a three-day wait. I had taken mine but Jim hadn’t had his. Utah didn’t require blood tests, so Jim said, “Let’s go to Price and get married.”
We left Fruita the morning of June 22, at 4:30 a.m. and unloaded the salt in Cisco at Ralph Dalton’s place, then went on to Price. Ralph drove the mail truck.
At that time, the courthouse stayed open until noon on Saturday. We got the license and Jim said, “Now to find someone to marry us.” The clerk said there was a judge upstairs. Jim said, “We want a minister.” I always admired him for that. Not that it makes a lot of difference, but when we were talking of getting married, he said, “None of this aisle
business for me,” meaning no church wedding.
After that, Jim said, “I have to go see a fellow,” and left the room. I asked no questions. I had learned that everything was in his own good time. When he came back, he had a gallon of wine. Now, I had tasted wine once with he and Zelpha, and I had one Tom and Jerry at the office Christmas party. I took a very small glass and, whoopee, nerves and an empty stomach.
We had a room at the Savory Hotel, upstairs over a store. It burned about a year later. That was a noisy town with drunks down on the street. I’d never heard anything like it.
On Sunday it was back to Fruita and Zelpha was quite upset. She wanted proof of our marriage. I had told my folks and asked Jim if he was telling his folks. He said, “No, they try to find out too much anyway.”
I gathered up things to go to the mountain, ranch, or wherever. We went to Grand Junction for supplies to take up. Jim bought a cowgirl hat. It was fun until the first rain. All the starch went out and it was down around my ears. We also got a tent. That evening Jim told Zelpha he bought a house. She said, “Oh good. What is it like, what kind of siding, brick, wood, or what? How much?” Jim told her he gave $14.75. In those days, one could buy a quite good house for $1,000.00. When she asked, “What kind?” Jim said “Rag.”
Later I asked Jim, “How come you took up with me? I was skinny, tall, and not good looking.” He replied: “I always wanted the girl I married to be about as tall as I. I didn’t want to look down to her; only right in the eye.” With me, he had it.
June 24, we said “bye” to the family and headed West. We stopped at the Titus Ranch and met Mr. and Mrs. Titus and their granddaughter, Selba. Her brother, Delmar, was on the La Sal Mountain with the cows. The two were raised by the grandparents. On Andy Mesa we caught up with Mr. Don Taylor. He had a load of lumber on a wagon pulled by a team of horses. He was headed for Bar A (previously owned by Amasa Larsen), their headquarters for the sheep outfit. Jim introduced me. Sometime later, Lester told me “When Dad got to the mountain he said, ‘I met Jim’s wife today, and I don’t think she is the girl for him. Looks like a city girl to me.’” He later got to know me.
We arrived at the mountain about 4:00 p.m. I guess Mrs. McPherson had sent Mr. Mc to look for Jim. She figured he was drinking someplace. She had a good roast and big dinner cooked. Delmar Titus was there too.
The tent was set up and we started our Mountain Life Living. Mr. Mc came to me and said, “Jim hasn’t said, but I think you are married.” I said “Yes.” We rose at 5:00 a.m. to wrangle the horses. Mrs. Mc had breakfast ready. He saddled up the bronc he called Scatterbrains, a tall, good looking horse. I took a picture. He, Mr. Mc, and Delmar rode that day.
On July 2, Jim said he and his dad had to go to Moab. They would be gone over night. They had leased Fisher Valley from Amasa Larsen with the option to buy and the time was up. That is what he went to see the lawyer about when we were in Price.
The next day, here came the White family just ahead of Mr. Mc and Jim. George, Essie White, Amasa Larsen’s daughter, and their sons Billy, Jode and Tommy. They set up a tent above the house and ate with the family. George worked for the State Road and had a ranch along the Colorado River and a few cows on the mountain.
Next day was the 4th of July. Jim asked if I’d go with Essie and Billy to get snow and make ice cream. I rode Salem and took a pack. Seemed like we had ridden a long way, when I saw smoke coming from a stove pipe. I wondered who would live away off up here. It was an old prospector. Fred McCoy was his name. He “…just knew there was copper in those peaks.” We loaded the snow and we headed home. We got back to the cabin and there was Bert and Ireta Buchanan, Buck’s parents. Chick and Grace Hawks, and their two boys, Billy and Bobby, were also there. Mr. Mc had built a bench that morning, we just had the flower can and some powder boxes to sit on.
Mrs. Mc stirred up the ice cream, put it in a gallon Karo bucket, and Mr. Mc sat there and twisted in the mixture of salt and snow. It froze and was good. This was a very different 4th of July for me, but fun.
It was along in here somewhere when Jim told me why he was late coming out
to get married. I didn’t know it was one of the busiest times of the year for a cow outfit. They had put the cows on the La Sal Mountain and he’d packed out salt. They raised registered Hereford bulls. They were on Polar Mesa. He went to check on them and they were out of water; no “live water” there, just run off from ponds. He drove the bulls to the mountain pasture, then went off into Fisher Valley to get the pickup. They were haying, so he stayed to help; not saying that he was on his way to get married. So, all is well that ends well, and it did.
Next day the “bunch” rode with George White’s family to move and check some of their cows. I rode a horse named Snip. Jim took the lead and I followed behind. All at once Snip was on his knees pawing at his head. George called to Jim and Jim came back. He said, “Better get out of there.” I thought he said “You’d better get off of there.” I swung my left leg over and got off—the wrong side. I had gone through a bee’s nest. That poor horse had welts all over him. I didn’t have a one. Jim said, “If he does it again, slap him with the rains. He may run a ways.” It never happened again with Snip, but riding Sinbad, he would kick up some. There were lots of bees that year.
While George was there, he helped Jim and his dad build the corral down on the creek. I pulled logs. Mr. Mc said when you want the log turned, call. So I did. When he came and saw where I was standing, he said, “I’ll not turn that log.” There was a nest of red ants.
The fellows were riding back to camp. Mr. Mc took off his hat to hit at the hornets nest on a tree branch. Those hornets took after him. When we went over to the cabin the next morning, his face was one big red blister. They had been up all night putting cold packs on him. Both he and Jim were allergic to the varmints.
The day the family was to go to Fisher Valley to hay again, and my first trip, Jim had tried to move and turn a bull. Mr. Bull didn’t want to turn and tipped over Jim and his horse. This hurt Jim’s shoulder. So the line out was Mr. Mc and the “pack,” Mrs. Mc on Snip, the big white workhorse had to be led. Jim couldn’t. He put me on Sinbad and said, “Don’t let the lead rope get under his tail.” Then Mr. Mc said, “I wish he hadn’t put you on this horse.” That helped a lot. Here I go down the trail with the rope out at arms length. We made it fine.
The hay was put up. Mr. and Mrs. Mc and I rode down through the cornfields. It was sure a pretty sight. Almost like Iowa’s, and not a cocklebur. They were awful when McPhersons first took the ranch.
We canned lots of apricots and made apricot jam. It was really good. We went back to the mountain and Mr. and Mrs. Mc stayed in the valley a few days, then came up and went to Fruita for a while.
Bob and Clyde Goudelock were married in July and moved to the Tin Roof Pastures. They had a framed up tent for a house, and sheep. I met Helen Taylor soon after that. We had Helen and Suzanne over to dinner one day the last of August. Jim and I had the noon meal at the Bar A.
On August 9, Jim and I went out to Fruita. Carl Kingsley and Merna Carter were married and Mother and Dad wanted a reunion. Mildred, Everett and boys were there, along with Pearl and Monte. Jim and I stopped in Cisco and had lunch with Zelpha. They were at the depot then. She took a, shall we say, A wedding picture of us. I treasure it.
The Church had a party for Carl and Merna and Jim and me. They gave Carl and Merna a bedspread and us a number of packages; a quilt, quilt top, etc. Jim said, “We could have done without that gift stuff.
The fall riding started. Mrs. Mc and I went to town.
(Oh, the wooden pieced bowl was from a fiend of Jim’s at Crawford, a Gordon Meeks.)
In September we were all in Fruita. Pearl and Budge came up. Budge had first bought a high crowned Stetson hat. He put it on my head and said, “That is your wedding present.”
I had gone out because I had an infection from a “fallen kidney.” I had to take two big bottles of the worst tasting medicine ever.
Ute Osborn, the cattle buyer, was going to Cisco to receive the calves. He sent word I would go with him. While they were cutting and weighing, Jim’s dad said to me: “Nellie, if we could get this price for three years, we could make some money.” Steer calves were nine cents per pound and heifers seven cents. From that time the price went up, it was never that low again.
That fall, Jim went into Florence Creek to get some mares they’d left there with Budge. Pearl and Budge sold out to the Ute Tribal Council and moved their cows to Icelander, over by Price, Utah.
A fellow hauled the mares to Dewy and Jim and I took them up over the Winter Range Trail, into Fisher Valley. Later Jim took in a few head of sheep.
On Thanksgiving Iona, John and their five children (Robert was five months old) wanted to go to Salt Lake City. Mrs. Mc was going and insisted I go. She said: “Dad and Jim won’t be out.” I tried every way to get out of it. We all piled in that Ford and it was not very big. We stayed the night in Green River with Pearl and Budge. Next day on the Summit, we hit a deep, deep snowstorm. We made it on to Fern and Les Peterson’s place. They had bought a pretty home on Evergreen Street. Jim called. They’d come out and were in Green River.
We came back to Green River on Sunday; a beautiful day. Jim said, “Don’t you ever ride with John Burrett again. He isn’t safe.
