A BETTER AND HAPPIER CLASS OF PEOPLE
More About Ranchmen -- Johnson County People Prosperous And Contented With Their Lot -- Some Of The Best Country On Earth -- The Creeks Of French, Johnson, Sayers, Rock, Shell And Their Tributaries, And Lake Desmet Were Visited By C. S. Mills In The Interest Of The Post
Leaving Buffalo last Tuesday morning the writer visited the prosperous streams of French, Johnson, Sayers and Rock creeks, Shell creek and its tributaries, Shell creek basin and lake DeSmet, and the Old Soldiers' home.
French creek is a nice little stream which heads far up in the mountains and flows into Rock creek near Buffalo. Some very prosperous ranchmen reside on this stream and the writer noted a few facts on his visit.
The first place visited was that of Antone Fisher. Mr. Fisher owns a 150-acre place which is mostly irrigated. He is an old timer having been in the country twenty-two years.
Passing up the creek we came to John A. Fisher's place. Mr. Fisher is one of the pioneers of the county having been one of the first residents of Buffalo, at which place he conducted a brewery for years. Mr. Fisher has 320 acres of fine land, lots of cattle and horses, and as fine a bearing orchard as is to be found in any of the eastern states. He has fourteen kinds of apple trees, several different varieties of plumbs, pears, apricots, peaches, cherries, grapes, raspberries, gooseberries, currents and strawberries which will all bear abundantly this year, the trees, bushes and vines all now being heavily laden with young fruit. Mr. Fisher has his own cider press and makes his cider and several varieties of wine each year. He also raises tons of garden truck each year for which he finds a ready market at the town of Buffalo. Mr. Fisher had some of his canned fruit, grains and vegetables on exhibitions at Omaha in 1898, and at St. Louis and Casper last year. At the former place he received a gold medal for barley and vegetables, and at St. Louis he carried off first prize for the best beans.
Chas. Miller has a nice place of 280 acres, has a few cattle and horses, has been in the county nineteen years and appears to be getting ahead.
J. H. Sage, who is the father of one of The Post's Johnson county Portland fair contests, Miss Mabelle Sage, has a 400-acre irrigated ranch, runs 150 cattle and quite a bunch of horses.
Peter Jordan has been in the county twenty-five years, has 1,120 acres of irrigated and range land together, and owns quite a bunch of cattle.
Sherman R. Long is a new man on French creek, he is lately from Missouri but is a product of Illinois. He has 185 acres, most of which is watered.
C. M. Robbins at the head of French creek, has 80 acres of deeded land of his own, works the Williams ranch and has a section of school land leased. He has every thing about the place in good shape and is making money. He has been in Johnson county fourteen years.
Leaving French creek we pass over the divide to the north and strike the head of Johnson creek, which is a small stream flowing into Rock creek. The first fellow on Johnson creek is J. E. Claypool, who is tending the Hallaway place. This place contains 320 acres, 85 of which are irrigated and bearing a good crop. This is only Mr. Claypool's second year on the place.
At W. H. Smith and son's place the writer accepted an invitation to remain over night, and was entertained in a way that only the good old farmers can entertain. The Smiths have upwards of 900 acres of land and considerable of it is watered. In the fall the sons operate a steam threshing outfit, and the father puts in most of his time at his large saw mills on Bull creek in the mountains. The Smiths came to this country from Nebraska fifteen years ago.
C. S. Verbeck is on one end of the old Pioneer place, which we will describe under Sales creek. Mr. Verbeck is a bright young man who, two years ago took the advice of Horace Greeley to young men and is getting along nicely.
Going down the creek we came to C. H. Cook's ranch. Mr. Cook was sick in bed but we learned from one of his men that his place contained 160 acres and was all in crop, and he also owns 100 head of cattle.
Just before we came to the Cook place we passed a house but found no one at home but later found that it belonged to Mrs. Songer, who has a small ranch and owns a few cattle.
Z. W. Foster and his mother own a nice 400-acre place between French and Johnson creeks which also runs down to Rock creek. They have been in the county sixteen years and have a nice bunch of cattle.
Passing up Rock creek about a mile from the source of Johnson creek we strike the source of Sayles creek. This is only a small stream but contains plenty of water for all irrigating purposes. At the lower end of Sayles we find F. F. and George Yarwood. These boys have about 1,000 acres of land, and lots of it is level and therefore very valuable. They run a good-sized bunch of cattle and are oldtimers.
