Early Sublette County Brands Project
Opal Ray
Maicille Carr interviewed Opal Ray.

Maicille: Your dad hired Gull Whitman, right?

Opal: He didn't hire him.  He had a sort of business.

Maicille: He did it all every clay.

Opal: He did it for pay.  For everyone that came in that didn't have a car.

Maicille: And you didn't have a car?

Opal: No.  What 1 was going to tell you, I remember when John Budd and Charlie Budd got their first cars.  I think they were Fords.

Maicille: What were they like?

Opal: They had solid tires.

Maicille: How fast would they go?

Opal: Not very fast.  They got out and pushed going up the hills, Names
Hill and Holden Hill.

Maicille: Then the road came up west of where it does now, right?  It didn't
go around the hill like it does now.  It came over the top of the hill.

Opal: I think it was Names Hill.  I can remember those names when we first came ... on the rock.

Maicille: Holden Hill is on down south where Fontenelle Reservoir is ... where the river goes around the bend there and the road went up over that hill.  That's probably the one you are talking about.  Did you get out and push that first time you ever came to Big Piney?

Opal: Not the first time I came but the next time when we went back to Opal to get groceries.

Maicille: You went to Opal to buy groceries?

Opal: A winter's supply.  Everything that would keep ... canned goocls.

Maicille: You bought potatoes down there.  How many potatoes would you buy?
Two or three hundred pounds?

Opal: At least.  When he got his first car, they say it is supposed to be true, he was just learning to drive, you know, and when he drove, he built a garage and when he got in there, instead of putting his foot on the brake he pulled back on the steering wheel and ran right into the end of the garage, bang!

Maicille: Did he knock it down?

Opal: I don't think so.

Maicille: Tell that part again, where you started talking about--I stayed
with Budds.  Charley and his wife, what was her name?

Opal: Stella.

Maicille: And where did they live?

Opal: They lived at Stanley.  Stanley was Charlie Budd's.  And they sold all their cattle and everything when they went in.  And they were just starting to drill for oil.

Maicille: So he sold all his cattle ...

Opal: And he sold about all his horses.  He had a beautiful bunch of horses.

Maicille: So he'd have money for the oil Industry?

Opal: Uh huh.

Maicille: So, did he have the first well drilled up at the Corder Place?  And paid someone to come in and drill?

Opal: Yeah, we lived up there.

Maicille: I can remember that.  We used to go down there in that field where the water ran out on the field and we'd ice skate down there.

Opal: There was a spring.

Maicille: I think the water came out of the oil well.  Remember how all the water froze on the rigs?

Opal: Oh, yes, that one, yes.

Maicille: That's the one I remember.

Boyd: Where was Stanley?

Maicille: Wasn't it at Danny Budd's house?

Opal: Yes, that is Stanley.

Maicille: Did they deliver the mail up there"

Opal: No.

Maicille: Why did they call it Stanley?

Opal: 1 don't know.  I guess someone by the name of Stanley had it before Charley Budd.  I don't know that, though.

Maicille:  Do you think someone had that place before Charlie Budd?  I thought he homesteaded it.

Opal: Osterhout had a lot of cattle ... and money.  He loaned Charlie Budd money to get his place started.

Maicille: Your dad drove a freight wagon, right?  Did he do that for hire?

Opal: He hauled for the stores.  And he wasn't the only one that did.

Maicille: What was his wagon and team like?

Opal: He had six horses but some of them had as many as twelve horses,
especially up around Pinedale.  They went to Rock Springs.

Maicille: They had to go farther.

Opal: It took about a week to take cattle when they shipped.  In the
fall, they sent their cattle to Omaha mostly.

Maicille: How long did it take your dad to make a trip?

Opal: It took just about a week.  Some of the ranchers along the road
kept boarders ... people coming through.

Maicille: Midway was one of those places, wasn't It?  I've heard people talk about Midway.  And do you rememner who owned that?  Wasn't that about where the Yose Ranch is?

