From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
I came to Montana from St. Croix Falls, Wis., with my parents and six brothers in May, 1914. We settled in the Crow Rock area where my father and three oldest brothers had homesteaded the year before. The country at that time was in the pioneer state and very different from what I had been used to. We were 40 miles from town and had no railroads, telephones, or electricity and though a
few cars were beginning to show up at my old home, none were in this new country. Being young I could enjoy and make the best of everything.
There were many exciting experiences, the first branding I ever saw was in my eyes exciting and better than a circus. The first fall I was there the last big herd of the C K Cattle Co. went through near our homestead; it was a huge herd and certainly a thrill to us newcomers, even then a new era was beginning.
I was married in 1916 to William Combs. We had five children. William Jr., married Helen Minifie and lives in Miles City. Marian married Leon Willson Jr., and lives at Volborg. Robert married Joyce Mast and lives at Denver. Norma married Lester Howard and lives in Miles City. Earl married Virginia Morgan and lives in Seattle. I have 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
I have always heard so much of western hospitality and it was quite true, for I'm sure as the years went by I doled out my share to wandering cowboys, freighters and, of course, the "grub line riders." Being so isolated we were always happy to see people. One cold October day toward night a car stopped and a man came to the house to inquire if it was possible to stay there all night. It was a family, the parents and five children. No one was ever turned away though we only had two rooms then and two children of our own. They had some bedding and by putting the children on the floor we made out. They were a fine family and we enjoyed having them.
One time before I was married my brothers and I decided to give a party. Quite a few neighbors came but during the evening a bad blizzard came up. So everyone stayed all night. We had a lot of fun and in the morning after a big breakfast they braved the snow drifts to go home. There were no cars and horses could get around pretty well.
Schools were beginning to start. There were no settled churches; occasionally a minister would hold a service in some home. I had a folding organ and if there was no instrument in a home I would take it and play for the service.
Our school situation was so difficult. We were so far from one and our children had to be away from home during the week, so we sold our north side ranch and bought the Charley Daley ranch near Stacy in 1930. Mr. Combs passed away in 1923. 1 leased the ranch and moved to Miles City. I still own the ranch.