My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
Glendive and Miles City were rivals in sports. Glendive claimed Miles City would rob them every chance they got.
Miles City had a foot racer but Glendive had none. One day along came a transient who claimed he could run. The leading sportsman, Harry Helm, ran him and timed him. He had Miles City beat. So Harry sent Miles City a challenge, and they accepted and a date was fixed. When the time came, along came Miles City with their man. There was lots of betting done. When the runners were about to start, Harry Helm stepped out to his man with a big six gun and said, “Now stranger, I have your time and also the other fellow’s time. You have him beat, and if you don’t come in ahead you will never go any further." Well, the stranger came in ahead, no fooling.
I was in the Yellowstone Hotel in Glendive one evening when a big railroader got boisterous. A little sheriff, Dominick Cavanah, told him in a nice way not to make so much noise. The big fellow said, “You little blankety blank, etc. I’ll catch you without that star sometime.” The sheriff grabbed his star and tore it off his coat saying, “Come on out side, you big blankety blank. I have no star on now. Come on out!” The big fellow, however, had seemingly changed his mind. Bluffs were frequently called in those days.
By the way, this man Cavanah, was murdered while in office. Joe Hearst of Glendive was hanged for the crime.
We used to walk over to the Northern Pacific depot on evenings when the passenger train pulled in to see the sights. One evening some of the boys had been drinking a little more than usual. The train pulled in and a Chinese cook got off to see the sights. One cowboy threw him on the platform, and another shot his wig off. A big colored gentleman started to interfere. The boy said, “I’ll make a good nigger out of you” and he pulled his gun. The dusky jumped behind his own wife to avoid being shot. The company had the boys arrested and this colored man was a witness. In his testimony the attorney asked him if the cowboy had shot at him. He said, “No Sah, I was too quick foah him.” The bold man jumped behind his own wife for protection.
At that time, there were more cattle on this range that ever before or since, but they were dying about as fast as they came in. In the spring they were thinned out a lot.
I went to work for the Hatchet cow outfit that spring. The prairie was a mass of dead cattle. Many of the men went into the winter rich and came out in the spring broke.
Now I am going to give some facts that some of my readers, who have never seen such things, might doubt.
That winter cattle walked single file in such numbers that you could not see either end for days. Starving and freezing, they fell dead by the wayside one at a time. They were so poor and weak that they were desperate and would fight anything that moved. I have seen, along the Yellowstone river, where they ate off willows almost as thick as a man’s wrist.
I have seen a string of those cattle, traveling as stated before, come to a cut draw about twelve feet wide and about the same depth. The cattle had actually walked over this cut bank on top of one another until the drop was filled with dead cattle. Those that survived the winter were so thin that many of them died in the spring, when the green grass came. They would get down and be too weak to get up, and when one would help them up, they had to have their horse handy and be prepared for a quick getaway. They didn’t consider themselves friends of the human family. It was a case of suffering and despair, and those who saw it will never forget. Even though we didn’t seem to realize it, such things should never have been allowed.
One outfit, the N-N called N Bar N, had 150,000 head on the range and didn’t have twenty tons of hay. This was just one outfit. This outfit belonged to a many by the name of Nedronhouse, a millionaire from St. Louis, Missouri. He was the man who invented granite ware, and he had the largest outfit on this range. Their headquarters were across the Missouri river from Wolf Point, Montana, which got its name from cowboys. It was a district where grey or timber wolves assembled in large numbers, hence the name Wolf Point.