Welcome to my humble blog.  Come on in and bring some sunshine with you.  Please don’t go away without saying hello.  It gets lonely here when nobody comes to visit so please stay for just a few minutes.  Even if you don’t find anything that interests you, go to leave a comment at the bottom of this message and tell me that you were here.  It won’t cost you a dime but it will warm an old man’s heart.  Thank you for being so kind.  If you would like me to return your visit, leave the link to your site.

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The 2015 Red Ants Pants Music Festival will feature 


White Sulphur Springs, the quiet little town with a truly western atmosphere will again be the site of the fifth annual festival by the Red Ants Pants Foundation. For complete information go to the website below.

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It was entirely possible for a teacher to have students in each of the eight grades in this one room, although there were usually some grades empty. Even so, the teacher had to somehow divide her time between several different grades and instruct one grade while, at the same time, keep the other grades occupied and studying. It was an opportunity for a fast-learning child to advance because you could always listen in on the classroom instruction the upper classes were receiving.

FULLER FAMILY Ida, Frank, Bill, Jim & Esther

Ida, Frank, Bill, Jim & Esther

During recess we would play games such as Steal Sticks, Pump Pump Pull-away and Crack The Whip.
My second week of my second year of school, the weather was beautiful, the way September often is in Montana, clear, calm, balmy days that called out to a boy to come out and play. Those were the kind of days when it was tough to have to spend most of the day in the school house and every minute outdoors was used to the fullest. When the teacher would call us in from recess we would delay as long as possible. On these Indian Summer days, we were often joined at lunch time by Clinton. Clinton was the older brother of Florence and Joe Walter. In these days of verbal hat dancing around and issue, he would be described as having a learning disability or a social disadvantage. After several years in school, he had gotten as far as second grade although he still couldn’t actually do first grade work. He had since been withdrawn from school but was taking Florence and Joe to and from school in the buggy. In bad weather, he would return home in the morning to spend the day there, going back to school in the afternoon to pick up his brother and sister. But, on nice days, he would often just wait around outside the school all day. On this particular day of the second week of school, we were eating our lunches outside se we could get in running and playing at the same time. Clinton had joined us as he often did and was in on the horse-play too. In the course of this, I grabbed Clinton’s hat and ran with it. He, of course, ran after me. When he was close on my heels, I fell. Being so close behind me, he also fell and landed on top of me. I felt a snap and a stab of pain in my leg and, somehow, knew that it was broken.
During the next half hour, there was considerable excitement and confusion because nobody there had any idea of how to deal with a broken leg. Miss Lucas  couldn’t  believe that it was broken and tried twice to get me to stand on it. Then it was decided that Clinton should take me home in the buggy. It would have been much better for him to have gone and got my mother to come with the car. But, as I said, everyone was excited and confused. So, he took me the mile and a half in the buggy, very slowly and very carefully and, I might add, with a great deal of concern about my comfort. You can imagine the shock to my mother when we arrived at home. On the way to town in our Gardner car, I knew that Mama was quite upset when I saw the speedometer at 45 m.p.h. I had never ridden in a car at that speed before.
Dr. O’Neal examined the leg and decided that he would have to get an X-Ray of the break in order to know how to set it. The only X-Ray machine in town, or in the county for that matter, was upstairs over the bank in the office of the dentist, Dr. A. P. Johnson. He was often called Drap Johnson, a name derived from removing the periods from Dr. A. P. My cousin, Roger Hanson, and his friend, Sig Quam, carried me on a stretcher across the street and up the steep stairs. After the X-Rays, I was taken to Aunt Mary Jefferson’s house where a bed had been set up for me in the living room. There the doctor set the bone in place and put a cast on my leg. After a few weeks on that bed and a few more on crutches, I was as good as ever.
There were some who wanted to blame Clinton for the accident but I never felt there was justification for that. Clinton was not very agile but a person who was could have fallen on me just as well, under the circumstances. Besides, it was just as much my fault for taking his hat and running with it. It was just one of those things that happened without warning or specific cause.


