WILLIAM COMBS
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Mrs. Leon Willson Jr.
We moved from Terry, Montana, to the Daly place in May of 1930. It had been an enterprising concern at one time, but had been allowed to fall into disrepair. I had never seen such a magnitude of buildings. There were a corncrib, sheep shed, cow barn, horse barn, pig pen, blacksmith shop, granaries, and several others. Few of the original buildings remain now as they were rather dilapidated at that time. However, they furnished wonderful places on which to climb. My brothers and I reached the top of all buildings except the house. That was forbidden, whether from fear for our necks or the shingles, I don't know. In the yard there were three large gasoline tanks and numerous odds and ends of machinery. Along the creek bank, where they had been discarded, were two iron safes. They were locked, a fact which caused endless speculation and many rather feeble attempts to open them. I suppose they are still there somewhere for I have never heard of them being moved.
The house itself was a large rambling structure, built after the southern style for summer comfort. Why anyone who had ever spent a winter in Montana would design and build such a house I'll never know. The ceilings were high, which made heating difficult, and the kitchen had three outside doors. When it was cold, you couldn't mop the floor and wipe the water fast enough to keep it from freezing near those doors. I think my mother hated that house and from the housekeeper standpoint, I agree with her. It had two huge dark rooms, four rather small bedrooms, and a big unhandy kitchen. Necessities such as closets, cupboards, etc., were lacking. Probably the very things which mother disliked fascinated me. All that space was marvelous and for some reason my brother Bob and I thought such a large house should have a secret passage. We spent hours the first summer searching for it.
We had rather a populous place during our first winter. McLeans were wintering sheep there that year, and they lived in part of the house. The Reed family, with four children, lived in the bunkhouse; and for a short-time a couple, whose name I don't remember, lived in what had been the blacksmith shop. McLean's herders were also there living in a sheep wagon.
To children raised in the Crow Rock community north of Miles City, the creek and the trees were objects of never-ending wonder. Our first Christmas tree was a pine so tall we couldn't decorate the top, Dad cut the tree and drug it home behind his saddle horse. Another year my brother Bill tried to duplicate the feat: forgetting that there was snow on the ground, not mud, when Dad drug his tree. Bill's tree was a mess. Did you ever try to wash a tree in December when you had to carry the water? Don't!
My father, Wm. A. Combs, died in April of 1933, so continuing to live on the ranch was impossible for a widow with 5 youngsters. So Mother (Edith) leased it to Wm. Howard of Fallon, Montana and we moved to Miles City to attend school. For four summers we returned, living in a bunkhouse or at the Whistling Dick Place up the creek. Finally we bought a house in Miles and the ranch was home no longer. Mother and three members of the family still live in the area. Bill, who married Helen Minifie, and Norma, Mrs. Lester Howard, live in Miles City, and I, Marian, Mrs. Leon Wilson Jr., am the only country dweller and live not far from the home ranch. Bob lives in Denver, and Earl in Seattle. They are both married, but not to local girls.
I suppose each person who lives at a place has a different view of it. For my part, I enjoyed the three years we lived on the Daly place.