MARY ELECTRA HOBACK PYLE

 

Mrs. Edgar Pyle, Pioneer, Succumbs Friday

     Mary Electa daughter of Bartholomew and Augustine Hoback, was born in the Limberlost country of Indiana, Oct. 7, 1857, and departed this life at her home near Big Trails, Wyoming, July 13, 1928.

     When she was a child the family moved to Benton country , Ark., where the father took up a homestead.  From there they moved to Griggsville, Illinois, where she attended high school and later taught.

     On October  30th, 1880, she was united in marriage to Edgar Parker Pyle and to this union were born eight children, five of them preceding her in death in early childhood.

     The family came to Wyoming in 1908, making their home for a while at No Wood and Big Trails.  For the past 18 years they have lived on their homestead in the mountains above Big Trails.

     She is survived by her husband, one son, James Harold, who lived at home; two daughters, Mrs. Edna Greet of Big Trails, Wyoming, and Mrs. Florence Coleman of Binghamton, N. Y.; three brothers, Joseph and Will of California and Oscar of Manderson, Wyoming; Three sisters, Mrs. Rose Bear of Springfield, Mo., Mrs. Jennie Harding of Sedalia, Mo., and Mrs. Anna Bunker of Palm Springs, California.  There are five grandchildren, George, Marjorie, Jamie and Neil Greet, and Arthur Coleman.

     While a young girl she united with the Methodist church.  Her Christian character was manifested by her high ideals and her devoted untiring service to her family and friends.  She was loved by all who knew her and will be keenly missed by her kind friends and neighbors who knew her so well.

     Rest little mother,

        Your life's work is o'er;

     Your struggles are ended,

         You'll suffer no more.

 

     May God's loving mercy,

          Give peace as you go,

     And comfort the hearts

           That have cherished you so.

 

LIFE OF O. E. HOBACK (Brother to Mary Electra Hoback Pyle) as told to Edna Greet

     Uncle Oscar was born February 11, 1874, near Rogersville, Arkansas.  Bentonville was their county seat.  The family had moved there soon after the close of the Civil War, making the trip in a covered wagon.  His mother's health was poor, and she became so homesick for Indiana that his father took the family back while Oscar was still quite young.  There she died on April 3rd, 1876, leaving a baby boy, Eli, two days old.  Eighteen year old Mary Electa had been working for a Mrs. Apperson in Kokomo, but had come home when her mother needed her.  Jennie was 15 and Rose was 14, and were probably home, too, but the care of the baby fell to Mary.  In July the baby became sick, and a neighbor told her to give him catnip tea.  Not knowing anything else to do, Mary gave the little one the tea, and he died the day he was four months old.  Just a weak later the little three year old sister, Ellen Augustine, died also.  Perhaps they had dysentery.  The death of the three loved ones must have been a severe shock to the young girl, Mary Electa, who had the care of them.  In 1880 she married Edgar Parker Pyle, and before the year 1888 was out she had given birth to six children and seen five of them die.  A siege of typhoid fever when she was a child had already weakened her nervous system, and it is  not to be wondered at if all these experiences left their mark on her.

     Not long after Oscar's Mother's death his father married a widow named, Mrs. Dickinson.  She had two boys quite a bit older than Oscar, and they dealt him a lot of misery.  His older brothers and sisters had all left home.  Anna had married Ed Bunker in 1874, and was living in Griggsville.  Mary went there and found work, and one day the father took Oscar and followed.  He bought a house and lot, and when Oscar was 7 years old he married again 1881.  The new wife had been a widow, too.  Her maiden name had been Jane Smith, and her first husbands name was McCoy.  She had a sister, Alice, who married a Henry Collins.      Oscar's father had made a will, leaving the property to Oscar.  When the step-mother found it out she became very angry, and made life miserable for the boy.  Of course he retaliated to the best of his ability.  The situation finally got to where life became almost unbearable for him.  One day the father told him he needn't put up with it any longer, and that he would give him his choice of two alternatives.  One  was to go to the theological school in Decatur, the other was to go west to where his older brothers were.  Oscar went to the school for a while, but was unhappy there.  Perhaps he lacked the religious convictions necessary to become a Methodist preacher.  He was only fifteen years old.  He returned home, and just two weeks before Christmas (December, 1889) his father put him on a train, with a ticket to Denver and a few extra dollars in his pocket.

     Arriving in Denver, he found that he was still a long way from either brother.  He had only a few dollars left, so he talked to the ticket agent, who named the different places to which his money might take him.  Oscar decided on a ticket to Colorado Springs, which was still not very near to either brother.  Joe was working on a ranch on Gypsum Creek, on Eagle river, and Will had a homestead on the head of Flag Creek, 14 miles south of Meeker.  When Oscar got to Colorado Springs his pockets were empty except for a knife and a few matches.  He tried a job of ditch digging, but was too light for the work.  Starting out to walk, he stopped for a night with a family named Breedlove.  They persuaded him to stay with them until after Christmas, and were very kind to him.

