Jim Mickelson

I was born in Salt lake City, Utah. Besides being born in Salt Lake I have lived in Big Piney all my life. I have one sister, Mildred Miller. Both of my brothers died. I married Mae Stewart when I was 18. I have three children, Gordon Max, Theron Lee, and Betty May. James Stewart, my oldest son, died when he was 15. I have 14 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren.

I have ranched all my life. I started working in the hay field when I was 6 years old. We used nothing but horses then. The ranch got its first tractor in 1945. The biggest change in my life was when machinery rook the place of horses.

I went to school by riding horseback. When my sister Mildred was born we went in a horse and buggy. I went to school for two years in a little white house across from the Ray building. Then I went to school in the old Budd hall for 3 years. I went to school in a brick building where the schools are now from then on.

Interviewed by Will Miller

Mae Mickelson

I was born in the state of Missouri and later moved to Colorado. I went [through] all of my schooling in Colorado and then came to Wyoming to teach a summer school at the Chet Christman Ranch. Then I taught Mildred Miller and Mary Pate at the Circle Ranch. Later I married James Francis Mickelson and had four children, two boys and two girls. One of my boys died of a ruptured appendix.

Interviewed by Shawn Kautzsch

Ava Davis

I was born in Cemore, Iowa in 1918. I grew up in Iowa and for a while I lived in Illinois with my mother and my stepdad. Most of the time I lived with my grandparents in Iowa and that’s where I went to school all except for my sophomore year when I came back to live here with my aunt and uncle. Then I went back to Iowa and finished school there and came back to Big Piney and got married and I’ve been here ever since. When I was here I worked at Burneys and at the telephone office. I had one little girl that died in 1939. She was almost three years old.

For fun we played baseball. I used to go out for track and gymnastics. Then in older life we played cards.

My school in Iowa was a pretty good sized school and was well-disciplined. When I came up here to Big Piney it was a very small school.

We always had electricity everywhere I have lived. We didn’t have a T.V. but we had the radio and the lights.

I enjoyed my life a lot. I had three brothers and three sisters. My sister was married when I was a very young girl and I used to spend the summers on the farm with them and I thought that that was the greatest thing in the world.

Interviewed by Naomi Priddis

Elaine Moffat

I came to Big Piney in 1923. Then I taught school for three years, 2 years in the country and one year in the city school in Big Piney. In that year they would not accept married teachers and that year I got married. Then when my last baby was born they needed teachers so badly that I started teaching again for 8 years. That time I had a band, the very first band in Big Piney.

When I started teaching, the schools were made out of logs. The second school I taught in was a lot like that but they had lunches. They would take food and put it in the ashes to cook.

When I went to school my mother was a teacher and she taught me. We learned Spelling, Arithmetic, Reading, History, Geography, and Music. I enjoyed Music.

The weather seemed a lot worse because we didn’t have transportation. I did not live in town until I was in High School. The rest of the time I lived in the country with my mother. My father died when I was very young.

Interviewed by Jennifer Gaston

Jack Titmus

My name is Jack Titmus. I was born in Wyoming. I first lived in a place that doesn’t exist, Blako, Wyo. Then I lived in Rock Springs, Wyo. Then I was in the army for three and a half years and I lived in Big Piney for 40 years. My wife died 4 years ago. I have a son that is 25 years old. My jobs were punching cows, working in oil fields, and I’ve been a coal miner for 22 years. For fun I went swimming, horse back riding, and ice skating. I didn’t go to school very much. We didn’t have electricity until I was 5 or 6 years old. Until then we used kerosene lamps. The most important change from my life time is that there are more automobiles. What I enjoyed most was riding horses.

Interviewed by Ben Scherbel

Karolyn Doerr

I was born in West Virginia on January 6, 1908. I lost my mother when I was five. I had a younger sister so I had to take care of her. When I got older, I moved to Kansas and went to school. After that I went to beauty school. I worked in a beauty shop for awhile. Then I became a teacher and did that for awhile. I got married and came to Wyoming. My husband got a job in Utah so we moved there for a couple of years.

