17 Horses and 1 Smokey Horse

By Bill Huntington

I had been working for W.B. Osten that had a horse ranch on Blue Creek south of Billings, Montana, before I was married in 1899 and moved to Basin Creek. I was pretty well acquainted with the range. I had a small bunch of horses that run in that country so I done a lot of range riding.

One

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Just Fifty Miles… Part II

Continued from April 5…

We started rolling and drove until dark. It had cleared up but was cold. The cattle was tired and never bothered that night. We got into Evanston about four o’clock the next day, a tired, sorry-looking bunch that put in the next day catching up on sleep. After we got our sleep out and settled

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Just Fifty Miles: Part I

I was working for a Mormon by the name of Joe Cheeney, who lived at the head of Bear Lake in Utah. At that time, the Mormons all had a few head of cattle. In the summer, they would run them in the mountains that bordered the Bear Lake Valley.

They wintered their cattle in the valley as the snow got

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17 horses and 1 Smoky horse

I had been working for W.B. Osten that had a horse ranch on Blue Creek south of Billings, Montana, before I was married in 1899 and moved to Basin Creek. I was pretty well acquainted with the range. I had a small bunch of horses that run in that country so I done a lot of range riding.

One day I

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I stuck my thumb in the ground and throwed it out of place!

l was living north of Billings, Montana, at Pickett Springs in the early ’20s, running a bunch of cattle. I was in Billings one day and met George Sturm, who ran a general store as well as a horse barn where he bought and sold horses and milk cows. Sturm told me that he had lost a driving team and

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Outside Riders

In 1913, when the Campbell United Shows was in Billings, Montana, I thought it would be fun to take my Wild West Show along with Campbell’s when it went South. Well, we got a lot of experience traveling with the carnival in the few months we was with it but never wanted to travel with another one.

The Campbell United Shows,

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Trail Trip

I had wintered in Lander, Wyoming, a long time ago when Grover Cleveland was president. [Editor’s note: Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th U.S. President and the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms — 1885-1889 and 1893-1897. Because Gramps was born in 1876, my guess is that this story takes place towards the end of Cleveland’s second term.

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Freighting in the winter… You had to have some savvy

When I came to Montana, there wasn’t too many railroads so there was a lot of freighting, especially in wool hauling season. After I got married (July 30, 1899), I got together a four-horse freight team and went to hauling wool into Billings. I made fairly good money so, when the Burlington Railroad built a branch railroad from Toluca over

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Horse trading…

When I first came to Montana, Charley Forrester had a jewelry store in Billings. It was a nice store and seemed to be doing all right. He sold the store and bought a ranch close to Bridger on the Clark’s Fork River. Whether he sold his store on account of his health (as he was a fat man that had

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With just a rope tied around their equator…

There was a horse outfit from Colorado that had drove a large bunch of unbroke range horses overland into Kansas. They had a sale at every place that had a good farming settlement. Kansas was settled up with mostly Eastern folks. They was used to buying mules from the sale yards at Kansas City and other large places. The stock

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Jim and Dollar Mark

One of the first stockmen I got acquainted with when I came to the Billings territory was Nate Cooper. He was one of the first to settle south of Billings, Montana, on Blue Creek. He built up a nice ranch house and a set of good corrals. Nate was a good businessman, a square shooter, and had a lot of

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Texas Red

One spring after I had wintered in Utah (Editor’s note: This story probably took place about 1895 when Gramps was about 19), a cowhand that I met in Montpelier, Idaho, said that he heard the Lightning Rod outfit was shorthanded. He was going to go hit them for a job, and he asked me to go with him. His name

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Fetching horses…

About 48 years ago (Editor’s Note: this was written about 1965), there was an Englishman by the name of Berry living on Montana’s Crow Reservation in the Dryhead country. His place was about 75 miles southeast of Billings on the bank of the Big Horn River. It was a rugged mountain country where the Big Horn River runs for miles

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Cowboyed from start to finish…

The Bull Mountains north of Billings, Montana, used to be big horse country. Until a few years ago (Editor’s note: This was written in the early 1950s. LG), there was thousands of horses ranging in that country from the breaks of the Yellowstone to the breaks of the Missouri River. There was wild horses in that country before it was

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Home for Christmas

The year that the Milwaukee Railroad was built, I was freighting for a man by the name of Larson, who had several miles contracted on the Musselshell River and east. It was about 50 miles from Billings, Montana, to where Larson had his main camp and commissary. (Editor’s note: This story took place after Bill’s first daughter Daisy was born

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Belgian business deals

When I first came on Indian Creek (east of Billings, Montana) with a bunch of cattle about 30 years ago (Editor’s note: which would have been in the fall of 1924), I did quite a lot of range riding. I got quite a lot of inquiries about horses and cattle that had strayed off their home range. Some of the

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Big Dry

If I remember right, it was the summer of 1909. There was a big horse sale in Billings, Montana. There was a lot of good heavy horses brought in from the western part of the state. The Madison and Jefferson River country used to raise some awfully good horses.