Opal: There were about 7 ranches along the road where they would stay if they were taking cattle to Opal.  There wasn't any graded roads ... just tracks.  Just went over it until they made tracks.

Maicille: Just like the Oregon Trail, right? And they didn't do any grading, didn't grade the brush off or anything?

Opal: No.

Maicille: Did it get rutted like the Oregon Trail ruts that we see?

Opal: It had ruts you know... like when the frost was going out in the

Maicille: What was that like?  Didn't you tell me about your dad getting stuck?  They surely got stuck sometime.

Opal: I remember when other people came along and hooked onto him.  I don't know if he had 4 horses or 6 horses.  Some of them had as many as ten.

Maicille: Did you ever have pictures of any of them?

Opal: That was really from Pinedale to Rock Springs.

Maicille: And you can't remember your dad's?

Opal: We didn't have any way to get around.

Maicille: You just lived up at Cottonwood?  Tell me about when you lived at
Cottonwood.  And you couldn't go to school from there?

Opal: There was a school there and we went to school for a month or so.

Maicille: Can you remember who the teacher was?

Opal: Marie Guthrie.

Maicille: Was that at the Guthrie Place'

Opal: No, it wasn't at the Guthrie Place.  Guthrie Place was up over the
outside of the hill.

Maicille: That's where Jim and Janie live?

Opal: No, it's not that Guthrie Place.

Maicille: What do we call it now?  Do you remember when we hayed up at the
Winkleman Place?

Opal: Oh, yeah.

Maicille: Where was this Guthrie Place in relation to the Winkleman Place?

Opal: Wasn't on the same creek.

Maicille: The Guthrie Place was on North Piney but higher than the Mickelson
Guthrie Place.  Isn't that where Aunt Lotty and Uncle Johnny lived?

Opal: They were working for wages.

Maicille: But I can remember them living in that house.  I think we went there for Thanksgiving once.

Opal: All of those houses had dirt roofs.

Maicille: Did the Guthrie Place house have a dirt roof?  Early, it did, huh?  Did your folk's house have a dirt roof when he built it?

Opal: No, when my dad built our house, there was a sawmill over on Horse Creek and he hauled rough lumber.

Maicille: Rough logs and he planed it?  Did he put all the logs in place by himself?

Opal: Well, we all helped him.

Maicille: Your mother, you, and Uncle Harold and the whole crew, huh?  And how old were you then when you built the house?

Maicille: You came here in about 1912, right?

Opal: I'm not sure, I don't see it in the papers.  My dad was in a very bad mine explosion.

Maicille: I remember you telling me that.  And someone went in and pulled him out, right?

Opal: They had sent in for these people with masks to go in to the mine.  No one else was supposed to go back in and this...

Maicille: His name was George, wasn't it?

Opal: No. He was a very good friend.

Maicille: And he pulled your dad out of there, didn't he?  Was that when he quit working in the mine?  Did he ever go back in the mine after that?

Opal: Yeah.  Oh, he didn't go in the mine;  he was working round the tipple.

Maicille: How did he happen to be in the mine when it exploded?

Opal: I don't remember if he was working in someone else's place ... he was in the mine then.

Maicille: But he didn't go back in the mines after that to work?

Opal: Well, he might have a little bit but it wasn't for his job.

Maicille: I think I'd think twice about going back, too.  Wasn't there some people killed in that mine explosion?

Opal: There were 3 people killed.  And Mother and Harold and I went over to the tipple and stood there and waited and they brought out one of the Edwards boys.  And he was just burned all over; his flesh was kinda hanging on his face.  It was just terrible.  And they walked out ... Dad did, too.  There had been some coming out on stretchers ahead of him but he walked out.  He got down and crawled.

Maicille: That guy's name was Billy George, wasn't it?

Opal: Yes, Billy George.

Maicille: How long was it after that that you moved up here?  Not too long, right?

Opal: Alice was pretty little, about 2 years old.  I think there was 12 years between her and me.

