William Osro Lewis

1907 - 1976



     Friends during our Great Need when mother was sick and died when we were camped close to Geyser, Montana: S. G. Prudy, Geyser, Mont., Hardware Store; Mrs. Coughlin, calling on us each day on her way to their ranch.  She went on horseback.  They had a field 640  acres of flax; Mrs. Cobb from a Real Estate office there.  Mrs. Cobb and Mrs. Coughlin came and dressed mother for her last resting place.


     We, Fred Winsor, Chester, and I with my father and mother, Mortimer and Fannie Lewis, and two nephews, Willie O. Lewis, (wife) Stella, and (son) Roy Lewis and Perle Lewis, also, Fred's mother Marion Winsor decided to go to Alberta, Canada.  Stella's family (mother and children) lived on West of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada so we decided to go overland to Cochrane in covered wagons.

     Fred fired up two wagons, the lead wagon with a wool rack in which he put our range, organ and large box of dishes in middle, then, fife dressers packed with clothing for our two mothers, our family and my nephew Perle Lewis, around.  We had them arranged so if anything happened and we needed our good clothes, all we had to do was unlock a drawer ant there they were ready.  And how thankful we were that it was so, when we lost my mother.

     On Saturday, July 27, 1912 we all camped on top of the hill just behind the house the last night.  And started on our way the next morning, we found nothing forgotten.  Perle was driving the loose horses.  Willie and family in their wagon.  Fred with his three driving eight head of horses.  His second wagon was packed level with the wagon bed and a bed in the back for mother and dad consisting of springs, mattress and featherbed.  Beds were made each morning.  Mother Winsor's bed was a single bed and a curtain hung across.  When not in camp we piled a rocking chair and some chairs in between.  Then came the sheep wagon where Fred and I slept.  It had a tiny stove fastened to the floor.  Bed in back with window that could slide so we could let in air, dish cupboard.  We also put in six chairs between the stove and bed and in front of bed when not in camp.  Under the bed, open from the back, we had our supplies stored.  This wagon was covered as all sheep wagons of that day, first over the bows was heavy blanket, then oil cloth next and last the heaviest of canvas.  It had a door with hinges and small glass in door.  One felt they were in a room of their home.  Then put a long canvas cover on second wagon and when camped we hooked that canvas around the front edge of the sheep wagon.  Then Fred built a platform between second wagon and sheep wagon, hinged to second wagon and resting on sheep wagon, and last he done was to hang three steps down from the platform.  There is where we ate our meals when it rained, unless we camped several days, as we were compelled we found.  Then we set up the big tent, took out Stellas's range and table, and cooked  and ate in that tent.  The platforms were all folded at back of second wagon and securely fastened when travelling.

     So we bid good bye to relatives, friends and Chisna Coop Flats and on our way,stopping at noon on Alkali Creek for dinner and at night at Bert Allen's.  Claudia Allen was Willie and Perle's sister and my niece.

     Sunday - - July 28, 1912

     Started at 7:25 a.m. from Bert's.  Camped for dinner at Ted Shaffer's water gap, and at night about ten miles from Basin.  Had horrid time with the horses at night determined to go back home.  Men had to stay with them all night.

     Monday - - July 29, 1912

     Started at 6:35 and arrived in Basin, Wyo. at 15 minutes of eleven.  Camped at night on the Grey Bull Creek at Alderdice two miles from Grey Bull.  Here the horses were inspected.  Cost 15 cents apiece.  I have forgot to say I drove the democrat where Mother and Dad rode in the back seat,  Mother Winsor and I front seat.  Chester had his little red chair and was privileged to sit on that either in front or back.  My father went on crutches and mother had a stroke that settled in her right arm several years before and made her helpless with that arm, but she always found a way to help some way.

      Tuesday - - July 30, 1912

     Men saw Mr. Latham in Grey Bull this morning.  We went on the Old Lime Hill at the mouth of Sheep Canyon.  I was sick.  Had a gall spell attack and did no go farther on account of water.

     Wednesday - - July 31, 1912

     Did not travel today and I was very glad they rested.  Perle took the horses across on an island and they have dandy feed, but they were not used to trains and stampeded every time a train passed by us.  Two other outfits camped here with us today.  They are moving to Lovell.

