From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Nanie Bidwell
Willard Clayton Bidwell was born Apr. 30, 1877, in Allegany County, N. Y. He moved with the family to Indiana and later to Standish, Mich.
Clate learned to file saws from his grandfather when he was 15 years old, which later won him state honors in Michigan, Indiana and Montana.
He married Mamie August Hulford, one month after meeting her, Dec. 25, 1898. Mamie was born Mar. 25,1881.
The doctors advised Clate to take Mamie to a different climate, preferably the west, and since Mamie's brother George Hulford lived in Montana they decided to move near him. George met them in Miles City, March 20, 1910, where they arrived by train.
Buying a wagon, horses and other supplies needed, they traveled out about 69 miles near where Olive, Mont., is now. Clate and Mamie took squatters rights on a homestead on Lake Creek and Clate helped build a log school house near there. He traded his homestead for a sawmill in 1917 to Carl Emmons. He moved his mill over the years, sawing lumber in many places, Green Creek, Otter Creek and Stacey. Clate also freighted with wagons for neighbors and himself and ran threshing machines in the fall.
Bidwell sold his lumber at one time for 18 dollars a thousand feet, delivered. He sold around a million feet of lumber per year.
Clate served on the first jury in Powder River County, and also made the first cashier's check made at the Powder River County Bank, May 29,1919.
The Bidwell family moved to Miles City in 1925: Clate supplied coaches for the railroad. In 1927 they moved to the Stacey country again, on the west fork of Little Pumpkin Creek to a sawmill. Mamie cooked for the mill help and anyone else who happened by at meal time. Everyone loved her cooking, which she enjoyed doing.
In 1937 the sawmill burned. Clate built a house for Ed Love in Miles City that spring and in the fall he bought a steam engine and moved it to Colstrip to cut railroad ties. The timber wasn't suitable so he moved back to Francis Choate's place on Gaskill Creek. Clate again sold his mill, this time to the Yellowstone Lumber Company in 1940, moved to Broadus and built a house on some land he owned there. He helped set up the mill 11/2 miles west of Broadus and worked for the lumber company filing saws and sawing lumber.
In 1946 Clate helped his son, Frank, with his sawmill on Rufus Choate's, Oscar (Sal) Cain's and Perry Hanson's ranches sawing timber from their land. He built a house for H. L. Hunt, the Texas oil millionaire, on Tongue River near Brandenburg.
Mamie's health wasn't good so they moved to their home in Broadus and Clate built wooden water tanks for the stockmen, also filed saws.
Clate passed away March 22, 1969. Mamie is still living; she will be 90 on March 25, 1971.
The Bidwells had six children, Mrs. Hank (Alma) Briant, deceased; Frank Clayton, who operates a sawmill near Ashland; Mrs. Alta Sneath Smith of Washington; Roy Cyrus, lives in Ashland; Mrs. Mike (Wreatha) Cain lives near Volborg; and Mrs. Andy (Virginia) Bogge lives in Broadus.