TAYLOR COUNTY EMIGRATION and other stories of early settlers
transcribed by Pat O'Dell: email@example.com
The following is a letter from one of those who left
Taylor County for the "west."
Taylor County Republican Dec 30, 1880
Crystal Springs, Montana
November 16, 1880
I see nothing in your paper lately from Montana, what
has become of all the Taylor County boys that went to
Upper Montana last spring?
We are all enjoying good health here - in fact this is
the healthiest country I ever saw. The Indians have not got
through with my horses yet, for they haven't returned
them, and now I do not expect them to.
Sitting Bull's warriors are coming in and surrendering
to General Miles. We are confident that our Indian troubles
are about ended.
The buffalo have been very plenty here this fall. Some
days we see thousands of them. They drink at the Springs
close to my house. We have been compelled to shut the
cows in the stable to keep them from going off with
the buffalo. We have killed over 100 of them, but
hunters are in danger of losing their lives, for the
animals are to be feared, unless they are mortally
wounded. Sometimes at night (paper folded)..unless
he has a good cover at hand. I have shot some within
twenty feet of me, but if I had had a poor cartridge,
I would have been out of luck sure. Some parties have
killed over 2,000 this year.
There are about 500 Grosventres (pronounced Groy..paper
folded..) eight miles from me. I expect they will come
within three or four miles of me in a short time, and
hunt all winter. They are friendly fellows, however.
The Democrats and Greenbackers up here are feeling
blue since the election. They seem to be ditto in
We have had one and a half inches of snow, but it left
in two days.
From the Taylor County Republican June 14, 1883. We
are in receipt of a note from B.C. Anderson, who writes
from the Ree Valley, Dakota Territory. He says that he
located in Hand County, in the great Ree Valley, 18
miles north of Miller, the county seat. It is a fine
country to look at and, in Mr Anderson's judgment, will
be a wealthy country. It is neither level nor hilly, but
rather undulating. He settled on unsurveyed land which
has since been surveyed and will shortly be in market,
and he wants the Republican sent to him, of course. They
From the Taylor County Republican August 16, 1883:
Mr John Moore, who went west from Gravity last spring
with a lot of cattle, is now near Miles City, Montana,
and has a hundred and sixty head of stock doing well.
Mr. G.S. Shortridge, of Polk township, and his son-
in-law Mr. Leonard Cobb, recently of Andrew county,
Missouri, will start from Mr. Stortridge's residence
about the middle of next week, with about one hundred
and forty head of cattle, bound for Wyoming. Mr. Cobb
expects to locate in the west, but Mr. Shortridge will
return to Taylor county as soon as they drive their
cattle through, which will be in six or seven weeks.
Taylor County Republican April 24, 1884
THE LOST IS FOUND
About seven years ago Almond Sawyer, son of Mr. and
Mrs. F.A. Sawyer, and his wife and child left Taylor
county. From that time until last week not a trace
of them could be gleaned by anxious relatives here,
although letters had been sent to them in every
direction. Last week Ara Sawyer noticed the name of
his brother printed in a Louisiana paper, and wrote
to him. In a few days he was rejoiced to receive a
reply from his long lost brother, who stated that
they were doing well. There is now general rejoicing
in the Sawyer families.
Bedford Free Press Jan 16, 1902
JOHN WHITHEAD READ THIS
John Whithead should you see this please write to your
brother, Dan, at Tabernash, Colorado. 47-4.
classified ad in the Bedford Free Press Nov 7, 1916
Iowa South-West Democrat Bedford, Iowa, May 4, 1888
Mr. S.S. Patch, of Ross township, received a letter from his son
Charles a few days ago, dated at Honolulu, an island in the
Pacific ocean, March 18th. He has been on board a whaler
since last November and been cruising in the southern
hemisphere. He reports the capture of eleven whales, and
400 barrels of oil. He will cruise in the far north this summer.
Iowa South-West Democrat Bedford, Iowa Oct 4, 1884
Big Horn, Wyoming Territory, September 4, 1884
C. O'Dell, Esq., Bedford, Iowa: Sir - I told you in my last that as
soon as I got through I would tell you about our trip from Spearfish,
and describe the country as best I could.
We left our old camp in the vicinity of Spearfish, Dakota, which
place and surroundings I told you of, on the 13th of August, with 254
head of cattle. We had been resting for some time, so horses and
cattle were feeling tolerably fresh, and we made ten or twelve miles
a day. We had no trouble in supplying ourselves with plenty of fresh
meat all along the road, and in fact supplied many of our neighbors.
Deer and antelope are in fine fix, and we found them plentiful. I staid
with the outfit, helping drive, till the 27th, when I left them and struck
out by myself, on horseback, for this place. The distance, as given me,
was 120 miles, much of which lies through a wilderness, marked by
Indian or cattle trails, and dotted here and there by cattle ranches.
For the first day I road down a rough and rugged gulch a distance
of 15 miles, with no watter to drink. Once I turned to one side to a
little pool, which on examination I found so strong of alkali, or some
other poison, as to kill snakes before they could rescue themselves.
In the one pool I counted near twenty which had lost their lives in
this way, and in many others from one to a half dozen.