     The men killed a rabbit for our dinner, also took a walk through Sheep Canyon.  Fred had to make some shoes and put on Bess' colt.  It looks rainy tonight.

     Thursday - - Aug. 1, 1912

     Started early this morning and had a terrible day.  I never saw such roads in my life.  They told us that the roads in Ribbon Canyon was washed out some but said nothing about the canyon that led up to the divide.  Every time the men had to stop and shovel the road so we could get over it, they would ask me is I had this place down in my little book.  Dad said that canyon was like the lace around the ribbon of a woman's hat, there were so many holes in it.  Fred said that night it was the hardest days work in his life, handling all those horses and three wagons over such toads, said I would rather go 30 miles around rather than go the road we did from Basin to Lovell.  Willie and Perle do not want me to write down all they say, and Fred said it would be a dandy that could write all his thoughts.

     The men stood night guard, but the horses never gave any trouble, but they were afraid to trust them as there was no water and food scarce.  Sprinkled some in the night but done no good.

     Friday -- Aug. 2, 1912

     Passes an irrigation ditch soon after we started and camped in a lane for dinner.  They say we are ten miles from Crowley and the ditch was five miles from Lovell.  Hope so, as we want to get out of this place soon.  Men worked roads as usual this morning.  Came through Lovell and then crossed the Stinking Water on the bridge.  The horses all forded, as Willie's colt jumped into the river and all the other horses followed.  Camped at night just across the ridge from Sage Creek.  Rained but the storm divided and we did not get heavy storm, but hard enough for us.

     Saturday -- Aug. 3, 1912

     Roads very muddy to Crowley and then  mud holes in places beyond.  Camped at night just before we came to Sage Co. and in sight of Frannie.  The men killed 18 rabbits today after they has passed the Morman Reservation as Perle called it.

     We camped early on account of storm, got lots of wind, some hail and rain but again we were in the light part of the storm.  We can hear the Creek, so think it must be up high again.  Chester is wanting to go back to Sunday School at Ten Sleep.

     Sunday -- Aug. 4, 1912

     Went about a mile and camped, the roads are very muddy.  The boys drove Peg and Kate today, so I am to drive them and let Fred have my buggy team.

     Monday -- Aug. 5, 1912

     The sun and wind yesterday dried the roads more than we thought possible, but there were some very bad mud holes.  Camped at night at head of Sage Creek, where Cherry Creek road and Pryor Pass road divides.  Had a hard rain, but as before we were not in the heaviest part of it, but the Creek raised awful.  Horses went to the top of Cedar Ridge and found good food.

      Tuesday -- Aug. 6, 1812

     Decided to go down Cherry Creek Pass instead of Pryor Pass.  It was a horrible canyon but fine road.  Fred had lots of room for his outfit.  Camped at 12 o'clock in the canyon for dinner.  All afternoon we saw orchards.  Camped at night at the Bridger Bridge, had to buy hay for the horses.  Horses stampeded again, afraid of the trains.  The men had to go on foot to Bridger before they caught them.  Decided better keep a saddle horse ready.

     Wednesday -- Aug. 7, 1912

     Came to Bridger, two miles from the bridge, saw many large orchards, and many sugar beet fields, buildings are nice.  Came through Fromberg.  The valley is fine, such nice orchards.  Camped just north of Fromberg  for dinner.  Camped at Rockville Station for night in a lane.  Arranged wagons  on each side of road and put the horses back of us.  Good feed, turned all loose.  Thought we would hear them (bells) if they try to pass us.

     Thursday -- Aug. 8, 1912

     Train came just before daylight.  Horses had passed us, during the night and the horses on track.  When the saw the light of the train they stampeded.  Train run over Bally, Daisy, and Polly, and Pet's colt, and pushed Peg and several others off the track.  They were a sorry looking bunch, muddy, cut and bruised.  Only one escaped a cut.  Waited until after dinner as Fred was putting in his claim for damage at Billings, Montana.  Three chickens got loose, some way got out of the coop.  Bally had one hind leg broke and mashed up.  Daisy all cut to pieces but not killed, top of head cut off.  Polly both hind legs cut off.  Pet's colt three legs mashed and cut to pieces.  Bally, $150.00, Mares, $350, colt, $35.00.  Money received.

