From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
My parents, Jacob and Mary (Young) Speelmon, homesteaded in Iowa. I was born Oct. 25, 1880, in Cherokee, Iowa. I came to Montana in 1883 with my parents by covered wagon, locating on Powder River at the mouth of Alkali Creek.
The Missouri River was up when we reached Pierre, S.D., and had to wait there several weeks. We met the Hocketts enroute to Montana from Iowa. Mr. Hockett had been to Montana and built a house on Powder River and was returning with his family. My father decided to settle in the same area and my sister, Iceola, married Bud Hockett that fall. I was the youngest of the six girls and four boys.
Later my father took a place on the head of Speelmon Creek in what is now Carter County. It was good hay country and in the summer of 1886 he put up hay. This is where he and my brother, Moreau, wintered our cattle. With the loss of most of the livestock in that hard winter, my father moved to Camp Crook S.D. in the spring of 1887. Here my father started a blacksmith shop and my mother operated a hotel. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson had a hotel there, also.
Johnny Brummitt, who had a store in Ekalaka, Mont., prevailed on my father to move there and start a hotel since Ekalaka had none. My father established a blacksmith shop there, too. At this time the only other business house there besides Brummitt's store was a saloon owned by Whitt Terrill. This was in the spring of 1889 and here I have lived since that time.
I attended the school which was built halfway between Ekalaka and the David Russell ranch for the convenience, of the children at both locations. Russell's wife was an Ogallala Sioux girl, Ijalaka, and the town of Ekalaka was named for her.
I helped my mother at the hotel and we furnished meals as well. Riding horses was my main recreation. Dances were held on special occasions such as New Year's Day, the Fourth of July and Christmas.
My brothers broke horses and I often watched them riding the broncs. While we were at the ranch on Speelmon Creek, I recall a party of Indians stopped there. They were given permits to leave the reservation to hunt game. (I remember the men laughing when the permits were shown as many were three or four years old and not current.) Sitting Bull was with this group. He came in the house and visited. He asked me to sit on his lap, but I was too shy and now I cannot boast that I sat on Sitting Bull's lap.
Bud Burditt, married my sister, Daisy, and took a place on Speelmon Creek. They moved to Kalispell, Mont., in 1895 and I went with them. They drove a team and wagon, and sometimes I rode in the wagon, but usually rode my saddle pony, Cheeko. I believe we started for Kalispell in May. I know we arrived there on July 4. 1 left my pony there.
Coming home to Ekalaka, I crossed Flathead Lake on a boat and then took a stage to Ravalli where I boarded a Northern Pacific train to Miles City, then by stage to Ekalaka. The stage was a spring wagon and it traveled night and day. We stopped three times, as I recall, to change horses. One stop was at a stage ranch at the mouth of Mizpah Creek, one of Knowlton and at the Caton place on 0'Fallon Creek. We arrived in Ekalaka around six a.m. I arrived home in August.
Frank Castelberry and I were married Sept. 8, 1897, in the Billy Wirt home in Ekalaka. Mrs. Billy Wirt was my sister, May.
Frank Castleberry was born at Auroria, Lumpkin County, Ga., March 6, 1870. As a boy he lived at Hayesville, N.C. He went to Texas and worked for the Hashknife outfit and came up the trail to Montana with a herd in 1894 or 1895. That fall he went south to Colorado with a herd of Hashknife horses and they wintered there. In the spring, Frank rode down the trail until he met the Hashknife cattle herd from Texas coming north and returned to Montana with them and remained here.
Frank bought relinquishments on a place two miles north of Ekalaka from an Alex Robinson. A fellow called Doc Riddle had lived there earlier and had built a one room log house. At the same time Frank went in to Miles City to attend to this, my brother, Will and Moreau, accompanied him and filed on places near Ekalaka.
Frank and my brother, Will, batched together and broke horses for the Hashknife.
We had five children, Myrtle, Floyd, a baby daughter, R. Lee and Frank (B.F.). A grandson, Marshall E. Lambert, came to live with us when his parents and sister, Gladys, were killed in a tornado June 24, 1923, at Bucyrus, N.D., Marshall was nine years old at the time and he still lives in Ekalaka and teaches science in the high school and is director of the Carter County Museum.
I lived on the ranch all of my married life. We first lived in the original log house and three or four years after we were married, we built a new frame house.
In earlier days many horses were raised and some ranchers raised more horses than cattle. As cars and tractors came in, horse raising went out. My sister, Icy, and her husband, Bud Hockett, had moved to Canada in the early 1900's. They visited us in 1915 and took our horses to British Columbia and sold them in pioneer country, there.
My husband died in November, 1941, in Miles City. My son, Frank ran the ranch. In 1945 he married Margaret Argo and I moved to Ekalaka. In 1966, Frank retired and my grandson, Fulton Castelberry, is now on the ranch.
I have four grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.