We went into Fisher Valley. They had a couple of Pace cows come off the mountain and down on the Winter Range. On the 22nd of December, Buck Buchanan came into the valley. He rode down to the Brown Camp with us, found his cows and went on out. On the 23rd, Jim’s dad came out with a pack and a couple of dressed turkeys. We went to Fruita.
We went to Grand Junction for supplies on the 24th. Jim said “What do you want for Christmas? A coat, dress?” I said, “No, just a handkerchief from you.” He asked if I wanted a red one or a blue one.
They canned beef with the hot water bath. I had used Mother’s pressure cooker, so told Jim I’d really like to have one. That was my Christmas. I did a lot of beef, pork and chickens through the years.
Fog was so thick we couldn’t leave Fruita the next day, and waited another day. We took a load of hay out to the “Dugout” and rode into Fisher Valley the next day. The Dugout was a cellar the Polar Mesa miners fixed up to leave their uranium and vanadium in. It was cold. Jim built a fire. His dad and I stayed by it while he looked about for some cows.
In January, Mr. Mc went out to Fruita for a week. On the Sunday I was making ice cream, there was a nice little 3-quart freezer. Jim had grown a mustache and I didn’t like it. It was kinda blonde and washed out. I looked out the west window and said, “Someone is riding across the field.” Jim took one look, got the teakettle of hot water, and that was the last of the mustache. He never ever started another. The rider was Pearl Wilcox. With a message Jim was to go down to the river next day with the team and wagon to bring up a load of lumber. Jim’s dad and Budge came along. Paces had a saw mill and they traded lumber for bulls.
While Pearl and Budge were there and we butchered hogs, I got a picture of the big boar hanging in a tree. Jim’s dad looks dwarfed. Come time for Peal and Budge to go back we took horses and a pack of pork. We turned the horses loose coming back. When we topped out of the canyon and looked back, the sky was black as black could be on the river, and it thundered. The horses that were loose would run out to the road then back. One time Jim said, “Did something hit you?” And it had. About that time, another “something” hit us both, first under the hat brim. It was no snowball. I saw what looked like the flames of a coal oil lamp. We guessed that in the snow with the horses shod, the lightning had made contact. When we got to the ranch, Jim’s dad had supper ready. I couldn’t eat. I had the worst headache ever.
February passed and the first of March Jim had to get his driver’s license renewed. We went out and on to Fruita. I stayed out a week. Jim and his dad came out and Mr. Mc didn’t feel good, so he stayed in Fruita. Toward the end of March, Jim took the horses to the river to meet them, but came back alone. I had really cleaned the cabin, baked bread and all. A letter had come saying his Dad still didn’t feel good. In a day or two, Jim and I went to Fruita. The Doctor hadn’t found any cause, only his legs wouldn’t work very well. On one of our trips out to check on them, the last of April, Mr. Mc had said, “I wish Jim would come out.” That evening Jim helped his dad to the bathroom and back to bed. Mr. Mc never got up again. Fern wanted to take him to Salt Lake, but he said no. I really think he knew what was the matter. I stayed out a lot of the time. Pearl and Budge were on their mountain (Book Cliffs). Fern and Les were working in Salt Lake. Bill and Zelpha were in Thompson and she was pregnant with Jerry.
I always wished he could have seen the desert that spring. I don’t think I ever saw it bloom so pretty. Anyway his heart failed and he died July 19, 1941, at age 69. His birthday had been on July 14. He is buried in Provo, Utah.
That made a change somewhat in our lives. Jim had full responsibility of the outfit and his mother’s interest. He managed very well and took wonderful care of her. She lived to be 96. The last eight or nine years, she lived with Iona.
That summer, Jim went over to the Range Valley Mountain, out of Sunnyside, where McPhersons summered when at the Florence Creek Ranch. He sort of wanted to get back there. Fern and Les went along. I had a bad hip and couldn’t ride. A little bone had slipped out. It took a couple of treatments and it was fine.
Just before his dad died, Jim got a new Dodge pickup for about $750.00. When it was time to move off the mountain that fall it had rained and rained. Jim took me and our “plunder” to the Goudelock ranch. He went back to the mountain with Bob. That was the first time I had driven the pickup—or down the river road. It wasn’t like it is now. It was narrow and slick in places. I went out to Thompson and stayed all night with Zelpha and Bill.
Jim and Delmar brought the cows and calves out to Waring Canyon where they had a tent setup. After ordering railroad cars and talking with the brand inspector, Ute Osborn, and I went down to meet them. The calves were delivered to Cisco again. We went to Fruita. Jim and I went over the accounts and we came out $200.00 short. We couldn’t figure it out. This was my first experience with the business. It got late and we had to go back down the river. We stayed all night at the Titus place. I worried and knew Jim did too. All at once I remembered and said to Jim: “We forgot to figure in the $200.00 contract fee. What a relief!
That fall Les Peterson and his two nephews went to the mountain, hunting. I went to Fruita. After that fall Fern and Les came hunting several times. We had good times in Fisher Valley, too. We went out for Thanksgiving that year. All the family came.
We came out at Christmas, too. The next eight years Jim and I stayed in Fisher Valley. We had stock to feed, or maybe the hired hands wanted to be gone, which is only natural. Besides, Jim didn’t really care about Christmas. I always bought my own gifts after that first one.
On January we went by train to the National Western Livestock Show in Denver, and that was before the train cars were “tight.” By the time one got through the tunnels, our face and nostrils were black. We couldn’t get a room where Jim usually stayed, so they sent us up to the Argonaut by the Capital. The clerk said, “I have a corner suite left. It was a large room with a pull down bed; a single room with single bed and bath for $6.00 per night. Jim looked at me and said: “I guess we can afford it for three nights.”
We had a good time. They had the best piano players in the lounge. Jim had a brown suit and I insisted he have brown dress oxfords. They nearly killed him. When I stayed out when Mr. Mc was sick, I’d wear them around the house to break them in. One day when Dr. Orr was there, he looked at my feet and said, “Now that is true love!” In Denver he had to buy a pair of house shoes to wear.
When we got back to Grand Junction, we bought a console radio for Mrs. Mc, just a new one out, Philco. It had “no stop, no squint, not stoop,” and it had the slanted dial.
So we summered in the fall that Mrs. Mc came to the mountain. Clayton Dalton was there and it was foggy and rainy and cold all the time. But Clayton and Jim built on a bedroom and put in a little “monkey stove” that Zelpha sold us. It made it nice. They built a platform across the front. It sure helped when the mud was bad. Clayton left that fall.
When the calves were shipped that fall, we paid off the debt of $7,000.00 to the Production Credit Assn., a company that loaned money to ranchers and stockman. They budgeted anyone who borrowed. The four of us had lived on $100.00 per month cash. Of course gas was 25 cents a gallon, apartment rent was $25.00 per month (later raised to $35.00 per month).
After paying off the big debt, we had to borrow a little along the way, but Jim told himself if ever he got out of debt, he’d never go in again. He held to it quite well.
In 1942, desert feed was short. We took a bunch of cattle to Green River and pastured them. Budge and Les came over. George and Bud helped us across the river. I drove the camp truck around. We camped in Salt Valley then got out to the underpass this side of Green River on Thanksgiving Day. Les and Budge went into town, brought us out a turkey dinner. We night herded the cows and were tired.
Back to when we came home from the stock show: Jim said I haven’t seen Moab at “play” for a long time. We had gotten acquainted with Bob and Clyde, Madge and Gainy Duncan, Maury, and Todds Robertson, Helen and Lester Taylor, Mitch and Dorrie Melich. Helen was pregnant with Joe D. We went to the March of Dimes dance and had a good time. It was different from what I had done before. There were two different groups we went around with.
Lester stayed with us when he would come through Fisher Valley to the sheep camps and filled us in on the news. It would take all day to pull a pack string from Dewey to Fisher Valley.
When Pearl and Budge sold Florence Creek to the Tribal Council, Jim went over and bought out a little band of sheep. He kept them in Fisher Valley. It was quite a time shearing sometimes. One time Jim left one big ewe ‘till the last. She was ornery and had quite a big lamb. Jim was tired, it was late, and the ewe wouldn’t stay still. So he tapped her on the heard. She lay real still. Soon he looked up at me and said, “Hell, I killed her.” He had tapped her at the butt of the ear. (One less to shear.) I tied fleeces, kept his shears rinsed, and sacked a lot of wool. We had lots of nice blankets made. The first winter I was there, Jim’s dad had picked up a stray ewe. Lester said if she had a ewe lamb he’d take it. She didn’t. That started the herd.
War guns were sounding in Europe. I was in Fruita when on December 7, 1942, when war was declared. Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor. It made many changes in the whole world. Jim had to register, as did Bob. Neither had to report for duty. Many friends did. That Christmas we stayed in Fisher Valley. Clayton Dalton was called up. Mr. Dalton went to the Scarf Ranch and bought a piece of ground on the mountain.
Valgene and Louise Westwood came to the valley to work. On March 4, 1944, I got really sick. They took me out in the wagon that manure had been hauled in. We went to Moab and it took all day. Lester was herding at our camp. He had been over to the ranch and had butchered a lamb.
We went to Moab and I was in the hospital about five weeks (lacking two days). They couldn’t seem to locate the problem. I had miscarried at the ranch and had such terrible pains. Dr. Allen operated and I had a “tubule” pregnancy and very bad appendix.
Pearl and Monte were in the valley with us. I didn’t go back into the valley that spring, but went to Fruita. We moved to the mountain the first part of June. Bud and June Johnston and children moved up with us.
That summer Claron Baily came up and built on a porch across the front. Jim and I built a saddle shed.
