Roscoe's story of his time in Spring Coulee.
I landed in Spring Coulee in 1908. There was not much there then, the Spring Coulee Trading Co., one elevator belonging to Bill Thompson and a log house down in the coulee, just south of the bridge. Johnny Barrus tore it down in 1925, we lived in it in 1923.
Now the place of your mother's, it had a little shack on it west of the house on the hillside. That was Henry Miller's homestead. Geo. Culp bought it from Henry when he came to Spring Coulee in 1909.
Smith and Over bought sections 15 and 16. There was nothing on it, not even a fence. They brought with them from Illinois a 32 Reeves steam engine that pulled a 14 bottom plow. They broke the land on 15 and 16 with it. Herman Johnson bought the quarter north of them and they broke that too. Herman came from Illinois at the same time and so did George Culp. He (G Culp) bought the half section north of the Morrow place and built his house and barn there. Horace Darby came about 1910 and bought the half section by the canal west of the Morrow place. Culp bought the half section just west of the road and later sold it to Darby.
The only places fenced and with buildings in 1908, were the Miller place, Rundquist Goodenough and John Thompson places east of the railway tracks. The rest was all prairie.
There was a great change between 1908 and 1912. The whole country between the Eldridge (Malmberg) ranch north of the river was built up and fenced.
H.E.Kelly was the manager of the Spring Coulee Trading Co. which was owned by Bill Thompson. Charlie Kelly was foreman for Bill Thompson. The Kelleys and the Thompsons came from Indiana together.
I only remember one Winchel boy his name was Johnny. They lived on the Rundquist place and they used to come to our place often and we used to go to town on Saturday nights together. Another good friend was Frank Brown, he was the steam engineer for Smith and Overs. His wife was the cook.
After the oil men, I worked for them. I dug the mud pit and hauled the lumber to build the derrick. I can't bring to mind the contractors name who built the derrick, he married Paul Boettcher's daughter. The head man in the office was Charley Bowling, the tool push was Walt Schopie and the head driller was Paul Love. Ken Maybe and Miles Maybe were truck drivers. Harold Anderson worked as a roughneck. The cook's name was Jack Booth. Jack was kept on after the well closed down as watchman. He married a girl from Taber.
The Trading Co. was sold to Bill Steed, who ran it for a few years. He was Ray Bennett's father-in-law. He sold the store to the Red and White Chain and Harvey Anderson ran it for some time. Harvey married the oldest Ackeberg girl; she was a granddaughter of George Culp.
One time Fred Bressler stole some Maclntyre cattle and tried to take them across the line. He took them across the Eldridge ranch and across the -K2 and the police caught him. He claimed that the cattle got into his herd by mistake. They broke him fighting the case but they never convicted him. Maclntyres had too much money for him. But it wasn't long until he stole enough to get back on this feet again.
Then there was the time that Herb Joyner was poisoned. There were some who knew who did it but the death certificate said heart failure.
And one time Lew Lincoln beat up on a soldier who worked for Joe Marsden, Lew had worked for Joe for several years but at the time was working for Culp. They phoned the police at Cardston and they came down on the train the next day. Lew was hiding up in the cupola of the grain elevator. Jim Mercer had hidden him there. That night Geo. Culp drove him out to the Marsden place and Joe gave him a horse and he headed for the line and no one heard of him for several years. Then Roy Matson, who lived on the Bradshaw place down in the coulee south of you, was in Great Falls and saw Lew. He was working out of Great Falls on a ranch.
Ever year we used to have a picnic. We went two miles west of Spring Coulee and then north to the river. There was a nice big flat there and we could have races etc. Later Thompsons built a place there for Leo Smith.
Leo was a great friend of Bert Dustin. Bert was a jockey and there was a little fellow by the name of Baker Scott and they would race each other and they always had a fight either in the race or after. There were two boys of Bill French named Oz and Bill. They beat everybody until Lee Caner came along and then he beat them. They had a heavy man's race for anyone over 210 pounds and I weighed 220 at that time and used to take that race everytime.
I remember another man who used to be around Spring Coulee, George Wildman. He used to be a mountie. One night he got drunk, while stationed in Magrath, and shot holes in the stovepipes coming out of some of the shacks down by the creek. So they kicked him off the force and he came to Spring Coulee and went to work for Herb Joiner. Such an education that man had. He knew every law in Canada off by heart and many people went to him when they were in trouble with the law. He lived in a little shack down on the flat below Jack Barrus's house, the last I remember.
Yes there are a lot of skeletons in the closets in Spring Coulee but I better let sleeping dogs lie.
I was foreman for Geo. Culp on his ranch on the Milk River Ridge south of Spring Coulee and I hired a man out of Lethbridge. I saw him on the street and he was pretty drunk. I thought I recognized him so I went up and took hold of his arm and said, "Mind if I give you a hand?" and took him by the arm. His other hand went under his coat and came out so fast you couldn't see how it was done. In it was a 45. He recognized me and said "I'm sorry," So we went to a restaurant and had coffee.
He used to work for Mrs. Thompson when I was mending harness there in the winter two years before. So I hired him and took him out to the ranch. He didn't have to tell me nothing, but one night in the winter we were sitting in the bunk house and all at once he said, "Rock. you never asked me why I pulled that gun on you that day." I said. "I figured you were nervous."
