LETTERS FROM THE RANCH

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— Dear Bertha,

Perhaps I should start this off "Dear Clyde" as I intend to send Fred's reply to at least some of the questions Clyde has had relative to subjects I have touched on in letters to you.

Well, I guess I'll start off with some information about Antone Jacobs, since Clyde was curious as to why it appeared that neither Mr. Jacobs nor any of his family seemed to be involved in the disposition of his ranch. The fact of the matter is (as near as I can learn and this all happened some years before I came to Routt County) Antone was killed by lightning.

This happened before the "Big Creek Cattle Association" was formed. This association was composed of a dozen or so forest grazing permittees (all of the permittees who graze their cattle on the Big Creek Ridge).

The association hires one full time rider (for the five-month grazing season). The rider lives in an old deserted homestead cabin of an old bachelor, a bear-hunter by the name of Tomilson. But before the association was formed, the individual permittees were responsible for doing their own riding. Well, by the time a permittee had put in a long, hard day's ride on the forest it was still a long, hard ride (in the dark) if they were to ride all the way home to their ranch in the valley. And so it was not an uncommon practice to spend the night in the old Tomilson cabin (which was kept supplied for such emergencies and was known to all as the "Big Creek Ridge Cow Camp".)

A rainy spell had put a damper on haying. Three neighboring ranchers (Ad Keller, Antone Jacobs and Ben Savage) decided it would be a good day to "Ride Range". Having put in a hard day's work checking cattle, the trio headed for Cow Camp in a gentle drizzle. By the time the riders had reached a point 1/4 mile from Cow Camp, the drizzle had turned into a downpour.

A huge pine tree (half in half out of the adjacent forest) was a beckoning shelter from the cloudburst. Simultaneously the riders dismounted. Their horses responded willingly, and came crowding into the "den" behind the men.

It was reported that one of the party (I don't know which one) jokingly stated: "If the lightning hits this tree, there'll be three happy widows in the valley."

Boom!!!

I've heard that Mr. Savage wears the print of a pine twig permanently branded on his back. Ben didn't know how long he had been unconscious probably not long, for although it was still cloudy and drizzling rain, it was still fading daylight. The situation confronting Ben was devastating! Both of his companions and two of the party's three horses dead!

Ben mounted the remaining horse and rode to the valley the horse anxious to get home, and despite the only light being an occasional bolt of lightning, which terrified the horse. The animal, well acquainted with the trail, covered the miles in record time.

The first ranch Ben came to was Browns and of course Browns had a telephone. Within a matter of minutes, the entire valley knew of the tragedy and a party of six riders (with two pack horses) was on the Cow Camp Trail.

In the lead was young Harlan Harmon, who was spooked half out of his wits. A flash of lightning revealed Ad's ghost (a foot) staggering down the trail, directly in front of Harlan. The terrified lad closed his eyes, grasped his saddle horn with both hands, and spurred his horse forward (about running over poor old Ad who lived for several years.) Ad and Harlan rode on down to Browns. The other riders arrived at Browns several hours later with one loaded packhorse.

Sincerely,

Ann and Fred

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