Previously, Jim and Val had sawed down the big pine tree that stood at the northwest corner of the house. I was afraid lightning would strike it. When we put the sideboards on the shed it started to lean. Jim hooked the team of horses on one corner. I made them stand still. He pounded in enough nails to hold it. When we were putting on the roof. Bob and Clyde came over one evening. She had a lemon pie and we fixed the rest of supper. That shed was good for a long time. It still stands.
Mrs. Mc was in Fisher Valley one June and had lots of rhubarb and strawberries. We made jam. We brought a case to the mountain and put it in the back corner of the shed with other cases of fruit. We were bothered with rats. Jim saw one go in the shed and shot it with his .30-.30. He got the rat, right through the case of strawberry jam. Before we built the room and porch, he saw a rat’s nest under the board on the roof of the house. We had an outside washstand that attached to the house. Jim shot up under the board. He got the rat and little pink ones came tumbling down on the stand.
The road into the place was changed. It used to come in below where it is now, up by the outhouse, in fact. The next morning after Jim and I got to the mountain his dad was down working on the 2-holer. It was just a seat with some poles around and a canvas door. Jim’s dad said, “A hell of a place to bring a bride to.” Jim and I later built the one now standing in the pasture. Anyway, they decided to come into the pasture, up by Bear Creek Crossing. The road had lots of turns and bends, and one steep hill over the Bear Creek Crossing. We had the old dog, Pooch, with us. He’d come up from the ranch and didn’t want to come back. He was old. Jim bought him in Provo for $5.00. Jim’s grandma Seamount said, :I don’t know why Jimmy wants to pay $5.00 for a dog. I can get him one for nothing.” Our Jack dog was out of him, and a mighty good dog. He was worth two men, but he wouldn’t work for me if Jim was along. He would walk along on the outside of the herd and watch Jim. So I took to taking the lead bunch.
One time at the ranch, Jim and I were playing. He ran out the door and I picked up the broom and gave chase. Jack jumped up, took the whole back out of my shirt. Another time he grabbed me behind my knee. He didn’t break the skin but left four black and blue fang marks. So much for Jack until 1950.
At the bridge it started to thunder and lightning. Pooch was scared and ran under the bridge. We had a hard time getting him out. That fall he wouldn’t leave the mountain when Jim and his dad were ready. Jim tried to get a shot at him, finally his dad said, “You go on and I’ll do it.”
When Jack was just a little pup, learning to follow, it was that winter Jim and I were coming from the winter range. We met Taylor’s camp mover, Roy the Mexican, and Jack was following. Roy was below us. I still think he thought we wouldn’t see him and hid the pup. Jim didn’t think that way, but Jim went down and got him and packed him on home.
There was a female dog called Fanny, really Mrs. Mc’s. She was a good one, the mother of Jack and Glassy. She had a bunch of pups that looked like coyotes, only glassy (glass eyes) was tall and long. Fanny had them in a brush pile in the wash by the corral. One morning Jim rode by, and this glassy pup came out and followed him and stuck with him from then on, and slept by his saddle. It was a one-man dog. I fed him, that is all.
It was 1942 when we took the calves to Cisco to ship. John Dalton was helping us. Ralph Dalton, his son, and wife, Vonna, lived there. Ralph drove the mail truck, but Vonna cooked dinner for us that day. We really appreciated it. At this writing, Vonna is quilting with the group. We have come a long way around.
Then there was the time when Ted Wareham was working for Paces, before he married. He and Sid Mike were coming to the mountain horseback with a pack. Ted had had problems that day, including the pack turning. They got to our place quite late and ate. It was a war of mice everywhere. Clyde had a good cat mouser. We borrowed him. He would set up on the shelf of the old house and snared many a mouse. A couple of mice ran across the 2X4. Ted and Sid Mike were setting on the couch. Ted kept drawing his legs up under him. Finally someone said, “Mike are you afraid of those damn things? We’ll help that cat catch them.”
Jim came to Fruita and I was there. He had put “horn weights” on one of the yearling bulls. One of the bulls threw his head and really cut a gash in the palm of Jim’s hand. He had to have several stitches.
We were very fortunate in the time we were in Fisher Valley. There were no bad accidents or broken arms or legs. I guess we’d have gotten out some way.
Monte put the tarpaper shingles on the old house. It made it look a lot better. I put building paper on the inside, even painted the ceiling of the kitchen. It made it a lot lighter. Fern and Les came that same evening. Les said, “You sure covered up a lot of fly specks.” When the wind blew and it was snowing, fine particles would blow under the eve into the room.
In 1942, I was in Fruita and Jim came out. He said John Dalton went to the end of Fisher Valley to get a load of wood. He let Glassy and Fanny follow. He knew there was coyote poisoning traps down there. Both dogs got a bate. John didn’t like dogs, so….
Fanny was on the mountain one time when Mrs. Mc was up there. We were setting on the bed. Fanny came in and crawled under the bed and got a paw caught in a rat trap. She was no problem to get out and take the trap off.
That fall when it was time to move off the mountain, we didn’t have the road yet from North Beaver to the Ranch. Must have built it in 1943 or 1944, for Monte was there to help in the Hideout part. Monte also put the tar shakes on the mountain house.
I took the pickup and camp gear to Moab and stayed with Essie White. On the way to town I had a flat tire in Castle Valley and changed it. The spare was a pre-war tire, very smooth. War tires were synthetic. I got the tire fixed in town, but didn’t have it changed. That day I was to go meet the fellows, Jim, Bud, and George. They had played all the way out and had a good time. George was riding the horse called Bish. I may be getting ahead of myself. Essie and I made apple pies and fried chicken. I got away from the Dewey Bridge a couple of miles. Crossing a little wash I didn’t gear down quick enough and killed the engine. The wash was real sandy. I was afraid to put power on that smooth tire. I looked the situation over and decided to walk and meet the fellows. I walked a couple of miles and they were sitting up on a point where they could see lots of the bends in the road. Finally, Bud said, “There she is, walking. I can see her white hat.” They met me and, when I said what was in the pickup to eat, they left me in the dust. Of course Jim had no trouble getting the pickup out and didn’t scold me. He was just glad to see me.
In the night we heard voices. They called to Jim. He had tied his horse to a tree, not too close to the rim of Waring Canyon. Something must have spooked him. Bud said, “He’s over the canyon. I’m going down.” Wouldn’t you know, we didn’t have a flashlight. We always carried one after that. Bud called up and said, “I think he has an eye knocked out.” Jim said, “I’ll bring the ax. I don’t want a one eyed horse.” Then Bud said, “No, he is up and eating.” Jim said, “They do that just before they die.” The horse acted all right so they left him until morning. Jim brought him out, but he was badly stove up, bruised. So I took him to Dewey to borrow a horse from Valgene. The horse got all right. We renamed him Ghost of Waring Canyon. The name Ghost stuck.
The Bish horse Jim had tried to break, and he didn’t have very good luck. Bish Westwood said he’d break him. He did quite well, but Bish was called into the army. He sent word up. He’d bring the horse to the Titus place on the river on a certain Saturday, the first part of March, if we’d take him back to town. Jim and I went out of the valley on a Saturday. It was cold. When we got out of the canyon, there was the coldest north wind across Professor Valley. I was so cold when we got to Tituses’ place, I couldn’t unbuckle my chaps. Bish did. He had a pint of whiskey. Never have I had a swallow that helped and tasted so good.
When we got to town, Westwoods were having a farewell party for Bish. We didn’t want to stay, but Bish and Delmar picked me up. Dee and Shelba picked up Jim and we stayed to party. There was the Bishop and wife and Ralph and Genevieve Miller. Anyway, Mr. Westwood asked the Bishop to bless the dinner. He did, then Pa said “By God, if there isn’t enough here on the table I’ll send the old lady to the cellar.” Jim and I stayed all night at the Moab Hotel. It had been moved from Cisco. The next morning it was 18 degrees. That night we went with a group to put Bish and Vaughn Taylor on the train to the army.
Jim decided that John Brown Canyon, between Fisher Valley and Dewey, was quite a ways from the rest of the winter and spring range. John Brown was a prospector looking for silver, but didn’t have much luck. There was a little cabin up there where we sometimes stayed. One time we camped under a ledge along the creek in Cow Skin Canyon. It was a good camp. Only one morning, looking up at the overhang, a big slab of rock looked loose. So the next time we moved across the creek where it was warmer and there was a sandstone rock. We stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Dalton (he had married) two times. Then we pitched a tent in the bottom of Cottonwood, where the trail crossed going toward Dewey. Not a bad camp, only Jim picked up what looked like a good camp stove. I wondered why it was thrown away. Later we found out. It had four little lids on top and smoked like a “sinner.” Our faces were so black and everything by the time we got back to Fisher Valley. We thought we washed good. We’d take two half sacks of oats for the horses. It would balance the pack. We used them to set on, but were on the ground by the time the oats were gone.
One night we heard the horses leave. They knocked down the gate on the trail. Only Isac the pack mule stayed. Jim got up and got on Isac bareback, thinking he could catch them before they got too far. Well it was 3:00 a.m. when he got them back and hobbled them. But he was so “bottom sore” we didn’t ride the next day.
One time when Jim went down, the tent had blown down. The wind could be strong coming down the canyon.
I’m getting ahead of myself, but we decided to build a little cabin at the head of Cow Skin Canyon. By being a careful driver, we could drive 50 yards up the canyon to the little house, dodging rocks. Otherwise, we’d park up on the hill.
