PHILIP BURKE
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
I was born in Miles City, Mont., Dec. 30, 1903, to Albin Burke and Mary Cecil (Hillman) Burke. To this union were born two other children, my sister Elizabeth, born Sept. 8, 1900, and my brother Thomas, born Nov. 27, 1913. 1 was born in a house across the street from where the present Catholic Church is now. The house at that time belonged to the Concord Cattle Company, of which Abner Farnum Sr. was foreman and my folks worked for them for several years.
In 1901 my folks bought some irrigated land at Kinsey and raised cattle and horses and that is where I grew up.
The first school was an old ranch house, which originally belonged to a man by the name of Alf Wing, who was an uncle of Babe Cross. (Everybody knows Babe). Through the eighth grade was my schooling.
My father passed away in 1921 and I had all the ranch work to do. I ran the ranch until the fall of 1929 when we sold everything and moved to Miles City. I went to work in March of 1930 for the Custer County Road Department and worked for them 421/2 years.
I think one of the biggest, most exciting times of my life was when the Milwaukee Railroad built in here. They built the grade about 400 yards from our house, and that was done with horses. The big cook tents and big barn tent were a real novelty to a kid of three or four years. Then when we saw the first trains, I don't think we took time to eat. Then, of course, the threshing machine, the roundup, branding, weaning of calves were all very interesting to me.
I was married to Mollie Daly, June 1939, whose history is also in this book. My mother lived with us until she passed on.
From fresno to road grader, I saw it all. I have witnessed many changes in methods and equipment in my long tenure on the job. When I went to work for Foreman C. E. Retallick back in 1926 much of the work was done by horses and fresnos. But by the early 1930's it was pretty much mechanized and now the heavy equipment makes me wonder how the older boys ever got the work accomplished.
I became foreman in 1960 and there is no comparison to describe the difference the years have brought in the type of gear used by the road crews. County road work consists mainly of snow removal and equipment overhaul in the winter months, and road building, gravelling and maintaining during the spring, summer and fall. There are some 1,200 miles of all-type Custer County roads.
Now that I am retired, I will continue to live in Miles City. Now there won't be that telephone ringing all the time.