     Started at noon, could not catch hens.  Men stopped for awhile at Silesia, went a few miles farther and camped for the night by a ditch where the people were threshing.

      Friday -- Aug. 9, 1912

     Came close to the Yellowstone River and went several miles before we came to Laurel.  Crossed the river on a fine bridge close to the Rail Road Bridge.  Camped at noon in a lane by a ditch.  The Yellowstone Valley is a very pretty valley.  Wonder if any of them will remember this is my birthday.  I think every one has been stirred up so much they have lost track of all special days.  I am silent.  I don't want them to start on me.

     Camped at night just east of Rimrock in a lane by a ditch.  The last of the irrigation ditches, they say.  They told us to  go to Comanche and miss Acton.

     Saturday -- Aug. 10, 1912

     Soon after we started the men took the wrong road.  Perle asked the way and they said one road was as good as the other so we went on, no stop until Fred turned over his load wagon.  Was we scart for Fred  and Chester.  Afraid they were hurt.  Chester was sure scart.  When Fred saw they were going he threw Chester on the bank out of danger of the wagon.  No one hurt, only broke one of the dressers, 1 rocker and 1 empty fruit jar.  Lucky spill.  Started soon after dinner and camped at night by a pond close to Acton.  It rained again.  We women were so scart when the wagon turned over, we all left Dad sitting in the buggy without any lines.  He reached the lines by the help of his crutches,  said when I was driving bronks and left he would feel safer if I handed him the lines.  I sure thought he would be safer.

     Of all places where water if scarce, this place it is scarcer.  They would not even sell us a water bottle  of water at Acton.  Camped at noon by a house where they let us have water from their pump for our work horses and to fill our water kegs.  Camped at night at Broadview.

     Monday -- Aug. 12, 1912

     Fred is shipping 1135 pounds of our stuff to the Canadian line.  Flora (horse) was sick last night so will not start until after dinner.  Mailed letters, camped at night on a gulch, (Painted Robe) or creek six miles from Lavina.  Good water for horses, but oh, such water for our use.

      Tuesday -- Aug. 13, 1912

     Camped for dinner three miles from Lavina.  It is a nice little town.  Saw a flax of one section.  We are driving Kate and Chunk now.  Crossed Coulee Creek and Lavina is on the Musselshell Creek.  Dandy bridge.  Camped for night at a spring where there was a sheep camp.

     Wednesday -- Aug. 14, 1912

     Camped for dinner at a sheep camp where there were puddles of water.  Camped at night after crossing Swimming Woman Creek.  A Scotch Irish man has a 20,000 acre ranch here.  Camped on the same creek.  Mother Winsor and the man had an argument about porrige and oatmeal.

     Thursday -- Aug. 15, 1912

     Layed over all day.  Washed our clothes while men doctored horses.  They tried to buy some mutton but could not get it.  Roy and Chester came from a walk, so Chester just sat down on Chunk as she was lying there asleep.  She jumped up and Chester rolled off.  The men laughed and Perle said I thought you could ride them straight up.  Chester said I can, but didn't have time to say Who.

     Friday -- Aug. 16, 1912

     Camped at noon three miles from a nice creek where we watered the horses, filled our water kegs.  Nice ranch here, we were on a high table land, wind blew, cold enough to freeze one.  Camped at night close to Judith Gap.  It must be a busy place from the way the trains kept going all night.

     Saturday -- Aug. 17, 1912

     Came through Judith Pass and stopped while Fred bought  oats, etc.  Then came on through Carneill and camped for dinner six miles north in sight of Straw and Buffalo.  One on each Railroad line.  Could see all three towns from here.  Came on through Straw and got off the road.  Came in a canyon, the man let us camp for the night and gave us milk.  Showed Perle where to go up the canyon with loose horses, and us through wheat field next morning.

     Sunday -- Aug. 18, 1912

     Cloudy this morning but we decided to go on.  Had not gone far when it began to rain and my, how cold.  Went as far as a school section, found water in holes, lots of grass.  Fred's trail let loose just as we were coming down the hill.  We must only have gone 7 or 8 miles.  Horses stampeded and Willie got them back.  Mollie and our two colts cut on the wire.  Mother Lewis and Chester and Roy like to take walks.