     When Oscar left the Breedlove home after the holidays, he deliberately left behind him the satchel containing the clothes his step-mother had fixed for him.  He was not very warmly dressed and had no overshoes.  He followed the old Midland railroad, which went through Manitou, Flourescent, and Idlewild Canyon on the South Fork of the Platte River.  New Year's Eve he walked through Flourescent and shortly afterward came to an abandoned sawmill town, ghostown.  The buildings had been left furnished, and some of them even contained food and fuel.  It would seem an ideal place for him to spend the night, as it was growing dark.  But the utter desolation of the place oppressed the boy, and when a hoot owl started hooting at him he fled in a panic.  No one, not even a dog, only a hoot owl, got spooked and couldn't get out of there fast enough.  Back on the railroad right of way he took his knife and matches and built a bonfire to warm himself.  But he hardly had it going good when the section walker came along and ordered him to move on.  He said there was a section house around the bend where he could stop.  Several bends later he came to the section house, where the foreman took him in and warmed and fed him.

     In the morning he started on again.  The next town was Hobart, and there he jumped a freight.  He was riding the couplings between the cars when the brakeman found him and took pity on him.  He took Oscar to the caboose, where he rode until they reaches Buena Vista.  From there he walked the seven miles to Northrop.  There he went to work for a while, helping an Irishman named Dick Goodwin (Yorkie) chop ties in the timber.  Oscar then got a job as flunky at a charcoal camp.

     This camp had six big kilns in it, each 20 to 30 feet high.  They were built of stone, with outside stairways to reach the vents which were used to regulate the draft.  The color of the smoke was the only guide as to whether the charcoal was burning correctly.  The wood - pinion pine preferred - was arranged in a certain order for burning, and it sometimes took tow weeks to burn a kiln-full.  After the wood was burned the vents were closed, putting out the fire, and then the doors were opened.  At least a foot of liquid from the wood would be drawn off and saved.  The charcoal was sent to the smelter.

     Young Oscar, now nearly 16 years old, and the greenest of tenderfeet, was roughly handled at this camp, where he was considered fair game for their practical jokes.  It was there he got his first taste of whiskey.  Two of the men held him down while a third poured half a pint of the raw liquor down his throat.  Of course he was very sick and a very drunk boy.  This and other things rankled him, and when he got ready to leave about the first of June he planned his revenge.  He had worked hare and had only bought a few necessities at the company store - an ax, two pairs of overalls, a jumper, some cotton gloves, some socks and two quilts.  But when the time came for the company to settle with him, they told him he had used all his pay and had nothing coming. 65 cents.  A friend of Joe's by the name of Jim Johnson had befriended him, and when he found that Oscar was leaving with no pay, he gave him $10.

     Before he left, June 1890, Oscar got Johnson to one side and said: "You've been a friend to me, and I want to ask something of you.  Just stay away from the bunkhouse this evening."

     "Why?" asked Johnson.

     "I can't tell you," replied Oscar. "I shouldn't be telling you this much.  Only, for your own good, stay away from the bunkhouse."

     Oscar left the camp about noon, but circled around and came back through the timber to a sunny hillside overlooking the bunkhouse.  There he took off his shoes and drew on a pair of heavy German socks.  Then he sat and waited until dark.  It was Saturday night, and when supper was over and the sounds from the bunkhouse indicated the the usual Saturday night card games and drinking were in full swing he got busy.  He had taken about five pounds of coarse black blasting powder from the powder house.  This he tied up in the leg of some old overalls, and in them wrapped it in layers of burlap and paper, partly wet, so as not to burn too readily.  The bunkhouse had a fireplace with a huge stone (cobblestone diameter) chimney built so that a person could walk up steps on the outside.  Under cover of darkness Oscar climbed up and dropped his bomb on the bed of coals.  The noise was at its height and it was not noticed.  Then he started running, and in his concern at making a quick get-away he ran past his shoes where he had left them by the side of the trail, and had to go back for them.  He was about a quarter of a mile away when his bomb exploded.  He looked back and the bunkhouse looked like a volcano, with the doors and windows blown out or open.  He didn't stop running until his socks began to wear out and he was afraid they would leave some telltale scraps.  Then he stopped and put his shoes on.  He never heard any report of the happening, and never asked any questions.

     Oscar now walked on to the ranch where Joe was working on Gypsum Creek and stayed with him a couple months, June July.  He then started out to walk to Will's homestead on Flag Creek.  When he was within a few miles of Will's place he met a hide buyer, Chandler, with a team and wagon, who stopped to talk, and asked if his name was Hoback.  Then he said, "Your brother is looking for you."  Oscar had not written to him and had thought he would surprise him, but Will seemed to know he was coming.  When Oscar arrived he just said: "Well, you finally got here!"  (Hide buyer and Mr. Frank Ainsworth owned Maynard rifles.  Maynard was a single shot rifle, no extractor, extra heavy shell to stand a lot of reloading - big head to make it easy to take out with fingers.  About 40 caliber, shells about 2 1/2 inches long with slight taper.)