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We were back home now but there was still furniture and other personal property over there to be moved home. In December Daddy borrowed two horses to put with Lightfoot and Ruthie to make up a four-horse team. Uncle Ned joined in with his team and sled and they set out for Duck Creek on the other side of the mountains. They got there without encountering anything unusual in the way of trouble and got the things loaded on the two sleds. They started home with the four-horse team taking the lead to break trail in the snow. The snow was quite deep over the mountains and the temperature was running well below zero. They got as far as Iron Springs in Confederate Gulch the first day and camped there for the night. It was so cold that they crawled into their bed rolls with their clothes on. Uncle Ned laughed at Daddy for putting his cap on with the ear flaps down to go to bed. They started again early the next day and it proved to be a long and trying day. It was bitterly cold and the snow was deep and drifted. It was hard going for the horses and, due to the uneven density of the snow, the sleds would rock and lurch. The sled pulled by the four-horse team carried most of the furniture which made the load quite high. This sled tipped over twice before they reached the top of the divide and had to be righted and reloaded each time. They finally got over the top and were nearly out of the mountains on their way down Benton Gulch when the sled overturned again. This was approximately where Jack and Helen Coleman now live and they were still nearly twenty miles from home. It was already late in the day. They left the overturned sled there and, with four horses hitched to Ned’s sled and leading the other two behind, they proceeded on home, arriving about midnight. The next day they went back with four horses and brought the other sled home.
The following year our sister joined the family. She was born at the home of Grandma Short in White Sulphur Springs. Bill and I stayed there with Grandma until Mama was ready to go home.
Two years later, in 1934, it came time for me to start school. I was starting first grade and Bill was starting fifth at the same school that our father had attended. But, we lived closer to it. For us it was a mile and a half by the county road but only slightly more than a mile across the field. We nearly always walked across the field but sometimes in the spring, when the snow was melting, the water would be running so deeply and swift in the coulees that we couldn’t get across. We would have to go by the road. One time when we had this situation the culvert under the county road at one coulee was plugged with ice and a lake had formed on the upper side of the road. On our way home from school, we stopped to throw rocks into the water and, on one throw, my mitten flew off and landed out in the water. We tried to reach it with sticks and tried throwing rocks into the water near it to make the waves carry it toward shore but it just kept drifting farther and farther away. It finally sank and was gone.
Our uncle, Lon Hanson, leased the field we crossed going to and from school and sometimes he pastured his bulls there. One spring morning two of the bulls had been fighting and the loser was coming down one of the coulees just as we were crossing through it. As soon as he saw us he started toward us. Bill had the good sense to decide that we shouldn’t  run so we continued walking at a good pace. The bull stayed at a walk too. We were up out of the coulee before the bull got real close. As soon as we were out of his sight over the rim of the coulee, we lit out running as fast as we could go and reached the fence by the time the bull came out of the coulee.
My first grade teacher was Irene Karjala. She married Neal Teague and was a ranch wife until Neal died. She later became librarian in town and is in that position yet at the time of this writing. My teacher for the second and third grades was Dorothy Lucas who is now Dorothy Mackay. My fourth year, the Newlan Creek School was closed and we went to school in town. The next year the school reopened for the first half. By this time Bill was in high school and was going to school in town. But Esther was in first grade so she and I both attended that half year. The other students that last half year at Newlan Creek School were, Marshall Hanson and Maurice Crabtree. The teacher, Mrs. Rankin, was from Jefferson Island over near Whitehall.
The school house was one room with a little cloak room on each side of the door. The main school room was probably about twenty feet square with a coal/wood furnace in one corner. On some of the colder winter days, the furnace would not keep the opposite corner of the room comfortable. If we left our lunches in the cloak room on the cold days our sandwiches would have ice crystals in them at noontime. Insulation and storm windows were almost unheard of at that time. The windows had shutters but, if they were closed, there would be no light in the room. (No electricity in rural areas at that time.) It was the responsibility of the teacher to keep the fire going in the furnace whenever it was needed, as well as supervising and teaching the children.

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Cover  008 MILLERS  AND  FLIES is a story of heartaches and triumphs entangled with danger and hardship under a cloud of murder and persecution, spiced with the warmth of people helping people.