George and Claron helped. They didn’t take a level, so used a pie pan of water and Jim lay down corner across to corner and said it was level. Later we took a level. None could have done better. We built a corral and could pond up the water for house and horses. It was good in winter. In the spring, we hauled the water in a garbage can. By putting a clean board on the top, it kept the water from sloshing out a lot. We dug a hole under the floor, put a garbage can down, where we could keep pancake flour, coffee, syrup and some canned goods, corn (Jim’s favorite vegetable). We built in a three-quarter bunk bed. It was quite a comfortable camp.
One thing Jim told me when riding that country was that if there was snow to follow the brush; for those smooth places could be very slick. The horses really knew the trail. One time going to the cabin and passing by the John Brown Canyon, we decided to give our horses their heads and see what they’d do. We were riding Scatterbarins and Sinbad. Both just walked up to the side of that cabin and stopped. They had been there many times before.
Val and Louise Westwood wanted to move to town. Pearl and Monte went out for Monte to register for the army. He was turned down, so they went to California to look for work. We were sort of alone. Bill and Lillian Boulden spent one winter and late into the spring there. Bill liked it, but Lillian was used to more people.
We had a bachelor from Blanding, Guy Washburn, stay with us. He was quite a fellow. He told us one night he had a girl friend he liked very much, but “…she breathed on his neck when they danced.” He quit her. He was middle age and had grown up with the Indians and had some crude ways. He knew his Mormonism, but said they’d never let him get near the temple. He liked his liquor and coffee. It was the year of the Mormon Centennial, 1947. He stayed in the valley all winter and let his beard grow. He had pretty pure white hair, as was his beard. I kept the haircut. You might say that I cut Jim’s hair a lot, and Joe Taylor’s.
Come spring, Jim and I went to the winter camp to ride. We came back and Guy was clean-shaven. I asked what happened. He said, “There was a fire hazard. I was burning weeds and it caught on fire.” Early May he wanted to go to town for a week. We took him down. Jim went back for him in a week and no Guy. We kept checking, but never heard from him. That fall he showed up at Essie White’s and asked where Jim was. He told her he didn’t intend to drink, but did. He bought a bus ticket and ended up in Oregon. He didn’t come back to us. We had Alva and Susie Johnston one year. He was a good farmer.
In 1946, Jim bought a John Deere tractor. Bill and Zelpha wanted a vacation so brought Grandmother and Billy and Jerry to Moab, the same day we were to get the tractor. On the way to the mountain, Grandmother said, “Do you think we can make these boys mind while they are up here.” I told her they weren’t mine. Jim drove the tractor up and that poor Gerry got more “paddles.” He couldn’t hurt a thing. He would go up and sit on the seat and pretend he was driving. A heifer died in the pasture and Jim hooked on to drag her off. Jerry crawled on the dead critter and said, “Uncle Jim, can I ride the dead cow.” Someone got him off. He was a very normal boy.
Billy had the toothache while there. It was over the 4th of July. George, Essie, and boys came up. George got pretty “high” and would go sit by Mrs. Mc and sing That Old Black Magic. She was a little put out at George.
Back during the war, we were given stamps for coffee, sugar, gas and liquor. We could trade around and get extra coffee and extra sugar for hired help and hay hands, so we did all right. Tires were the main problem. It was the synthetic tires gave the most problem.
We had three other bachelors. A man named Townsend we found had been in the pen, but was quite a good worker for one winter. Another winter we had a fellow from Gateway. I’ve lost his name. He had sold sewing machines and repaired them. A little off, but filled in. Then there was Sap Davis, an ex-miner and prospector and native of Moab. He was better than nothing. You name them and we had them, all different experiences.
Alva Johnston and family came again when Bob was a baby. He leased the place that time in 1948-49 to l950. Sure helped us. We didn’t have to worry about haying or any of the going back and forth.
Going back to the other single fellows, Mr. Townsend came in the fall and helped build the fence from the southwest corner of the pasture up Beaver Creek. He was a fellow who had worked for Paces. And the one of who sold sewing machines was the only one who wasn’t afraid of Glassy. He grabbed him by the nose, probably Glassy was more afraid of him. It was the same with the white team of workhorses, Dick and Whitie. Whitie was high strung, but the fellow would walk up behind him and say: “Shoot, I’m not afraid of him.” Jim warned him, but he never did get kicked or bitten.
We went up that summer and helped build a fence up high to keep the cows out of the poison larkspur. We made it so it could be laid down in the winter, so deer and snow wouldn’t break it down. Bud and his brother Wayne ran some cows on Taylor’s ground, a state lease, as we and several others did. June didn’t like to cook, but she was a good house cleaner.
June 8, 1944 Jim and I, Bob and Clyde, all went to town. It was cloudy and began to rain, then it turned to snow on the mountain. We tried to go up Fisher Point Road and got stuck. We walked to the Tin Roof Ranch. Bob and Clyde tried the Tin Roof Road and got stuck and had to walk. But they had a mattress and couldn’t let it get wet, so Bob packed it up the hill. It snowed all night and the next day we stayed there. The next day it cleared and we walked to camp. Jim got snow blind when we crossed the upper ditch. I practically led him home. The milk-pen calf was shut up, for we expected to come home the same day. We had a good 18 inches of snow. Jim was to get snow blind one more time at Dewey, so he got dark glasses.
That fall we moved off the mountain and cut out the replacement heifers on Thanksgiving Day. He and Monte took the cows out on the rim to go to Cisco and ship the calves. Pearl and I put the camp gear together. Jim had asked if Pearl and I would take the pickup over the mountain and meet them at the Dugout to camp. I said, “Let Monte go that way, then if there is any trouble, he will be there.” Jim said, “You will go rain or shine.” I told him yes.
Thanksgiving was a beautiful day, warm and sunshine. We got up early the next morning, still warm but we had a black, black sky. We left at 4:00 a.m. We let the cows out and started around the point and it began to snow, and I mean snow. We couldn’t see a thing. I even tried to turn the cows around and thought they were headed back to the ranch. We went along fine until we hit the head of Lions Canyon. All of the cows and calves crossed but one. We worked and chased, then finally Jim got his rope around her horn and tried to pull her down the slope. He said to me, “Twist her tail and spur her.” Really I did, but Sinbad was on the slope and I was afraid he’d slip. There was a chopped off tree stump there, so Jim got his rope around it. I’d push and he’d take up the slack. Finally we got her across. In all of the hitting, she’d lost an eye.
While the other cows were going, we built a fire. Our lunches were wet. My gloves were wet. I tried to dry them and burnt out one thumb. After getting the one cow across, Jim rode on to get ahead and count. We didn’t lose a one. So on we rode and where Pearl and Monte were to be, no camp. It had cleared and was getting cold. We waited about an hour and Jim said, “Let’s go to Dalton’s. They can pick up our tacks.” Just then I saw them coming. They told us about the snow on the mountain, but didn’t have to chain up. Later Bud told us, as did Elmer Lee, they had lunch with Bud and coffee with Elmer.
It was cold, snowy, and too late to set up the tent, so camped in the dugout. At least the snakes were hole up. We hung a cover over the doorway. The next day, we rounded up the cows and went on our way.
The dugout had been built and used in the vanadium days, when it was packed off Polar Mesa. It stopped there and was trucked on out to Cisco. At one time there was a telephone from Polar to Dewey. The line crossed Thompson Canyon. That line swung there a long time; and a long, long span hooked onto pinion trees up that trail. At that time it was before the road was changed to go around through the Bull Draw and up Corey’s Draw. The road from Polar Mesa came up Tin Roof Draw, connected there at Bob and Clyde’s cabin to the main road, then went through the pasture and off Fisher Point. Jim and I usually tried it in the spring, for it was a shortcut. But we got stuck nearly every time.
Another fall drive we made, Jim decided to keep the calves ‘till yearlings, like Paces always did. It took three full days from the valley. The weather was warm. We didn’t make any money and didn’t try it again. We did hold them ‘till March one year, for the fall price hadn’t been too good and we had plenty of feed. Howard Shultz came up to look at them and consigned them through the sale yard. We drove them down the canyon, loaded them on trucks and went out. We got 53 cents. It was good, but that was a onetime deal, too.
One time going out with the cows and calves to Cisco (after shipping the calves, the cows trailed back to the desert and were on the winter range), Bud and George were helping that time. It was an easy trip. George didn’t like mice and Jim didn’t like snakes. In gathering up the cows one morning, Bud got a rattlesnake. Jim saw him, left and sat away up on a ridge. He watched Bud. Jim said, “I had a loop built. If he’d have come close, I was going to catch his horse and jump off mine.” Instead, Bud came to the pickup and asked if he could put it in the Dutch oven. I said, “No way!” He killed it for his fingers were getting numb.
Out in Cisco Wash, Jim caught a mouse and told George. George got off his horse, piled up a pile of rocks and dared Jim to come close. Out in the corral at Cisco, Jim had wrapped the mouse in toilet tissue. He rode over to George and said, “Nellie fixed us some sandwiches.” George opened his and saw the mouse. He nearly left the corral. It is a wonder they didn’t kill each other.
In 1945 my folks were living in Washington State. Les and Fern wanted to go to the rifle shoot in Yakima. Jim and I went along. We took the bus over to the folks at Aberdeen. Carl, his wife Merna, and daughters Karla and Ruby, my sister Pearl and her husband Monte Payne also lived there. We had some of the best salmon. We met Fern and Les in Seattle and none of us had ever been on a self-operated elevator. The one Jim and I got on, another man got on too. He punched a floor and said, “What is yours?” We told him and we made it fine. Fern came up on another one and we could see her as she went by, saying, “How do you stop this son-of-a-bitch?” We came back through Yellow Stone National Park. It was a good trip.