     Oscar stayed with Will about a year or longer.  They were in partnership and planned on improving the homestead and building up a bunch of cattle.  After the first year Oscar worked part of the time for neighbors, taking his pay partly in money and partly in stock.

     But things did not go smoothly.  Josie was disagreeable at home.  Then there was a sheep outfit who wanted the water and land.  There was plenty of range and water, but they resented the homestead and kept crowding in.  One day they cut the fence and turned the sheep in on the grain field.

     So a bunch of the young fellows got together and raided the sheep camp.  They killed part of the sheep and warned the owners to be gone in ten days.  The sheep men took the hint, but the incident worried Oscar, and one day he and another young fellow by the name of Bill Herrick started out with their saddle horses, a fiddle and a guitar.  Wherever they stopped the people got up a dance, and they made good money.

     One day Oscar and Bill stopped at Ranchus, a stage station and saloon, and as usual, a crowd collected in the evening for a dance.  The Coslip outfit was there, looking for hands to help drive a bunch of cattle north to Montana.  It looked life a good thing to Oscar, so he hired out to them.  The dance netted him and Bill $35 each.

     Oscar was young (about 19 or 20 now) and had trouble remembering brands and names, so he started listing the brands in the herd they were driving north.  Occasionally some riders would meet them, with a few head of cattle which they would throw into the herd.  Oscar would make a record of the new brands and the names of the riders if he chance to hear them.

     They were well up into Wyoming before Oscar became aware that the outfit was crooked, and that the cattle they were receiving were stolen.  When they reached U-Cross they turned the cattle into Arthur Semp's  pasture, and he learned that the outfit owned butcher shops in Sheridan and Buffalo where they disposed of a part of their stolen beef.  Some they planned on taking north to the Rosebud country.

     One evening Oscar was in a saloon known as "Jeff Ward's" place in Sheridan, where he met a man by the name of Tom O'Day.  He was to learn later that Tom was a noted outlaw, but Oscar has always been grateful to him.  He turned to Oscar and asked: "What are You doing with this outfit, Kid?"

     "I don't know how to get away." Oscar replied.

     "Just as I thought." muttered O'Day.

     He then told Oscar that his life was in danger, but that if he really wanted to get away he would help him.  What he didn't tell Oscar, but what I strongly suspect to be the case, was that he himself had been commissioned to do the killing.  Oscar was only too glad to accept the offer, and listened eagerly while O'Day told him his plan.  So that night Oscar went to a certain alley and found O'Day there with Oscar's horse all saddled and ready to go.

     "But," said O'Day, "There's just one little thing you have to do before I turn this horse over to you."

     Wondering, Oscar asked what it was, and O'Day replied, "Destroy that little book you have in your pocket."

     So Oscar followed him into a bunkhouse behind the livery stable, and O'Day watched as he threw the note book with all its incriminating evidence into the fire in the heating stove, and together they watched it burn.

     "Now - where are you heading for?" asked O'Day, as they went out to the waiting horse.

     "Back to Colorado," Oscar replied.  O'Day handed him the reins and Oscar rode off into the night.

     He was rather badly shaken by the experience, and as he rode he decided that it might be a good idea not to go back to Colorado after all, just in case some of the outfit took a notion to look for him and make away with him.  So when he was about twenty miles from Sheridan, in the Prairie Dog country he stopped at Jim Kirkpatrick's ranch and asked for work.  Kirkpatrick gave him a job.  This was in 1895, and Oscar stayed with him a year. 1895-1896.

     A blacksmith by the name of Henry Nettman had a shop in Sheridan, and whenever Oscar was in town he enjoyed hanging around the shop and watching the work.  When Nettman offered him a job in the fall of 1896 he quit the ranch work to learn the blacksmith trade.

     The next few years were carefree ones for him, learning a trade he liked.  He became much interested in a young girl named -------------------.  He took the money from the property his father had left him and bought a house and three lots.  Then came the war with Spain and he signed up with some friends in the First Wyoming Volunteers, Company G.  He was deeply in love with his girl, and she promised to wait for him.