Maicille: So you would have been about 14 if she was 2 years old when you moved up here?  We'll look in that story you wrote in that other book to get dates, etc.

Opal: Fine, I remembered better then.

Maicille: When you moved to Big Piney, where did you live?  Your dad had already fixed a place In Marbleton'?

Opal: They had built the hotel.  It was the most busiest place you ever saw.  They had a kiln there, brick kiln.

Maicille: Shipley made bricks there, right?  Isn't the old bank building made out of bricks from the kiln?

Opal: It isn't bricks.  It's cinder blocks.

Maicille: Where did the bricks come from that are in the ola bank building, the Town Hall building?  I thought those were made in that kiln.  They are kind of soft because the kids always used to go and carve their initials in the bricks on that building and you can walk by that building now and still find... I think Boyd's initials are in that building.  I was sure that those bricks came from there.

Opal: Well, they did have a brick kiln and they did sell bricks.  I'll tell you one place ... do you remember the old Mercantile that Tanner's had?

Maicille: Oh, yeah.  Did they make the blocks for that?  Those were cinder blocks, not real bricks.  Maybe they had the capability of making cinder blocks and bricks.

Opal: I can't remember.

Maicille: I can remember you used to say that Frank Shipley had a brick kiln
and it seemed to me like I can remember you saying that those bricks in the Town Hall came from there.

Opal: The bank was built right onto the store ... Marbleton State Bank.

Maicille: That's the Masonic Hall, right?  You and I were talking about two different things.

Opal: Two stories on the store.  The one story, they had a roller skating rink.

Maicille: Upstairs, right?

Opal: Un huh.  It was the most fun.

Maicille: Where did you live?

Opal: We lived in this little log house.

Maicille: Where was it in relation to the store and the bank?

Opal: There weren't blocks but it was probably about a block.

Maicille: Can you remember which direction it was from the store?

Opal: They built the store after we went up there.

Maicille: What else was going on up there?

Opal: It was the busiest place.  It was just building, you know.

Maicille: Were there horses and buggies?

Opal: There was a livery stable.

Maicille: In Marbleton.  And was there a blacksmith shop?

Opal: A blacksmith shop.

Maicille: And there was a bar over there.  What was it called?  Danny talks about that.

Opal: Mike's.

Maicille: The Bucket of Blood was in Big Piney, right?

Opal: It was in Big Piney.  It was straight down the street from Burney's.

Maicille: We have a picture of the Bucket of Blood.

Opal: They just called it the Bucket but sometimes the Bucket of Blood.

Maicille: Did Frank Chapel run that place?

Opal: They had the hotel right next door to it.

Maicille: But he didn't run the Bucket of Blood?

Opal: Maybe he did, I don't ...

Maicille: But it wasn't in the same building.  That was one of the buildings that burned down when they had that awful fire in 1948, right?

Opal: Un huh.  It was terrible.

Maicille: And we were at the Winkleman Place then, right?

Opal: I was cooking for the hay crew.

Maicille: When did your mother start the boarding house?

Opal: She bought it a little while after she went up there.

Maicille: And where was it?

Opal:   I thought it was about a block north of the store.

Maicille:  Was your house and the boarding house the same place?  It was a different place than your house?

Opal: Before they built anything, it was the store, bank, and the drug store across the road.  Cleve Bell had the pool hall.

Maicille: What was it called?  Did ladies ever go to the pool hall?

Opal: No. I remember one time one of my girl friends and I went down there ... there wasnt anyone in there.  We went in and played pool.

Maicille: Oh, you played pool.

Opal: Tried to.

Maicille: But that was off limits for ladies?

Opal: Yes.  And there wasn't any women ever went in the saloon, you

Maicille: Oh, really?

Opal: Except on the 4th of July or something like that.  Some ladies from down in Diamondville came up there and they run 'em out.

Maicille: They didn't want women in their saloons, huh?  I wish we could think of the year that all happened.  I want to know more about the boarding house.