That same year, we were lucky enough to buy a gas washing machine. It sure helped. Up until then it was the washboard, unless at the ranch in the summer there was a “push and pull.” We have a picture of Jim helping me once. The only redeeming feature with that one is you could use hot water if you wanted.
Snow caught us early one fall. Even Bob and Clyde were still up there. They got cows off, but not the pickups. George, Claron, Bud, and Ted Wareham were there. They took the pickups to Fisher Point, and what a day they had. Chains kept breaking. They would have to wire them together. When George and Jim got back to the house, Jim’s boots were frozen on. I sat on his legs while George pulled. Bud had put a cow in the corral. He had a heck of a time getting her out of the pasture the next morning. We had Spider, a stud of Budges. A good horse. I rode him quite a bit, and some mares. Claron tried to get them together. They wouldn’t stay on the road. Finally Jim said, “Catch that stud and ride him.” No more trouble there.
Ted was staying over at Bob and Clyde’s. George left early that morning to help Bob get rounded up. When we got over there, they had caught the cats and had them in gunnysacks. George came out and said, “Get off and have a glass of wine.” Jim said, “If she gets of, she will have to get on by herself. Biscuit has stood on his hind legs all the way over.” I had no intention of getting off. Clyde didn’t like to ride. She had a fear and they just had the one saddle. She rode it. Bob jumped on his horse bareback and slung the sack of cats over his shoulder. Jim remarked, “Damn, henpecked man!” Bob, Clyde, and George went Fisher Point way. Paces had a couple of cows that had gone off that way. Ted got them. I don’t remember when or how we got the pickup. Probably Jim got someone to take him around to the Point.
Staying in the house on Polar, it was one big room. No one was working the mines at that time. At night we could hear what we thought were rats running around. Ted was going to throw a stick of wood at them and Claron said no. Jim was back up there in a week or so. He found it was a couple of skunks.
On another trip to Polar, in April, we took the bulls and replacement heifers up. We went back to check on them. It looked real stormy, but we rode on. When we topped out on top, it started to snow and blow. I could hold the brim of my hat down to my face. It was frozen that way when we got to camp. Jim had to ride and bare it and he had the pack mule. Once in the house, we got the fire going. We could stable the horses in one of the other houses. We fried steaks and baked biscuits in the Dutch oven. All was well.
When we finished the job, Jim said, “Lets go to the mountain and check the ditch.” Instead of going to the road, we cut across the top. We thought the snow wouldn’t be so deep. We had our little red mule. He’d follow like a dog. The snow was bad. We got off and walked, where we thought the ditch was. I fell and/or stepped in and snow filled my boot. It was all the little mule could do to make it. When we got to camp, Jim pulled my boots off. I put on an old pair of work shoes that had been left there. The mice had wintered in them.
It started to snow when we got up next morning, so we brushed off our saddles and decided to go back down through the Pratter place and Brush Hole. Not one bit of snow along the way. We got to Fisher Valley Trail and Jim said, “It is slick. We’d better walk. Don’t be afraid of your horse. He can stop.” But I wasn’t sure. Better than halfway down, my feet went out from under me. When I looked up, Sinbad’s head was right over mine. He looked tall as a mountain. It was April 26. We had lots of water that year.
Bill and Lillian Boulden came to the valley after he was out of the service. Bill had worked for McPhersons before I went there, and wanted to come back. Lillian of course was afraid of horses, but she didn’t have to ride. Once she helped us down the canyon with some cows. Her eyes were big as saucers. Bill had told her how the rocks fell of the rims, and one did. Jim and I got into the Narrows once. There was a big one, maybe a couple of feet high, and clear across. So we couldn’t ride around. Jim said, “Pull down your hat.. Hang on to the saddle horn and jump your horse.” We did and rode on. Back to Bill and Lillian, on Christmas day, it had snowed. Bill argued all morning to put the slip-on runners to feed. Jim told him the snow would be gone by that time. They did and we took off, Bill and Lillian driving. Jim and I were standing on the back. Instead of Bill going the right way of the ditch, he crossed it, kitty-corner, throwing the back corner of the slip up. Jim jumped and so did I, but landed on the side of the ditch. I heard my right ankle grate. They got me back on the slip and to the house. It was twice its normal size. Lillian got hot water. We didn’t know about cold water, ice, or snow at that time. The fellows had to change runners to wheels and feed. There was a pair of homemade crutches and I got around. Some of the swelling went down. New Year’s Day we had to go out to do the income tax again. I put on one of Jim’s boots. Bill took me to the top of the hill in the wagon, thank goodness. I could step in the stirrup with my left foot. It was late when we got to Moab. We always stayed at Vergie Carter’s Motel, at $8.00 per night. The next morning I went to Dr. Allen. He examined my ankle and it wasn’t broken anywhere. So he bound it up, and it felt so good. The group was gathering at Kenny and Bette Beache’s that night. So we went down. They wanted to go out to the Hole in the Rock. It was a restaurant and club sort-of-thing at that time. But it had rained and the streets were sheets of ice. Jim said, “I’m not taking Nellie,” and we left. I don’t think any of them went. They had a hard time getting out of Kenney’s drive.
From Moab, I went to Fruita and stayed a couple of weeks. When we would go back to Fisher Valley from the winter range, the trail made a crooked crossing down into the wash, a very sharp right, and out the other side. If we had either horses and a pack mule, they would hit it on a high lope. The horse I rode, Cactus, really liked to do that, and before I thought much about it, Jim said, “Lets race.” The first time I lost my hat and he had to go back and get it. It did take some holding back to keep Cactus reined in. They just felt good. We never raced there again.
One time in our early years of going between the places, I had a small black cardboard suitcase. It was a little bigger than a briefcase. I carried underwear, PJs, writing paper, pen, comb, brush, etc. Jim always tied it on top of the pack. This time he turned the mule loose. He and the extra horses played along. The mule ran under a tree and the suitcase flew open. Here was a bra, pants, etc., hanging on a limb. Never found the fountain pen. So, I packed in a flour sack and Jim put it down in the pack pannier.
Another time with the pack, when we went out to town, I’d put our dirty laundry in a meat sack to take it out to wash, especially sheets. One time I had been out alone. When I came back to the river, Jim met me. It was just before Christmas, so I stuck a fifth of bourbon in the clothes sack. When we got to the ranch, I put it out in the little trunk in the bedroom-tent. Jim was taking cold, but wanted to cut away the calves to wean. It may have been the winter we kept the calves over and sold in the spring. Anyway, Jim and I were alone. All went well. In fact he said it went smoother than when Bill or some others had helped. Of course I was real proud. We got to the house about 2:00 p.m. and he was feeling rough. I asked what he wanted. He answered, “I’d give $5.00 for a drink of whiskey.” I thought Oh well, it is needed now, and went to the tent and got the bottle. He was really surprised. I didn’t ever get my $5.00 that way. I think he was always wondering what I packed in the laundry sack after that.
In 1948 we decided to build a new house on the mountain. Mr. Hotz had a saw mill on the mountain and we bought lumber, planed, for $386.00; ship lap for the outside and natural for the large room inside. Our friend, Claron Bailey, had built Bob and Clyde’s house at Tin Roof Ranch the summer before. He brought his family and stayed a week. On July 4th, Bob and Clyde came over. The foundation frames were built and we hauled rocks to help fill. We fried steaks and made ice cream. I can’t remember if Ted came. He did one 4th. Bob ate ice cream and Ted fried himself another steak. The house was on its way. Claron, Sue, and family went to Fisher Valley with us to hay. Sue and I canned apricots for her in half-gallon jars. Claron worked for Utah Power and Light Company, so he would have long days off and would come up. Bob would come over and the building went right along.
It was so near completed, but I can’t remember what held us up from moving in. One day Jim remarked, “That nice house there and we can’t move in yet.” On Labor Day, September 6, 1948, Mildred, Everett, and boys came. He finished a couple of windows and a door and we moved. Everett came back during deer season and built the cupboard doors and closet. Mildred and boys came down on the bus and joined us. We christened the cabin and were so happy with it.
After we sold the calves that fall, Jim said, “Better get you a new stove.” His mother and I picked out a Majestic with a reservoir. A big help. That stove is as pretty today as it was then. We put the black stove back in the old house. Ted and Aggie lived there, as did Vaughn and Bonnie Taylor.
We had added a room on to the cabin in Fisher Valley for a bedroom. It made it nicer. We bought a second hand lounge that made into a bed.
We moved off the mountain and got everything in place. Both Alva and Vaughn were with us that winter. They went out for Christmas. Their families were there in Moab. Jim and I could feed, and besides I really enjoyed it alone. But Jim and I went out New Years Day again to do income tax. It had started to snow a lot. When we got to Bud’s gate, it was snowed shut. Jim took it off the hinges and opened it enough we could go through. The snow had drifted completely over the fence on the north side of the lane.
Junior Garlett was helping Bud. We had the Dodge power wagon and couldn’t get up the drive, so we went through the field, crossed the ditch, took out a panel of fence and on to town. Junior went along. When we got to town, we heard Bob was real sick. They stayed with Irma and Aldie Newell (Clyde’s sister), when in town. We went over to see him and he was sick. We did our business and went to see him the 3rd, on his birthday. He said, “Wait ‘till tomorrow. Clyde and I will follow you up.” We went over the next morning and Bob was still sick. He wasn’t going anywhere. We went to Fisher Valley. Lester came in to bring supplies to sheep camp. He was there on the on the 11th and 12th. January 12, was my birthday. That night, about 11:00 p.m., Junior Garlett knocked on the door and Jim answered. Junior said, “Bob has died.” Jim saddled Lester’s horse and he took off.
Bill Boulden met us in the canyon the next day. We were on our way out and went to Fruita that night. It was a bad winter for deep snow so early. There was only one lane open on the highway. One took it slow and careful. Off course, there was not so much traffic then. We got our clothes and went back to Moab. It was a shock to the whole community. We stayed in town a few days.
Lester and Jim went to the desert to check the cows. Goudelocks were going to change from sheep to cattle. They had bought 35 head from us the summer before. Dave and Joe Goudelock took over the outfit.
The rest of the winter was snow and more snow. The fellows would dig out the gates to the stack yards in the morning, feed, then they’d be blown full the next morning. We were fortunate to have lots of pinion trees above the house, where the cows could have shelter at night.
About January 28, and again in the night, Junior Garlett came into the ranch for Lester. Helen had had their baby, a boy. Again Lester rode out in the night. The baby was a “blue baby,” born with the cord around its neck. He got all right.
Many of the cows had sore hooves and we lost some. Lester had a herd of sheep in the lower end of the valley. When they left in the spring, the sagebrush looked like a cotton field. They had eaten the brush down to stubs and their fleece would catch on it.
Vaughn and Alva went to town in February. To feed, they would tie a saddle horse to the back of the sled. While two were loading hay, the third would round up the cows. When it was our turn, I thought we’d load the hay, then Jim would go gather. They came very much on their own, but when we got to take feed around, Jim said, “Mount.” There was this big black Morgan stud of Budges, but a mighty good snow horse. I mounted and gathered cows. That horse had a sense of ditches or washes. They were all level full of snow and you couldn’t make him step off. His registered name was Allen Ayre. Jim called him The Bull. He was a sire of a black horse I called Vodka. Jim called him Blackie, a good powerful horse. I rode him some. When mounted, you got there.
Lots of stockmen were having hay dropped to their cattle. Some cattle were killed. When they dropped food on the Indian Reservation, one Indian woman and child were killed. Les and Grandmother were sure Jim should have it done, and Mrs. Mc was going to ride in the plane and show them where to come. Jim said we have plenty of feed, and told them where they could drop it without hitting cows. The cows couldn’t get to it.
In March, we had to go to town. Snow was still deep. It took us an hour and a half to go from the ranch to the top of the hill, where Fisher Valley dropped off into Onion Creek.. Jim rode Echo and I was on Cactus. We had to stop every little while. Cactus had a hard time stepping in Echo’s hoof print. We stopped at Gus’ cabin. Gus was a herder and prospector who had a little log cabin up a side canyon in Onion Creek. It was made of logs, just a roof and sides. Down where the road came into the creek from the meadows, up a little side canyon, we built a fire, warmed up and went on.
I don’t know how much snow fell that winter, but a lot, and it was cold. When it started to melt off, there was a huge ice cycle on the northeast corner of the bedroom. I tried and did bet Jim how long it was. I bet a fifth of brandy and won, he never paid that either. Of course I always had enough.
We went to the winter range to ride. Elmer Lee got a dozer and cleared the road to the Scarf Ranch. Snow was really deep. A yearling “wither” steer had gotten in with one of the cows. It followed her everywhere. We were gathering every critter to take to the ranch and feed. We broke a trail with the extra horses and the wither stayed on the tale end.
Snow was as high as the sheep. Lester had a sheep camp on the rim of Cottonwood. We had to go by the herder’s tent. I had the lead bunch and it was getting late. The herder rode a white horse bareback. Here he came down the trail and stopped when he caught up with me. He said, “I’ll take them now. You go to the tent and get a cup of coffee.” I thanked him, but said we wanted to get them by the camp, then we would drop them for the night. He called Jim “Bill.” I’ll go talk to Bill, but Jim Bill told him the same. We made it through that winter in better shape than some.
In the meantime, Fern and Les had moved to Dragerton. Les owned the Barber Shop. Fern was District Public Health Nurse. Pearl and Budge moved to Sunnydale (which is now Sunnyside), quite close. Jim always thought of that as home.
In June, Jim rode one day and when he came in he was really sick. And he didn’t get better. At three o’clock in the morning, I put clothes together and at daylight we took off. We had the Power Wagon and it was rough riding. Irma and Aldie were at the Tin Roof House. Clyde had asked if they could have it and one acre of ground. They insisted we take their car to town. They came later in the Wagon. We went to their house and I called Fern. She said, “I’ll be down for you.” We got to Dragerton and Mrs. Mc, Pearl, and Budge were there. We thought it the best place to go. We took Jim to the hospital. He said he felt all right by then and didn’t want to go. The doctor operated at 9:00 p.m., or started. It took two hours. His appendix was attached to the back of his liver. Fern was going to assist, but she came out. We stayed a while, then went back to the mountain.
About this time, we bought our first car. It was a light green Chevy and we paid $1,010.00 for it. We really enjoyed it.
Bud and June came by and wanted to go to Fisher Valley to get apricots and I went with them. When we got back, I could see Jim had a temperature so we packed up and went back to Dragerton. He had a badly infected stitch. When healed, it left quite a deep hole in his side.
In the fall of 1949 we kept the calves over again. We took them to the river to pasture and feed. We tried one hired man and he was a failure, so we got Junior Garlett to come.
When we got off the mountain that fall, Jim sent me out to do some things and said, “When will you be back?” Thanksgiving was on the 24th. I said I’d be back the 22nd. He was there with a horse. When we got to the ranch I said, “Where is Alva?” Jim told me he came up to breakfast that morning and said “I’m going to town,” and left. Fortunately they had weaned the calves. Jim planned to take them down the canyon to the feed on Thanksgiving. Many of our holidays were work days, and trips to town. From the ranch it required at least three hours. So we left the ranch, had some older cows in the lead and the calves followed. When we got out of sight of the ranch, Jim told me to go back and turn out the cows, get the pack mules, and catch up. It was the first time for me to try that much. We made it fine. We rested the calves below the Narrows. I had fried a chicken, made a mincemeat pie, and we rested and enjoyed. We put the calves in the farm on the river, then went west on to George’s to stay the night. Essie had sent up a complete Thanksgiving dinner. Bud came up and said June was a bit unhappy that he came to help. We thought Alva would help us get started, then go to town. We made it fine.
Jim and I were alone that Christmas, but we never minded that.
1950 brought many changes. I think it was in March we decided to build a house in Grand Junction. We bought a lot kitty-corner from Zelpha and Bill. This was a very comfortable home for which we paid $10,500.00 cash.
Buck and Neva had bought the river ranch, the old Titus place, from Bud and Wayne Johnston. That is when we really got to know them. It has been a lasting friendship. We had held the calves over that winter on the pasture and sold them through the sale yard. They brought 53-cents per pound, a very good price. Alva was still in Fisher Valley.
In June, I kept feeling as if I was pregnant and went out to Dr. Groom in Grand Junction. Since we had the house in Grand Junction, we couldn’t afford to do another in Moab at that time. When I told Jim the date of birth, he said, “God, it will have long hair and get its ears froze off.” He compared it to a white face calf. He told his mother we were going to have a baby. She said, “Was this a mistake or intended?” The word spread fast. After all we had been married ten years.
In mid-July, Jim and I planned to go to the Steer Roping in Laramie, Wyoming. The evening before leaving, Helen Taylor came over all by herself. She said, “I told Lester I had to talk with Jim.” Dave and Joe Goudelock were evidently considering selling the ranch. The Goudelock Brothers Company was meeting the next day to decide what to do. Helen said Lester couldn’t buy it (the Professor Valley Ranch). And a couple of fellows whom we thought were friends of Clyde’s, and all of us, was trying to work through Dave and get it much cheaper. Helen said, “I have three boys who could take over,” and she had Goudelock blood in her veins. Taylor by name. She said if either of the boys bought it they would pay $30,000.00. There was lots of deeded ground on the mountain that went with it. It was a very good outfit. Jim asked how much, if they didn’t want it. Helen told him $60,000.00.
Jim asked her, “If the boys decide against it, would the company give us a chance?” Helen went home and we went to Grand Junction next morning. There wasn’t a stove in the house yet. Jim had been working on the yard to settle the dirt. He had mountain dirt hauled in and put in a sprinkling system and sod yard. We were eating lunch when Zelpha came over. Helen wanted to talk with Jim. Jim came back and said the company had voted to give us a chance at the operation, so we came back to Moab. Jim went first to the bank to ask if we could borrow a little money. He moved our account from the United States Bank in Grand Junction to Moab. At that time, it was First National Bank. We had $40,000.00 to put down and that paid four of the partners. Helen and Clyde said they’d wait until we sold the calves to pay them, which helped.
We sold Fisher Valley to Don and Lester Taylor for $35,000.00 in payments, and bought the old Dewey place, at the forks of the Colorado and Delores Rivers, for $3,500.00.
Later Jim and Lester bought the John Dalton outfit which included the Scarf Ranch on the Dolores River, and about a section of La Sal Mountain ground.
After that, they bought the Jim Westwood holdings on the desert, and we ran in common for a couple of years. Then they split it up, made it a lot easier operating.
In the years past, Jim and Mr. Mc had sub-leased mountain ground from Taylors, as did several other cattlemen. They had a big state lease. But that year the state told them they couldn’t sub-lease anymore. They had to stock it themselves. When D.L. Taylor came home from the army, he and Joe didn’t like the sheep real well. They sold the sheep and went into cattle. They formed Taylor Livestock Corporation, so we would have had to go someplace. I am very glad we could stay here.
