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Hyrum Clifton

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and
Surrounding Districts, Pages 299 - 299

Hyrum Clifton was born 13 January, 1891, at Dingle, Bear Lake, Idaho. He was the sixth child of George and Alice Marinda Neat Clifton. They were among the early pioneers called in 1861 to settle that area.

When Hyrum was ten years old the Clifton family was called by the Mormon Church to go north to help colonize and build an irrigation canal in the western Canadian prairies. They travelled by train and brought with them their cattle, some seeds, and household items. They were met east of Magrath where the train bridge had been washed out by the spring flood. They were taken into Magrath by team and wagons to their mother's sister, Emma Bennett's home. They arrived in Magrath in March 1901. They obtained land just south of the town, and purchased a building lot in the town.

Hy, as he was known to all, had some schooling in Idaho, and some in Magrath. He was very independent. He had a fierce pride and a strong sense of self reliance so he left home at the age of fourteen and went on his own. He worked at the McIntyre ranch, the Eldridge ranch, and the Peters ranch. During World War I he served with the cavalry in the U.S. army. From 1923-25 he worked for Bill Show in Montana. He also worked as a guide in Glacier National Park for one or two summers. He was a lover of cattle, horses, and the great outdoors. He was an ardent rodeo fan; and in his younger years participated in rodeo events.

In 1925 he purchased the Fred Ewing place in the Shanks Lake area of Del Bonita and went there to live in a two- roomed house. He also farmed his brother Lorraine's homestead. He led a very simple and often lonely life but it was a way of life that he loved. He gained a small herd of Herefords and took great pride in building it up. For many years his only mode of travel was his saddle pony. Even after he purchased his first car and later on a truck, he still relied on his saddle horse to get him out for mail and urgent supplies during the winter months when he was snowed in.

He, like his pioneering forefathers, earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. He was a hard working man, and wanted to be indebted to no one. He loved people, and teased the children, but always generously shared what he had with others. He endeared himself to old and young alike.

He could tell many stories of early days and often held young people spellbound as he told about fighting prairie fires, handling wild horses, or riding the open range in all kinds of weather.

One time on one of the ranches the cow hands were trying unsuccessfully to ride a bucking mule. Someone bet Hy five dollars that he couldn't ride this animal around the corral. Hy called the bet, mounted the mule, grabbed a dried out cow hide off the corral, and held it back over the mule's rump. The mule was so busy kicking at the hide that he couldn't buck but ran and kicked all the way around the corral. Hy won the bet.

In 1970 his health began to fail and he spent the winter months in Lethbridge. He looked forward with eagerness to the visits of his long time friends and neighbors from Del Bonita and to the spring when he could return to his land. However, he realized that the days when he could actively farm had passed and he sold his land with the arrangement that he could continue to live there. He spent the summer of 1971 in Del Bonita but moved into Magrath in the late fall. He died 6th February, 1972 and was buried in the family plot in Magrath.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup