BENJAMIN F. STRANGE
Benjamin F. Strange, a prominent farmer of the Bitter
Root Valley, was born in Garrard Co, Ky. His ancestors were among the early
settlers of Virgina. His maternal grandfather, Jesse Robards, was a Captain
in the Colonial army during the Revolution and rendered his country much
Jacob Strange, father of our subject, was born in Kentucky.
By his first marriage he had four children. He was afterward married in his
native state to Catherine Roberts, a native of KY. and they moved to Kansas.
Mr. Strange died in Brown Co. Kansas in 1856 at the age of 60, leaving a
wife and three sons and two daughters. During the following year the eldest
son broke his back at a barn raising. In 1860 a severe drought caused the
crops to be a complete failure and the settlers became destitute of food.
Benjamin and his brother William were obliged to go sixty miles with oxen
to the supply station, provisions having been donated by the more fortunate
settlers of Minnesota and other states. The journey was made through a destitute
country and they received only 150# of graham flour. They then made a trip
to Missouri, receiving 1,000# of middlings. While returning home they became
snowbound two weeks, and their oxen not being able to draw the load, they
uncoupled the wagon, putting a part of the supplies on the front wheels,
and leaving the remainder. After waiting for the thaw they found the rivers
very much swollen, and at one place the stream was surging against the bridge
with such force that it seemed as if they must fall at any instant. While
crossing, the wagon pole fell from the ring in yoke, ran under the planking
and stopped the oxen. The bridge being narrow, they were obliged to unyoke
the oxen and carry the yokes and wheels back to extricate the pole. To add
to their fright and anxiety the accident occurred at night and in the morning
they learned that the bridge had gone down. The brothers at last reached
home in safety.
In 1862 Mr. Strange enlisted for service in
the late war, entering Company I, 13th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He served
to the close of the struggle in the Western Division, took part in the battles
of Cane hill, Prairie Grove and Van Buren, was in numerous skirmishes and
participated in the running fight from Ft. Gibson to a distance of 250 miles,
in which there was considerable fighting every day. Mr. Strange received
a sunstroke during that forced march, from which he was disabled during the
ensuing winter and has never fully recovered. After receiving his honorable
discharge at the close of the war, he returned to his home in Kansas. On
New Year's Day, 1867, he was married to Amanda Goff, and they continued to
reside on a farm in Kansas until May 1, 1874. Four children were born to
them in that state, one of whom Franklin, died at the age of 2 years.
With their three children, James A., Fred and William
A., the Strange family came direct to the Bitter Root Valley arriving at
this place $50.00 in debt. Mr. Strange first found work for two months at
$40.00 per month, then purchased a team, wagon and harness and located a
ranch six miles north and one mile east of Corvallis. At the close of the
first year, he owned a good team, three cows and had twenty acres of land
fenced. He sold that farm with the intention of leaving this country and
loaded his goods on a wagon, but on calmer reflection decided to relocate.
Mr. Strange then purchased 160 acres of land six miles from Corvallis, for
which he was indebted to the amount of $350. During the first year he raised
grain, at 50 cents per bushel, sufficient to pay the entire indebtedness.
In 1881 he sold that place and purchased 160 acres of his present farm, to
which he has since added until he now owns 640 acres. Three hundred and twenty
acres of the place is located three miles form his home. Mr. Strange is engaged
in general farming, stock and fruit raising.
Six children have been added to the family
in Montana: Luke, Sarah M., Mary C., John, Anna B. and Lucella. John died
at the age of ten and the two eldest sons are married and reside near their
parents. Mr. and Mrs. Strange have two grandchildren. Our subject and his
wife are members of the Methodist Church. The former has been a life long
Republican and is a member of the Masonic fraternity. His entire life has
been one of unrelenting toil, and he has not only secured a valuable property,
but has the respect of the entire community.
History of Montana,
by Joaquin Miller, 1894