A look back at Big Sandy... 100 years on this day in 1919


January 9, 2019

Editor’s Note: The following are excerpts taken from the Centennial Calendar (1885-1985) that was complied by Doug Giebel.

January 9, 1919

At about 2:00 p.m. our train arrived in Big Sandy. The weather was mild for January, there was only a little snow on the ground and snow on the hills and mountains. It sure looked cold and bleak, cheerless, far, wide, and bare to people used to the trees and bushes of Iowa. I was about sick with the “grippe” and wanted to go to bed.

Somehow the freight train had arrived just before the passenger train, and Dad and Harry were there. They had come in the two freight cars with the furniture, farm machinery, and livestock, and everything else we needed except for lumber.

Mother talked to the locator, Dias Worstell, and his brother, Dr. Worstell, had a little one room house for rent, about 16 square feet. It was right across the street from the feed yard. They stated right away getting the cars unloaded. They had to get the livestock in the feed yard and the stove set up, the beds out, and the canned goods brought from the east into the house that night. They got out the wagon and set it up and by six o’clock we were all there in the little house. We all felt like going to bed, but first supper.

Myrtle and I wale dove to the new McNamara Big Store a few blocks from the house and bought a can of oysters and some crackers. On the way, back on the street lighted only by an arc light a couple of blocks away, we had to pass a couple of old log shacks which I guess were the ruins of the Log Cabin Saloon, gone with the cowboys when the homesteaders arrived. I was afraid there was an old bum in them and hurried by a little afraid. Back at the house we had oyster soup from our cow’s milk and opened a can of fruit. It was sure good. We slept on the floor that night, and the next day my grippe was much better. It was the good air, I guess.

The next day they hurried to get the furniture out of the box cars. Most of it and machinery was put under a big tenet at the side of the house, except for the beds, the organ, and the morning glory horn phonograph and records. Mother went out to see the ranch in the surrey with Dias Worstell that afternoon, as she had forgotten where it was. It seemed wonderful to us to have 320 acres, besides my 80 acres, belong to us….

The third day they bought lumber and started out as soon as possible for the ranch. Dan and Harry were going out there to live and get the house built before we came out. They were going to first build a little barn to sleep in while the house was going up. Mother bought some little enameled pails with lids to cook beans in so they could take them out in them. It took all that day just to get ready. Dad and Harry left with the wagon the next morning. I can still remember how the wheels would squeak in the snow as they pulled away. It was very good weather. Cold, but no bad storms.

One afternoon while we were living in town, Rose, Eva, and I thought we would walk over to the Bear Paw Mountains that loomed up so close in the clear Montana air. It was about four miles, we figured. Little Myrtle wanted to go too, but we said she was too young. I guess she would have done fine as far as we got. We walked about half a mile over rough ground, weeds, dry grass, and here and there little puddles of frozen water and patches of snow. When we had crawled through several barbed wire fences, we decided that the mountain wasn’t getting any closer. It must be ten miles away, we said and started back. I think it is really about 20 miles. We might as well have tried to walk to the ranch twenty miles away.” ALTA DEEM


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