He said, "You're a liar too. but that's all right. You played fair with me and never did anything to anyone else and you still knew I carried that gun." Then he said that he was wanted in Wyoming. He had shot it out with a posse and got across the line with a bullet in his leg. He walked with a limp.
The reason I am retelling this is that you never know what is going on in your part of the world until you run across it. This fellow said his name was really Smith but he went by the name of Dane Moppin.
I left Spring Coulee in 1918 and went north looking for hay for Geo. Culp. Stayed up there for 3 years and when we came back were living in the log house in the coulee on the Thompson flat. It used to be the Post Office. Bill Crawford was also living down there and we were working for Thompsons. I bought a saddle from Bill's boy Sonny and it turned out to be the saddle Dane had sold him. It was the one he rode into Canada and had blood stains down the side. One of your kids used to ride it on old Kit when you came to school in Vernal.
Your Mother will remember Bill Crawford, he died with T.B. in 1923. He lived in that little house by the bridge.
Now for the Vernal school teachers: the first one I remember was Arminta Earl. She was from Raymond, then there was Miss Miller. They both lived with us when they were teaching at Vernal.
About fires I remember. I was living on Morrow's place and it was just about dark. I was going to the house from the barn when I saw a big red glow in the east. I knew it was the Marsden place so I grabbed a horse and rode over. The big hip roofed barn had flames coming out of it all over. There were 10 sets of harness, 5 saddles, some cows and horses and hogs in it. It was impossible to get in to save anything. A few of the hogs got out.
Then about a couple of years later we were in Spring Coulee at a dance. We saw a fire from there and thought it must be Ripley's or Marsden's. It was the Marsden house. Tot Marsden was in town and two or three cars drove out with him but when they got there it was too late to save a thing. They had an old sheepherder working for them and he was sleeping in a back room and burned with the house.
I think it was about 1934 that the Munroe store burned. It was believed to be deliberately set by a retarded boy who didn't want anyone to find out he had broken into the store. The dance hall was above the store and so the town entertainment came to a halt for a time. The store was rebuilt and several years later it also burned. Harry Jolliffe's barn burned just north of Spring Coulee. One of the early houses to burn was the Culp house. In the later years Fred Brestler's house burned.
I mentioned Soren Anderson; Tinous Thies was his brother-in-law and he drowned in the canal just west of where you live now.
I don't know what happened to Sybil and John Anderson, they used to work for Marsdens and the last time I saw her she came to our place with another man. I don't know his name but he was 7 feet tall. We have a picture taken that day and he stands two feet taller than Sybil.
Another man I must mention was Bob Roberts. He kept the books and handled the telephone in the Spring Coulee Trading Co. office. He had a little stable in town and kept a saddle horse. He and Les Morrow and I used to ride horseback to the dances at Woolford, Rayley and the -K2 ranch. I don't know what became of Bob but he was the fastest man with figures that I ever saw. He could add a long row of figures faster than you could think.
Another fellow Harry Stellar. Harry, Les and I worked for Smith and Over. He married Leo Smith's widow and the last I saw of him was in Great Falls.
I came to Spring Coulee in 1908. I worked for the Eldridge Ranch, then went back to Kimball and worked for Bevans and Carl (Kearl) horse ranch, went from there to the Galbraith Ranch in Montana then came back to Spring Coulee in 1912. I went north in 1918, back in 1921 and then in 1936 1 moved to DeWinton south of Calgary.
Another name I remember was Andrew Kershaw, he was the station agent, a little Frenchman. Another was Mr. Gygi, he was the section foreman. When he left Spring Coulee he bought a farm 4 miles west of Magrath. He had two sons and two daughters.
Now I will give you the names of some of the oldtimers I remember. There was Ed Lane, Lon Schumaker, Jesse Sherman, George Culp, Charley Kendal (he is the fellow who had a fight with George Culp once and it went on until they were so worn out they had to fight lying down) Then there were the three Beswicks. Pete used to own the Clarence Ripley place. Harold owned the place east of John Thompson. Elmer used to live north of where you live across the canal. Others were Henry Miller, Fred Brestler, Herman Johnson Sr., George Wildman, Joe Marsden, Roy Matson, John Barrus Sr., Herb Joyner, Johnny Majerison. Then there was Jean Kelly, Bert's wife.
The first person to have a store on the east side of the track was Dan Eby. He sold the store to Alex Munroe. Alex got one over on Fred Brestler. There was some machinery stored behind Munroe's house and the store. One night Alex woke up and heard something. He looked out and saw Fred loading a wagon brake into his car. Alex said nothing about this, but Brestlers traded with the store and paid their bill every month. Fred couldn't read, so every month for three months Alex put the brake on the bill and Fred paid it and never knew the difference.
After Mrs. Beimler left the hotel a man named Dave Boyd took over and after him Bill Proctor had the hotel. He got into a row with a fellow in Cardston and shot his tie off and so decided to leave the country.
Bill Thompson, one of the first pioneers in the area, fell into the pit at the elevator. It was full of water and he contracted pheumonia and died. John Coffee Thompson died following a fall from a hay rack.
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