ANNA McKENZIE McLEAN STORY (Part III)
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Kenny Brown
The spirit of the West prevailed, and friendliness with an air that you are no better than your actions denote, and everyone was taken at his face value. A young man from abroad had arrived and while impatiently waiting for his baggage to be loaded to go to the ranch, he told the old baggageman in charge at the N.P. depot, thus:
"My man! I am So and So, son of So and So, and I wish my bags jolly quick!"
The old man replied, "That is nothing against you; in this country you'll get your bags when your turn comes."
Remittance Boys
Mrs. Malone mothered the remittance boys at the old MacQueen House. The story is told that one of the boys after hours of entertainment, exclaimed, "London is a bloody fool compared to Miles City." To prove his good nature, when his friends played a joke on him by turning on the water in the tub where he was sleeping with all his clothes on, he aroused and said, "Jolly good luck, don't you know! I'm here in time for the flood."
The flooding of the town every spring was the main excitement of the year. Little Dorothy Snell, a day out from New York on a visit to England, looked through the porthole and shouted, "Mother, the flood is here."
Speaking of this young man brings to mind a number of English, Irish and Scotch young men from the other side, from families of wealth and culture. They were mostly interested in horses. and made a striking picture in their trim riding outfits and dancing throughbred saddle horses.
Some of these boys were called remittance men. They spent money freely and always paid when their remittances came quarterly from home.
Mrs. Stacy wrote when a girl in her teens on their ranch, she enjoyed contact with people from all over the world, cultured people from Boston, Philadelphia; Lords and Dukes from England: many delightful southerners from Kentucky to Texas.
Fifty years ago, the social side of life in Milestown was over shadowed by Fort Keogh. Officers, their families. and a fully equipped army post were in a position to banquet and entertain guests in regal style.
They attended parties at the MacQueen House, and club rooms, the officers in full uniform, their wives in trained gowns fashioned by leading modistes. Dr. and Mrs. Gerard were a handsome couple. She was blessed with a fine singing voice. Mrs. Joseph Leighton and Mrs. Sam Gordon were the most graceful dancers I ever saw in a ballroom. A picture in a formal gown, with description. was given in an eastern magazine of Mrs. Joseph Leighton at an inaugural ball in Washington, D.C., and Mrs. Sam Gordon at a governor's ball in St. Paul, Minn.
Charming people gathered at the MacQueen House. It stands out in the minds of old timers in a sense like the old Walforf Astoria did in New York, having sheltered people of renown and high position. Our little town played host to General Miles, Major Dawson, President Teddy Roosevelt, every governor of our state, Sousa of the Marine Band, Henry Ward Beecher, Earl of Portsmouth, Major Allen, Major Liggett, who ranked high in the late war, Father Lindersmith, Rev. Ritner, 1st and 2nd chaplains of Fort Keogh, U.S. Senator, ex-Governor Joseph M. Dixon, cowboy artists, Russell of Montana and Bill Gollins of Wyoming. Buffalo Bill. Capt. Joe Brown of the Spanish American Cowboy company, all the officials of railroads, John Clay, president of the National Stock Show. Chicago. The late U.S. Senator Kendrick of Wyoming, on his last visit to Miles City, expressed the wish that the completion of the North and South railroad would bring together again the stock meetings of early days.
The shades of night are closing for many "riders of the purple sage." Two brothers reminiscing said: "What ever became of Ed?" (One of their early range pals.) The answer, "I'm not sure, Grant-he is dead or gone to California."
Remembers Roosevelt
On the ranch at Fallon creek -- I was the only woman for miles around, and was shown much attention. From one to three delegations called to invite us to dinner at the mess-wagons. I was escorted to the throne of honor-the spring seat of the wagon placed on the ground - my tin plate filled with roast beef, baked beans and hot biscuits, the riders sitting tailor fashion on the ground, their crossed legs making a table for their plates. The cook flourished his cleanest dish towel, pouring coffee, the boys farthest away taking sly glances through the spokes of the wagon wheels. On one occasion I was surprised to have one of the boys ask, "Who was that guy you ate dinner with, who had his chaps on backward?"
I answered, "That was Roosevelt of Medora." He was wearing brown corduroy, leather-seated riding breeches.
In after years Teddy greeted us with the same hearty handclasp in Washington, D.C., introducing us to officials as his good friends of the West. When President, he proved the good friend of the West, saying lie would veto a bill that had been framed in Iowa, to have all cattle dipped before being loaded on trains: such a law would have been impossible in the West.
There are near tragedies of the range. Mine was a social tragedy, the Stockman's Ball to be given at the MacQueen House, a new dress, three invitations, and a father that did not realize he had a grown-up daughter. One young man braver than the others came with a fine livery team and buggy and said, "Let me speak to your father." But he forgot England had tried dictating to Scotland, before.
This young man told me that at the ball was the Marquis de Mores, his wife, Medora Hoffman, and parents, the multi-millionaire Hoffmans of New York. Their private car was on the side-track at the Northern Pacific station. It was understood that Hoffman furnished the funds whereby the Marquis built the ice-houses and packing plant at the Old Town, with the idea of shipping dressed beef to eastern markets. I was reminded of all the men he put to work when I saw the PWA workmen last winter.
Mrs. John Holt looked after the LO boys from their ranch. Mrs. 0. C. Cato the XIT from Texas, tall boys who looked as if they had been cradled in a saddle.
The Cowboy
In his picturesque togs, large sombrero, colored shirt, chaps, riding boots, silk kerchief tie, and mounted spurs, he is modification of the Spanish Cavalier. His horse's movements give him grace, putting him through "daily dozens". The man of 40 as a rule is no more bow-legged than the 14-year-old beginner.
As for entertainment, say all the pretty things you can think of about his horse and soon he will expound the merits of his mount. If he comes in the house do not ask for his hat or he is lost and will not remain long. He rolls his hat, readjusts the hatband, looks at the lining, and for the first time discovers the name Stetson. His parting salute is, "Well, I must be hittin' the trail-So Long'', or "Adios".
My father thought they were a wild bunch and did not encourage their acquaintance. One day a cowboy found a book we had lost on the way to school. We were the only family in the valley-he naturally returned it to the house.
On relating the call that evening, my father said, "He is a fine lad, Ann." I asked, "How do you know?" He answered, "I discovered I knew his grandparents in Scotland."
My father was right, and if the Lord is willing we will celebrate our Golden Wedding in the spring of '36.