CASEY BARTHELMESS
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
Front row, Casey Barthelmess, Mrs. Barthelmess and Leo. Top row, Dr. Randall Barthelmess, Rose Mary Zettler, Robert, Casey and Richard. Taken July 1969.
Casey on Sky Rocket, Miles City Roundup's feature horse. Tut Camblin (left) Bub Nichols stands at left with blindfold, Colie Ward is in the dirt knocked down by Sky Rocket.
Our parents were Army people, and with the exception of Leo, the oldest of the family who was born at Fort Lewis, Colo., Florence Dinwoodie, myself, Sophia Kerrigan, Adelaide Willems, Gertrude (deceased), Fred and Marie Smith were all born at Fort Keogh.
Our father came to America in 1867 with an uncle and lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio with or near relatives until he joined the Army. He was an adventurer by disposition and learning of the Indian Campaigns of the Southwest, he enlisted in the Army Nov. 15, 1876, at St. Louis and was assigned to the 6th Cavalry at Fort Apache, Ariz. Having knowledge of music, that he acquired in Germany, he also was assigned to the regimental band.
But immediately after these assignments he soon realized the impetus of the Army activity among the Indians and recognized the important field for photography. This was a profession he took up and continued for the 30 years he was in the Army and until his death in 1906. During our father's service, after leaving Fort Apache, he served at Fort Wingate and Fort Bayard in New Mexico and at Fort Lewis, Colo., before coming to Fort Keogh in the spring of 1888.
Catherine Hansen, who was to become our mother, was a native of Denmark. She came to Mexico with the family of the German counsel. Father and mother met in New Mexico and later were married at Silver City, N.M., April 17, 1886.
Life at Fort Keogh was both exciting and interesting for us youngsters. There was much soldier activity such as drilling, dress parades, guard mounts, practice marches, target practices, with considerable indulgence given to athletic field days with much attention given to baseball and in later years, football. Too, there were diversions; Church services and Sunday schools were held when a chaplain was available, plays were put on, many picnics were held and much singing was indulged in. At one time the Post had a Singing Society. This was conducted by Christian Barthelmess. During the military life of Fort Keogh, it supported three Regimental Bands of the 5th, 22nd and the 2nd Infantry. A bandstand was erected on the parade ground in front of the Post Commander's residence where many concerts were held. These were very entertaining to the people of the Post and attracted many from Miles City who drove to Keogh in surreys, buggies and some horseback, while some even walked. There was much seining in the Yellowstone and in the fall hunting expeditions got under way for deer, antelope and chickens.
The first school that I remember was conducted by Laura Ritner, daughter of the Post chaplain. Later the Post children were enrolled in the Miles City schools and hauled back and forth in an ambulance. My first school attendance was at the Washington school in 1898 and on completion of the Lincoln school in 1901 the Keogh youngsters were moved over there. Miss Ritner became the wife of George Miles, who became a prominent Miles City businessman. Miles was an early arrival in Montana. He served as paymaster clerk for his uncle Gen. Nelson A. Miles, Commander of the 5th Infantry, who established the Tongue River Cantonment No. I in 1876 and Fort Keogh the following year.
The Indians, usually of considerable number, camped along the Yellowstone and Tongue Rivers. They were always of interest to the Keogh kids. And while they were still making adjustments, it wasn't easy for these people to be removed from their nomadic way of living to the confinement of a reservation. Often times they received rations at Keogh and on occasions, cattle were driven to their camp for the Indians to shoot, dress out and distribute among their people. Some of the beef they dried or made into pemmican. Their ceremonial dances were always exciting and interesting as the Indians usually painted and dressed for the occasion and they were nearly always conducted at night and around a sizable fire. 'In those days many veteran Indians of note participated: some that I recall were Little Chief, Elk River, Two Moons, Wooden Leg, Stump Horn, Buffalo Hump, Ridge Walker, American Horse, Spotted Wolf and later, John Stands in Timber. It was my father's regard and close association with these Indians that enabled him to get so many fine pictures of these people. E. W. Casey of the 22nd Infantry, very adept in handling Indians, organized the troop of Cheyenne Indian scouts known as Casey's Scouts. This troop was dispatched down to Pine Ridge Agency at the time of Ghost Dance uprising. Following the battle of the Wounded Knee, Lieutenant Casey with two scouts was reconnoitering the Sioux camp on White Clay Creek seeking council with Red Cloud. Meeting Peter Richard, a breed, and some Sioux from this camp, they were warned against the danger. Lieutenant Casey started to ride away and was shot from his horse by Plenty Horses, a Brule Sioux. My father had soldiered under and with Lieutenant Casey a number of years and had great regard for this officer. I was named after him.
Also at Fort Keogh and nearby Miles City were many veterans of the Indian campaigns, soldiers, guides, bullwhackers, muleskinners, trappers and buffalo hunters. In their conversations Yellowstone Kelly and Liver Eating Johnson often came up for discussion.
H. E. Thompson, after leaving his 5th Infantry, became wagon master at the Post and retained that position until Keogh was abondoned. He married into the Cheyennes, became adept in their language and did serve as interpreter for the army. Mr. George Cahoo was another of the 5th who remained at Keogh. He became Post wheel-wright and continued as such until the Post's abandonment. George Cahoo married the widow of Sergeant Equila Coonrad, who was killed May, 14, 1884, during an attempted robbery of paymaster Major Wipple between Glendive and Fort Buford. Coonrad was in charge of the guard detail.
In 1901, after school was out, I went to the Colgan ranch on a freight wagon, a trip of 150 miles, located on the Big Missouri four miles below Poplar. Sergeant Colgan was Quartermaster Sergeant at Keogh. This was my first experience in seeing and going over our great open range stock country and while I had seen many herds of cattle unloaded at the stockyards near Keogh and seen them driven to and put across the Yellowstone, seeing where they went was a new experience. We crossed the Yellowstone near the mouth of Sunday Creek and struck the old Fort Keogh-Fort Buford military road and followed it until it forked at Cedar Creek. The left prong took us down Tusler Creek and on down Red Water to the Colgan ranch. In that 150 miles we could always see cattle, some horses and an occasional band of sheep, and it seemed we never were out of a scatteration of buffalo bones. Although we had a camp outfit, we usually stopped at ranches or camps. It seemed we were always welcome, making it a pleasant experience-getting news and unloading some. Tom Colgan was an interesting talker.
The summer was pleasant and knowledge -gaining experience. Tom, Frank, George and Maim Colgan operated the ranch. They had cattle, horses and a pet antelope. Their brand interested me-it was a pen and key ( ), the insignia that was part of Sergeant Colgan's chevron indicating his rank and position in the army.
Enroute to and from the Colgan ranch we stopped at the John Mothershaad ranch on Meadow Creek. It was six miles north of the XIT ranch. He had both cattle and sheep. Liking his big baking powder biscuits, I suggested that should he need a chore boy, I would be available. In the spring of 1903 he came and got me and I remained until the fall of 1904. 1 accumulated valuable ranch experience and began to learn the many tasks that were done from a horse.
Arch Mothershaad, John's brother, repped with the XIT roundup wagon. On occasion I went to the outfut to help Arch with his throw-back. Being around those cowpunchers and seeing them work was something I never forgot. Rufus Morris was the wagon boss. "Buck" Herrick was the impressive cook and Newt Clendennin was horse wrangler. I well remember Bob Fudge, Frank Cavenger, Al Denby and Ed Weasner-Ed's brother Lu was ranchman. My year's absence from Keogh, of course, cost me a valuable year of schooling.
It was most tragic to our family when we lost our father in an accident April 10, 1906. Losing our means of support, the three oldest of the family quit school and went to work. Feeling around, as stockmen were collecting in Miles City for the convention, I was able to get a job with John M. Holt who owned the LO outfit. l did odd jobs for a while, but with the approach of proper season was sent to the WL, a Holt ranch on the Powder River, where I was delegated to herd mares for Charles Wesley, who managed the LO horses. After mare herding was over I went back to the LO ranch where I did general ranch work, chored and took care of the stage horses.
The next two years I wrangled horses with the roundup wagon. This was the most exciting and educational experience for a young "pistol". I was wrangling horses when that terrible blizzard hit on the 20th of May, 1908. The LO was camped at the mouth of Corral Creek on the Mizpah. The herd was turned loose and Ord Ames and I took the remuda to a pasture five miles south-we had trouble getting back. Four horses were tied to the bed wagon-something had to be done with them. Charles Wesley, Arthur Boyes, a Ramer man and myself rode these horses into the storm to the LO ranch which was five miles north and down the Mizpah. As we couldn't see, we became lost. Wesley turned our lot over to his horse Mule Shoe who led us to a south gate, a half mile from the ranch.