Next we came to the J. N. Penrose ranch. This ranch contains 1,800 acres of deeded land and extends from the head of Johnson creek to Sayles creek and in addition Mr. Penrose has a school section of leased land. All of the low land of the 1,800 acres is watered and cropped. The Penrose ranch contains two small sets of buildings, where the men and their families reside and the home place, where Mr. Penrose and his estimable family live has a large, well-furnished house and one of the largest and best barns in the county. The writer spent an hour and took dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Penrose, and greatly enjoyed both the dinner and the visit. Mr. Penrose runs both cattle and horses.
On up the creek we came to the place of James H. McDonald. Mr. McDonald is also a heavy ranchman, and has a very fine place. He owns 1,000 acres of land, and eight shares in the great Cloud's Peak reservoir. He has been in the county twenty years, makes a large shipment of cattle each year and also runs quite a bunch of horses.
Mrs. Helena Sayles, for whom the creek was named, lives right at the feet of the Big Horns, where she has a 340-acre farm, and runs a nice little bunch of cattle.
On over to the north from Sayles creek we came to a beautiful spot, which contains two large ranches and a few small ones. This place is a sort of basin. It is right at the foot of the mountains and contains no stream save a very small one called Spring creek, however the places are all under the Cloud's Peak reservoir and have plenty of water.
Only two families were found at home in the Spring basin. The first, A. W. Warburton, has a large, two-story house, a nice big barn, 500 acres of deeded land and lots of range. He is a very thrifty farmer and runs cattle.
W. A. Megredy is successfully operating the Wm. Bryant ranch. This ranch contains 1,500 acres of land, a fair-sized house and a mammoth barn. Mr. Megredy has 200 head of cattle and appears to be very well contented with his lot.
Now we come to Rock creek. This is the largest stream of the district visited. All the above streams flow into Rock and Rock flows into Clear creek about a mile and a half below Buffalo. Rock creek is a beautiful stream and carries quite a volume of water which rushes from its source like a race horse coming down the home stretch.
At the head of Rock creek is found one, J. R. Hutton. Mr. Hutton came to this country in an early day as a freighter. Twenty years ago he took up the land of his present home and when asked by the writer, "Isn't it a little lonesome away up here in the mountains and fifteen miles from the nearest town?," Mr. Hutton replied: "I would rather live in Wyoming than any other place on earth and I would rather live at the head of Rock creek than any other place in Wyoming." Mr. Hutton has a couple of sections of land, has 100 acres under water, and surely has a beautiful place to live.
T. J. Haynes has 760 acres of deeded land and one of the most beautiful mountain homes one would wish to see. He has a good house, nice large fenced lawn, and a rock basement stable. His home is right at the junction of the north and south forks of Rock creek, and the water rushing over the huge boulders puts him to sleep every night. The Haynes' home afforded the Post correspondent shelter over night, and the mountain trout supper, the good breakfast, the perfume of the large lilacs and the royal treatment of Mr. Haynes and his good wife and fair daughter will never be forgotten. Mr. Haynes is an old timer in Wyoming and has lived on Rock creek twenty-one years. By the way his freighting career was spent in the vicinity of old Fort Laramie in Laramie county, right at the writer's "old stamping grounds," and it afforded us great pleasure to inform him as to how it was going with Dick Wholen, Posy Ryan, Joe Wilde, Jack Hunton and some of the other old timers who still stick around the historic old fort.
B. F. Bebb is working the 160-acre farm of Mr. Farwells, but may turn it over to other parties in a short [time].
C. W. Griffen's ranch contains 480 acres, 100 acres of it are lowland and seeded to alfalfa. Mr. Griffen is an old-timer, and has been interested [in] cattle but is selling them off and going into the sheep business. He has fair improvements on his place and a good young orchard started.
B. L. Clark hails from California and has purchased a 520-acre place on the Rock. One hundred and fifty acres are under the ditch. Mr. Clark has quite a bunch of cattle and is a very pleasant gentleman to meet.
Chas. Fox has a large stone house and other good improvements and 320 acres of fine land at the point where Johnson flows in to Rock creek. Mr. Fox runs 100 head of cattle. He has been in the country since 1871.
I. N. Lane's 560-acre tract of land lies on the north of Rock creek, but his fine large house and other buildings are back from the creek about one-half mile. In addition to Mr. Lane's fine farm he controls a lot of range on which he runs his large herds of horses and cattle. Mr. Lane is one of the most progressive men in the county, and is making farming in Wyoming win. He has a large tract of rather high land that has no drainage and for years it has been swampy and useless, but during the past year the land's owner has laid 2,100 feet of tile in it and it now bears a good crop of Alfalfa.
Mrs. John McRae has a 480-acre farm, some fairly good buildings and a fine young grove and orchard. Mrs. McRae, with her husband, who died March 4, 1905, came to this county October 1, 1878, and she is said to have been the second woman to reside on Rock creek, Mrs. Foster of Sheridan having been the first. Mrs. McRae has a small bunch of cattle and is getting along nicely.