     Oscar's company arrived in Manilla just after Dewey's victory at the battle of Manilla Bay, and in time for the Insurrection which followed.  He was in the service a little less than two years, and his experiences changed him from a reckless boy into a rather grim-faced man.  He was on Luzon Island a year, after training at Cheyenne and San Francisco.  He arrived back in Sheridan in October of 1899.  He had been tempted to make the Army his career, but he decided against it, as he fully expected to marry the girl he had left in Sheridan and settle down to the business of raising a family.  When he found that she had lost all interest in him and was going to marry another, he was stunned.  It seemed that it couldn't be true, and when he finally accepted the fact he took to drinking and tried to forget.  One day when he was drinking some unscrupulous companions got him to sign over the deed to his property in Sheridan.  The next March, 1900, he left the town and went to Casper, then only a small pioneer town.  There he took charge of the Lander Transportation Company.  The pay was small, so he quit one day and rode to Lander on a bicycle.  There he traded the bicycle for a saddle horse.  He got a job for a while, cutting corral poles and house logs, then went back to Casper. The trip from Casper to Lander on the bicycle took three days: from Lander to Casper horseback four days.

     Back in Casper, Oscar went to work for the Two Jim blacksmith shop, owned by Jim McGrath and Jim Jones.  There was a great deal of freighting done with string teams at that time, and the freighters would bring their repair work to the "Two Jim." Oscar found that he did not know enough about freighting to understand their needs.  So he quit the shop

and took a job as a teamster for a couple months.  He studied the outfit, and went back to the shop he was able to satisfactorily work for the freighters.

     Uncle Joe went to Casper in 1902 or 1903.  He had married a girl named Eva McGrath in New Mexico a few years before, and they had two babies.  He worked for W. S. Kimball a jeweler and watch repairman.  He also took care of the watches for the railroad men, and was leader of an orchestra.  He and Oscar played a lot together, and Joe tried to get Oscar to quit the blacksmith work and make a career of music, but Oscar couldn't see it.

     In the fall of  1904 Oscar went to Wolton and set up his own blacksmith shop, and so was there when the railroad was being built in 1905 and 1906.  But he was restless, and in 1907 he went to work for the Noble and Bragg outfit at Nowood.

     While at Wolton Oscar acted as deputy sheriff.  It was necessary one day to arrest a character who went by the name of "Black Mike."  Oscar went after him while he was in a saloon, and for fear of shooting a friend by mistake, Oscar threw his gun under a table and went after Black Mike bare handed.  Before he could be disarmed, Black Mike discharged his gun, tearing off the middle finger of Oscar's left hand.  But Oscar succeeded in putting him under arrest, and Black Mike swore vengeance, once he was out of prison.  A few years later, after Mike had finished serving his term, word got to Oscar that Black Mike was on his trail.  The conductor on the train got word to Braskets that Mike had dropped off the train at Moneta.  Braskets told Della Dove, who told Willard Truesdell, who in turn told Oscar.  Oscar decided to look Black Mike up, instead of waiting for him to show up.  He found him in the Dew Drop Inn in Lost Cabin and approached him.  Black Mike acted very friendly, and wanted to shake hands and forget it all, but Oscar refused.  He then wanted to buy Oscar a drink, but Oscar said "No - I only drink with friends."

     Oscar had his violin with him, so of course that called for an impromptu dance.  Afterward word got to Oscar that Black Mike had stuck his gun in Brasket's stomach that night, and then apologized, saying that he thought Brasket was Oscar.  Oscar went to the sheriff in Casper and told him he was giving the law ten days, but at the end of that time he was going after Black Mike himself.  At the end of the ten days  he hadn't heard anything, so he looked for Mike, but couldn't find him.

     Additional Notes: 1907 to Nowood from Wolton, there three years.  To Lost Cabin short time, driving state.  Married early 1910, to Carl De Groot Sawmill in Natrona County, Wyoming at head of Buffalo Creek on east slope of Big Horn Mountains, Mary born.  There to Hyattville in 1910, there three years.  Bertha and Oscar born  there.  To Ten Sleep in 1913, there two years, Billie born during that time at Tola's mother's home in Basin.

     From Ten Sleep to Worland for a while, there to Institute (blacksmith and assistant field boss.  Johnie born there at Coulter, back to Worland with Jim Gifford, three years.  From there to Manderson, there nineteen years. 

     Tola worked in Park seven years, to Pitchfork 1938-1941.  To California in oil field three years, to Ten Sleep, to Oregon and back to California.  Tola cooked for Frison's three springs, Spratt's two years, Pitchfork five years.  To Cheyenne three times for three operations.  

 

With a horse shoe nail?  He was not very big.

     Uncle Oscar picked the lock on his step mother's trunk and took some jewelry, which he took out in the weeds and smashed with a hammer and ax.  He then took it to Mr. Shoemaker, the jeweler and tried to sell it to him.  Mr. Shoemaker got him to tell him where he had got it.  Oscar told him his father had given him two dimes and a nickel for 4th of July.  The step-mother found out about it and took it away from him.  Oscar told the whole story, when he was threw Mr. Shoemaker was silent for a while.  Then he told Oscar he would help him this time, but never do such a thing again.  He weighed up the mangled metal and told Oscar it was worth about $2.50.  He gave it to Oscar a nickel or a dime at a time at not too frequent intervals.  Mr. Shoemaker had a boy Winfred whom Oscar liked and chummed with.

