EAST FORK AND ITS SETTLERS
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Chloe Daily
East Fork Creek is a tributary of Otter Creek. It is about ten miles long and five miles wide. It has several side creeks-namely Daley Creek, Coal Creek, and Darling Draw. The soil is very fertile, especially near the heads of draws and near the divides. The deep snow in the winters feed the springs which dot the area. Perhaps that is why so many homesteaders chose it for a home. Since it is located on the Custer National Forest, they were limited to 160 acres of plow land along the creek beds, and had to be fenced with "bob-wire".
The Chris Shy place, where Martha Gaskill and her son Ray live, was the first home on East Fork. Chris Shy, a Missourian, built a log house and fenced some pasture land for his stock. He obtained a brand in 1886, so his coming was prior to that time. Chris returned to Missouri, leaving Steve Daley on the place. Now, Steve Daley was a relative of J. T. Hamilton of Stacey, also of Charlie Daly on Little Pumpkin Creek, and Mrs. Griffin (she was Evva Gold's mother). Evva says Steve spelled his name "Daley". I am explaining this as Daley Creek where Hugh Daily, Jack Disbro, and Fred Benbrook filed claims was named by Steve, because it joined East Fork near Steve's home. When Steve left, the OU outfit rented the place, using it for pasture land, and the house was used as a cow camp for its riders.
George Shy, brother of Dudley Shy of the Coalwood area, and father of Dud Shy of Otter Creek, was the next Missourian to live on the Chris Shy place during the years of 1903-1904. Later they moved to the Little Pumpkin Creek near the Charlie Simpson ranch. Millard Shy, son of Walter Shy, lived there until Gentrys bought the place.
Oral Gentry and his wife Laura moved there some time before 1910. They had been living there some time before Hugh Daily bought the George Daniels place on Daley Creek. Orval Gentry was born in 1912 and Glenn in 1915. Gentrys moved to Otter Creek and Joe Russ from Illinois lived there until 1929. They moved back East and Dan Gaskill bought the place.
The next Missourian to settle on East Fork was Walter Shy -- sometimes referred to as Uncle Walter Shy or Grandpa Shy. He and his wife and family of five children (3 boys and 2 girls) bought squatter's rights and improvements of a place near the head of the creek. Tom McAllister and Charlie Coon had previously squatted there, and Coon traded the place to Shy for a team of horses in 1890. While they lived there, Aunt Jennie died, and was buried in the front yard. Hugh Daily says he helped move her body to the Willow Crossing Cemetery after Grandpa Shy passed on. May Shy, the oldest daughter, married Ollie Reed. Her sister Maggie became Mrs. Charlie Simpson, mother of Milton Simpson. Jim Shy became a Ranger on the Custer National Forest. In his late years he operated the James Beattie Store in Ashland. Vest and Millard Shy operated ranches. Vest was a partner of Jim Shy in the Ashland Store for a short time. All of the Shy family have passed on except May Shy Reed. She resides in California and is 90 some years old.
The Ben Gentry place was first squatted on by Albert Ferris and Atlee Ferris was born there in 1887. Vest Shy was the next owner, and he sold to Ollie Reed. Ollie Reed built a log house on the place for his father and mother. In 1902 these logs were traded to the C. H. Daily family for a saddle horse when they arrived. Ollie Reed sold the place to Ben Gentry in 1902, and he and his family moved to Miles City. Two more children were added to the school census, namely Oral and Nora Gentry.
N. A. Wolfe settled on a claim about 1/2 mile below the Grandpa Shy place. There was a wonderful spring there and the soil was black and fertile. Wolfe's garden was talked about everywhere. Flossie Wolfe, now Flossie Ferris, said he was a good gardener raised most of their living. He also ran a saw mill. Bertha, Fred, Nellie, Flossie, Floyd, and Walter all attended schools which were built some time later. Flossie was one year old when they moved there in 1894. She was born below the present site of Ashland across the road from the post office, known as Old Ashland. They had to leave there as their land was on the area set aside for the Cheyenne Indian Reservation.
C. H. Daily, his wife Sallie, and six sons and one daughter, came to East Fork the fall of 1902. They, too, were Missourians who had lived in Raton, New Mexico, before coming to Montana in a covered wagon. The boys rode horseback so as to drive the stock, mostly horses. The Dailys lived here until they moved to Ashland in 1918. The boys -- Percy, Eben, Harry, Hughie, Floyd, and Loren -- all married and settled on the creek or its tributaries. Harry bought the Darling place and the other boys filed on claims. Florence became Mrs. Vest Shy.
Frank Thomas and his mother lived at the head of East Fork when the C. H. Dailys arrived, but he later moved to Ashland. The Darlings moved away and sold their place to Harry Daily. Below the Daily ranch, Percy and Floyd took up claims. Loren had a claim on Coal Creek. Hughie filed on Daley Creek and Eben's claim was across the road from the home ranch.
Other places that were filed on below the C. H. Daily place were Clyde Noaker, Youngs, Roberts, Kyles Bartrams, Phoole, and Pat Stanton, which was even below the Chris Shy place.
There was one more place near the mouth of Daley Creek which was first filed on by Ray Selles. His wife Blanch was the sister of Mrs. Floyd Daily (Nora). Ray was killed while discing on Otter Creek. Blanch married Jimmie Stanton, a forest ranger, and lives in Hardin now. She sold their claim to Antone (Tony) Mosgar.
Tony Mosgar was from Texas. There were three sons - Isadore, Charles, and Freddie, besides one daughter, Carrie. Minnie, the mother is in Washington near her son, Charles.
I think I have named all the places that were finally filed on. There was no filing in the beginning as none of the claims were surveyed. Perry and Delbert Hanson own the ranches on the upper half of the Creek and Ray Gaskill owns the lower half.
I think I counted 28 places filed on. The only place owned by the original owner, besides the Hanson boys, is Bartrams. He is Mrs. Disbro's brother. You will find their history in the chapter on Daley Creek. There are only five families living on East Fork now.