From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Margaret McKelvey Cole
Jud McKelvey was born Jan. 10, 1873, to Oliver and Anna Bennett McKelvey in Strongtown, Pa. His family followed the trend of the 19th century by moving west. Oliver McKelvey hauled supplies to soldiers stationed in the Black Hills area during the Sioux uprising after gold was discovered. Jud as a young boy rode with his father on these long trips, trying to slip in a ride on the reach of a covered wagon going west, running barefoot, bumping his head going into a dugout and eating molasses, cornbread, beans and beef. These were his early memories. The family moved to Absarokee, Mont., in 1884. Here he attended school and hired out for 50 cents a day. When he was 15 he went to horse wrangling and cowboying. Some of the outfits were the XIT and the Hash Knife. They ran cattle on Sunday Creek, Cherry Creek, the Missouri Breaks and around the present towns of Terry and Fallon. He also worked for the OU and Bug. He spoke of his friendships with Shorty Badgett and Joseph Putman co-owner and foreman for these ranches. Jud freighted supplies for a few years from Rosebud, a railroad depot, to Ashland for James Beatty's general store in Ashland. He worked the first part of his life for others and then decided to start on his own. He had a small bunch of steers and saddle horses and bought a ranch on the Tongue River ten miles south of Ashland in 1902. Jud ranched here until he sold the Rocking chair in 1944 and retired at 71. His cattle ranged over the area of Odell, Otter and King Creek. This area later became part of the Custer National Forest. The Rocking Chair brand became widely known because of the McKelvey's friendly nature and hospitality. Their daughter, Billy (Mrs. L. D. Trusler), used it extensively in brand designs. Jud married Kathron O'Hannon, Jan. 21, 1909, Kathron (Kitty) was a teacher from Adair, Iowa. She taught her first school in Montana in 1903. She was born in Davenport, Iowa, to Margaret Kelly and Laurence O'Hannon. Kitty taught at Stacey and the East Fork of Otter Creek. She and her sister, Madge, had a small bunch of cattle branded
This brand is still used by the family.
There were three daughters born to them. Margaret (Mrs. Norris Cole of Forsyth), Adeline (Mrs. L. D. Trusler of Ashland) and Beverly (Mrs. George Delmeire of Forsyth); all three live on ranches. All three finished college. Their father and mother sacrificed a great deal to achieve this goal for their children.
Jud may be remembered as a pioneer stockman. He didn't wean his calves in the fall: he sold three and four-year-old long horned steers until later years. The cows were fed little hay as there wasn't much put up. Any farming that couldn't be done on horseback was avoided as much as possible.
Jud's way of welcoming a new baby into the world was to brand a calf for him. Many a man was given chuck and a bed in the bunkhouse at the Rocking Chair all winter.
Jud was a member of the Southeastern Montana Livestock Association for almost 50 years, a charter member of the Range Riders and Oddfellows Lodge in Ashland.
So we remember him as a warm-hearted, generous, friendly person to young and old. He passed away Nov. 13, 1958, in Billings, Mont. Kitty passed away April 22, 1930. Both are buried at the St. Labre Cemetery, Ashland.