A young woman has who has spent several years running and hiding from a dangerous antagonist decides to stop running and stop him by whatever means is required. She succeeds in stopping him only to become a fugitive from the law and is back to running and hiding again. She has some harrowing and dangerous experiences but benefits from some deep and lasting friendships. While this is a stand alone novel, it has ties to four previous novels and the reader would get greater fulfillment and satisfaction by reading the others first.  They are, from first to last,  SOCKS,  MARTY’S MOM,  MISTER MARTY and MARTY’S TOWN

An Excerpt From The Book reads;

As she walked to his car she felt the right leg of her jeans to reassure herself that the knife was there. Pulling the door closed, she accused, “How can you possibly claim to be a Christian in one breath and threaten to harm a child with the next one?”

“Oh, you have it all wrong,” he hedged, “I did not threaten to do anything to that kid. I was only reminding you that there are dangers in a place like this. It wasn’t more than a half hour ago that you nearly got hit by a car yourself so you should realize that bad things can happen.”

Her hand went to the knife pocket and had the knife part way out as she snarled, “Why you snake! You’ve been spying on us all day long, haven’t you? Is that what Christians do? Does God forgive you for that too?”

All he offered for an answer was, “All is fair in love and war. I am sure you have heard that.”

Everything about this man was infuriating. His arrogance, his very correct speech and his twisted sense of morality. She felt sure that she could slit his throat without a hint of regret but the car was already moving quite fast so she slid the knife back into its pocket and began trying to think of a better plan.

The car had zipped along the highway for something like twenty minutes and she decided they had gone far enough so she told him, “All right, this is far enough. You said we were only going for a short ride so let’s turn around.”

Pointing to the instrument panel, he said, “See, I have almost a full tank so we do not have to worry. No, let us continue on for a while longer. It will be all right because it will not take us long to get back.”

That convinced her that he had no intention of taking her back and that she was going to have to find a way to stop him. Yes, stop him forever but she couldn’t see any way of stopping him without risking a wreck. She remembered how she had declared that she was going to put an end to this game even if it cost her own life but now she found that her own life was more precious than that. No, she had to be the survivor, somehow. Daylight was fading as they eased through the town that the ranchers had shipped their cattle from and the street lights were turning on. He didn’t stop there and quickly picked up speed again. She estimated that they had traveled at least a hundred miles when he slowed to turn off the highway onto a gravelled road. She supposed that this was where he was going to turn around but he didn’t! He resumed speed again and she made the decision that the time had come for action. At that point he reached over and took her hand. She tried to jerk her hand away but he had anticipated that and held her in a tight grip. She pulled hard in a downward direction away from the steering wheel and then suddenly reversed her effort to slam the back of his hand against the wheel. Moving so quickly that he didn’t have a chance to react, she pulled their hands up to where she could sink her teeth deeply into the base of his thumb while, at the same time, reaching with her right hand and putting deep scratches down the side of his face with her finger nails. While he was uttering profanities that she was sure were improper for a Christian, she jerked her hand out of his and turned the ignition off. She barely had time to pull the keys out of the switch before he savagely chopped at her arm with a closed fist, causing the keys to fly to the floor. He had been distracted by the struggle and had let the car drift off the shoulder of the road. He tried desperately to bring it back onto the road but it came to a stop with its front wheels over the edge and its mid-section resting on the shoulder. The engine was dead but the lights were still shining down into the ditch.

He made another grab for Jennifer’s arm but she evaded the attempt and swung the door open to jump out. He threw himself across the seat and slid out, head first, right behind her. She spun around to face him while sliding the knife up out of its pocket. In her haste, she failed to get a grip on it and it fell to the ground. She looked down to see where it fell but she couldn’t see it in the darkness. When she looked up again, he was getting to his feet and lunging at her all in one motion. Again, she evaded him but he was on his feet now so she had to run.  She ran down the road as fast as she could but she could tell he was gaining on her. She would always wonder why but there suddenly leaped into her mind a game she had played when she was a child. Using one part of the game, in one sudden move, she dropped to her hands and knees directly in front of him. She lost some hide on hands and a knee plus a badly bruised side where his feet hit her but he went airborne for six feet and hit the road hard. While she was on her hands and knees with her face close to the ground, she saw a rock about the size of one of Agnes’ muffins and she came to her feet with it in her hand. She stepped over to where Myron was struggling to his feet and slapped him on the side of the head with the rock. Hard!


