Stories of the Pioneers who settled Eastern Montana,
as told to Mrs. Morris (Gladys) Kauffman
Click on the buttons
below to read selected excerpts from the As I Remember Stories. The Sam Sampson
story at the bottom of the page is included in its entirety in order to give
the reader an example of a full A.I.R. interview.
When Red was a little fellow, their mother viewed with trepidation
the approach of spring because she just never knew what to expect to find in
Red's pockets when she'd undress him for bed. He'd stuff into his pockets
anything from rocks to bugs, toads to watersnakes.
Mrs. Albert (Ivy Fluss) Brubaker of Terry
doesn’t remember a thing about her arrival in Montana, so all she knows
is what people have told her. But from what people have told her, the year she
came was an eventful year. While one member was added to the family, another
member came close to being subtracted. Lon Fluss and Irva Boothe had been
married five years when they moved to the Bar G Ranch near Mildred in
September of 1908. That same fall Mrs. Fluss went back to Illinois to await
the arrival of their first child while Mr. Fluss kept things going on the
Family banks may be on the wane numerically
across the country, but Terry’s State Bank - the bank that started in a
poker game - is a family bank. W.A. Brubaker, back in 1905, was watching a
poker game in Medora, ND, when one of the old ranchers sitting in asked him,
“Why don’t you start a bank in Terry? They need one out there.
” So Brubaker started a bank out there. He was not a banker by
occupation or background or training, but he was equal to the challenge. Now
his three sons run the bank.
Mrs. Paul Jarvis isn't sure just
when her grandfather first came to Montana, but it was early enough so that
he could leave here (temporarily) in 1904. Joe Novasia, Sr. had come to
America, leaving his wife and two small children in his native Italy, before
his first child, born in 1882, was old enough to remember him.
He went first to St. Louis where his older brother
lived and worked in his brother's restaurant. His brother had done well enough
in this new land that he was able to launch the newcomer in a business of his
own, but the next business didn't last long, perhaps because he was his own
best customer. The business was a bar, and Joe not only liked his product; he
liked to 'treat' his customers so it wasn't long until he went broke.
In the ‘good old days’
when Mrs. Linda Bryan and her five children alighted from the train that
brought them to Glendive the first time, they were met by a unique ‘
welcoming committee’; sleeping hoboes covered the depot floor, and the
depot agent had to chase them out to make room for the new arrivals.
Memories of the days spent in
the Bloomfield Valley and near linger on in Viola (Barber) Coryell's
mind - a lot of happy ones and a few sad ones, as is the case in most
everyone's life. Here in her own words is her account of that eventful
period, as well as a summary of the years that followed:
"We were one of the families to leave
Bloomfield, Nebraska, to seek a new home in Dawson County. My mother, Mrs.
Romaine (Antha) Barber, my sister, Mary, and I arrived in Glendive by train
the thirtieth of June, 1909. My brother, Charlie, met us, as he had taken a
homestead west of Bloomfield a year or so before, and brother Levi joined him
a little later."
When Miss Catharine Calk invaded the Big Dry country in western
Dawson County (then), the rancher was still king and the region was still
rough and primitive (just how rough and primitive she didn't quite realize
before her arrival) even though much of the eastern part of the county was
becoming well settled. She had come from Kentucky to visit her aunt in
Bozeman, where she had two brothers attending college. One of these brothers
had already located in the Jordan area, and it was as a result of his urging
that she had decided to file on a homestead.
A dugout in a bank - a blanket for a door - a dirty table piled with dirty
dishes - a sullen, uncommunicative squaw - what a reception for a new bride!
Such was the reception for Mrs. Theodore Armstrong, mother of Sidney's Lucy
Theodore Armstrong, a cowhand near Woodriver, Nebraska, had long harbored a
hankering to go West, and in 1882 his chance came. The Wood Brothers, bankers
in Woodriver, had heard about Eastern Montana's vast ranges with their lush
grass so they bought a bunch of long horns down in Texas and hired some
cowboys, with Armstrong as herd foreman, to drive the cattle north to the
Cowboy - horsewrangler - broncpeeler - rancher - homesteader - sheriff
- Floyd 'Gobbler' Davis, has lived in three different counties, all in the
same spot. When he homesteaded, after a colorful career as cowboy, his claim
was located in Dawson County. Later, as chunks were lopped off Dawson to form
other counties, he found himself and his farm in Richland until still another
division put him in McCone.
no man living today who came to Glendive before Louie Elliot (there never have
been very many who could claim that distinction), long-time resident of
Glendive now in the Holy Rosary Rest Home in Miles City. Louie was born in
1881 and came to Glendive when he was only a year old.
Perhaps the difficulties Sam Sampson encountered on his first attempt to
move his belongings to his homestead were portentous of the problems and
obstacles that lay in the path of one striving to wrest a living from 160
acres of Montana's dry land - although dry land certainly was not his problem
on that first trip.