     A Mr. Hatfield lived in the old stone hexagon shaped house.  He had a son Willie, with whom Oscar spent quite a bit of his time.  There was a work bench in the basement of the Hatfield house, and the boys made things which they sold to other kids and made a little money.  Mr. Hatfield wanted to send Willie to a school to learn some skill or trade or profession.  Willie didn't want to go without Oscar, so the father went to Oscar's father and offered to send Oscar with his son, paying all his expenses and treating him in every way the same as his own boy.  But grandfather had his heart set of Oscar becoming a minister.

     OBITUARY OF OSCAR E. HOBACK

     Oscar Ernest Hoback was born February 11, 1874, in Rodgersville, Arkansas, the son of Bartholomew and Augustine Hoback.  He died June 5, 1959, at the age of 85 years, 3 months and 25 days.  He is survived by tow daughters, Mrs. Harry Denny, of Manderson and Mrs. Roy Lewis of Ten Sleep, and by two sons, Oscar, Jr., of Nashville, Tenn., and John, of Salt Lake City, Utah and also 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.  His wife and one son preceded him in death.

     Oscar's early boyhood was spent in Indiana and Illinois.  At the age of 15 years he came west to Colorado, where his two older brothers were living.  He stayed there for several years, helping with the work on a homestead, and gaining experience as a ranch hand on the neighboring ranches.  In 1895 he helped drive a herd of cattle north into Wyoming, stopping near Sheridan.  There he worked as a ranch hand until the fall of 1896, when he quit to learn the blacksmith trade.  When the call for volunteers came during the Spanish American War he signed up with the 1st Wyoming Volunteers, Co. G.  His Company arrived in Manilla just after Dewey's victory at the battle of Manilla Bay, and in time for the Insurrection which followed. He served in the Army there for nearly two years, and then returned to Sheridan.  In 1900 he went to Casper, where he worked for the "Two Jim" blacksmith shop for four years.  In 1904 he moved from there to the old town of Wolton and opened a shop of his own.  He was there when the Rail Road was being built in 1905 and '06.  Leaving Wolton in 1907 he found employment with the Noble and Bragg outfit on the Nowood.

     In 1910 Oscar married to Tola Colethorpe.  To this union were born five children; Mary, Bertha, Oscar, William and John.  For 19 years the family made their home in Manderson.

     Over the years Oscar became well known over a large area of the Big Horn Basin for his violin playing.  He was in great demand at the old time ranch dances of the early days.  Only a few weeks before his death his friends made tape recordings of his playing, which show he had retained much of the skill of his younger days, and a fine zest for living.  He will be remembered, too, for his many interesting stories of pioneer days in Wyoming, and of his thrilling experiences in the Philippines.

     He was for many years a member of the Veterans of the Foreign Wars of Ten Sleep, and also belonged to the Odd Fellows of Basin.

     Oscar never ceased to grieve deeply for his wife, who died a little over a year ago, and who had been his faithful companion for over 48 years.  After  an evening of musing a few months ago, he scribbled the following lines on a sheet of note paper:

  I sat by the fireside one evening,

       The flames were burning low,

  When scenes of the past came before me,

       And memories of long ago.

 

  My old heart was filled with longing,

       For a loved on who is gone before,

  And is waiting for me over yonder,

       In the land where we'll part no more.

 

  And there was a face in the firelight,

       Pictured within my heart,

  Pleading with me in the gloaming,

        Asking why we should part.

 

  Only the smile of a sweetheart,

       There in the flickering light-

   Only a face in the firelight,

       A dream on a winter's night.

 

     IN THE HOLE-IN-THE-WALL COUNTRY

 

        Written by

        E. L. Pyle,

        Bigtrails, Wyo.

     In the "Hole-in-the-wall" Country.

     Several years ago we received a letter from one of mother's brothers, O. E. Hoback, (then a blacksmith in a small western town) describing a hunting trip in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.  It has so interested every one who has read it that we think others should have the chance of enjoying it.  He wrote:

     "I will just spin you a little yarn about my last hunting trip.  Mr. A. L. F---- (Fly), Mr. Henry W---------, and Mr. John McK--------- and myself left here on Sunday, October 14th.  We had a team and light wagon to haul our light camp outfit and 'grub', and John and I had saddle horses.

     "Just as we were starting out, one of my customers came in with his pet team to be shod.  He would not let the man I left in charge of the shop shoe them; so I stayed and shod them myself, and then caught up with the rest of the party at the E. K. Britte fifteen miles from here.  Before getting away, however, I was held up by several people here and especially instructed by every one of them to bring them a piece of venison or antelope meat, but I told all of them that if I brought in one deer and got the pictures I was after I would be satisfied.  At last I made my escape and in due time overtook my chums.

     "We had a pleasant but uneventful day's travel, and camped that night in the Red Valley, thirty-five miles north of here.  Before sunrise next morning (Monday) we were on our way again.  We passed the old Hole in the Wall ranch at 10:45 a.m., and I took a snap at the outfit as they crossed the creek near the old cabin.  We then turned to the left and began the long climb up the mountain to our proposed camp on the head waters of Poker Creek.  Mr. F---- (Fly) was acting big chief of our party, and soon after we began the ascent of the hills he turned the team and wagon over to John and Henry.  Mounting the other saddle horse, he asked me to bring the Kodak (a new one I had Mr. Kimbal send out) and accompany him; which of course I did.

     "We hunted the country  pretty thoroughly from there to the head of Poker Creek but had no luck.  We reached our camp ground about three o'clock in the afternoon, and by four o'clock had every thing in good shape and the horses hobbled and turned out for the night.  We then took our rifles and scattered out to try to kill something for camp meat.  Al and John went down the creek and Henry and I took the other route.

     "We found fresh deer sign and in the head of a big ravine about one and one half miles from camp I found the fresh track of four deer very close to us.  Henry, who had never hunted the black tail beer before, could not understand how I could be so sure and rather insisted on taking a course of his own.  So I just got up on a little point where I could watch the head of the basin where I was sure the deer would be found.  Sure enough, I had hardly taken  I saw them come trotting out from among the pines at a place about two hundred and fifty yards from me.  I waited until they stopped to take a look at Henry, who was at least four hundred yards below them making a fine large racket as he forced his way threw the brush, and having no idea where the deer were.  Then I picked out a plump little fellow that looked good to me and drawing a bead on his shoulders I fired, killing him in his tracts.  Henry came tearing up the ravine and got two shots at the others as they went over the hill, but we found no blood on the tracts.

     "We dressed the little fellow I had downed and Henry carried my gum while I packed the deer to camp.  I was determined to bring in first meat, and I sure did.

     "I did not hunt any the next day but contented myself following the others around just keeping in Kodak range and trying to get a snap at one of them in the act of firing at game.  But we had no luck and spent the second night in camp with nothing killed except the one I got the first evening.

     "On the third morning we saddled the horses and started bright and early for the big Powder River Canyon, a famous piece of country that no one had ever taken a camera of any kind into before.  At about nine o'clock we found ourselves at the break of the canyon looking down into a gash in the earth fifteen hundred feet deep.  Right here is where I wish for the ability of a good writer to describe the scene --- the many colored walls of the canyon, the dense growth of pines in places that reached in broad green strips from the top of the canyon to the river bed, with the bright yellow and red colorings of the cotton wood trees, aspens, mountain laurel and other brush and timber that grow along the bed of the canyon.  But I can't do it and wont try.  Anyway, we stood there and rubbered a while.  Then Mr. F--- (Fly), or Al, as we called him, came to us with the news that we had missed the trail, but that he had found a place where we could go down all right.

     "So we left our horses on top and started down; and such a time as we had, too.  In one place we all jumped down over a ledge of rock about fifteen feet high supposing the trail to be smooth from there on, and found ourselves on a shelf about twenty yards wide with a sheer drop of thirty feet below us.  But we at last found a dead tree leaning against the cliff and down it we went like so many cub bear.  Just below that cliff we struck fresh bear sign, too, and big ones.  Old silver tip made a track like a dish pan; and I made up my mind that I had not lost that bear and did not want to find him in that jungle at all.  After about two hours hard work we reached the bottom and Al guided us down the bed of the stream and up the opposite wall to the old outlaw cave -------- the real Hole in the Wall and for ears the safe retreat of the worst class of men that ever cursed the West.

     "The cave is simply a pocket in the face of the cliff just even with the tree tops, and from  which a good view can be had of the canyon and the only trail over which the cave can be approached.  The pocket, or room, is about fifteen feet in diameter, with a high, dome like roof and low, wide entrance.  The entrance had been closed partly by a stone wall with loop holes left in it and partly by a frame work of poles with cow hides nailed to them.

     "Inside the cave were the rude slab bunks, benches and tables used (as shown by their blackened and warn condition) for years by the outlaws.  I took two time exposures of the inside of the cave and two snaps of the outside; and as far as anyone knows I am the first man who has ever photographed that place, or any other place in the Big Powder River Canyon.  There were three elk heads in the cave; two of them in splendid condition and one old bleached out head.  After loafing around looking at the place for a while we cut up one of the old cowhides tacked over the entrance and then amused ourselves by shooting off the old elk horns.  We would shoot them off about three inches from the tip and then keep the tip for a souvenir of the place.  It was not very long until we had that  old head stripped and were on our way out of there.  We had work getting out, too.  Altho' we followed the old outlaw trail we were plenty tired when we got back to our horses.  It was almost dark when we reached camp.

     "The next day (Thursday) John and I took the small rifles and went down in Eagle Creek Canyon after blue grouse.  Al and Henry went after big game again and were lucky enough to get two nice fat deer each.

     "The next day (Friday) we packed in the four deer and prepared to break camp and start home.  I got some good camp views and snaps at Al packing his two deer out on his old white horse.  On Saturday morning we woke up with big snowdrifts in the tent and a fine old storm blowing.  We knew it was a case of get out at once or be snowed in for perhaps a month, and we sure got.

     "We all had "ice-sticks" three inches long hanging to our faces when we got down into the valley at the Hole in the Wall ranch.  But we got out, anyway, and reached home next day in spite of the storm.  I had accomplished the two things I had set out to do.  I had brought first meat into camp, and I had some excellent pictures of the Hole-in-the-Wall country."

Source: Edna Greet collection copied by Bonita Drake, 1967.  Bonita is granddaughter of Edna daughter of Mrs. Ed Pyle, niece of Oscar E. Hoback.                                                                                                          

 

     IN THE HOLE-IN-THE-WALL COUNTRY

 

[Checked and corrected from the original, 20 July 2009.]   Written by

        E. L. Pyle,

        Bigtrails, Wyo.

     In the "Hole-in-the-wall" Country.

     Several years ago we received a letter from one of mother's brothers, O. E. Hoback, (then a blacksmith in a small western town) describing a hunting trip in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.  It has so interested every one who has read it that we think others should have the chance of enjoying it.  He wrote:

     "I will just spin you a little yarn about my last hunting trip.  Mr. A. L. F---- (Fly), Mr. Henry W---------, and Mr. John McK--------- and myself left here on Sunday, October 14th.  We had a team and light wagon to haul our light camp outfit and 'grub', and John and I had saddle horses.

     "Just as we were starting out, one of my customers came in with his pet team to be shod.  He would not let the man I left in charge of the shop shoe them; so I stayed and shod them myself, and then caught up with the rest of the party at the E. K. Britte fifteen miles from here.  Before getting away, however, I was held up by several people here and especially instructed by every one of them to bring them a piece of venison or antelope meat, but I told all of them that if I brought in one deer and got the pictures I was after I would be satisfied.  At last I made my escape and in due time overtook my chums.

     "We had a pleasant but uneventful day's travel, and camped that night in the Red Valley, thirty-five miles north of here.  Before sunrise next morning (Monday) we were on our way again.  We passed the old Hole in the Wall ranch at 10:45 a.m., and I took a snap at the outfit as they crossed the creek near the old cabin.  We then turned to the left and began the long climb up the mountain to our proposed camp on the head waters of Poker Creek.  Mr. F---- (Fly) was acting big chief of our party, and soon after we began the ascent of the hills he turned the team and wagon over to John and Henry.  Mounting the other saddle horse, he asked me to bring the Kodak (a new one I had Mr. Kimbal send out) and accompany him; which of course I did.

     "We hunted the country  pretty thoroughly from there to the head of Poker Creek but had no luck.  We reached our camp ground about three o'clock in the afternoon, and by four o'clock had every thing in good shape and the horses hobbled and turned out for the night.  We then took our rifles and scattered out to try to kill something for camp meat.  Al and John went down the creek and Henry and I took the other route.

     "We found fresh deer sign and in the head of a big ravine about one and one half miles from camp I found the fresh track of four deer very close to us.  Henry, who had never hunted the black tail beer before, could not understand how I could be so sure and rather insisted on taking a course of his own.  So I just got up on a little point where I could watch the head of the basin where I was sure the deer would be found.  Sure enough, I had hardly taken  I saw them come trotting out from among the pines at a place about two hundred and fifty yards from me.  I waited until they stopped to take a look at Henry, who was at least four hundred yards below them making a fine large racket as he forced his way threw the brush, and having no idea where the deer were.  Then I picked out a plump little fellow that looked good to me and drawing a bead on his shoulders I fired, killing him in his tracts.  Henry came tearing up the ravine and got two shots at the others as they went over the hill, but we found no blood on the tracts.

     "We dressed the little fellow I had downed and Henry carried my gum while I packed the deer to camp.  I was determined to bring in first meat, and I sure did.

     "I did not hunt any the next day but contented myself following the others around just keeping in Kodak range and trying to get a snap at one of them in the act of firing at game.  But we had no luck and spent the second night in camp with nothing killed except the one I got the first evening.

     "On the third morning we saddled the horses and started bright and early for the big Powder River Canyon, a famous piece of country that no one had ever taken a camera of any kind into before.  At about nine o'clock we found ourselves at the break of the canyon looking down into a gash in the earth fifteen hundred feet deep.  Right here is where I wish for the ability of a good writer to describe the scene --- the many colored walls of the canyon, the dense growth of pines in places that reached in broad green strips from the top of the canyon to the river bed, with the bright yellow and red colorings of the cotton wood trees, aspens, mountain laurel and other brush and timber that grow along the bed of the canyon.  But I can't do it and wont try.  Anyway, we stood there and rubbered a while.  Then Mr. F--- (Fly), or Al, as we called him, came to us with the news that we had missed the trail, but that he had found a place where we could go down all right.

