ROBERT AND MARY SPROAT ANDERSON
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Mary Dundas
Robert Lindsay Anderson was born Feb. 19, 1868, at Mark, Creetown, Scot. In his early teens the family moved to Ireland. At the age of 18 he left Ireland and came to the United States. He met and joined his cousin Hugh Hunter. They journeyed together to Miles City, Mont. They arrived on April 15, 1887. Their arrival formed a quartet of cousins, two Andersons and two Hunters. One of their early engagements was with a firm who freighted supplies to the different trading posts. Their outfit consisted of two fourhorse teams and wagons. The trails were rough and rivers were crossed by ferry or fording. Once they were stranded in the middle of Powder River. To lighten the loads he took Hugh on his back and swam to shore. The teams swam out. One of the trading posts was Ekalaka, a hotel, store and a saloon. In 1901, he formed a partnership with James Hunter. They bought a ranch on the Little Missouri River, known as the OX Ranch. Mr. Hunter and Mr. Anderson embarked in the sheep business. They prospered and operated the ranch until the ChicagoMilwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad came through to the Pacific Coast. They sold 160 acres of land to the Milwaukee Townsite Company for $15,000 on which to locate and build a town. It was named Marmarth after Mary and Martha, two daughters of an official of the railroad. They returned to Montana and bought a tract of land near Ismay. It was equipped with livestock, both sheep and cattle. After a number of years, Robert bought out James Hunter's interest. He operated the ranch many years before selling it. Mary Sproat and Robert Anderson were married on Feb. 18, 1904. She was born June 5, 1874, at Netherton, Dalbeattie, Scot. Five children were born to them. Robert L., Jr. was born Feb. 26, 1905. John was born March 6, 1906. James was born on Nov. 24, 1907. Mary was born on Sept. 16, 1910 and Walter was born on May 9,1914. In addition to his private business, he found time to serve the public and helped subdue and develop the country. He served four years as deputy assessor together with his cousin James Hunter in Custer County. He was a member of the Montana State Legislature in 1921 to 1922, president of First National Bank of Ismay and elected County Commissioner of Custer County in 1924. He served 12 years as commissioner. The Andersons maintained a large home in Ismay and loved to have company. A few years before Robert's death a banquet was held in his honor and during a little talk that he gave he said, "I haven't accumulated material wealth but my life has been rich with friendships. What more could one wish for in a lifetime?" Bob, as known to his many friends, passed away in the family home where he and his wife spent their remaining years. The date of his passing was on July 20, 1942. Mrs. Anderson was living with her daughter, Mary, in Miles City, Mont. when she passed away on Feb. 22, 1947, at the age of 73. Both Mrs. Anderson and her husband are buried in the Miles City Cemetery. The Range Rider's last tribute to this "wonderful couple, on the roll of the 'Pioneers' who now rest from their labors, their names merit an enduring place."