HORACE AND BESSIE WILLIAMS CAIN
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Gladys Cain
Horace's parents were Joseph Harlan and Nancy Jane Flemming Cain, cotton farmers in Georgia. Horace was only four years old when his Dad died. Other children were Henry, Mike and Onie. Nancy and boys farmed for a while and then loaded their covered wagon and went to Iowa Park, Tex.
In Iowa Park, the family made their home for the next ten years raising cotton. When the Oklahoma Territory was opened Horace, Mike, Onie and their mother journeyed north. After a miserable trip in the dry, hot Oklahoma weather they arrived safe in Beaver County, Okla., but their stay was short. Being dissatisfied they headed home to Texas and farming cotton.
In early 1900's Horace and his mother moved to Childress, Tex., and he worked on a cotton farm to support the two of them. Shortly thereafter, Horace met Bessie May Williams and in 1905 they were married.
Bessie was born in a dugout in west Texas, one of a family of thirteen, to B. T. and Emma Wolfe Williams. The family moved to Carey, Tex., where Bessie grew up and got her schooling. Her father was a skilled stone mason and helped to build many of the buildings in Childress.
For ten years, Horace and Bessie lived on a cotton farm near Childress. In 1914, while visiting in Carey, Horace heard talk about government land opening up for claims in Montana. In a few days he was on a slow moving train heading north; five days later the conductor called out that they were approaching Miles City, Mont. Horace decided this was where he would get off and look for a job. Unable to find work he caught a ride to Lewistown and helped with harvest. After harvest he went back to Texas with many thoughts about coming back.
Horace's stories of the big, beautiful state of Montana with free range and productive grainlands excited the family. They were all convinced to go to Montana.
In the spring Horace ordered a box car to transport the livestock and household items. He rode the freight train while Bessie and the children rode the passenger train. In April, 1915, they arrived in Miles City. They took up residence in town and Horace got a job halter breaking horses so they could be lead into the sale ring. Montana cowboys liked and respected this man from Texas and soon nicknamed him "Tex".
In December, 1915, the Cain family moved to the homestead south of Miles City. They built a dugout, 14 x 26 feet, and this was their home for the next four years. One summer morning Bessie found a big rattlesnake coiled up in the far end of the dugout. She killed it with a hoe much to the relief of the family.
The first winter Horace worked at the Horkan Ranch. He stayed there for five years. In 1919 the Horkan outfit had to move their cattle and Horace helped them drive some 2,000 head to Belle Fourche, S. D., where they were shipped to Nebraska for the winter. The crew started back for the ranch and made camp for the night between Broadus and Alzada. During the night a snow storm set in and the next morning the horses were gone, leaving the cowboys stranded. They waited out the day while the snow continued to fall. Towards evening two horses wandered into camp. They caught these and used them to round up the other horses.
One of the best known men at the Horkan Ranch was the cook, Tour Tronson. One day the crew came in for dinner to find Tour standing in the kitchen with a pair of horse clippers tangled in his long black hair. The cowboys really broke up over the cook's predicament, howling loud enough to wake the dead. Tour explained that he was just trying to cut his own hair when the clippers had become tangled to the point he couldn't get them out. Horace worked the clippers free and finished the haircut.
"Little Tex" Billy Bowman worked as a rep for the SH Ranch and on this occasion he had ridden to the Horkan Ranch to help with a trail drive to Miles City. The herd was just coming to Lone Creek, near the Charley Simpson Ranch, when one of the big fouryear-old steers jumped a fence and headed across the prairie. Little Tex spurred his horse after the steer, trying to turn the animal back. Seeing that the animal was not going to turn the cowboy jerked out his rope and caught the steer. The slack went out of the rope and the steer pulled horse and rider down. The horse regained his feet but Little Tex didn't move. Horace arrived shortly and knew before he dismounted that Little Tex was gone. The cowboys borrowed a spring hack from the Simpson Ranch to carry the body to Miles City. The trail herd continued on its way with a sad bunch of cowboys.
In 1920 Horace and his sons, Oscar (Sal), Joe and Henry (Bullett), operated a freight line to Miles City. Each outfit was three wagons pulled by four teams of horses. Traveling 20 miles a day, they could transport eight ton of freight for each three wagons. Crossing Cheney Gulch on Pumpkin Creek was a major obstacle to the freighters. On both sides there were steep inclines and the last wagon would have to be unhooked, two wagons taken across and then come back for the third. In muddy weather many a freighter had to camp there until the roads dried.
In 1925 they hauled lumber to the construction site of the White Tail Ranger Station near Stacey.
In 1937 they leased their ranch and moved back to Texas where they stayed five years. The family was not happy with the southern weather so in 1932 they came back to Montana.
In November, 1934, Horace passed away after suffering a heart attack. Bessie continued running the ranch for many years and she now lives in Miles City, enjoying good health and her family. They had 15 children. Joe lives in Spokane, Wash.; Oscar (Sal) ranches at Stacey; Mrytle (Mrs. Tex Coleson) lives in California; Jessie (Mrs. Ernest Tucker) lives in Oregon; Roy lives in Libby; Mike ranches at Volborg; Nanie (Mrs. Frank Bidwill) lives in Broadus; the rest live in Miles City, Charles (Short); Anna Maude (Mrs. Everet Peabody); Onie (Mrs. Ben Root); Ruth (Mrs. Claude Hagen); Henry (Bullet); William (Tat); Buster and Edith (Mrs. Cook).
Mrs. Cain has 57 grandchildren, 68 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great-grandchildren.