CLAYTON and MAMIE BIDWELL
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Mrs. Frank Bidwell
Willard Clayton Bidwell was born in Allegany County, New York, on April 30, 1877. As a small boy, he moved near Penconing, Michigan. He and two brothers and one sister walked 4 or 5 miles to school. He worked in lumber mills, where oxen and horses were used, and also cooked for the workers in the camps. State records in Michigan and Wisconsin show him to be the champion sawfiler in the two states.
On Christmas Day in 1898, he was married to Mamie Augusta Hulford. Mamie was born in Lansing, Michigan, on March 25, 1881. She grew up on a farm. The Hulford children had to walk quite a distance to school, which was held only 6 months per year until Mamie was in the 5th or 6th grade, when they had 9 month terms.
Mamie was in poor health, so the doctor advised her to move to a different climate, preferably to the West. Since she had a brother living in Montana, that is where they decided to go. Mamie's father and mother, Alfred and Sarah Hulford, her brothers Will and Everett, and one sister, Eathel, also decided to come to Montana with them. On March 20, 1910, they reached Miles City by train. They were met by Mamie's brother, George Hulford, who had come 69 miles with a team of four horses and a wagon. The weather was mild and they had a very pleasant trip out to the Hulford homestead.
Clayton and Mamie took squatters rights on a homestead site a few miles from Hulford's homestead on Lake Creek, 14 miles northwest of Broadus. They lived in a tent until Clate built a log cabin. In 1914 they filed on the 320 acre homestead. Then in 1917, the Bidwells sold their homestead to Etta C. Bringar and Carl H. Emmons for a sawmill.
At one time, Bidwell reports he sold around half a million feet of lumber per year and delivered it for $18 a thousand. The announced records for the National Custer Forest Service show he was the best sawmill man, best steam man and sawfiler in the state at that time. He furnished most of the lumber to build up the town of Broadus when the county seat was created.
They moved the sawmill to Green Creek, near Stacey. Clate sawed lumber and hauled freight to and from Miles City. They bought 245 acres of land on Green Creek.
In 1921 they again moved, this time to Otter Creek, where they ran the sawmill for Charley Wilkinson. There was a dance hall upstairs in the house in which they lived. Dances were held quite often, and Mamie served the suppers. They also served meals at other times.
They moved to Miles City in 1925, when Clate worked on the railroad supplying coaches.
The next spring they moved back to Green Creek, running a sawmill. They moved to a location on the West Fork of Little Pumpkin Creek in 1927. Clate ran his sawmill, freighted, and ran a threshing machine. Mamie cooked for the mill help, the lumber customers, mail carriers, and other traveling people. Everyone loved her cooking. In the fall she tried to have at least 800 quarts of fruit and vegetables canned, plus enough potatoes and onions put away for winter in the cellar.
In 1936 they bought 2 acres of land in Crane Acres near Broadus so that Virginia could go to high school. They came back early in 1937, and that spring the sawmill burned during the night.
That fall they bought another steam engine and moved their sawmill near Colstrip to cut railroad ties, but the timber wasn't suitable. So they moved back near Stacey on Francis Choate's place on Gaskill Creek. They also sawed, logged, and cut timber for the county on Fifteen Mile Divide. They sold the sawmill to Yellowstone Lumber Co., in 1940 and moved to Broadus. The Lumber Co. set the mill up about 11/2 miles west of Broadus. Clate worked there doing the saw filing and lumber sawing. In 1946 they sold an acre of their land in Broadus to John F. Rogge.
Next they moved to the Rufus Choate place to help Frank, their oldest son, in the mill. In 1947 they moved to the Sal Cain place to help cut his timber, then in 1949 to the Perry Hanson place. The mill was moved and set in a different location on the Hanson place in 1951.
In 1953 Clate and Mamie moved to their home in Broadus where he built wooden water tanks and filed saws. In 1958 Mamie had major surgery, so they remained in Broadus because of her health.
Descendants of Willard Clayton and Mamie Augusta Bidwell: Alma Bidwell Ewing Briant (Mrs, Henry Briant), born in 1903 -four children: Richard Ewing, John Henry Briant, JoAnn Briant Cain. Frank Bidwell (married Nanie Cain), born in 1911 -- four children: Mamie Bidwell Denson, Myrtle Ridenour, Frank and Ronald. Alta Bidwell Sneath (Mrs. Jack Sneath), born in 1913-8 children: Willard, Roy, Viola, Mary Sneath Grant, Jim Thomas, Harold and Leona, Roy Bidwell (married Lucille Klein), born in 1916 -- six children. Daniel, Irene Bidwell Jackson, Donald, Darlene, Betty, and Becky. Wreatha Bidwell Cain (Mrs. Mike Cain), born in 1919-7 children: Rose Cain Sage, Jim, Richard, Charles, Willie, Louise, and Jerry. Virginia Bidwell Rogge (Mrs. Andy Rogge), born in 1923 -- six children: Byron, Robert, Kenneth, Klayton, Leo, and Connie.