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Every day our law officers put their lives in jeopardy as they strive to keep us safe. As a small token of appreciation we could make copies of this simple poster and display them in the windows of our house and our vehicles. Let’s do it now.

Right click on the star to get a menu and then choose “OPEN LINK IN NEW WINDOW”   In the new window, right click and choose “PRINT”

Officer Support






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From this point on, this story will be written in the first person style. Not with the intention of being an autobiography but simply because most of it will be first hand information and this style seems like the easiest way to put it down. Actually, the primary purpose of the remainder of the story is to leave future generations a record of what life was like for these Mayflower descendants during these years. For it not only was far different from the way the Pilgrims lived, but most certainly will be far different from the life of those in future generations.

Early in their married life, March 1925, Frank and Ida bought a small piece of land on which was a house, barn and chicken house, and made their home there for the next 22 years. This land was the south half of the Southeast Quarter of Section 30 in Township 10 North, Range 6 East and it joined the east edge of the 160 acres homesteaded by Frank’s grandmother, Margaret Blackall, in 1908.
Their first child, Frank William, was born at Bertha and Alonzo Hanson’s Riverside Ranch on June 17 in 1924. While he was a child, he was called Billy but that became Bill as he got older.
I made my appearance on the 24th of March in 1928 at a place three miles west of White Sulphur Springs which was known as the Hill Ranch. There is not a building left of that place anymore. The house burned down long ago, although it was there long enough for me to go to a couple of dances in it. The barn and other buildings are all gone now too.

FULLER FAMILY Ida, Frank, Bill, Jim & Esther

Ida, Frank, Bill, Jim & Esther

Then, four years later, on June 10, 1932, Esther was born at the home of our grandmother, Mary Short, in White Sulphur Springs. She was named Elizabeth Esther in honor of Frank’s sister who had died in 1924, but she was always called Esther.
For awhile, between the time of Bill’s birth and mine, Daddy worked for John Carlson at the Sky Ranch, far down Smith River next to Cascade County. During that time he and Mama and Bill lived in a cabin on the ranch, but after I came along, Daddy stayed in the bunkhouse at his ranch jobs and the rest of us stayed at home. He sometimes came home a couple of times a week and sometimes only once or twice a month, depending on the distance and the weather. At first, horses were his transportation but he soon got a Model T Ford and from that time on, he had some type of automobile transportation.
The house on the place my parents had bought consisted of three small rooms. It was begun by putting two granaries together with the end of one joining the side of the other. This was not uncommon at that time. Quite a number of small granaries had been built around the country for storing the anticipated bumper crops of grain but then, the dry years came and the need for houses outweighed the need for granaries. A small lean-to had been built into the corner where the two granaries joined, thus making a third room. With a double bed in this room and chest of drawers, there was little more than enough room left to walk around the bed. This was the bedroom of Bill and myself until 1944. Approximately 25 feet in front of the house was the well and hand pump. Out back was the typical outhouse.

