Oral Histories

Rolly Thompson


Rolly Thompson

A: Yes.

Q: What was your grandfather’s first name?

A: William

Q: What year did he arrive in this country?

A: I have no idea. He came after they got the railroad in. He shipped his cows in on the railroad and jumped them out of the boxcars.

Q: He jumped his own cows out of the boxcars?

A: Yeah.

Q: When they say Thompson Springs…..?

A: That’s my town.

Q: Does the Springs part relate to those springs up above? Or “springing” out of the boxcars as someone mentioned to me.

A: Yes, the springs. Well, years ago. You see now they have the water controlled. Put it in tanks. All it was doing then was just running down a creek; so he drove his cows up there and watered them and then took off.

Q: So he was riding on the boxcar and didn’t really know where he was going? He just thought it looked like good country?

A: Whether he came out and scouted this country out before he came in, I don’t know. Anyway, as near as I can tell they went out and they ended up into over at Henry Mountains. Then, somehow, just hearsay, it just came down the family what Dad was telling, he sold out of the cow business and went into the sheep business.

Q: Was he still in Thompson Springs?

A: No, that was after he moved somewhere between here and Henry Mountains. So then he went in to sheep business and he ran his sheep up on the Books. He came back in here with his sheep. I can’t remember anybody telling me about the first time he went broke in the sheep business.

Q: Did he actually homestead his land that he had in Thompson when he came in on the boxcars for any length of time?

A: No.

Q: He didn’t sell out to anyone?

A: No

Q: So he was running sheep up on the Books but he went bankrupt?

A: Yes, why, I don’t know, the first time. Of course, he had three boys. Dan the oldest with his first wife; then he had 2 boys with his second wife and that was Warren and Roland, my dad. So then he and his wife went down and took over the Ruby Ranch. At the Ruby Ranch they had a boat and the Wild Bunch had a bunch of horses on both sides of the river. Grandma would feed them and row them back and forth across the river. When they came in or leave, why, they left money under the plate. And that put them back in the cow business.

Q: This has to be 1890s?

A: Yeah.

Q: What year was your dad born?

A: ’04. Warren was one or two years older than he was, so he was probably born in 1901 or 1902. Of course, Dan was quite a bit older than the others.

Q: How long did they stay at the Ruby Ranch? Your dad was a youngster growing up at the Ruby Ranch?

A: He got his cows built back up and, guess what? He sold out and went back in the sheep business.

Q: That must be the 1920s, when sheep got big again?

A: And it was in 1933 when they went broke again. He retired and turned it over to his 3 boys. Those three boys didn’t do anything while they were growing up except party and play and drink. When he turned it over to the 3 boys, they couldn’t get along and all they did was party and drink and drank up the sheep business and the bank took it over. So in ’33 they went out of business again.

Q: That was when it had been turned over to your dad and the other two boys?

A: That was when I was three years old.

Q: Do you remember that era at all?

A: No, I was too little.

Q: Then what did your dad do while you were growing up?

A: He went to work for W. W. Clyde on construction. He spent most of his life that way.

Q: Did your family have anything to do at Sego?

A: No, Granddad had the house right at the end of this block clear down there by the crossroads, south [in Green River]. We were raised in there until I was nine years old. Then he traded that place for a farm out here in the country. That’s where I was raised the rest of my life until I left and went off on my own.

Q: Did you go to school here?

A: Yes, graduated from high school here.

Q: After school did you go into the service?

A: No, I missed out on that. When the Korean War broke out, I was married and had kids. I adopted the kids and they wouldn’t take me because they were just taking single people. I was just too young for World War II. So I missed out on the service.

Q: At this point, you were in construction?

A: Yeah, I worked construction for about ten years. Then the missile base opened up and I went to work for the missile base.

Q: When it opened up, did it employ most of the Green River people?

A: Yes, I was the third person hired on maintenance. There were three of us hired about the same time.

Q: This was big business for this town?

A: Oh, yeah. Before I went to work there, construction work at that time was kind of a seasonal thing. In wintertime they closed down. So in wintertime instead of going on unemployment, I’d just shift over and go to work in the mines. Uranium boom was on then.

Q: Was your construction like home building or working on the roads?

A: Well, I worked a little on the highway construction but most of the time I worked right around town and built drill sites for drilling for uranium and drilling for oil and whatever they needed.

Q: Did you try the mining itself?

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