Opal: Well, you know when they had this brick kiln going and they were building the store and the hotel.

Maicille: And they built the store with block from the kiln, right?

Opal: The hotel was a log building.  Mrs. Walker had It.

Maicille: Right, but the store was not.  The store was block.

Opal: It was concrete block.

Maicille: And it was made from that brick kiln?

Opal: Yeah.

Maicille: Did your dad build that boarding house or did someone else build

Opal: No, it was a family that lived there.  And we lived there later on. After I was married we went down there in the winter time.

Maicille: You and Grandpa?  And did you live with your folks?

Opal: No.

Maicille: They were gone then?

Opal: They were out in Cottonwood.

Maicille: You went to Marbleton and your mother started this boarding house.  Did she rent rooms?

Opal:  No.

Maicille: She just fed people?

Opal: We had one little frame building.  I don't know where it came from... just one little room. It was out from the house a little ways and we slept in there.

Maicille: Did she have steady boarders?  Did she know who was going to come for every meal?

Opal:  Yeah.

Maicille: Who were they?

Opal: People that were working on the building that were going up.

Maicille: Carpenter, bricklayers...

Opal: It was busy place.

Maicille: Was it busier than Big Piney is now?

Opal: Well no, you know, it wasn't very big.  There was the liverystable.  There was two buildings there.  The drug store was built then.  There were some houses too.

Maicille: How many people would your mother feed for a meal?  Did she have them for 3 meals a day?

Opal: Uh huh.  After they finished the hotel, she quit.

Maicille: Because they were doing it there?

Opal: All of those fellows that had been eating there, they came back
and they said, "Will you feed us?" She had about 30 men for every meal.

Maicille: Did they all sit at one big table?

Opal: Yeah.

Maicille: What was the table like?  What was it made of?  Was it a homemade table?  Probably had oilcloth on it?

Opal: I think they had more than one.  She had some checkered tablecloths that she used.  They were red and white, green ...

Maicille: That had to be a lot of work to keep those laundered.

Opal: And Mother nicknamed every one of those guys.

 M: Can you remember any of them?

Opal: She didn't know what their real names were.  She gave each one ofthem a name.  Did stick with themm too.  I can't remember any of them.  One time, there was a man that broke loose from Rawlins and he was up there and he'd been sleeping around in the haystacks.  And he came down to our eating house.  He went in and sat down at the table where he could look out the window.  Every once in awhile he'd lean back.  Harold and I were there taking it all in.

Maicille: Was he the only person there?  Or was it during meal time when there were a lot of people there?

Opal: There wasn't very many people.  Most of them had just gotten through eating.  She worked so hard.

Maicille: How did that end?  This guy that broke out of the pen.  Did he just get up and leave?  Or what happened?

Opal: What I remembered of it was ... he was sitting where he could look out the window and he'd rear his chair back and look out there every few minutes and we didn't know anything about him, where he came from or anything, but we found out that he'd been sleeping in the haystacks..

Maicille: How long did he stay there?

Opal: Oh, about a week, I guess.

Maicille: How long did he sit there in that chair?

Opal: Till he got through eating.

Maicille: Did she charge?  How did she get paid?

Opal: For every meal.

Maicille: Can you remember how much the meals were?

Opal: Not very much.

Maicille: Like what?

Opal: She saved a thousand dollars while she was there.  Dad was freighting.

Maicille: What did she use it for?

Opal: She bought some cattle up on Cottonwood when we moved up there.
Ten head, I believe.  For about $10 a head.

Maicille:  And your dad's brand was EZ, right?   Was it ever recorded, do you know'?

Opal:  It was recorded but they took it off.

Maicille: Can you remember what it looked like?  Draw me a picture of it.  We'll have to look to see if we can't find this brand.  The E was on the top, right?  You don't think anyone used that brand after he let it go?  He didn't sell it to anybody?

Opal: No.

Maicille: And at that time, this was not Sublette County, was it?  What was it?