     Monday -- Aug. 19, 1912

     Cloudy this morning but decided to go a ways anyway.  Camp about four miles and came to Fred Warren's Ranch on Antelope Creek.  Bought some  potatoes.  Had the finest patch we ever saw.  He had 23,000 acres of grain that would go 40 bushel to the acre.  He had put up 2,000 tons of hay.  He runs sheep and horses.  He has 8,000 acres of land.  We came about three miles and camped on a ditch by his sheep camp for dinner.  Came on to Utica.  It is on the Judith River.  Camped at night part way up the hill.  They told us we were 83 miles from Great Falls.  It was 7 miles from Antelope Creek to the Judith River.  I am afraid mother caught cold around with the children.  She loves to go with them and they always want grandma to go but it was dark and cloudy.

     Tuesday -- Aug. 20, 1912

     Mother not feeling well this morning.  She has to be so careful since she had that stroke but she wants to go on.  Camped at noon in sight of Benchland and Landup.  There is three elevators in one town and one in the other.  Came on through Stanford and camped for night 1 1/2 miles beyond a little creek called Wolf Creek.  Sanford is a mice little town.  They are putting up some nice buildings.  Stanford is 17 miles from Utica they say.  Mother is very weary if she would only admit it.

     Wednesday -- Aug. 21, 1912

     Did not want to travel today on account of mother, but she commenced to cry.  She is so  afraid she'll make trouble.  Fred compromised with her if she will tell him at noon if she feels any worse and not to exert herself any way.  Fred carried her to the buggy.  Had fixed it up very nice for her.  Came on across Wolf Creek, also Surprise Creek about 2 o'clock they hitched up but did not go.  When Fred came to help her to the buggy he said no, mother, here is where we rest.  Oh, how she begged to go, but Fred said no, mother, no matter, you need rest.  We put mother in the sheep wagon and they set up the big tent and took out Willie's Range.  They unpacked Willie's wagon so as to have it to use and Stella took charge there while I take care of mother.  Had Dr. Woodbridge from Geyser and  a doctor from Stanford to see mother.  They say it is pneumonia fever.  Fever 104 at 2 o'clock. 

     Mr. Coughlin wanted Fred to send mother and I to the Catholic Hospital in Great Falls, his sister is the Sister Superior there, but the Doctors said no.  She was in a perfect place, good bed, fresh air, and if it was chilly we could have a fire.  They said all that was needed with pneumonia.  Mr. Coughlin said he could get her in free and I would be allowed to care for her under nurses care.

     Friday -- Aug. 23, 1912

     Dr. Woodbridge came over this morning.  Mother's fever 101.  Willie and Perle shocked grain all day.  Fred went to see about getting them jobs this morning then went with the boys this afternoon.  There is a fenced section of land belongs to an estate fence needs repair in places.  They told the men in Geyser to turn our horses in there, fix the fence and forget them, plenty of water and all kinds of grass, so we did.  Mother Winsor went to cook for the harvest crew.

         Saturday -- Aug. 24, 1912

     Doctor came again this morning, mother's fever 100.  Came again in afternoon.  Mother's fever 99 but her bowels in bad condition.  Mrs. Cobb from Geyser came in her Auto to see her.

     Sunday -- Aug. 25, 1912

     The doctor came, mother's fever only 98 1/2 but her bowels are very very bad.  Mrs. Coughlin comes sometime each day .  Two ladies came on horseback today and four ladies walked from Geyser.  They brought her fruit and flowers.  How kind they were to her.  We are part way up a long slope and when autos go by they are so quiet and coast quietly down to the bridge.

     Monday -- Aug. 26, 1912

     Doctor found Mother's fever 99.  He does not give us much encouragement.  Fred hauled three ton of coal.  Willie is hauling also.  Perle is drilling.  The little boys went with them.  Mother kept asking where they were and we sent for them.  The men did not work this afternoon.  Mrs. Coughlin told the men they had better come home.

     Tuesday -- Aug. 27, 1912

     The Doctors say there is no hopes of Mother's recovery.  Poor Dad, it has been hard on him.  Poor all of us.  We just can't leave her, it seems but God's will be done.  Mrs. Coughlin and Cobb say they will come any time she passes away.  A man and his wife from Fort Benton visiting their cousin here came.  The Benton party would not leave but stayed to help and comfort us.  They recently lost a child when among strangers, now they want to help others and so receive comfort.  Now we can only wait for the end, knowing she is ready to go.  She does not seem to suffer.  She passed away at 9 o'clock p.m.  Mrs. Coughlin and Cobb came over at once and took charge.  The ranch we are close to was called the Grafton ranch.  Mother was 75 years old and Daddy 81 years old.

