HARRY D. BROWN
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
I was born on my father's ranch on the Missouri River, near Camp Crook, S.D., Sept. 14, 1884. We were staying at Capitol, about 10 miles from Camp Crook, at the time so the older children could go to school, living in a small house on a big flat, without a privy.
We went to Tennessee, driving two teams and wagons and the trip was hard on us all, and the baby died right after we got there. Dad came back to the ranch leaving mother and we ten children down there. In the fall of 1889 we came back on the train to Whitewood, S. D., and went to the home ranch by wagon and team.
In 1894 Dad built a shack near Capitol; we stayed there and batched and went to school until our schooling was over.
I left home in the spring of 1901 and went to Powder River and worked for several ranches, the LO cattle outfit, the Davis brothers and the MC. When I went to the MC I was a fair rider but I was dressed rather strange. I had on an old forked-tail coat, a pair of cowboy boots and a big hat that held my ears out. Frank Stewart was wagon boss and I went up behind him and said, "Mr. Stewart, could you give me a job?" Stewart was holding the corral rope; he turned around and saw me and said, "Well, kid, I don't think I can use you," and all the boys laughed. He said, "Turn your horse loose and stay with us till morning." In the morning he asked me if I could feed chickens. I said, "Yes," and he let me stay. When the men left for work I went out in the big pasture and got me two good horses.
In a week or so the men came back and Frank went down to the barn. I had one of the horses in for a night horse, and my horse and the other in a small pasture near the barn. Frank came up to the wagon where I was with some other cowboys; he asked, "Who was riding those horses?" I said, "I was, I didn't think that you would care." He said, "No, I don't care, but those horses were too tough for these cowboys," so he had a laugh at his cowboys.
Mr. Stewart got me a job at the WL. My oldest brother, Joe, had been there so that did me a lot of good. I worked with their five bands of sheep at the Hockett Ranch, now the John Scott Ranch.
After shearing I got a job with a man who was buying horses for the British to go to South Africa and then I went back to the LO; Al Plymell was wagon boss. I wintered in a little dugout about two miles south of Powderville.
In March, 1902, 1 went back to the WL. We were breaking a new remuda as Ed Holt had sold all of the horses to the British. Jim Gentry got the wagon boss job; I have the picture on my wall. J. M. Holt bought all that Northern Pacific land the fall of 1902.
Adams, his wife and I camped in the Maxwell Buttes the winter of 1902-03 and cut about 10,000 posts to fence the land. He had a lot of the land fenced in when I guess the Government must have thrown a monkey wrench in the works as the fencing stopped.
In 1903 1 started to break a lot of Crow horses the LO had bought. Jack Marston came along and offered me a job and I worked for him for a year and then went to work for Mr. Payne.
I rode with many different wagons, VVV four different years, Mill Iron at Pumpkin Creek twice, Pumpkin Creek Pool, the Diamond A several times and I was at the LO every year from 1901 until they quit in 1919. 1 also worked for the SY and TN.
Payne was running all his cattle and horses on government and school land, also on Holt land, so Payne told me later. He had to furnish a man with the LO, so I guess that was why I was at all of those wagons.
I got my first cattle in 1903. 1 got one cow a month for a month's work, and was to be paid that way as long as I worked, but the boss claimed I was only to get the H Cross cows so I got nine cows for 14 month's work and no money. When I got back to Payne's ranch I got five heifer calves a year.
I went to the Cross S; I got $50 a month the year round and got my money every month. By then I had a lot of cattle so in 1910 1 quit working out and have worked for myself ever since.
I batched on my homestead and bought another ranch across the river in 1912. In 1914 1 got married and built a house on the east side of Powder River.
We had a dry year in 1919 and lost heavily. We sold out in 1920 and moved up the river about 20 miles taking a few more than a 100 head of cattle. Just got on our feet again by 1929 when all hell broke loose. Wall Street went broke and it was dry again. By 1937 we were down to three cows and less than $1,300. The drought finally broke, but I had a hard time to borrow some money. But good old Bert Heidel helped me out and I got about 40 head of cattle and was back in the cow business again.
We have been broke several times but still keep going. We sold our ranch on Powder River in the winter of 1948. We were running 400 head of cattle and were free of debt. We bought a home in Miles City and are still living there.
Here's a story my Dad used to tell: An old guy went hunting. When he came back he said he sure had good luck. "I got 99 ducks with one shot", the old man said proudly. "Why didn't you say 100?" The old man snorted, "Do you think I'd lie for 1 duck?"
Some road ranches:
Miles City to Mizpah - Big Mike, Michael Wehinger
C. Preller
Bill Dominy
Bill Hill
Murphy - Mizpah
Miles City to Powderville - Harvy Corbins Ten Mile
John Damm 16 Mile
Tom Grey 18 Mile
Beebe 30 Miles
Frank Cox 40 Miles
Redmans at the T-0 later LO 50 miles