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Mrs. Linda Bryan

AIR #96
December 20, 1964

 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.

The Bryans came from Salem, South Dakota. After one of their friends homesteaded in the Union country, they decided Dawson County might be worth a look so in the summer of 1909 Mr. Bryan came, and looked, and filed, and the family moved here the first week of November. Another family came at the same time, the women and children by train, and the men with the immigrant cars. The trip from Glendive to Union had to be made by team and wagon, so they spent their first night in Montana at Almy’s Halfway House. Tom Pierce, whom they had known in Sac City, Iowa, in their pre-South Dakota days, lived less than a mile from their homestead, so they stayed there until they got their own four-room house built. They had nice weather until February that year (good thing they didn’t come in ’64) which was a great blessing because they had to freight everything by wagon from Glendive.

The winter was kind to them that year, but made up for it in later years. Many times a blizzard would last two or three days. In one such storm the snow drifted completely over their hog shed, which was built below a knoll, and the hogs all smothered.

But summers could produce storms, too. One day in August, the first summer they were here, their neighbors with their four children and Bryans with their five children loaded up in a wagon and started out to see some more of the country. They saw a country parched from the summers drought, but the drought was broken abruptly when a rainstorm came up with such suddenness and violence that they had to stay at the Sheppard Ranch over night. That rain gave enough moisture so they did get a few bushels of sod potatoes from their plantings.

Prairie fires were common, especially during dry summers such as that one. Whenever they saw smoke, they dropped whatever they might be doing and went to fight fire. Standard procedure was to kill a beef and drag it behind a saddle horse along the fire line. Not only was much grass burned that dry summer of 1910, but many thousands of acres of forest were also destroyed by fire. That was the year that one August day remained dark the entire day because smoke from forest fires was so heavy the sun couldn’t shine through.

Many range cattle and horses roamed the ranges freely and often gave them trouble. One encounter indelibly etched in the memory of daughter Veva (Mrs. J.W. Robson of Lindsay) was with a lone range steer. She and her brother Howard were playing house in the haymow of the barn when this steer came to visit, but they didn’t consider it exactly a social call. The steer ran around and around the barn, bellowing as he ran, until they were scared half to death. They finally managed to sneak out and dash for the house, but the steer discovered they were on the way and took after them. They got to the house just ahead of him and slammed the door in his face; so then he ran and ran around the house before he finally left.


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