     Wednesday -- Aug. 28, 1912

     Funeral services were conducted Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Congregational Church by Rev. Hammon, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church at Belt.  The body was laid to rest in the Arrow Creek burying ground.  This cemetery was on the Mick Lynch Ranch and as Rev. Hammon (called the Cowboy preacher) had to return to Belt at once for another funeral, the service at the grave was read by Mrs. Coughlin (who was a member of the Geyser Catholic Church).  Songs sung by several from choirs in Geyser.  Mother's favorite was one they sang.  "It is Well With My Soul".  Oh, it is hard to leave her and go on.

     The men worked several days.  Willie and Fred each earned $30.00 hauling coal, Perle $15.00 seeding.  Perle and Willie shocked for a few days.  Mother Winsor cooked for three days for the McAlisters.  Will always remember the kindness of the many in Geyser to us, strangers, but to us, strangers no longer.

     Friday -- Sept. 6, 1912

     We started again about 10 a.m. and camped for dinner about a mile beyond Old Geyser.  Camped at night about seven miles from Belt in a lane.  Sheep were inside the pasture where the fence was down.  the horses did not seem to like the grass although it looked fine.

     Saturday -- Sept. 7, 1912

     Camped for dinner about a mile from Armington in the canyon.  Stopped in Armington and bought oats and potatoes, then came on through Belt.  They are both minning towns.  Rev. Hammon stopped us  on the street to speak to us.  The road was fine from Geyser to Belt but the country is sure rough.  Came down a long hill yesterday.  Almost to the bottom, the train ran under the wagon road, as it was winding down the hill.  Today it was winding down another long hill to Belt and Armington.  Going up that long hill at times we were up above the tree tops, but the nicest roads.  Wide enough for teams to pass us any where.  Camped for the night just on top of the hill from Belt.

     Sunday -- Sept. 8, 1912

     Horses left last night and went to the hills.  Perle and Willie got them back at just 11 p.m.  Took lunch and started about 12 o'clock.  Came to about one mile of Great Falls and Camped for the night.

     Monday -- Sept. 9, 1912

     The boys took Mother Winsor to see Benj Davis and from there she took the train to Jim's and Fanny's after dinner.  Willie and Perle took the loose horses through the Falls.  We took the outfit to the tanks close to the Orphant home.  Chester begged us to get one of the orphants for him a brother or sister.  We waited there for Willie and Perle to come back to help drive the teams through the town as they do not like the street cars, etc.  Camped the night four miles past Great Falls.  We had folled up the Sun River Valley.

     Tuesday -- Sept. 10, 1912

     Camped for dinner two miles northwest of Vaughn.  Pilot fell off into the creek before we had the horses and they pulled him out with Clyde and Mac.  Camped at night by some Lakes about two miles from Power.

     Wednesday -- Sept. 11, 1912

     Went through Power.  Bought oats and things at the store.  Camped for dinner along the railroad track at mud holes.  Went through Dutton and went through a large ranch, did no want Perle to go through with loose horses.  Crossed the Teton River.  Perle crossed the Muddy also, went up a big hill outside the pasture and camped a little way from Collins.

     Thursday -- Sept. 12, 1912

     Came through Collins, crossed the Muddy River, pulled another fine, big hill, came eight miles to Bradley.  Did not go far until we met Jim Winsor and the family in his auto.  After we had dinner Chester and I rode with Jim's and Ma drove the buggy.  Came on to Conrad and camped for the night.

     Friday -- Sept. 13, 1912

     It was rainy and Jim's and all of us rested until after noon.  Camped for the night about seven miles from the Marias River close to a sheep camp on two dry ditches.  Perle took the horses to the Northern Pacific to water.

