In these times of Montana’s infancy the main occupations were prospecting for gold, trapping and raising sheep. The buffalo had been nearly eliminated by 1880 but there were still good quantities of beaver and other fur-bearing animals to keep the trappers busy. Being neither a trapper nor a prospector, Leonard took to herding sheep. From the Marias River he made his way southward and into the Smith River Valley. There were lots of sheep in the valley then and he readily found herding jobs. One of the early herding jobs he had was for the Girwells who had a ranch on Birch Creek. There is nothing left of the Girwell place anymore. It was absorbed by the Ringling ranches long ago. These Ringlings were the descendants of the Ringlings of circus fame. After the Ringlings it was owned by Wellington D. Rankin, from whom it passed to the Galt family. None of these owners made any use of the buildings or made any attempt to preserve them so it wasn’t long until they were gone.
As the weeks and months slipped by, Leonard made acquaintances and friends around the valley and worked at various jobs. A couple he came to know quite well by the name of Whitman had a 160 acre homestead on lower Newlan Creek, no more than a mile from its mouth. The Whitmans were seriously considering leaving their homestead and moving on so Leonard made a deal with them to take it over. It was a nice location with lots of bottom land, a nice log cabin, a good solid log barn and only a fourth of a mile from the county road. With a place like this upon which to raise a family, he felt he could start making plans along that line. That is why, in 1888, he and Phoebe Blackall agreed that they should get married. Phoebe was the girl from back home with whom he had been corresponding for quite awhile. But, even though he had a home now and a base from which to operate, he had no livestock or machinery and no money. Therefore, he had to continue working for others and try to accumulate a little cash and, at the same time, try to get his homestead to an operating basis.
Leonard Fuller herding sheep near Birch Creek in Montana.
The year of 1888 brought him another special event. His brother, Lemuel, whom he often called Frank, came to Montana. By this time Frank had five children and a cheese factory but he had developed chronic pneumonia. His doctor told him that, if he was to survive, he would have to get to a drier climate. So, he left his wife and another woman to run the cheese factory and went to Montana. At the time he left Quebec he was not aware that Lizzie was pregnant and she did not tell him for fear that, if he knew, he would not go. So Frank had been in Montana for nearly six months when he received word from home that Lizzie had given birth to twin boys. This was their second pair of twins and when Frank wrote back to her he wrote, “You can have your ones as many as you please, but no more of yours twos and none of your threes”. Except for, perhaps a short visit or two back to his family, Frank was in Montana for six years. He then returned to Quebec for a time but eventually he and Lizzie moved to Calgary to be near their oldest daughter, Martha, who had moved there in hopes that the climate would help her tuberculosis. His daughter, Edna, also moved to Calgary and he lived in her home for a time in his later years.