That fall, we had to relocate the cows. When we moved off the mountain I went to Grand Junction to stay and wait for the little one. Jim got Ernest Downard, a family friend from Elgin, to build a little house and grain shed out by the rim of Squaw Park. We had to go down over a rock. There was a long rock rim around Squaw Park. Several caves, all facing south, made it nice winter country. On top the road came around where Jim wanted to build a little house, with a little spring. But everything had to be put over the rim. They put a cable over, so they could let themselves down, along with all building supplies. We could park the pickup or truck up on the hill. There was a good spring there for horses. There was a horse trail into the place, but it went up around the head of the canyon.
The transaction on the Goudelock/Professor Valley Ranch was made in August, 1950. Jim had sold some calves to some 4-H boys in Moab. When we loaded the calves to go to Thompson to put them on the train, Lester Walker came up to the ranch to pick up the calf for his grandson. He gave Jim a $100.00 bill in payment. Jim gave it to me and said, “I guess we can keep this for ourselves and not report it.”
We had gone into Fisher Valley in September to get what we wanted from there; a few more things we should have picked up. We could move into the big house at the Professor Valley Ranch, and there was a telephone there.
When I moved to Grand Junction, we took Jack, our dog. He was a good mover, never left the yard. He would walk along the front walk. Grandmother tried to get him to go to the basement to sleep. He wouldn’t even look down there. She put rugs out by the house. He built his own nest, as he had always done.
I gathered up a layette and bought a big chest of drawers. We didn’t have one for our room. When we moved to Moab, we bought a bed to match. I bought a little nightstand too. Clyde gave us a bathing table for the baby. It was nice. Mildred and Everett let us use the crib they had for their boys. We were set up to wait.
There was some kind of flue bug that year and it hit me after I moved to Grand Junction. About 7:30 a.m., on December 29, I went to the hospital. Bill and Zelpha took me. I was x-rayed and they said, “How would you like twins?” The first was born at 10:20 a.m., a breech baby. They worked with her quite a while. The second was born at 10:40 a.m. The doctor said “Oh, this is another nice girl!” I said, “Jim wanted a boy so bad.” Doc responded with “I guess he will take what he gets, won’t he?” Jim would never talk anything but boy or boy’s names, only “No more James!”
Jim wasn’t in town. Bill, Jerry and Buck Buchanan went to Squaw Park to get him. Coming back up the “Rock,” Jerry asked: “Uncle Jim, how will you get those little girls down this rock?” Jim’s answer: “It won’t be long till they will learn to follow.”
Jim got to the hospital about 4:00 p.m., a broad smile on his face. Ted and Aggie Wareham were with him. The nurse took him to see the girls. When he went back to the house, the family was full of questions. “Who do they look like?” Jim told them, “The skinny one looks like Nellie and the red faced one looks like me,” and they did.
We decided on Julie and Jan for names. We kept the Js. Counting the names that start with a “J” on the McPherson side, including in-laws, there are 13.
The morning of the 30th, the nurses brought the girls into the room. Julie looked so frail. She didn’t hold her head up as well as Jan. She was quite dark complexioned, not pink like Jan, and had a long slender nose like my dad’s. That was to be the only time I saw her, for the nurse came in about six and said she had gone into convulsions. They couldn’t help her. Always my thoughts have been: We had her!
Jim told me this wasn’t the way he had planned. He was going back to Squaw Park, then come in the first part of January and stay. The girls were born at the old St. Mary’s Hospital on South 12th Street. Shortly after, they moved into the new hospital on North 7th Street.
Some time later, Aggie told me that when they saw how happy Jim was, they decided to have a baby. Teddie was born in October of that year. Jan was in the incubator three weeks, or until she weighed five pounds. The girls weight at birth was: Julie – 4.03 pounds, Jan- 4.13. Jan was so very healthy.
We stayed in Grand Junction until May. Jim cleaned up the old house at Dewey and stayed there until time to go to the mountain. Jan never rally liked the house in Grand Junction. I think mostly because Grandmother was so delighted with her. She would hover over her. We whould go to Dewey and she’d sleep and sleep.
The summer went as usual, lots of company to see Jan, a novelty after 10 ½ years for us. We moved off the mountain the day before Thanksgiving, unloaded at Dewey, and went on to Grand Junction. The three babies were there. Fred and Ann Burrett had a girl December 30, and named her Patti. Mildred and Ray Hamilton had a girl February 4, and they called her Janet. Fred and Mildred are nephew and niece of Jim’s. Jan would be a second cousin.
Jim bought his first pair of dress boots when Jan was born. He always had a pair after that.
We went back to Dewey, and put a heating stove in on the west side of the house. We kept Jan between the two stoves that winter, for it was a beastly cold one. Besides, that house set at the forks of the Colorado and Dolores rivers. The draft was strong. We wintered fine.
A day or two before Christmas, Jim brought in a pretty little cedar tree for Jan’s first Christmas. He never cared much about Christmas until then. Too, that was the first winter Jim wore earmuffs or a stocking trop over his ears.
In March we had Mr. Hotz build a three-room house on a gravel knoll down from the old house at Dewey, and out where we could get all the winter sun we could. It was located below the spring, so we had water piped into the house. We moved a little house that Bob and Clyde had built down next to the river to use as a bunkhouse. Bill and Doris Buchanan were on the farm in Professor Valley. He was an excellent farmer.
In April (I think) of 1953, Bill and Doris moved to town. The girls were in school and there was no bus that run up the river. Bill and Belle Tatton, with their three children, Sally, Hyrum, and Virginia, came to the farm. They were there nine years.
On October 22, 1955, the big house at the Professor Valley Ranch (originally built by prior owner, Tom Larsen) burned. We had just had a lot of work done. New floors, one wall taken out, and should have had the chimney rebuilt. We think that is where the fire started. George White and a hired man were coming up to see Bill. They saw the fire, so helped him get quite a few things out. Jim had just traded a horse or mule to one of Lester’s sheep herders (long hair) for Indian blankets. They were in a gunnysack on the front porch. When they were found, they were out in the outhouse. We do peculiar things in excitement. Belle had moved out to Cisco for the children to go to school.
We built a small house for Bill to bunk in until we could get a larger house built. In 1956, Eben and Jim Scarf built a nice cinder block house in the same location as where the old house had been, with a full basement. Belle was working in town and lived in an apartment.
In 1957, we started thinking about school for Jan. The family expected us to go to Grand Junction and that is what Grandmother really wanted. One evening Bill McClurg said to me, “Well Nell, you will soon be coming up to start Jan in school.” I told him that the business, courthouse, bank and all were in Grand County. By the time Jim took care of all that there wouldn’t be time to come see us—and only 30 miles from Dewey and the mountain. Bill agreed. That is all that was ever said.
Zelpha had kindergarten in her home. Jan visited whenever we were in town and really liked it. She called Zelpha “Teacher,” like the others. One day she came home and said: “Can I take some money to Teacher, like the other kids do?” She did.
We looked at houses in Moab and found one on Tusher Street for $12,500.00. Tusher was a new subdivision built in the uranium days. Later on, there was a bus up the river and to the ranch, but we never used it unless in the fall, when we were gathering the cows into the ranch and we “batched” in the “little house,” at the Professor Valley place. I shall leave it for Jan to fill in the history of her years through school.
In 1959, we bought Buck and Neva’s forest permits on the La Sal Mountains. The cows were branded 7 -J (the seven was then the H-J, put together). Buck died December 2, 1961.
In 1964, feed on the desert was sparse. It had been a dry summer. Jim rented some pasture in Mack, Colorado. Les brought down his camper for us to use while we trailed the cows. For help, there was Jim, Jan, Dale Holyoak, and Bill Shupe. We went to Dewey, and from there to Cisco. It was still on the highway and Ballard and Wava Harris had a filling station just west of Cisco. Wava said she would cook Thanksgiving dinner for us. We slept at Dewey, then went out to Cisco early the next morning to get started. It was cold!. The horses were all nerved up because of the train noise all night. I was glad when they got away from the corral. Dale Holyoak threw his hat down too close to the fire and it burned up. We made it into Mack the next day. Hap Wilcox (Budge’s brother) checked on the cows for us that winter. The next year Hap and Norma came to the farm in Professor Valley, and were there a couple of years.
It was while Hap and Norma were at the farm that there was another dry year on the desert. Jim brought the cows and calves in to the farm. We day-herded them on the fields, because we couldn’t get on the forest until June. When we did turn them to the mountain, they went crazy. They chased every blade of green grass. The rains started later making the mountain feed good. The calves weighed in well that fall.
We followed the cows to the mountain, back to the ranch, Dewey, and the desert. We bought the house Bill Rowell had built on the Titus place after Bud and Wayne Johnston bought it. Then Buck and Neva Kirk had it. They sold to Pete Doles. After he married Margaret, they built a new home. Pete told Jim he could have it if he would move it. We moved it to the Professor Vally/Goudelock place for the hired help to live in. It made the trip fine. We made our headquarters there in the big house. We built a porch on the north, made the northwest bedroom into a bath and laundry room. That same year we added a bath and laundry room to the mountain house. It made both very comfortable.
In 1971, we sold the Professor Valley/Goudelock Ranch to Bates and Robin Wilson. Most of the mountain ground, Dewey, and desert permits we sold to Taylor Livestock. Part of the mountain forest permits and one-third of the cows were sold to Pete and Margaret Dole.
Two-thirds of the cattle went to Taylor Livestock Corporation. Later we sold Tommy and Glenna White one section of deeded ground, one section of state lease. The Tin Roof and remainder of the ground went to Taylor Livestock Corporation.