     "So we left our horses on top and started down; and such a time as we had, too.  In one place we all jumped down over a ledge of rock about fifteen feet high supposing the trail to be smooth from there on, and found ourselves on a shelf about twenty yards wide with a sheer drop of thirty feet below us.  But we at last found a dead tree leaning against the cliff and down it we went like so many cub bear.  Just below that cliff we struck fresh bear sign, too, and big ones.  Old silver tip made a track like a dish pan; and I made up my mind that I had not lost that bear and did not want to find him in that jungle at all.  After about two hours hard work we reached the bottom and Al guided us down the bed of the stream and up the opposite wall to the old outlaw cave -------- the real Hole in the Wall and for years the safe retreat of the worst class of men that ever cursed the West.

     "The cave is simply a pocket in the face of the cliff just even with the tree tops, and from  which a good view can be had of the canyon and the only trail over which the cave can be approached.  The pocket, or room, is about fifteen feet in diameter, with a high, dome like roof and low, wide entrance.  The entrance had been closed partly by a stone wall with loop holes left in it and partly by a frame work of poles with cow hides nailed to them.

     "Inside the cave were the rude slab bunks, benches and tables used (as shown by their blackened and warn condition) for years by the outlaws. Even their old battered and blackened cooking utensils were there yet.  I took two time exposures of the inside of the cave and two snaps of the outside; and as far as anyone knows I am the first man who has ever photographed that place, or any other place in the Big Powder River Canyon.  There were three elk heads in the cave; two of them in splendid condition and one old bleached out head.  After loafing around looking at the place for a while we cut up one of the old cowhides tacked over the entrance and then amused ourselves by shooting off the old elk horns.  We would shoot them off about three inches from the tip and then keep the tip for a souvenir of the place.  It was not very long until we had that  old head stripped and were on our way out of there.  We had work getting out, too.  Altho' we followed the old outlaw trail we were plenty tired when we got back to our horses.  It was almost dark when we reached camp.

     "The next day (Thursday) John and I took the small rifles and went down in Eagle Creek Canyon after blue grouse.  Al and Henry went after big game again and were lucky enough to get two nice fat deer each.

     "The next day (Friday) we packed in the four deer and prepared to break camp and start home.  I got some good camp views and snaps at Al packing his two deer out on his old white horse.  On Saturday morning we woke up with big snowdrifts in the tent and a fine old storm blowing.  We knew it was a case of get out at once or be snowed in for perhaps a month, and we sure got.

     "We all had "ice-sticks" three inches long hanging to our faces when we got down into the valley at the Hole in the Wall ranch.  But we got out, anyway, and reached home next day in spite of the storm.  I had accomplished the two things I had set out to do.  I had brought first meat into camp, and I had some excellent pictures of the Hole-in-the-Wall country."

Source: Edna Greet collection copied by Bonita Drake, 1967.  Bonita is granddaughter of Edna daughter of Mrs. Ed Pyle, sister of Oscar E. Hoback.      

 

OSCAR HOBACK  (handwritten document )

 

   Uncle Oscar (Hoback, Mary Electa Pyle's brother, uncle to Jim Pyle, Florence Lurana Coleman and Edna Lucile Greet) came back to Illinois for Christmas 1907 and Dad who had allways been interested in the west went out to Nowood early in the Spring where Oscar had a job for him with Noble and Bragg working on the ranch at Nowood.  The family then sold our possessions at a farm sale and came on out. We arrived March 8, 1908 and moved into the Cornell house on the upper end of the Bragg ranch where the big lambing sheds were being built.  Uncle Oscar was blacksmith for the ranch and the surrounding trade.  (Largely sheep outfits).

     We lived in the Cornell house until fall when Florence got a job teaching school at Nowood and Bragg got us to move to the "Cook shack" at Nowood and mother cooked there while Dad continued to work on the ranch.  Meanwhile Florence who had met George Coleman the summer before when he was freighting thru to the railroad at Moneta.  Married him that spring, April 1909.  This was also the April of the Ten Sleep raid.

     Our mother who was finding the cooking to hard for her and was also homesick for the east got Dad to take us back.  We got as far as Sedalia, Mo. where Dad got a job on the R. R. section at Hughsville, Mo.  We only stayd there perhaps a couple of months.

     When we returned west.  George and Florence met us with the freight outfit on their way to Casper.  We went with them as far as Wolton then returned to Nowood where Dad worked for the Brower ranch at what is now called "Lone Tree."      

Source: Handwritten document in the possession of Charles Pyle, loaned to the Fred Drake's, 2002-2004.