On account of the high water the writer did not get over to visit John R. Brown but he is said to have a nice farm, a bunch of cattle and has been on the creek twenty years.
N. J. Congdon is tending the Hutchen's place this year. It contains a large tract of land and good improvements. Mr. Congdon owns a residence property in the Vale Avoca addition to Sheridan, and will remove to Sheridan this fall.
LAKE DE SMET
John Barkey lives on the Sheridan-Buffalo stage road on one side of lake DeSmet. This lake is four miles in length and averages about a mile in width and is very deep, and affords a fine fishing resort for the citizens of northern Johnson county. Mr. Barkey has a fine farm of 828 acres which is nearly all irrigated and cropped. He has exceptionally good improvements on the farm, and is one of Johnson county's old settlers.
Mrs. C. W. Beavers is from Iowa and is holding down a homestead on the stage road near Mr. Barkey's place.
SHELL CREEK AND TRIBUTARIES
Shell creek is composed of a main branch and a north and south fork, which empty into it, and the main stream empties into Lake DeSmet. At the head of the south branch is to be found what is known as Shell creek basin. This basin is a very level piece of land about five miles long and two miles wide. In fact, the whole of the Shell creek district is very nice and very rich in irrigated and grazing lands.
Driving on up the stage road from Mr. Barkey's we came to Mr. Hersey's place. Mr. Hersey has 1,200 acres of mostly level land on the main branch of Shell creek, and also has a good ranch on Rock creek, and a lot of land leased for range near the mountains. This year, on the home place, he has in about 175 acres of small grain, and the balance is mostly seeded to alfalfa. Mr. Hersey has a nice large house and a big barn. The writer struck Mr. Hersey's place at just 12 [noon] and was mighty hungry, but went away about 1 p.m. in a very different state, thanks to Mrs. H.'s generosity and good cooking. Mr. Hersey has been in the country since 1881.
Mr. and Mrs. P. J. Gough are lately from England and own a fine 1,000-acre ranch, 70 cattle and are getting onto our ways of living and of ranching. They are very pleasant people. Mr. Gough is a brother of Mr. Gough of the real estate firm of Tylor & Gough of Sheridan.
Now we drop over into Shell basin and the first place we come to is John Peterson. Mr. Peterson has a quarter section homestead and also a few cattle.
Pendergraft and son have a well-improved quarter section of land which is all good. They run a few cattle and also have a house-moving business. They came from Iowa six years ago.
Ira Buell has a 440-acre tract, a good house and barn and sixty head of cattle. He has been in the country twenty years and is very prosperous. Mrs. Buell is a daughter of T. J. Haynes on Rock creek.
Gus. Buell, also in the basin, has a half section of deeded and well-improved land and lots of leased range land, has a hundred cattle and some fine horses. Mr. Buell has a fine young apple orchard and says he is just beginning to realize that apples can be raised in Wyoming just as well as further south or east.
Over the divide at the head of the main fork of Shell creek we find Charles Buell. Chas. is considerably the older of the Buell brothers, has a fine family and is surely a hospitable fellow. The writer spent a night at his place and was treated with all the courtesy and respect due a life-long acquaintance. Mr. Buell has 500 acres of land under the ditch and considerable that is not. His house is of logs, but is very large and the nice grassy lawn and flowers make it very homelike. Mr. Buell has been a heavy cattleman, but is getting out of the cattle business and into the sheep business. He has some five hundred sheep now. He is one of the old-timers in the country, having built the first house in Buffalo. He also ran a hotel in Sheridan at one time.
Douglas Sparks has a nice little farm just below Mr. Buell, has a bunch of cattle and is doing nicely.
D. J. Pool, on Shell creek, has been in the country eighteen years, has a nice farm of 175 acres and water for nearly all of it. He is just completing a neat two-story seven-room house.
F. P. Gray is renting on the North Shell, but has a homestead on Piney creek. He has a small bunch of cattle and a nice crop of alfalfa. Mr. Gray came from California four years ago.
Note - All over the above-described country the land which is not planted to alfalfa or small grain abounds with plenty of the best grass in the world, and the thousands upon thousands of head of cattle, sheep and horses are in fine condition and are making their owners good money every day, and in the whole trip the writer did not hear one man complaining about the drought (it rained all the time), the climate, the country, the condition of things in general, nor the present republican administration.
These people are all very prosperous. All have telephones in their houses, most of them have daily mail service, and a better and happier class of people is not to be found on earth.
Last Updated April 2005
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