In 1976, we gave the mountain house and pasture to Jan and Dave. There had been a section there and we sold some to Ed and Ireta Kirby, Suezanne Taylor Hood, Bill White, and John Keogh.
The end of those “Trails” came for Jim and me in January of 1980. Jim died. Two and a half years later I sold the Cedar Hills home and bought one on Sundial. I am still here. I added a room off the kitchen-dining room to accommodate the “Majestic Range” stove. I changed the kitchen around and added new cupboards.
Odds and Ends Trivia
What is in a Name
Grandmother Tora Saeamount McPherson: In Swedish, the name was Shewberg, an odd pronunciation. It meant “sea mountain.” They changed it to “Seamountain.” Then some of the sons changed it to “Seamount.”
Houses Jim and Nellie Built, had Built, or Remodeled
* A bedroom on the mountain cabin at Beaver Creek.
* A porch across the front of the mountain cabin in the La Sal Mountains.
* Nellie built a chicken coop on the mountain and Jim helped put up the fence and door.
* Our first bedroom on the mountain was a tent.
* Our bed at the ranch in Fisher Valley was our first.
* Summer was behind the house in a clump of trees.
* Built a little house 10X12 at Cow Skin Canyon.
* Built the present house on the mountain in 1948. Added bath and laundry in 1969.
1950 We built the home in Grand Junction at 814 Glenwood.
1950 Built a one room cabin and grain and hay shed by the Rock in Squaw Park, the Winter Range.
1951 Built the th3-room house at Dewey.
1956 Built a 1-room house at the farm (Professor Valley/Goudelock Ranch), after the big house burned.
1956 Built a cinder block house at the farm, with full basement.
1957 Bought a house on Tusher Street for Jan to go to school. It was brick.
1968 Moved a house from Pete and Margaret Dole’s place to the Professor Valley Ranch, and did some remodeling on it.
1970 Added a bath and laundry room to the house on the mountain, and changed the back bedroom on the east to a bath and laundry at the Professor Valley house. Put Jan down stairs. She was away in Salt Lake at school.
1971 Sold the Tusher Street House and bought a house and three acres of ground on Cedar Hills.
Jim’s Horses and Those We Had After We Married (*Those I rode.)
Snip* Tall black horse with white snip on his nose.
Selam* (Rode once.) These two horses came from Florence Creek and Crawford.
Scatterbrains A Turner horse. Jim was breaking him when we married (have picture).
Turner Also a Turner horse and a good one. Died of Brain Fever.
Spider Out of Budge’s Spider Stud. Didn’t keep him long. He kicked Buck on the bottom of his foot. When we were riding to Bar A one time, the horse walked along with his tongue hanging out.
Sea Biscuit* Paid $25.00 for him at a sale. A tough horse. He could go a long way. This was the only horse that made a couple of jumps with me.
Bish Bish Westwood broke him. Never a gentle horse. We had to tie up a front leg to get on.
Smoky A tall dapple gray we got from George White.
Robin Bought from Vaughn Taylor. We raced him a couple of times. Ted rode him.
Jim Horse* Bought from Vaughn Taylor and a real good one. And rode him, too.
Bay Rum Good looking horse. Ted rode him. Never very gentle. He bucked Jim off south of Cisco on the gravel road and broke some ribs.
Pegesess (sp?) His registered name. Jim called him Pecos. We bought him from Alva Johnston. They had raced him and he was good looking. Jim was riding him over near Bar A. Joe and Lester were there, too. It was raining and lightning. The horse was standing in water. Lightning hit somewhere and spooked the horse. He jumped straight in the air. Jim’s glasses fell and he grabbed them in his teeth. The horse was real nervous after that, when the sonic booms were going off. Pecos was in the corral at the farm. He threw his head and caught a nostril on a knot and tore a big hunk out of his nose. We had to destroy him.
Diamond* We bought from Gean Leavett. A good horse. Jan rode him, too.
Pony* A good easy riding horse, but he didn’t like me for some reason. I only rode him a few times.
Trapper* A government trapper broke him. We bought him from young George White. A good horse. Gave him back to George when we sold.
Ghost The horse that fell over the rim in Waring Canyon….and lived.
Echo Springs* Raised him and Jim broke him. Buck, Neva, Madge, and Gainy were on the mountain one Sunday. Buck said, “Let me try him.” He had on work shoes. The horse never moved. He was an easy one to break. Left him at the ranch for Bill Tatton to ride between the ranch and Bucks, on the river to irrigate. He would let him race back to the ranch. It got so it was hard to hold him when headed home. Jan rode him the last time. He nearly fell with her coming out of a wash. We were drinking “Echo Springs Liquor” the day Buck rode him. Therefore, the name.
Goldie* A pretty mare we bought from Lester Taylor. Never got a colt and she was a beast to shoe. I rode her quite a lot.
Leavett* A big horse from Leavett, but didn’t turn out like Diamond. Turned him back.
Yellow* Really Jan’s horse. A small horse, really good, Palomino. Jan could put Puppy Dog on behind her saddle. After she was too big, or he was getting old, we just kept him in the little pasture. One day she tied him to the fence and pulled his tail. When Jim came home he asked who had done it. Jan told him she did. He said, “That little SOB would try to kick my head off when I’d pull it.” I rode him a couple of times and he seemed so little. He was really good in a corral to rope from.
Cotton* A roan horse we bought him from Lloyd Summerville’s grandson. Jan rode him mostly. She graduated from Yellow to him.
Brownie Buck Kirk let us have him for Jan to ride when she was two or three years old. He was a big brown, gentle horse.
Smithy* Registered and we paid $1,000.00 for him. He was the last horse we bought. We got him from Byron Smith. A good young horse, sorrel with a white strip on his face. I rode him those last years. Jim gave him to Jerry White, who later sold him to the Marlboro outfit who shot a lot of their advertisements at the White ranch.
Roany* A large, lanky horse. Jim’s dad rode him. I rode him a few times. Not very easy to ride.
Oatsie A gentle, pretty horse. Sue Taylor rode him when she was Rodeo Queen Attendant. He was a bit spooky in the arena. He liked his oats.
(name ?) Had a pinto that Andrew Tangren broke. I don’t recall what happened to him. He was a real Indian pony.
Cactus* Looked just like the stud Spider. Very gentle. I rode him most. He got ticks in his ears and had to be put to sleep.
Work Horses and Mules
Bess & Maggie A good work team of mares. Bess had brain fever and had to be destroyed. We left Maggie in Fisher Valley.
Dick & A big white team. Dick was very calm. We used him to break two mules to Whitie work. Whitie was a little skitish. Jim was clearing ditch above the garde
Mare Mules Work Team They were getting old. We had a little garden east of the old house, We built a round fence around it. Jim was holding the hand plow, I was trying to follow orders and guide the team. Bob and Clyde came by. Bob took over and did a better job, or maybe Jim didn’t dare say anything.
When writing about the old mare mule team, the fall Jim decided to “put them down,” George was on the mountain. We were moving off. Jim and George led them down over the hill. When they came back, George said, “Don’t ever let Jim put a rope around your neck and lead you off.” I know what he does. These were the mules Jim brought from Florence Creek when Pearl and Budge sold to the Indians.
Punch & Punch Punch was a pack and work mule, tricky, but fun. Judy was a genie mule, taller than Punch. They worked well together.
Little Red A little red mule Budge gave Jim. Really good to pack and followed like a dog.
Isac And then there was Isac. He was a good pack mule, kind of hard to load sometimes. Jim wanted to pack some boards off the mountain to the ranch. He cut them to certain length, but every time one of those boards touched Isac’s neck he’d throw them off. We spent all morning getting loaded and finally got them down. Another time Jim took him to the farm to get the heavy block and tackle and a couple of cases of fruit. He got up the hill into the Brush Hole. Isac had had enough. He jerked away, bucked and got the tackle under his belly and stopped, but not until about half of the jars of fruit were thrown out. Jim gathered up the mules and come on to camp. He led well. We went back in the pickup, gathered up the tackles and not one jar of fruit was broken. They landed top-side up in the brush. One time we were going to the winter camp. Jim was riding a half broke horse and leading Isac. He came to a little ditch at the lower end of the ranch and Isac wouldn’t jump across. He pulled back and loose. He took off up the canyon. Jim took my horse to catch him. He said, “I cut off his head with my dull pocket knife.” When he caught up with Isac, he reached into his pocket for his knife. I thought He really won’t try that. The throat latch had gotten caught some place and was choking him a little. He led like a good mule after that.
(bay horse) We had a big bay horse with a strip in his face. Jim rode him some. I don’t remember his name. We packed him to the winter camp, then Jim rode him. But if he wasn’t being led when we got to camp, he’d lay down and roll, mash the bread (we always put it on top), or break the eggs. He never accepted the hobbles. He was so awkward.
Spider* Stud, from Budge. A small horse, very gentle. I rode him some. When we were going to take him back to Budge, We were at Dewey and had some other horses. We loaded him in the pickup, got up the grade, and he threw a fit. He tried to jump, caught both hooves between the cab and rack and was shaking that pickup from side to side. Jim said, open your door and jump as far as you can. We both did. When Spider calmed down he let Jim pull his feet out and rode fine to Dragerton.
Allen Ayre This was his registered name. He was a big black Morgan stud. Jim called him Bull. He was the “snow plow” the winter of the deep snow. The horse Vodka was out of him.
In all of the years I rode, I never had to saddle my horse, and Jim always stood at his head when I got on. What a gentleman! – Nellie McPherson 1993