Fuller Home  1926

Fuller Home 1926

In the fall of 1930 we left this quiet little home temporarily and moved to the other side of the western mountains to a little farm Mom and Dad had rented on the lower end or Duck Creek and northeast of Townsend. My earliest memories are of this place. One evening, at about dusk, Mama had lit the kerosene lamp in the kitchen and the room was reflected in the window. At the same time there was still enough light outside so that we could see some things near the house and we could see them equally as well as the reflected image of the kitchen. I got quite excited when the pigs walking by appeared to be walking through the kitchen. This would have been during the summer of 1931 when I was a mere three years old. Another time, Bill caught some trout in Duck Creek and brought them to the house and put them in a pan of cold water. Well, one of them had been caught just before he brought them to the house and was still alive. It soon began to splash and flip and flopped itself right out of the pan and onto the floor. There was an apple orchard near the house and one day, while I was playing out there, a squirrel began cutting apples loose and letting them fall to the ground. I did a lot of shouting at the squirrel with the idea that if my mother knew what was happening she would surely come out and put a stop to it. I was rather disappointed when she showed no concern.
Bill went through the first grade there at a little school a short distance down the creek. Up the creek, less than half a mile, as I recall, lived our nearest neighbors. During the year that we lived there, a friendship grew between us and the Campbell family that has carried through to the present time.
The farm didn’t show much profit so, in the fall of 1931, Daddy hitched Ruthie and Lightfoot to the sled and moved us back home. It was late enough in the season by this time that there was snow on the ground, which was the reason for using the sled. I remember a little of the trip over the mountains. Daddy was riding up front, driving the team, and the other three of us were in the back, snuggled down under quilts and a fur robe. I don’t believe that it was very cold but we certainly were cold enough. On occasion, Bill would get out and walk behind the sled and I wanted to do that too but my Mother wouldn’t  permit it. I didn’t  understand it at the time but, of course, I was too small to be able to keep up with the team and sled.

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS  by J.L. Fuller

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Elizabeth Esther (Lizzie) Fuller

Elizabeth Esther (Lizzie) Fuller

The four Fuller children all attended the Newlan Creek School. The school was located in the southeast corner of section 31 just a mile and a quarter south of where Marshall Hanson now lives. This made it just about two miles from the Fuller home. Many of the others going to school there rode horses or drove horse and buggy but the Fuller children nearly always walked to and from school. However, at times Phoebe would haul them in a two-wheeled cart pulled by one horse. The kids all carried lunches to school but, during cold weather, the teacher made hot soup for them with ingredients furnished by the parents. Ida and Ned both finished eight grades of school and Ida was doing ninth grade work in her eighth year. Frank finished the seventh grade and then went out and went to work. Lizzie was the only one to go on to High school but got in only two years of it before her untimely death. She died of pneumonia in 1924, just a month before her twenty-first birthday.
These four children did not live in isolation by any means. Just over the hill to the west lived William and Martha Buckingham who had two daughters and four sons. And only a couple of miles down the river from the Buckinghams there was the Walter family. Calvin and Sarah Walter  had eight sons and two daughters. Just a little farther down the river, Jim and Anna Bair lived with their two boys and one girl. A friendship grew  between the Fullers and these other three families that carried down through the succeeding generations and still thrives today. Another Walter family lived a few miles up Newlan Creek. Clint and Daisy had two boys and a girl. The time would come when a descendant of this family would marry a descendant of the Fuller family.
On the fifteenth of November in 1916, just about a month after her eighteenth birthday, Ida married John Short. John was the son of a hard-rock miner and had grown up in Castle, a mining town in the Castle Mountains east of White Sulphur Springs. He had taken a homestead on Copper Creek near  the foot of Sheep Mountain north of White Sulphur Springs. He had built there a sturdy log house and this  was where the wedding and celebration took place. Over the next sixteen years, three girls and two boys were born to John and Ida.
John and Ida’s fourth child was just nine months old when Ida’s brother, Frank, married John’s nineteen year old sister, Ida. Frank had been working on ranches for several years by this time and was an experienced ranch hand. His bride had graduated from high school and also had some experience as housekeeper and ranch cook. The wedding took place at the ranch home of Ida’s older sister and brother-in-law, Bertha and Alonzo Hanson. Frank and Ida had three children, two boys and a girl.
It was only two and a half months after Frank and Ida’s wedding that the Fuller family was badly shaken by the untimely death of Frank’s sister, Lizzie, as previously mentioned.
Ned stayed on the ranch, inheriting it after his father’s death in 1926. He added to the ranch in the early 1940’s by buying a section of grazing land on Hussey Creek, several miles south of the ranch. Ned never  married and the ranch was his life. He operated it diligently and successfully up into his eighties.

