JOHN WHITBECK, SR.
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By John Whitbeck, Jr.
The family of which John Whitbeck was a member was a large one. He grew up with his parents and brothers and sisters on a ranch on Pumpkin Creek, where his parents had located when they came here from New York in the spring of 1882. John's grandfather, Gilbert Whitbeck, was born in New York state in 1813 of German parentage. He married Charlotte Moss and to them were born two sons, Stephen M., Feb. 22, 1835, and James K., Apr. 19, 1842. The family records show that James K. fought with the North in the Civil War in the 58th Illinois Infantry (Volunteer). In 1866 James K. married Cornelia Hagedorn (Hay) and they migrated to Montana in the spring of 1882 with their eight children and settled on Pumpkin Creek. Since he had already filed on a homestead in Iowa, the law of the land wouldn't allow him to file on one in Montana, so his father Gilbert came out the same year to file on the homestead and bought the squatter rights from John Droste on 160 acres of land on Pumpkin Creek. Gilbert stayed for five years to prove up and then returned to Pennsylvania. James K. acquired another 160 acres of land and the family lived there on Pumpkin Creek, raising cattle and horses and farming. Five more children were born to James K. and Cornelia after they came to Montana. In later years Mr. Whitbeck retired and lived with his son, Ed , at Beebe, and Mrs. Whitbeck spent her remaining years with her son, Pete, at 508 Woodbury in Miles City. John Whitbeck is one of their sons. He attended country schools in the Pumpkin Creek area during his boyhood, and then in 1907 he repped for his brother, Ed, on the Pumpkin Creek Pool, and the next year he cooked for the same outfit. He decided about this time to acquire a piece of land of his own, and filed on a homestead on Johnson Creek and stayed there to prove up on it. He married Mae Ferris during that time, in 1914, and they had one daughter Marie. Between that time and 1930, John tried his hand at different things. He cooked at the Jordan Hotel at Glendive about 1916. He worked for a while for William P. Flynn on his ranch, and at one time he was hauling ice for Jack Campbell at Miles City. In 1918 he was employed at Ft. Keogh, and later he worked for the Milwaukee Railroad. In 1930 he married Edith Verbeek and to them was born a son John H. They bought a home at 519 Woodbury where he and I, his son, John still reside. That same year he started working with the street maintenance crew of Miles City and on park maintenance. He retired from the park job, later and went to work as janitor at City Hall and held that job until his retirement in 1957. His wife Edith died in 1967. After four years' apprenticeship with Stokes and Stratton jewelry firm, I set up my own business in 1953, as a timepiece repair man at the family home on Woodbury. His daughter, Marie is married to William (Jess) P. Burton and resides at Rodeo, Calif. Pete Whitbeck, John's older brother, ranched and herded sheep and later came to Miles City to work for the Milwaukee Railroad; he never married. Guy married Isabel Jones and they ranched for a while on the Dick Ingersoll place, and after that he was custodian at the Montana-Dakota building and the Bank of Miles City. Warren Whitbeck runs a shop in Billings. Opal married Roy Sutherland, and live in Billings. Viola married Charles Kelly and they lived in Miles City all their married life. Douella married Billy Free (or Freisz) in Miles City and at one time cooked at the Savage House on Sixth Street; later she remarried and had one son, Bill Mercer. Mary married Ed Williams, who worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad in the Glendive-Forsyth area, and they had two children, James and Rena. Lottie May married John Hollister in 1898 and they built and operated the first hotel at Hysham, the Yellowstone Hotel, and the Lone Star Bar; in 1927 she married Ed Garlock and they continued to operate the hotel at Hysham until 1929, when they moved to Miles City and Mr. Garlock worked as a barber in the shop of L. C. Becker. Lula Belle passed away in infancy. Gertrude never married and died in 1902 in Miles City. George worked for the Bow and Arrow outfit as a young man and later worked for the Milwaukee Railroad at Miles City and was custodian at the Methodist Church at Miles City for 40 years, retiring in 1962; he has never married. and still lives in Miles City. Zura Fay. the youngest, is living in Spokane, Wash. No one stayed on the old ranch on Pumpkin Creek and it was sold in later years to John Pauley.