      Saturday -- Sept. 14, 1912

     Came on to Marias River, another fall down into the river valley, and then climb out again.  The horses made the steel bridge jingle as that bunch of loose horses went over it.  We took the left hand or new road up the hill.  Perle wanted to go up the old road, so he said thought we might get into another jackpot.  We are not used to having things go smooth.  Camped at noon just on top the hill five miles from Shelby.  Came on through Shelby.  It is the last place in Montana in more ways than one.  Camped at night about 1 1/2 miles  north of Shelby.  They say the last water we get until we get to Sweet Grass.  A lady came out with a mess of fresh potatoes just dug.  She seemed so pleased to get to visit with us a few moments.

     Sunday -- Sept. 15, 1912

     Came by plenty of water for the stock.  Camped at noon in a big Coulee close to a ranch house by a big reservoir.  Passed Kevin and camped for the night at the north end of the lake.

     Monday -- Sept. 16, 1912

     Good by United States.  Came on at noon in the hills by the Railroad track.  We arrived in Sweet Grass about 5 o'clock p.m. and the men went up to see the Inspector.  Oh yes, we came by another place in Montana called Sunburst.

     Tuesday -- Sept. 17, 1912

     Came over on the Canadian side in time for dinner.  Took the correll for inspection about half past four.  Tested Willie's horses first, then they will test ours for fever.

     Wednesday -- Sept. 18, 1912

     Tested our horses out today, all but Bonnie were fine.  Will test him again tomorrow as he is so wild he will not drink.  They are afraid of the windmills and tanks with so many strangers around.


     All the horses tested fine.  As soon as Mother Winsor knew we would have no trouble she went on the Henry's at Nauton, Alberta.  We have decided to get a [railroad] car and ship all our stuff to Cochrane, Alberta.

     It is getting so late, we have had to lay over so much and we are all anxious for Stella to get through to her mother's home.  So Willie will take one team and go in the car.  Stella, Roy, Dad, Chester and I will take the train to Cochrane and Stella's folks will meet us there.  Will stay at her mother's, Mrs. Johnson, until all the others come.  Fred and Perle will drive the Democrat so as to carry their provisions, bedding and food, as Perle drives the loose horses.  So we all parted. 

     Dad, Stella and I with the boys were the first to arrive at Cochrane.  The boys and we were safely conducted there by the Canadian Mounties.  They said the train was late when we changed at Lethbridge and the mounties told me to take the rest and go in the waiting room and they would come for us in time, so we did.  When the train finally came the four of them came in after us, taking our suit cases and the boys found a place with plenty of room for us all.  When we arrived in Calgary, Alta. they put us in the waiting room.  I found the Mounties always so kind and helpful, but they never give up the trail when after a guilty person.

     The children were too tired at Calgary and it was late and we were anxious to get to Cochrane (22 miles) and get Dad and the boys in bed.  So we took the first division of the train.  They told us they thought we could stand the atmosphere as it was only 22 miles.   Oh!  My!  The smell of garlic, etc.  We had the boys and Dad in bed at the hotel when the 2nd division came into Cochrane and we were glad for Stella was very tired, too.

     Stella's brother came for us the next morning and took us to their home.  And Stella was safely with her mother.

     Willie was next to come.  He took the team out of the car and came on out where we were.  When Perle and Fred came we could hardly believe our eyes.  When we last saw the horses they were rolling fat, at the line [boundary].  Now they were skin and bones.

     Fred had rented us a house in Cochrane of C. W. Fisher and we left the next morning, us to get settled and the men to unload the car.  Willie rented a house for them and Perle and Dad lived with us.  Chester soon came running in saying, Mama, one of our nice Mounties lives just across the street from our house in the Barracks.  How Chester did love him.  He has his horse perform tricks, and that dog, all of Cochrane loved him.

     We found many kind friends in Cochrane and they have never been forgotten although 44 years have passed and I have lost several of those dear loved ones.  We stayed a little over two years when Fred took a homestead and preemption and bought a 1/2 section of land  and we moved to Rowly, Alberta 120 miles Northeast of Calgary on the Great Northern Railroad.  We remained there until Fred, Chester, Dad and I moved to 1710 Rail Road Ave., Vancouver, Washington, U.S.A. Nov. 10, 1920.  Dad went to Heaven in Feb. 1921 and Fred in Dec. 1922.


Handwritten: Portia Winsor my Dad's Aunt [Willie Lewis's aunt]. Return at your leisure.

SOURCE: Nora Lewis shared this with Bonnie and Fred Drake, September 2011.   Thanks.