Early Sublette County Brands Project
Otto and Florence Jensen Ranch
 
 

2123 Yellowstone Ave.
Billings, Montana  59102

 February 24, 1983

Dear Sister Lilly & Roy,

   I am a terrible corresponder.  I have three letters which you wrote and I am sure I haven't answered any of them until this letter.  Seems like there is so much correspondence and bill paying by mail that one is not too inclined to do personal correspondence.

   We are reasonably well here in Billings. `We have had an unusually mild winter
as we did two years ago.  We have had no snow and very little rain so we are considerably under normal moisture.

   We were really saddened by Aunt Mary's and Herman's deaths as we were with Mary's death.  Guess we all must go one by one as our time comes.

   Michael is here for the last two quarters of his college.  He hopefully expects to graduate this spring.

   The write-up which I am enc1osing was made at the request of Shirley Tressler.
She wanted information about Mother & Dad and in particular wanted information on how many of us attended the Olson school.  Blanche was able to supply a lot but Shirley felt that I might be able to supply things that Blanche didn't.  I'm not sure the write-up will be much help to you.  I have no recollection of the size of the big one-room cabin built on the ranch or of the two room addition that was added later.  Also, I have very little recollection of the other ranch buildings.  I do know that there was a barn, shed and corrals.  There were chicken houses and other buildings.

   We didn't live in the basement of the new house very long --- possibly the later part of 1918 and early part of 1919.  The plastering was done in the summer of 1919, and the plumbing and painting in the fall of 1919.

   Florence and Otto may have pictures of some of the early ranch buildings but pictures in that day were few and far between.  Clarence was quite a camera enthusiast but I don't recall him taking pictures of buildings.

   There were other things that I might have put in the write-up such as the first water supply ditch for irrigating meadowland.  This ditch built by Dad and Ole Hande originated well up into Ole Hande's place and skirted the lower meadowlands of both places.  It is the ditch that is still visible below the present ranch house and above the drainage ditch which was built later.  Irrigation out of East Fork was started shortly after Dad arrived.

   It is regretable that some of us did not keep more information on when buildings were built, sizes, etc.  Also, the history of the ditches and early irrigation.  At one time Dad and the older brothers raised a very good crop of oats on the upland.  Jim talked Dad into attempting to grow grains to supplement hay.

   Sounds like Kenny & Tammy have their home well on the way to completion.  Carol Ann sent us a clipping of the prices of homes throughout the U.S.  Those figures seemed to be terribly inflated but I guess Diana and Ernest really bought at a very favorable time.

   Well, I will sign off for now and I will endeavor to answer future letters on time.
 
 

                                                                 Love and Best Wishes,
                                                                 Floyd & Alice
 
 
 

    I will attempt to give you the information you want.  Some of it will be from memory, some from deduction, and some from hearsay.

About Dad and Mother

     Dad, Uncle Neils and Uncle Jim (James) migrated to the United States prior to Dad being 18 years of age (about 1902).  Reason:  Uncle Neils and Uncle Jim had served their stint of compulsory Military training in Denmark and by mutual consent they did not want to see Dad having to take compulsory military training.  Mother and Dad were married Sept 27th, 1898.  I have no knowledge of what the three Jensen brothers did for the period 1892 to 1898.  Dad eventually ended up in Nebraska and was a farm laborer working for Grandfather, J.F. Dodd or possibly for the Roe's, where he met and married my mother.  Mother taught Dad to speak English and she once said Dad's first English words were "Stop it," when she or some of the Dodd Sisters would muss up his neatly combed hair.  From the family history no dates are given for Mother's marriage to your Grandfather Huckelberry or for his death.  I believe your Grandfather Huckelberry died prior to Ted's birth (Sept. 1, 1897).  Apparently Mother met and married Huckelberry in Nebraska and was residing there when Clarence was born, April 25, 1895.  They apparently went to Pennsylvania after Clarence's birth and prior to Ted's birth.  Mother must have returned to Nebraska shortly after your grandfather's death.  (By deduction - Ted's birth Sept. 1, 1897 and Mother's marriage to my dad Sept. 27, 1898).  I do not know when Mother and Dad came to Wyoming.  I believe Uncle Neils was located in Cheyenne.  Dad eventually worked for the Union Pacific railroad, I presume first as a section hand and later as a foreman.  I assume they might have been in Rawlins or the near vicinity when James was born April 24, 1900, as James is shown as being born in Rawlins.  I am quite sure they were stationed at Thayer Junction, Point of Rocks and finally Rock Springs.  (I note that both Rennard and Glen were born in Rock Springs).  During this same time Uncle Jim had migrated to the upper Big Sandy area and was either in partnership or working for Sam Leckie on the Leckie ranch.  I think Uncle Jim tended bar on the ranch for awhile.  He later, prior to 1906, bought out an established ranch on East Fork.  He induced Dad to come out and by deduction Dad must have filed on a homestead in 1906.  Mother and Dad each filed on 160 acre homesteads and later on 160 acre additional stock raising homesteads, 640 acres total.  This may not be totally accurate; however I do know that Mother filed on part of the home place land.

