WALTER A. CAMERON
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Ray E. Cameron
Walter Cameron's parents moved from Massachusetts where he was born, May 1, 1862, to South Brookfield, Nova Scotia when he was a small child. He lived there until 1880 when at the age of 18 he left home and headed west. After working in Maine for a year he arrived in Minneapolis in March, 1881. For the next year he worked for Northern Pacific Railroad contractors constructing new rail lines into the western frontier. He left this work in 1882 when the N. P. Railway lines had been completed through Miles City, Billings, and as far west as Livingston. That winter Mr. Cameron and three other young men organized a buffalo hunt near the present site of Great Falls which ended when two of the partners got tangled up in a duel with buffalo rifles at 20 paces, -but no buffalo. Mr. Cameron finished that winter near old Fort Buford, at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, cutting wood for steamboats, navigating between St. Louis and Fort Benton.
In the spring of 1883 he returned to Stacey, Montana, and started in the sheep business, by purchasing land and 1,500 head of sheep on Little Pumpkin Creek. During the next nine years young bachelor Cameron worked hard enlarging his ranch and acquiring 3,600 head of sheep. On October 18, 1892, he married Miss Ella F. Sweeney in Miles City. She was born May 15, 1869, in Soughton, Wisc.
In 1902 the Camerons sold their Pumpkin Creek ranch to Mr. George Horkan and moved to Miles City. In 1903 they purchased 8,000 acres, five miles northeast of Terry, Montana, on the north side of the Yellowstone River at the mouth of Cedar Creek. They built a new ranch here which was stocked with 7,000 head of sheep and operated until 1907 when the place was sold and the family moved to Terry.
Anticipating that Terry would become the division headquarters for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad and an important eastern Montana city, Cameron invested heavily in real estate and business enterprises. These included a brickyard, construction of a large steam laundry (which later became the Prairie County Court House), a restaurant and a drug store. At this point trouble broke out all over the place. The C. M. and St. Paul Railway established headquarters in Miles City instead of Terry, the laundry was closed by health authorities because of inadequate sewage disposal, and the restaurant closed for lack of customers.
In 1921, the Camerons sold all of their holdings in Terry and with Cecil, the only child still at home, in moved to Seattle, Washington, to be near their eldest children, Clyde and Ruby, who had made their homes there for some time.
While living in Eastern Montana, Mr. Cameron served as County Commissioner of old Custer County, Mayor of Terry, and Clerk of the District Court for Prairie County, and was identified with many progressive activities in the area.
Although he had only a few years of formal schooling, he became a well-educated man through constant study and extensive reading. Even in his declining years, he continued to follow a life-time habit of having a dictionary. an atlas, and the Bible close at hand for reference while reading. He was a man of great courage, uncompromising honesty, and firm convictions, almost to a fault, in the things that he believed in.
During the last ten years of his life, he was handicapped by arthritis and a slight stroke that had partly paralyzed his left side. He passed away at the age of 80, of a stroke on February 6, 1942, in Seattle, Washington. Mrs. Cameron died there on December 16, 1959.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cameron are as follows: Clyde was born September 3, 1893, and lives in Seattle with his wife, Blanche. He was Chief Inspector for the Port of Embarkation in Seattle at the time of his retirement.
Ruby was born October 18, 1895. She is now Mrs. Cecil Lewis, a widow, and lives in Seattle.
Ray, born December 21, 1896, lives with his wife Senora in Pullman, Washington. He was employed in administrative positions with Montana State University, U. S. State Department, and Washington State University until he retired.
Fred, born April 13, 1899, is a Master Steam Fitter and Plumber. He lives in Seattle with his wife Dolores.
The youngest son, Cecil, was born July 1, 1905. He owns a printing business in Seattle where he lives with his wife Florence.