The winter of 1908-09 1 had an opportunity to attend a short term of school at Powderville. I stayed at the WL ranch and did chores for my keep and broke two broncs while riding some three miles back and forth to school. Got a bit of practice as one bucked occasionally-once to much!
The LO built a horse camp at the mouth of Bobcat Creek on the Mizpah, 12 miles above the LO ranch. They hired Billy Dixon to break horses. He was exceptionally good at handling wild horses fresh off the range. He only handled horses on the ground and did no riding so I was sent to the horse camp to do the riding. I didn't like the idea at first but it proved very beneficial to me. Billy spent much time teaching these raw wild horses not to be afraid of him and this approach did seem much better than fighting a bronc to make him submit. From then on my work at the LO was pretty much given over to breaking horses until they closed out in 1920.
1 didn't feel I had any time for rodeos as I got plenty of that breaking horses but the country usually all turned out for the Miles City Roundup which started in 1913. 1 was pickup man in 1914, but did enter into the various contests in 1915. 1 won the bareback championship. This, to me, was an accomplishment as I believed the best riders in the northwest competed at this rodeo. Rufus Roland, World's Champion Bareback Rider, was there. Blue Jay, the horse I drew, was ill tempered and resisted everything in the chute by floundering and rearing. Lloyd Coleman, one of our top riders, climbed up on the chute and took hold of my chap belt to prevent a possible accident. When my hands were secured under the rope sursingle and ready to go, Lloyd said to me, "Do all you can to imitate a wildcat! " Blue Jay bucked furiously across the arena to the east, hit the fence with a terrific impact and after floundering backwards, he fell. I did not release my hold on the sursingle. Blue Jay got to his feet, bucked a few minor jumps and it was over. When I was taken off the horse by a pick-up man, Lloyd came to meet me and declared. "Why you "So and So", you did that job better than I could! That meant a lot to me and I did so appreciate the praise
I took in the 1916 Roundup with intentions to contest ride but Smith White, arena director, asked me to help him in the arena. That I did.
I returned to the ranch and resumed breaking horses until the wagon started in the fall. Riding these broncs on the roundup was advancing experience to both the broncs and me.
I shouldn't leave out the spring of 1912. Ord Ames and I were breaking horses at the horse camp when Mr. Holt showed up. He wanted me to go to the Rosebud Pool. I took ten very green broncs and one gentle horse and headed for Miles City (the Tongue River was out of its banks). Ollie Reed joined me and we went to his ranch on Moon Creek to get his horses. We found the Pool wagon some distance south of the head of Moon Creek. Neils Neilson was running the wagon. Elmer Stimson, a most able allround stock hand working for Fred Hitzfeldt of the SL, gave me a lot of help with those green broncs. They took aboard "prosperity" when only ridden about every five days, so it developed that at times I needed help. Harry Rambo (Pete Wobbles), a good hand, came over when roundup was over and helped me home with my throwback.
I stayed on my homestead, near horse camp, during the winter of 1916-17, but early in the spring of 1917 1 got the job as Deputy Assessor for Custer County under Jesse Hiers. I worked the southeast corner of Custer County. Finishing this I went back to breaking horses until wagon started, where I rode the rest of the fall.
War was declared on the 17th of April, which became a concern to all of us. Late in the fall I straightened up my business, turned my homestead and a bunch of range horses over to John Childress, and in November visited some relations before going to Minneapolis to enlist. I was accepted there but sent to Jefferson Barracks for examination. From there I was sent to Fort Sam Houston where I was assigned to the 6th Cavalry-the same regiment of my father in 1876. 1 underwent training there, target practice and quite a lot of drill on horses. I spent 15 months in the service, 13 overseas. Owing to interest at home I was able to get transferred into a special casualty company for immediate return to the states and discharge.
The winter of 1918-19 was extremely open but developed into the tragic drouth year of 1919. 1 broke more horses but at the Miles City Roundup turned my attention to rodeoing. My winnings were very encouraging and while I didn't qualify, I did ride Miles City's famous feature horse, Sky Rocket. It was an injustice to rule that the small rope attached to grass hackamore be used. They weren't enough to hold on to. Taking up loose slack with my right hand was what disqualified me.
