WILLIAM BOYCE CLARKE
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
Before describing my range life, a word about my parents and immediate family would seem to me to be appropriate. My father was Richard R. Clarke (1853-1942) who married my mother Alice Boyce (1856-1929) in December 1876 in a village near the city of Great Yarmouth on the eastern coast of England. There had been born to them in England a daughter Maude, who died in infancy, a son Alfred Richard, who accompanied them to America, and a son Herbert who was still born. My father was a journeyman or master stonemason, plasterer and bricklayer by trade, but as far back as I can remember he owned a horse-at first they were Indian ponies, then as they were disposed of he gradually acquired better horses. The last horse he owned was PRINCE, a red roan (often described as a sorrel) which he acquired from N. P. Sorenson. Prince's sire was a Morgan owned by Randolph Deibel, and his dam was a halfthoroughbred bay that the Sorensons raced at our early day county fairs. Dad rode Prince on the streets of Miles City for many years until he and my mother moved to California in 1920, at which time Prince was taken to the ranch of my brother Charley on Cherry Creek north of Terry, where he died at the age of 29 years. The youngsters born in America were Emily (1883), myself (1885), Charles Godfrey Simeon Stanley (1887), Walter Newell (1889) Harry Gordon (1891), Elizabeth Willard (1893), Alice (1895) and Walter Roberts (1901). They all lived to reach their maturity with the exception of Walter Newell, who died from being hurt internally by a bank falling on him at the Old Slough some half mile or so north of the family home, which is now designated as 316 North Tenth Street in Miles City. On November 30, 1900, 1 took as my future helpmate Laura Josephine Sanderson (1888-1954) in Livingston- who had spent most of her life in Sweet Grass County, although having been born in Minnesota. To this union was born Eunice (May 26-June 18, 1911) and William Boyce Jr. born on November 21, 1913. Survivors at the time of her passing, besides the widower, were our son Boyce, granddaughter Roberta Rae and grandson Thomas Warren, and her sister Cora Sanderson. As to my range experience-around the turn of the century one of my schoolmates, Joseph Bateman Jr., and I formed a partnership under the name of Bateman & Clarke and bought a few ponies at the A. B. Clarke Horse Sale Yards, purchased a section of land in the Pine Hills (section 5-7N-49E) from Sam Gilmore, obtained the poles and posts for a corral from Henry Klunder, built a good corral right near a splendid spring -- and we were in the horse business. I do not remember what brand this partnership had registered first. But later, as we acquired other horses, sometimes purchasing the remnant of a herd and getting the brand, or when we purchased other horses, we would brand each "lot" with a different brand and kept branding the offspring with the same iron-notably were the Joseph Bateman (Sr.) horses branded
(brace and bit) on the right shoulder, the C. R. Weaver remnant with the (Plow) brand on the right shoulder-we also used a (reversed K) on the left jaw -- the (brace and bit) on either jaw-and another Ton the right shoulder. When Butler and Wilder disposed of their cattle, we bought seven head of well broke horses from them, one of which was a solid black with a wonderful running walk, which we dubbed SKIDOO -- he was my "private" and could turn most any bunch of range horses. I never saw a more willing worker.
Our horses ranged on both sides of Lower Pumpkin Creek from Maggie Creek down to Tongue River, on Johnson, Squaw, Mill and Log Creeks to the Pine Hill country. It was our custom to gather these horses every spring, pasture them during the breeding season and then turn them loose on the range again. In the fall, we would work the range again, branding any colts we had missed and in general check on the different bunches to see if they were staying on their range.
This partnership lasted until December 31, 1912, which was soon after Joe married, when I purchased his interest in the partnership holdings. I was getting too many horses for my one section pasture, so I sold that to Judge C. H. Loud and purchased three other sections from the Northern Pacific (section 1-7N-48, and section 25 and 35-8N-48) and from Lou Preller the W 1/2 of section 30-8N-49, and leased section 36-8N-48) (a school section) from the State of Montana. These lands were rather "chopped up" by roads, but were so fenced that there was good water in each pasture. There was a nice log shack on the Lou Preller place but I never used it. I also purchased some other lands on Jones Creek but disposed of them to Fred Krueger. I did not hold section 1-7N-48 very long (this was known as the Cleever section) -- it was split by the "Fritz" road, which ran south from the "top" of the Government Hill to the Fritz Ranch and then on down to the Bircher spread. There was about a hundred acres on the east side of the Fritz road with a real good spring on it. I sold this piece to Mr. Fritz after I had used it a couple of seasons, and a little later I sold him the balance of it.
When I sold my horses to Louis and Frank Bircher in the fall of 1918, 1 sold sections 25 and 35 and the W I/2 of section 32 above mentioned, together with the lease on section 36 to the State of Montana for pasturage for their "dry" stock of the State Industrial School. Before purchasing the property, A. C. Dorr, then Superintendent at the school and Governor J. H. Erickson accompanied me to "The Hills" and we drove over much of the property. I brought my saddle horses in to one of the sales, except Skidoo. I turned him and my saddle over to C. A. Walker, who was operating the Gilmore section for Judge Loud, and that was the last time that I ever saw horse or saddle, and also the end of my actual range life.
My entire education was received in the old Washington School, the site of the present structure-having started in 1890 and graduating in May, 1901. Within a month after graduating, I entered the employ of Geo. W. Farr, an attorney whose offices were in the Bullard Block (now Milligan Hotel). I worked off and on with Mr. Farr until June, 1912. During the "off" years, I clerked for J. E. Arnold in a candy and ice cream shop located at 705 Main (now John Stockhill Jewelers), clerked for Arnold Bros. Grocery at 719 Main (now Creme Barber Shop), held the position of deputy county clerk under H. B. Darnall and clerked horse sales under three ownerships-A. B. Clarke (no relation), C. B. Ingham and Guy Crandall. The yards were then on the south side of the Northern Pacific tracks west of the depot, then later on the north side of the tracks.
In 1912, 1 purchased an interest in the Custer Abstract Company and by 1925, had acquired full ownership. Also, in 1925, with W. Ray Calvin, I purchased the insurance and real estate business of the Wells Realty Company (which had been operated for years as Calvin Investment Co.) and brought it under control of the Custer Abstract Company. Ray had been associated with the Calvin Investment Company since 1912 and had become a top notch insurance man and competent abstracter. Ray passed away on November 25, 1937. Wilham Boyce Clarke, Jr. (Boyce) had come into the office just prior to Ray's passing and obtained his first knowledge of insurance under Ray's tutelage-this being the beginning of the father and son business relationship which lasted until 1961, when I retired from further business activity. Since retirement, I have kept busy writing, rhyming, "politicing" a little, visiting and growing all kinds of flowers.
During my lifetime in Miles City, I was active in many public affairs, not the least of which was the Half Century Club. While not quite a charter member of the Half Century Club, I was in on the organization and had never missed a meeting until 1970. The traditional Half Century Club Cane, bearing the names of the members with the longest continuous Montana residence in attendance at each annual meeting, was made by my father, R. R. Clarke, from a diamond willow grown in Miles City. It has been my continuous pleasure, until this last year to have had the honor of making the presentation of the cane at each annual meeting. To date, thirty four recipients of this singular honor have been recognized.