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS  by J. L. Fuller

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The roof of the original cabin was a sandwich of boards and earth with the earth in the middle to serve as insulation. On the inside, a ceiling was made by nailing muslin to the underside of the roof logs and then painting the muslin with whitewash. The log walls were also whitewashed on the inside to lighten and brighten the cabin. When the other rooms of the house were added on, the earth insulation was not put in the roof, but the granary part got a muslin ceiling when it became a living room. When the family was all at home there were four stoves in the house to keep it warm during some of the cold winter days and nights.
Wood to fire these stoves had to be hauled by team and wagon or team and sled for a distance of no less than ten miles each round trip and sometimes a round trip was more than twenty miles, depending on where they had to go for it. A man had to leave home early in the morning to drive to the woods, cut the trees down with axe and crosscut saw, load them on the wagon by hand, and drive all the way home again by night. And, it took many of these wagon or sled loads to heat a house of this size all winter. Then, after the wood was home, it had to be sawed into blocks by hand and split with the axe before it could become a cozy or cheerful fire.

Fuller Homestead ca 1917The left wing is the original homestead cabin. The one on the right was Margaret Blackall’s cabin. In between can be seen the roofline of the granary/living room that was added last. The top end of the boom-pole stacker shows over the roof of the original cabin.

With getting firewood, putting up hay, raising a garden, feeding livestock, milking cows, making butter, butchering, canning, fencing, irrigating, making soap, laundering by hand, carrying water, baking, darning socks and a multitude of other jobs and chores, a person could sometimes wonder how these homesteaders ever had time for entertainment. But they did. They would sometimes travel fifteen miles or more by horseback or team to attend a picnic or dance. The whole family would go to a dance and take along food and bedding so they could stay overnight or, perhaps several nights. Some would sleep in the host’s house, some in the barn and some in or under their wagons. There were always some who played musical instruments and they would play for the dances. Dancing would begin in the evening and go until around midnight when a potluck supper would be set out. After supper the dancing would begin again and usually continue until daylight. Then, after breakfast, the ones who didn’t live far away would probably go home but the others would likely stay another night and go home the following day.
The well at the Fuller homestead was outside, about forty feet from the house, with a wooden trough alongside it for watering livestock. The water was pumped by hand and carried to the house in pails. Any hot water that was used had to be heated on the kitchen range. A large teakettle set on the range at all times to provide immediate hot water in small quantities but large amounts were heated in a long, narrow type of tub that was called a wash boiler because it was often used to boil clothing to get it especially clean. Most times it was only the white clothing that was done this way. Baths were taken in a washtub. Shortly after 1930 a well was dug under the house and a hand pump installed so that water no longer had to be carried from outside.
A short distance behind the house stood an outhouse and that completed the bathroom facilities. These facilities were typical for those times although some folks had better while other folks had less. Some were fortunate enough to have a spring to build their house below and then pipe the water into the house for running water. Others, even though they had a spring, had to build on higher ground and carry the water uphill in buckets. A very few had windmills that pumped the water for them.
In 1919 the well went dry and also the creek. Leonard borrowed a tank wagon from Jim Bair and hauled water from the river to keep the garden growing. Jim’s stepson, Frank Greenman, came and helped to dig the well deeper. In 1935 the well dried up again and had to be dug even deeper.
After coming to Montana, Leonard returned to his childhood home only once and Phoebe never saw her homeland again. Early in 1905 Lem’s son, Milan, came down from Calgary to take care of the ranch while Leonard went back to Vermont and Quebec for one last visit with the ones he had left behind. While Milan was at the ranch that winter he carved out pieces for the roller holder for hand towels that is still in use on the back of the kitchen door. He also built two picket gates for the yard fence that are still in use.
Although Phoebe never returned to her homeland some of her cousins did come to Montana to see her. In the summer of 1919 her cousin, William Proctor, and his wife, Evelyn, came to visit her. In 1935 her cousin, George Proctor, and his wife, Josie, came.
In 1921 Leonard’s brother, Lemuel, returned to Montana for a visit. This time, he came with his sons, Herbert and Milan, and Milan’s wife, Bell, and daughter, Marjorie. They came from Calgary in a new Model T Ford and came over King’s Hill between Great Falls and White  Sulphur Springs on the third of July. A snowstorm descended upon them up in the mountains and the wind blew a tree down across the road. The only tool they had for cutting through the tree was a hatchet, so they put in quite a long time in the cold and the wet, hacking through that tree. After finally getting over the mountain and down to the lower elevations, they got stuck in mud somewhere along  Newlan Creek. Needless to say, the roads were not the best in those days.

