LEWIS MILTON GRIFFIN
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Mrs. John Gold Sr.
Lewis M. Griffin was born in DeKalb County, Missouri on July 14, 1859, to John B. and Sarah Tate Griffin, the youngest of 7 children. When he was 22 years old, he and his brother, Enoch, decided to come West. They came by boat up the Missouri River to Ft. Pierre, South Dakota, and there joined a "bull team" of oxen bound for Montana with piling for the construction work on the Northern Pacific Railroad. They and another young man, F. S. Whitney, drove nine yoke of oxen hitched to three train wagons, and were, as he used to say, "bullwhackers", at that time. They made several trips to Billings, Montana, when that now prosperous town was represented by a single tent. They were present when the first train crossed the new bridge built over the Yellowstone River at Billings. In the spring of 1883, Lewis came to Miles City and began working for Fred Hitzfeldt and Judge C. H. Loud as a cowboy on the old S L ranch near Volborg. He worked there for 8 years. During that time he gradually bought a few range cattle of his own, so that when he left the SL ranch he was able to move to one of the Remington Horse ranches on Little Pumpkin Creek and began operating a small ranch of his own. He took up a homestead of 160 acres four miles south of the present Stacey Post Office. His first home was a three-room log house, with a floor, and a dirt roof. This served him as a home until a more comfortable residence was built by adding on a tworoom frame building. On December 4, 1889, Lewis M. Griffin and Miss Anna R. Daly were married in Miles City. They were the parents of 9 children: Evva (Mrs. John Gold); who now resides in Miles City; Roy, resides at Sheridan, Wyoming; Charles, passed away in 1941; Maude (Mrs. Robert McAdams), passed away in 1964; Enoch, passed away in 1959; Aqnes (Mrs. Keppie May), resides at Harrison, Montana; Melvin, resides at Belfield, North Dakota; and Elmer and Blanche, both passed away while very young. Mrs. Griffin passed away in 1910. In May, 1897, there was quite a bit of excitement aroused over the killing of a white sheepherder, John Hoover, and his dog on Tongue River near Ashland. The ranchers, or settlers, as they were called in those days, began leaving their homes and fleeing to safety for fear of an Indian "outbreak" if the Indian suspected of the killing should be arrested. Ranchers with their families went as far as Sheridan, Wyoming; Miles City, Birney, Pumpkin Creek, Mizpah, and Powder River. Several families gathered at the Chas. Daly ranch and another lot from the Otter Creek country gathered at the Selway ranch. They were there about two weeks or more. My folks were among the group at the Daly ranch. Troops from Ft. Custer and Ft. Keogh arrived on the scene and "Whirlwind" was arrested without any trouble and was turned over to the sheriff of Custer County, escorted by the troops from Ft. Keogh. "Whirlwind" was never proved guilty of killing the sheepherder and died in the jail in Custer County of tuberculosis. Settlers and ranchers all went back home. There, were several other little Indian scares, but no one moved away again. In 1903, "The Grasshopper Year," the stock men all were forced to move their cattle to where they could buy hay and pasture to winter their stock. Chas Decker, Dan Gaskill, Swen Swensen, Arthur Kelsey, and Lew Griffin drove their cattle to Wibaux, Montana, where they spent the winter. It turned out that the winter was severe there, but they had plenty of feed for the cattle. The next spring when they gathered their cattle, they found they had lost half of what they took down there. Some of the cattle had tried to find their way back home and were lost. It was several years before the stockmen were able to make up the loss. Mr. Griffin gradually accumulated a few hundred head of cattle. His brand was GL on the left side. During these years he shipped cattle to the Chicago market, where he used to receive $28.00 per head for the four-year-old steers. In 1918, he received $150-00 per head. There was a scarcity of food during World War I and the price of beef as well as all foods were more expensive and rationed as well. In later years, Mr. Griffin purchased land from the Northern Pacific Railroad and enlarged his place to 870 acres, mostly fenced, and raised alfalfa and small grains and hay. The range was all open and stock ranged to Powder River on the east, to Tongue River on the west, and to the Wyoming line to the south, and to the Yellowstone River on the north. In 1904 the larger stockmen and ranchers formed a Roundup Pool, (named the "Pumpkin Creek Pool"). Each stockman hired a cowboy or "Rep" and furnished him with several head of saddle horses, and they all worked together to gather the cattle in the spring, to brand the calves, and again in the fall to gather the cattle to be shipped to market. There were 25 or 30, sometimes more, "Reps" with each Roundup Wagon, which had a Roundup Cook. They used a cook stove, or sometimes used a camp fire to cook on. A cupboard was built in the back end of the wagon with dishes and cooking utensils-the door to the cupboard opened out to make a small table with one leg to hold it up even with the wagon bed. Groceries and wood had to be hauled along. Water had to be carried in barrels as the spring water was not fit for cooking or drinking sometimes. The cook always drove the team of two or sometimes four horses. There was another wagon for beds, tents, clothing, slickers, coats, and extras. The cowboy that drove the bed wagon helped the cook to set up the camp outfit and take it down again for the next move, harness the teams for both wagons, help the horse wrangler put up the rope corrals for about 200 head of horses which were driven along when the camp was moved, which was usually twice a day. When the Roundup wagon camped near a ranch the women in that community would cook pies and cakes and make ice cream and lemonade and all take dinner with the cowboys. The ranchers in those days put up ice for summer use. Chas. Taylor and Lee Warren were two of the cooks and always wore white aprons. The "Griffin Pass" which is about four miles southeast of the Griffin ranch between Little Pumpkin and Big Pumpkin Creeks was named for Lew Griffin. He sold the ranch to Chas. Decker in 1924 and moved to Beach, North Dakota, where he lived until November, 1927. He then moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, and passed away January 6, 1928.