Al Irion, who furnished bucking and wild horses for Miles City, W. T. Sullivan, John McIntosh and A Leon formed a company, bought a carload of steers and went down in South Dakota and put on some rodeos. I went along to help Irion with the stock and assist in putting on the shows. I also participated in the contests. They put on some good shows as Al's thoroughbred bucking horses were top performers. Many Montana people were down in that country, forced there by our drouth. We had some good riders there contesting, the Askins boys and Howard Tegland participated. Bob Askins and Howard Tegland both became world champions. During an intermission between the County Fair Rodeo at Roscoe and the Aberdeen Rodeo, Howard Tegland and I went down to Pierre, S.D., to take in another rodeo. I came home with $1,150 including my winnings at Miles City. This was a lot of help when I had my homestead on my mind. It enabled me to buy a good team and some cattle. I did break a few more horses for the LO, Dick Richardson and Jack Marston on Powder River.
The next year I did some road work for the county under a Wilhoit, but as he quit in 1920, 1 took over and worked for the county for six years. I got myself more work horses and when not on the road I started a lot of flood irrigation dirt work on my place. I found there was nothing more sure than the runoff of snow water. It assured me a good alfalfa hay crop and nearly always a seed crop. I arranged it so I didn't use but little of heavy rain runoff as it killed alfalfa when held on fields but a few days.
Finding a wife was no trouble. My friends and neighbors kept writing me in France about a fine little schoolmarm who was teaching our neighborhood Bobcat school. When reaching home, I was a little shy on meeting the cute little thing ~ it worked out pleasantly. We were married Jan. 26, 1921. Schoolmarms became the wives of many cowboys. She was Anna Oby (Toby).
The LO was a cow outfit but the son, Ed, had sheep in addition to the stock horses. Much farming was done in addition to general ranch work. During the 15 years I worked there I am able to recall 113 men who were cowboys, 47 who did general ranch work and 19 cooks who were either at the ranches, the WL, LO or Beaverslide, or cooking with the roundup wagon.
Settling on my homestead was next in order with developments and improvements in mind. Starting to raise a family was a new responsibility, but my road job was a big lift and we did raise a good garden and sold cream and chicken products. The outlook was discouraging after the winter of 1919-20 that began on the 8th of October and lasted until the first of April-but then, these were obstacles only to overcome. Our period of normal progress didn't last too long. Partial to complete drouth years began in 1929 and lasted until 1936. Uncle wasn't tailing us up those days but did buy our cattle for little or nothing. But this was our home; we had no alternative but to buckle up our belts and make every effort to see it through. Most of us went broke and we did lose many of our irreplacable old timers. The tragic phase of it all was that the many who fought to see it through and were working desperately for recovery only lost to outside capital that moved in to take advantage of our depressed values. Much land sold for taxes and fifty cents an acre. (That's different than the $30 and more that's asked for this land today.)
In later years community interests developed. We got our little Cactus Patch school, a 4-H club was organized and increased number and quality of cattle aroused an interest in livestock associations and markets.
At the time the A. T. McIntosh interest took over the LO outfit I got quite a boost in the blood line. They bought 60 head of registered cows and calves from the A. B. Cook dispersion sale at Townsend. I was able to get one of the fine bull calves which turned out to be a grandson of Panama 110-Grand Champion of the International.
I served as brand inspector in our district and in 1951 was elected President of our Southeastern County Livestock Association. This same year I served as one of the directors of the sales yards. I was also on the first board of directors of the Range Riders.
June 21, 1957, was a proud day for me. The Little International dedicated the night show to me because of my livestock activity and development of flood irrigation as a contribution to livestock for which I received a plaque.
During the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the Montana Stockgrowers Association in 1959, one of the days was given over to the Indians. Howard Sinclair (Neck Yoke Jones) and Milton Simpson were instrumental in this arrangement. Sioux, Crows and Cheyennes participated, displaying their fine art, games and dance ceremonials. In the course of the program the Cheyennes, sharing their heritage, honored me with a tribal adoption and bestowed upon me the name of Howling Wolf.
Since I had spent my life in this part of the state, so replete with history, something I was particularly interested in, I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of our Montana Historical Society in 1960. This to me was a position of trust and responsibility and I did consider it an honor and a privilege to be of service to our state along with other members of the Board in its work of preserving Montana History.
I co-authored a book with Maurice Frink written about the life of my father, soldier-musician-photographer, Christian Barthelmess, entitled "Photographer on an Army Mule", published by the University of Oklahoma Press, Copyrighted in 1965. 1 was responsi ble for much of the research necessary for this book as some had to be found in the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institute and from my large collection of photographs and Army records of my fathers which I had preserved.