Early Sublette County Brands Project
Verla Sommers
interviewed by Jonita Sommers
 

V-This is growing up tough.  When you come from the hospital it was the last part of March and we had a real cold spring with the wind blowing and real cold temperatures and we were still living in the old house and about the second night that you was home it really got cold and you about froze to death in your basket up there and so we had to move everything downstairs by the heater so that you wouldn't get too cold at night when you was little.  So that was your coming home experience.  And then as you got older you didn't like to stay in the house.  You wanted to be outside all of the time so you would go up to the corral and I would have to go out there and get you and one time I was getting ready to go some place and the dog come to the house barking.  I went to let him in and he wouldn't come in.  So I went back to the bedroom and here he come again so I decided I better follow him and Jonita had gotten in the feed rack back where the calves were and got hung up and couldn't get out.  She was a screaming and a hollering and the dog come to her rescue.  She liked to ride with her dad and when she was little he would stop and pick her up and she would ride in front of him on the saddle and grab his arms and hang on and he would take her to work cows.  She was about a year and half when this happened.  And then she started school and we didn't have very good roads so they would have to go out through the soap hole.  In first grade she was determined to go to the Xmas party and we had a terrible blizzard and you couldn't hardly see the road and Bud had to drive with his head out the window and he lost his cap and he never did find it.  It was so bad that they couldn't come home that night and had to stay all the night in town.  She got to her Xmas party at school.  We are in a very isolated area and there was two families and we weren't very far apart just a half a mile apart but we were the only ones that was there all of the time.  There was another neighbor that moved there that would be there sometimes.  It was a mile further away but we were the only ones that stayed there all of the time in this area.  I was the only girl in our family and I was seven years older than the oldest brother but the other family had three girls about my age.  One was younger and the other two were older so we always played together.  We get lots of snow in the winter and we had to ski to school or walk to school in the winter time.  My first two years of school was a mile and a half from the house and I usually went to the neighbors and then went to school with those kids.  then if it was really bad Mrs. Bolter would come and get us and I would get a ride from school to their place and then I would walk on home.  This we done through the 8th grade.  Sometimes it was really cold and we packed our water to drink and our drinking water would be frozen, but we would get a fire built and we could get our water and our sandwiches thawed out.  Then we played in the snow in the winter time and then in the spring we would do all kinds of other things--hunt birds and bugs, anything to amuse us.  Then we would have this Doc Brockmyer.  He used to come through and he would sell different ointments to cure your horse and he never rode a horse.  He had his vet equipment on this old sorrel mare and he led her and I think that maybe he might have packed a little food with him because some places were far apart and he might not get there to spend the night.  He walked all over the country taking care of people's horses.  The sheep men hired him a lot to float their sheep wagon horses mouths for them so he was all over.  He was quite a character.
J- Do you know where he was from or anything?
V- No I don't.  Doris kind of remembers him.  She might know where he was from.  He used to do Luman's horses.  I know that he just walked all over.  My dad had to buy hay away from home.  In the wmter he was gone because he had to move the cattle and when he first started feeding he moved the cattle to where  we purchased the hay.  Then towards spring he would bring them home so they would be there so that they could calve them out and everything.  That left Mom and us kids there in the winter alone and so we had to get our own stuff there at home and I helped with a lot of that.
 J- Why don't tell about the Indians coming by.
 V- I was about 5 years old or 6.  I wasn't too old.  Well, I think that they did it every summer, but this particular summer this Indian came into our place.  They'd travel from Lander over to Fort Hall and they go by our place and then they would go back in the winter to Lander, but this one spring this old Indian came to the house and he was wanting some food and I got scared to death cause he was an Indian and I went and hid.  He was real friendly and he just wanted a loaf of bread and some eggs.  They gave him what he wanted and he left.
J- They just camped right out here, didn't they?
V- Yea, they camped out there by what we called Water hole there by close to
Boulder, but they camped there because there was water there for their horses.  They come from Buckskin Crossing to there and then they stayed there.  I suppose that they went down to Muddy by Florence's and Otto Jensen's place.  For their next stop then I guess Sand Springs and on through.  I don't know but they must have pretty much followed the Lander trail.
J- Didn't you go on a picnic and a bear came around?.
V- No, that was before my time.
J- What age were you when you started haying?
V- I think that I was about 14.
J- Well, tell about haying with the horses.
V- Wben I was 14 Dad decided that I should go to the hay field.  He was short a hay hand.  He had me go into the hay field.  I had been helping Mother m the house until then with the cooking and the laundry and things like that.  At that time we were haying all together with horses.  There was no machinery in the field at all and Dad always started us kids out on the sweep because he said that you couldn't get hurt on a sweep.  If you were on a rake or mower the team could run away and you would get hurt a lot worse.  So when he started us he started us out on the sweep and then he would put us on a rake or a mower or whatever.  I never did mow.  I either swept or raked.  We had I don't know how many work horses.  But you had to harness your team in the morning and come in at noon and you usually changed teams.  So you had to unharness and harness another team at noon.  The horse flies were bad and it was hot and it wasn't too pleasant.  We hayed about 45 days so you got a little tired of it before it was done.