JOHN and ALLIE COLWELL
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Irene Colwell Roebuck
My father, John Calhorn Colwell, whose parents were originally from Ireland, was born near Fort Worth, Texas, on June 29, 1865. When he was 18 years old he went into Old Mexico where he worked on a ranch. The next year he got a job in Texas with a large cow outfit. On February 27, 1898, he was married to my mother, Allie Nora Leonard of Uvalde, Texas. Allie was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1886 and received her education in a Mexican school in Rock Springs, Texas. She worked in the cotton fields in Texas for her mother and dad, who were natives of Scotland. My dad had a good education and was elected Deputy Sheriff for two terms in Oklahoma City. In 1902 they moved to New Mexico, where Dad worked on cattle ranches. In the spring of 1904, while working for George Pemberton, he helped ship a trainload of cattle to Montana. They were unloaded at Moorcroft, Wyoming, and trailed to the Pemberton ranch on Little Powder River. My sister, Mabel Marie, was born in New Mexico on Nov. 6, 1905. When she was small, Dad became ill with an infection on his left wrist caused by rheumatism from the swampy land, so he and his family moved to Miles City in their wagon. Dad worked for Frank Murphey at the mouth of the Mizpah. He drove a jerkline over 10 head of horses and freighted wool to Miles City. From then on, my folks worked for many of the big ranch owners. They settled at the old SY Ranch located about 60 miles southwest of Miles City between Volborg and Beebe, Montana. Here he raised cattle and hired Austin Middleton (deputy warden on the Montana State Prison in later years) as a ranch hand. I, Irene Jane, was born on Feb. 10, 1910, at Miles City. Shortly before 1920, Dad sold his cattle and bought a large herd of wild horses. He homesteaded on Ash Creek near Tongue River, but couldn't make a living because of the sagebrush and drought conditions. He shipped his horses to Oklahoma City where they were sold to finance his cattle purchases, and we bought the old N. A. Wolfe ranch from Lulu Wilds, of Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1925. This place was located near the head of East Fork of Otter Creek. In 1930, Austin Middleton asked Dad if he would like a job as guard at the State Prison. He accepted and later on Mom and I moved to be with him, while my sister Mabel and her husband, Roy Kelsey, took care of the ranch for Dad. This enabled Dad to pay up his mortgage on the ranch. After working as a guard for 51/2 years, he returned to the ranch. Our folks went to Broadus to vote every election usually going with some of their friends. My Dad developed an abscess on his hip and had surgery in 1938. He became ill again near Christmas of the same year. Mabel and I were called to his bedside and were informed he had an incurable disease and would live only six months. In July I brought Mom and Dad to Deadwood to live with us. Dad passed away in his sleep Aug. 26, 1939. He was buried in the Willow Crossing Cemetery. Then Mom went back to the ranch until May, 1948, when she broke her hip as the result of a fall. She was hospitalized in Miles City for three months. A good friend of ours, Sheriff C. M. Allen, brought her to the Deadwood hospital in August, 1948, and in a week she was able to come home and live with us. It was here she died on April 11, 1951. Mabel and her second husband, Wynn Burlison, are now living in Deer Lodge, Montana. I have been a resident of Deadwood, South Dakota, for 30 years. I was married to Reinhold Roebuck, a railroad man, on June 2, 1935, at Broadus. We had the following children. Mrs. Kenneth Huber (Bonnie), Mrs. Ronald Halbert (Mary), and Clifford. My husband, Reinhold, passed away on Oct. 3, 1961. I enjoyed working at the V. A. Hospital in Fort Meade, near Deadwood, until a car accident and the resulting back injuries forced me to quit work.