I was at the sale. A rancher that lived close to Wyola

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Every saloon was full…

It was the Fourth of July, and the spring roundup in the Powder River country was just over. Most of the cowboys came to Douglas, Wyoming, to celebrate as that was the closest town from where the roundup was finished.

There was a big sheep shearing plant at Douglas, and they had not finished shearing. It was a 25-man plant, and

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Ten bucks a head…

There was a three-day horse sale advertised at the Northern Pacific Stock Yards in Billings, Montana. It must have been in 1906 or 1907. Anyway, it was after the Boer War when the English government bought so many horses in the Western states. At that time, I had a ranch south of Billings on Blue Creek.

George Williams, a well-known rider,

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Moving a bunch of Texas steers

I was working in Utah. It was around 1895 or 1896. There was a bunch of cattle that had been trailed into that country from west Texas. It was an unusual thing for Southern cattle to be trailed in that far West.

Most of the cattle brought in from Texas was yearlings or two-year-olds. The younger stuff made a lot of

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Horse Roundup

I remember well a big horse roundup that took place about 1902. It was held up Pryor Creek just a little ways north of Pryor Gap about 40 miles south of Billings, Montana, on the Crow Reservation. The reservation wasn’t fenced at that time. There was thousands of horses in Montana in those days, and the Crow Reservation had more

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Bill’s Warbag 7-13-17

When I see a big truck loaded with cattle going to market, it reminds me of the 150- to 250-mile drives we used to have to make to get cattle to the railroad. In Wyoming some 58 years ago (Editor’s note: this column was printed in November of 1954), the Union Pacific had a branch line in Wyoming from Cheyenne

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Rustling problems…

Rustling problems…

In the early days throughout all the Western states, there was lots of thieving of livestock, and Montana and Wyoming had more than their share. The country had lots of cattle and horses and was thinly settled with just a few sheriffs hundreds of miles apart to try to enforce the law. It wasn’t too hard to gather up

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Horse Thief Smithie makes a ride

During the Boer War (11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902 ), the English government bought hundreds of horses in the Western states. Billings, Montana, was one of the receiving places where they rode them out for inspection. The horses had to be dark solid colors, 13-15 hands high, 5-8 years old, with good eyes, wind, and lines, and no

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Bucking horses…

Bucking horses…There are many different kinds of bucking horses. The young horse that has never been handled ain\’t near as hard to ride as an old outlaw that has throwed off a lot of riders. The green horse will do everything he can to slip his pack but hasn\’t had the experience of an older horse. The real bucking horse

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Real tough times…

Real tough times…

In the winter in the early days throughout this western country, the stockmen used to have real tough times. This as especially true when they ranged their stock on grass the year round. There was lots of cowboys and sheepherders that froze to death or froze their hands or their feet so bad they had to have them

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Wild West Show, Part 2

Wild West Show, Part 2

 

(Continued from last week) 

 

When I went to the bank to collect my half dollar for riding the mule, Mr. Killingsworth was ready to talk loans. He asked me where I had lived in Montana and if I had done banking there. I gave him the address of the state bank where I had done a lot

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Wild West Show, Part 1

Wild West Show, Part 1

In 1913, I had my Wild West Show with Campbell’s United Shows, which was a big carnival. It only showed in the large towns and made a week stand at each place it stopped.

In the late fall we was in Louisiana. It was the rainy season, and for three weeks we hadn’t done any good. All

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The albino just liked to rag…

The albino just liked to rag…Charley and Jim Taylor had come from England and settled on Bear River just over the state line from Utah in Idaho. They seemed to have plenty of money, and every three months, they got a bunch of money from England. Whenever the money came, they generally put on a big party at Montpelier that

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Ice Harvest

Ice Harvest…

In the old days, as soon as it got cold enough for the river to freeze over, everyone got ready for the ice harvest on the Yellowstone River that run through Billings, Montana. It was a very disagreeable job but about the only work there was in the winter. It didn\’t take much equipment. A team of horses,

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