BUTTS RANCH HISTORY
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Mrs. Calvin Butts
George Henry Butts came to Montana by the way of Utah in the early 1880's. He settled near Bozeman. He often recalled the winter of '86 and '87 when the ox shoes piled up behind his blacksmith shop to a depth of five feet from oxen which had perished during the hard winter. He later traded his shop for some cattle which he and his wife drove to Lewistown.
They had four boys and a girl, Oscar being the second boy. The family grew up near Lewistown, and it was there that Oscar met and married Lottie Vannest, whose father was a true Montana pioneer. He had made three trips into Montana by wagon train from Missouri, his first trip being made when he was but fourteen. He was a carpenter by trade, and helped construct Fort McGinnis.
Oscar and Lottie homesteaded near Smokey Butte (west of Jordan). Their children: Betty, Lucille, Calvin, Violet, and Ruth were born there. The country was fast becoming settled and they were unable to run as many cattle as they wished; so in 1916 they sold out and bought a ranch on Powder River. They had a very memorable trip to the river. Their old Oldsmobile broke down enroute, so the rest of the trip was made by four horses pulling a sheepwagon mounted on a sleigh. While trying to locate a roadhouse near Rock Springs, one of the horses dropped into a hole, and by the time it was gotten out, it was dark and they were lost. Calvin recalls spending Christmas Day in the sheepwagon while the temperature was 25 degrees below zero.
The winter of 1919 and '20 was very hard, and between the high price of hay and the low price of cattle they went broke, since they were compelled to sell the cattle to pay the feed bill.
They then moved to Kinsey for three years, and from there to Stacey in 1924. They first lived at the Scott ranch (now Kolka's) for one summer, afterwards moving to the Glenn ranch (Pat Willson's) for
one year. They then leased the Scott ranch and lived there until 1929.
In 1928 they were able to buy some land on Liscomb Creek that was traded to the Forest for the land which the present ranch is now located. They decided to build a garage and shop of logs first and then build a house later. However, they were short on money and were just living in two tents, so they moved to the garage (which was later added to and remodeled), and the new house was never built.
Although times were hard and little cash was available, the family enjoyed many good times together, often riding several miles to a rodeo or a dance. On one occasion, they and Loren Daily loaded and moved the piano in an iron wheeled wagon over frozen ground to the old Whitetail Ranger Station for a dance.
The children attended school at South Stacey, Miles City, and Broadus. Violet and Lucille became teachers, Ruth and Betty nurses. The older ones worked *hard to help the younger ones get an education. Their mother died quite suddenly of diptheria in 1933.
Calvin operated the ranch from this time on. They had purchased a threshing machine and a Fordson tractor which were used to supplement their income. After the C.C.C. Camp was established in 1934 Oscar worked there as a blacksmith. Later he moved back to the North Side of Miles City where he and his wife Belva still reside.
In 1936 Calvin and I, Joy Snyder, were married. Incidently, I was a very, very poor cook, and had to start my married life by cooking for Lee Warren, an old round-up cook who was helping Calvin hay. However, Lee wasn't one to linger over his food, and Calvin didn't dare complain over the burned biscuits for fear of facing an avalanche of tears.
Our two sons, Michael and David were born in 1937 and 1938. David is now in California, and Mike married Marcel Scanlan. They have four children: Kyle, Kent, Cathey and Tim. Mike works for Beacon Carter in Miles City.
The Mollie Daly land, better known as the "Whistling Dick Place", was purchased in 1937 from Bob Sutton. Later a section was purchased from Art Kolka and added to the upper place.
A person seems to remember the hard years more vividly than the good ones; but actually there have been many more good than adverse ones. The winter of '49 was notable because a wheel didn't turn for six weeks due to the tremendous snow depth. The storm in October of '58 was bad, with its enormous snow depth, downed power lines, and stranded hunters. The summer of 1961 was one of the driest in recent years. The one of '64 no doubt will be remembered for its length and severity. The R. E. A., telephone lines, and T.V. have made great changes in the ranches, all for the better, I believe.