 
Buildings

    Dad must have built a large one room cabin on the ranch in 1906.  I presume he came back to Rock Springs for the winter of 1906-07.  He moved the family to the ranch in the spring of 1907, the year I was born on the ranch.  At the time of my birth Clarence would have been over 12 years of age, Ted over ten years of age, James over 7 years of age, Rennard short of 5 years of age, and Glen over 2 years of age.  During several summers the oldest boys were quartered in a tent.  In the winter for several years there must have been some type of temporary bunk house arrangement.  While I was quite young Dad and older brothers added another large room to the house.  This addition was partitioned off into a fairly large living room and a large bedroom.  Shortly thereafter they built a large one room log bunk house where the oldest boys were quartered.  I have no recollection of dates when these buildings were erected.  I do know Clarence, Ted, James, Rennard, Glen and myself all occupied the bunk house at one time.  I don't recall Gladwon having been an occupant but he might have been.  About 1914 or 1915 Dad, brothers and Deck Carrol built the large wood-post and lumber shed at the present ranch building site;  this was followed by the erection of the large red barn.  The present ranch home must have been built in the period 1916 to 1919.  It was not yet completed in the fall of 1918, when we all had the influenza, which killed so many.  The folks were sleeping in the basement as were many of the rest of us.  Clarence, James and Rennard were bunked in the loft of the recently completed barn.  Ted was the only family member that was not home, and I believe he was in Iowa that winter season.  The home was plastered, plumbed, and painted during the summer and fall of 1919.  To digress a bit:  Gladwon, Otto, Lawrence and Lilly were all born at the original ranch site.  During the period 1907 to 1918 Dad and the older brothers worked on clearing the sage brush, building ditches and irrigating meadow hay lands.  Practically all the ranch had to be cleared of sage brush.
 

Freighting
 

   Also during this period Dad, Clarence and Ted supplemented ranch income by freighting merchandise from Rock Springs to the John Vible store at New Fork.  They also might have done some freighting for the Boulder store.  Dad's freight string consisted of a 4 to 6 horse string and two wagons manned by him;  Clarence generally drove a 4 horse string with only one wagon.  I made one trip with Dad and Clarence in 1916 when I was 9 years old and as I recall they were hauling finished materials for the present ranch home.  I do not know how many trips they made to Rock Springs but it was quite a few.  The trip to Rock Springs took three days, a fourth day was used to load up the wagons and the return trip took four days.  As I recall they made a trip in the late spring and another in the late fall.  In addition to hauling for the stores they hauled staples and other things for the ranch.  Most of these trips were made by Dad and Clarence.  I presume Ted and James were left at the ranch to take care of the usual ranch work.  Rough lumber for the shed, barn and house was hauled from the Balley William's sawmill located above the Leckie ranch.  All finished materials, cement, plaster, plumbing, etc. was hauled from Rock Springs by Dad's freight strings.  Dad purchased a one and one-half ton Dodge-Graham truck in 1919.  Freighting for surrounding neighbors was done by truck after that date.
    The first memory I  have of Clarerce's working out was a winter feeding job for  A. K. Luman at Bondurant, Wyoming.  He later worked for Knute Jomen and after getting married lived on a 160 acre homestead west of and adjacent to the home ranch.  Dad later bought Clarence's homestead.  Clarence and Charles Spawn stenciled cars at Superior, Wyoming but I do not know which year or years.  Clarence was still single at the time.

 
 
Schools

    Apparently the school on East Fork (known as the Olson school and located across the road from Hans Olson's ranch home) was established when the folks arrived on Lower Muddy Creek.  Clarerce, Ted, James, Rennard and Glen all attended the Olson school.  The Muddy (Emerson) school was established in 1914, the year I entered school.  To establish a school, there had to be 8 or more pupils.  As I recall the first enrollment under teacher Ruth (King) McLaughlin was James, Rennard, Glen, Floyd and Gladwon Jenson, Frankie (Pope) Scott and George Zembo.    Later year enrollments included Billy and Verna Becker, Harvey and Bob Clark and possibly Andy, Angela, Frank and Molly Bertoncelj.  I attended the Lower Muddy School for four years.  After that time the school was moved up Muddy Creek to its present site.  During one year at the upper muddy site the enrollment increased to as many as 26 students.  The enrollees consisted of the Jensen, Zembo, Bertoncelj, Zepeuc, Potochnik, Gosar, and Ray Boulter families.
   There was a school established on the Mack place known as the Big Sandy school and attended by the Mack, Henry Williams, Jack Parkinson, and John Boulter children.  I don't remember much about the Big Sandy School, when it was established or when it ceased to operate.  The three schools, Olson, Big Sandy and Muddy, comprised School District No. 17 of Fremont County, as Sublette County was not established until 1923, the year I entered high school.
   I also believe there was a school located on Silver Creek but it was in another district and attended by children of the near vicinity.

 Floyd M. Jensen - July 1982