The Model T Ford on King’s Hill. Lemuel on the left with Marjorie and Milon on the right.

The Model T Ford on King’s Hill. Lemuel on the left with Marjorie and Milon on the right.

Lemuel visited the area several times in the following years, the last being in 1940. He was always good natured and jolly so everyone enjoyed his visits. Wood seemed to be one of his favorite pastimes and he spent many hours sawing, splitting and whittling wood. Often, when he visited one of the families in the valley, he would leave a miniature mountain of  split wood and kindling. He would sometimes take a long, slim stick of wood and carve a chain from it or a cage with a round ball or two inside. Some of these items can still be found in some of the family homes.

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J. L. Fuller

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For a few years these three adults and four small children knew the true meaning of togetherness while living in their two-room cabin at the edge of the meadow. Then, in 1908, Margaret Blackall homesteaded 160 acres adjoining Leonard’s land on the east. Leonard built for her a substantial cabin in the northwest corner of her homestead and she lived there until her death in 1912. She had willed the land to him so it became part of his ranch, making a total of 320 acres.
The machine age came a little late to this last frontier of America but odds and ends of machinery were showing up by this time. Leonard took advantage of opportunities to buy used machines. His first purchases were a horse-drawn mowing machine and a dump rake. This eliminated the back breaking chore of cutting hay with a scythe and bunching it with a pitchfork but it still had to be pitched by hand onto a wagon, hauled to the barn or stack, and stacked by hand. After a few years of this, a boompole stacker was put to use. This was a long log that pivoted on top of a pyramid frame so that one end rested on the ground and the other end slanted up into the air. A rope and sling was lowered from the high end to raise loads of hay from the wagon and onto the stack. When this old stacker was retired from use, it sat for many years behind the house where its long snout could be seen above the roof, pointing to the clouds overhead. Lightning bolts and decay eventually brought it down. The boompole was replaced by an overshot stacker that was bought from Ted Stevens, their neighbor to the west.

Boompole Stacker

Stacking hay with a boompole  stacker. Leonard Fuller on the stack, Frank Fuller on the bullrake  with Ned and Lizzie tending the stacker.

There was some native grass hay growing along the creek bottom of the ranch but that was not nearly enough for wintering the livestock, so Leonard enlisted the help of Alonzo Hanson to plow what has since been the main meadow. The two of them plowed what lies between the creek and the ditch on the north side of the creek. This was all done with horses and walking plows. Waling plows are not plows that walk; they are called walking plows because someone has to walk behind them, holding onto a pair of handles to keep the plow upright and at the proper depth. At the same time, he must keep the team of horses going straight and steady. All of this effort makes one furrow. The sulky plow was a considerable improvement. The part of a plow that penetrated the soil and did the plowing was called a bottom and sulky plows usually had more than one bottom mounted on a frame with wheels and a place for the plowman to sit.
By plowing and shoveling, a ditch was put above this plowed field to bring water from the creek for irrigating the field. The ditch and field are still in use, producing hay for livestock.
At a later date approximately two miles of ditch was built in the same manner to bring water to the Blackall homestead.

L.G. and; Lem Fuller


Building ditch to Blackall homestead

It was probably in 1914 that Mrs. Blackall’s cabin was dismantled and and the materials hauled by team and wagon  to the Fuller home a half mile away. There it was reconstructed, setting at right angles to the existing cabin, with its northwest corner joining the southeast corner of the other cabin so that they took the shape of a broken ell. Some of the neighbors who helped with this project were Joe Sylvester, Alonzo Hanson, Ted Stevens, Walter Buckingham and Phil Chase. It was about this time that man by the name  of Gilbert and his son, Floyd, made a bargain with Leonard to farm the Blackall homestead and give him a third of the grain as rent on the land. Leonard needed a place to store the grain so he got some more logs and enclosed the northeast corner of the house that had been left open when the two cabins were joined at their corners. The room thus formed was to serve as a granary temporarily. However, the next few years turned out very dry and the Gilberts  never did get a crop. The room became the family living room without ever holding a kernel of grain. And so, the Fuller home went from two rooms to five rather quickly.


Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J. L. Fuller

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By the time 1893 came around Leonard had a team, harness, wagon and a saddle horse but he still owed $161.50 on the team. He heard that there was a job available at the Watson ranch so, on the third of January, he went down there to find out about it. He went to work the next day and, on the seventh, began herding sheep for Alexander Watson. Mr. Girwell came to see him on the fifteenth of March and rented his ranch from him. In April, Peter Lind, the former herder, came back and took over the herding so Leonard could take three weeks off. During that time he went twice to see Frank on Thompson Gulch where he was also herding sheep. After a couple of trips to town and some visiting with friends and neighbors, he went back to Watson’s and finished out the year there.
This was typical of the way his life went until 1896. Working for others for the income kept him busy most of the time but the homestead needed a lot of work too. Fences, ditches and fields all needed maintenance and improving. When he had spare time he visited with friends and neighbors and kept up on his correspondence with family back in Quebec and Vermont. And, especially, he dept in touch with Phoebe.
By 1896 he felt that he had his homestead ready and that the time had come to make it a home – a home for a family. So, now was the time to suggest to Phoebe that she come to Montana. This was exactly what Phoebe had been waiting for and, late in May, she and her mother were on the train to Montana. It was not Phoebe’s idea for her mother to come along. In fact, Phoebe expressed the opinion in later years that her brother may not have died if their mother had stayed in Quebec and cared for him. He died of pneumonia about a month after Phoebe and he mother came to Montana. But Margaret Blackall was not about to let her only daughter go out into that uncivilized and lawless land all alone.
And so it was that Phoebe Blackall was in Townsend, Montana on the 30th of May to marry Leonard Fuller. He had gone there by team and wagon and the three of them made the forty or more miles back to the homestead by the same means.

Leonard Gibbs Fuller 1896

Leonard Gibbs Fuller @ about 40 years

Phoebe Ann (Blackall) Fuller  @ about 35 years

Phoebe Ann (Blackall) Fuller @ about 35 years








The homestead cabin now became a home. Surely, modern day couples and even couples of those days, would be somewhat less than thrilled with the prospects of spending a honeymoon in a two-room cabin with a mother-in-law but this couple worked it out somehow.
With phoebe’s help now, Leonard continued building up his ranch while, at the same time, doing whatever he could to bring in a little extra money. For a time he drove the stage between White Sulphur Springs and Diamond City. On this job, he drove a four-horse team in all kinds of weather, including one trip when the thermometer hung at -60 degrees F. One stage stop at that time was near the east end of Smith River Canyon at what is presently the home of Donald (Bud) Buckingham. At that rime, it was the Laney Stage Stop. Another stop was at Fort Logan and it was there that he changed horses.
On the ranch he built a nice shed to shelter the livestock. To do this he cut trees and hauled them from the distant forests to use as posts around the perimeter and for poles across the roof. Over the poles he laid willow sticks that he had cut from along the creek. On top of the willows went a thick layer of straw. He had to buy boards for the walls but then he had a good year-round shelter that, with a little maintenance now and then, protected his livestock from the sun, wind, snow and insects for many years. It even survived several lightning strikes. After Leonard’s death in 1926 the shed began a gradual deterioration and, fifty years later, not a post or willow stick remained to show that it had ever been there.
This couple’s first child was born the twelfth day of October in 1898. She was named Ida Margaret in honor of Leonard’s sister and Phoebe’s mother. All four of the children were born at the ranch house. The next child was named Frank Leonard, using Leonard’s nickname for his brother, Lemuel, and honoring Leonard. Frank was born the 19th of February in 1901. In 1903 on the 22nd of April, their second girl came and they named her Elizabeth Esther in honor of Lemuel’s wife and Leonard’s mother. The fourth child was born on the tenth of January in 1905 and, though he was always called Ned, was named Edward Alden to honor Phoebe’s father and Leonard’s younger brother. While he was a child his mother also called him Toad. These children all grew up on the ranch and took their turns at helping with the chores and labors that were all part of homestead life.

 Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J. L. Fuller



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