At noon I reached a cattle ranch on Powder River, where I took
dinner and rest, after which I resumed my journey up the River to
the mouth of Clear Creek, where at another cattle ranch I spent the
night, sleeping in a house for the first time since the 14th of May.
During the next day I traveled on up Clear Creek to the U cross
ranch (U) at the mouth of Piny. There I saw the greatest number of
prairie dogs I ever saw in the same length of time. Near one of the
dog towns I shot an animal the cowboys and I pronounced a wolverine.
He was the meanest looking animal I ever saw, a size smaller than a
black bear. Later in the day I shot a big, spangly, horned, black-tailed
buck, without leaving the trail which I gave (to some folks who were
camped) near. I reached the aforesaid ranch a little before sundown,
having rode a distance of forty miles. As the boys were just preparing
for supper, without a word I stripped my horse and stepped in, and
was kindly welcomed. I enjoyed supper, bed and breakfast, and not
a cent to pay. There were twelve boys. To the ranch belongs 1,600
cattle. The boys ride from six and ten horse apiece.
On my third and last day I rode on up Piny a few miles, and
then across the hills, following dim trails, or none, to Big Horn City.
Nothing special worth mentioning, except three elk some hunters
had just shot down in a gang, and were just skinning.
On entering the city I rode to Mr. Jackson's, expecting to find
brother Lon, but he had gone to Buffalo, the county seat, to secure
the bounty on four bears he had been lucky enough to shoot the day
before. They were one old one, two yearlings and one cub. They all
say Lon is too risky on the hunt. At the last for one of the yearlings
he took his revolver and crawled into the thicket where he could
not walk, and got within four feet of it before he saw it, but one
lucky shot between the eyes did it, and he came out without a
scratch. We have been eating the flesh, and it is fine flavored
meat, much resembling nice pork.
On Saturday I visited the Hardees, where I found my old
friend, Sim Smith, from Buchanan. I returned in the evening,
and in time to surprise Lon on his return. He has improved much
in size since we have seen him. Not boasting, but the boys all
say he is the best man physically in or about the town.
I also found Frank Hunter and Mert Price. The boys all seem
to be doing well and enjoying themselves.
Big Horn City is in the valley of Goose Creek, about seven
miles from the canon, where it breaks through a tolerably rough
range of the Big Horn mountains. The streams all have beautiful,
level valleys, which are nearly all cultivated. Between is rather
rough, rolling prairies - not mountains - fit only for grazing.
They raise small grain and vegetables in abundance but no
corn. Since I came here I helped Lon thresh. His best wheat
threashed fifty bushels per acre, after badly shelling out.
Prices generally are about double Iowa prices for products
and other articles, such as store goods, etc.
I have lately contracted to teach the Big Horn school for
six months at $70 per month.
Board will cost me from $20 to $25 per month.
The citizens boast of their summer and fall climate. I am unable
to say about that yet, for since my arrival we have had some cold
rains and quite a snow, though the harvesting is not done.
Snow can be seen on the mountains at all seasons of the year.
I should like to write you more deffinitely a description of the
country, but have not time, or room on this sheet.
Lon and I are going on a two weeks hunt soon, as school does
not commence for that length of time. I shall hope for letters from
home on my return.
Yours in haste,
Big Horn City, Wyoming
This is a letter from Lon (brother of Warren above) O'Dell to his father
Clark Odell at New Market, Iowa.
Big Horn, Wyo, Jan the 9th, 1885
Father Dear sir, I thought I would try and write you a few lines,
as I have neglected to write for so long, I have been so busy
and so lazy that I dident take time to write to any body, I had
a tolable cool trip up after ponies this last trip, it was 57 degrees
below zero. and snow 2 feet deep on the level. it kept that way
for a week.
we had to lay up for about 3 weeks. we learned lots about Indians,
had lots of fun holding squaws on our laps and they would kiss
us and make a fellow think of home. tell mother they dont all
look like them that was at the clerinda fair. I have seen squaws
that lays 3/4 of the Iowa girls in the shade. not saying but what
there is some prety girls there.
one old Indian Chief told me he would make me present 100
head of horses if I would marry his girl. she is a nice little girl
14 yrs old, but I guess I wont do it. the first trip I made after
ponies there was 2 other men buying and they got 32 head
and started for home, and one night after they had camped
the Indians dashed in on them and stole all but 1 pony that
was picketed and they never got any of them back. and the
last trip there was 2 other men buying and they stole all but
five head. the first trip there was a white man hunting horses
that had strayed up there and he under took to take them
without explaining the matter and they flocked in around
him and about 50 of them went after him with theyr quirts
and whipped him all over. his face was all welted up some
of them waved theyr tomy hawks over his head while
the rest whipped him. I seen him 2 days after they had
whipped him and his face was marked bad. but if a man
uses them well they use him the same way. I will start
back in a few days we got 43 head of ponies. I now (know)
there is big money in them, some of the ponies that was
bought for $8 was sold for 30 here in big horn. 1 that was
bought for 10 sold for 50. well I guess I will send you a
fine picture. it is the picture of a pagan Indian.
it hante my girl, but she is a dandy girl well you must write
and tell all the rest to write.
well I must close for this time now you dont wand to destroy