Opal: It was Unita County.

Maicille: It would have been recorded in Unita County.  After Unita, it was Lincoln County for awhile, right?

Opal: It was part of Sweetwater, too.

Maicille: Part of Sublette County was in Fremont County, too.  In fact, Jonita told me that the land on the east side of the river was in Fremont County.  So we're planning to do some research in county records.  Tell me what you remember about the county seat of Sublette County being selected.  What happened when all that took place?  They had an election, right?  To decide ...

Opal: And the people in Big Piney were so sure of themselves, they didn't even go to vote.

Maicille: There were more people in Big Piney at that time than there were in Pinedale, is that right?

Opal: I guess.

M: They were similar in size.  Did your folks go vote?  I can't remember what year that happened.

Opal: I voted when I was 21 and I never did miss them.

Maicille: That's neat.  Was the election close, can you remember?

Opal: Yeah, they thought that Big Piney should have got it but they just
didn't turn out to vote.  And Pinedale did and they said, this may not be true, but they said how many people voted more than once, you know.  I don't know...

Maicille: Can you remember what the law enforcement was like?  Was there a sheriff?

Opal: There was a sheriff.  I'm trying to think who it was.  I think probably they had deputies.

Maicille: Bil1 Carr was a sheriff ... he was an undersheriff for many years.

Opal: He was ... what do you call it, when they shipped their cattle.

Maicille: He was a brand inspector.  But he was also an undersheriff.  He never was a sheriff.  I don't know that he wanted to be a sheriff.  The undersheriff kind of had it made because the sheriff chose him.  He didn't have to be elected.

Opal: No, and he worked around Big Piney and the sheriff was in Pinedale.

Maicille: Tell me that part again, what happened to him?

Opal: I don't know what happened to him.

 M: You say they caught him though?

Opal: I'm sure they did.  They didn't have any jails or anything.

Maicille: Do you remember telling me a time about you and Uncle Harold hiding somewhere.  Was that in the boarding house?   You have a funny story about you and Uncle Harold hiding and...

Opal: I think that was the time that guy was there.

Maicille: And there was a time you got a meal for someone ...

Maicille: Did Finnegans ever live there?  Did Inez live there?

Opal: Oh, yes, they built that place.

Maicille: You told me you thought that house had been moved there from
somewhere else.  I think it was built there.  I can remember when you moved in it, the stairway went down the other direction and there were more than one family who lived there.

Opal: There were three families.  One had two rooms.  Somebody lived upstairs.

Maicille: And that stairway went out the front door, right?

Opal: No, I don't think so.

Maicille: How did the third family get upstairs?  Just went through the
other people's house?

Maicille: Can you remember the names of any of those people who lived there?

Opal: Bradley.

Maicille: Which Bradley?

Opal: I think It was probably someone related to the Bradley that lived there in Big Piney.  Field's lived there.  And they were the worst people to borrow things.  They'd borrow anything.

Maicille: The Dan Budd store had a store and a post office, and a dance hall upstairs, right?

Opal: The dance hall was downstairs.

Maicille: Where was the Dan Budd store?  We're talking about two separate buildings.  The dance hall, and the school house, and the bank were all in one building, right?  And I can remember where that old vault sat.  It was down there by the game and fish house.

Opal: That's where the hall was.

Maicille: And the Dan Budd store sat up where Osterhouts ... where Grandma
 Budd's house was.

Opal: One time it did.  When we first moved there, there was a store there.

Maicille: It stayed there a long time.  They moved it when they built the teacherages.  And they were going to try to save it and it was too rickety to save.  There were a lot people really feeling sorry that they didn't save that building.

Opal: Our house ... there weren't any windows and no doors.  There were doors but the locks had been taken off and they were just swinging.

Maicille: What can you remember about the CCC camp?  Those were the people that went over and desecrated your house, right?  What did those guys do when they lived here, during the depression?  Did they work in the forest or what did they do?