When I was a kid, we played games like hide and seek, ring around the rosy and spin the bottle. I liked to play in the snow, ice skate, and dance. But I hated cutting wood. The only thing I can remember about the clothes we wore were long underwear and dresses.

We raised most of our food but we bought some of it at the store. We had an ice house to keep our food cold. We would go to the river and get a bunch of ice to put in the ice house. That’s what kept our food from spoiling.

When somebody got sick, we usually didn’t take them to the doctor unless they were really sick. If we did have to take them to the doctor, we took them by horseback.

Interviewed by Heidi Graham

Ruth Budd

I was born in Kemmerer, WY., in the year 1914. Some other places I have lived are Rocks Springs, Nebraska, and Reliance. I had three children. I taught school for a few years. When I was young my school in Rocks Springs was a two room schoolhouse. We heated our house with coal. I think that the most important change in my life was just coming back to Big Piney and changing my life completely. Some of the things that I enjoyed most were ranching, riding, fencing, and learning about horses.

Interviewed by Naomi Priddis

Guy Carr

My name is Guy Carr. I was born in South Pass City. I was 14 when I moved. We raised cattle and my dad had a butcher shop. We took the cattle to Lander in the winter. When the boom days were over we moved to Pinedale. Later I went to the plains to gather horses. We were paid $30 a day. We had to break three of the horses that we caught. Later I bought a house and two lots for $600.00 in the year 1934 or 35. I planted all my trees and took care of them. For fun I rode bucking horses. It was nice when we got electricity. I enjoyed it when I was little.

Interviewed by Ben Scherbel

Caryn Bing

I am eighty years old. I was born on the Murdock ranch east of Big Piney in 1909. I lived on the ranch while growing up then moved to Pinedale when I married. My husband’s name was E.J. Bing. We had one son, Robert.

I have taught school 41 years and also worked on the ranch. I enjoyed playing games like anti-I-over, hide and seek, and baseball as well as riding horses which was the most fun. I also went swimming in the summer.

I went to a country school for about four years. Some years we did not have a school available so my mom sent me to St. Mary’s Academy in Salt Lake City. My mother was my first teacher. I was six years old. I have always liked school very much.

We used kerosene lamps before electricity, and our washing machines were hand propelled. Everything had to be done by hand. The most important changes have be[en] in transportation, television, radio[,] and of course, the wonderful school you children are now attending.

I enjoyed playing and working the most. Sometimes we were lonesome. In the summer we played and climbed trees. We cooked with a Majestic stove which burned wood and coal. The sewing machine was a Singer and we had to pedal it with our feet.

When I taught the first subject was Reading and then we had Arithmetic. In the afternoons I had Geography, Health, Science[,] and Art. Schools started at 9:00 and ended at 4:00.

Interviewed by Michelle Lockwood and Gretchen Sherwood

Another Update - Context

Hello, everyone - this is an update about the context of these records. We were recently informed that these interviews were conducted by local students in the late 80s or early 90s during History Day - a national initiative dedicated to student engagement with local history. The names of the interviewers will be added to each entry.

Thanks for the clarification and for your continued support!

- Buck

Harold Brause

I’m 71 years old and I am retired. I used to be a painter. When I was a little boy I lived in Nebraska. Then I moved from Nebraska to Wyoming and lived near Casper. After that my father went to work in the oil field and moved to Salt Creek which is north of Casper. Next we moved over here to Calpet. After Calpet we moved to Big Piney. I went to school here in Big Piney.

I had three spouses. My first one died and then I was married again. We got divorced. And then I married a real nice lady. I have four boys and they are all grown up.

When I was little I used to play baseball and go swimming. I had an old model T car that my dad bought me.

When I was in school my school was about like your school. Of course we didn’t have anything like tapedecks or computers. In those days I liked to study the most. We studied hard and we had reading, writing, math[,] and spelling. We had little tablets and we all had long tablets for spelling. For spelling we had 20 words a day. I’d write all those words 100 times so I could remember them. When you write them down in your spelling book your teacher would give you a 100%. Then I take a crayola and shade that 100% in so it looked real sharp. We had a big school. We had a gym off to the side and we would go in and play basketball.

We would go to the show and I got to see the first talking movie. Before they had sound you had to read it off the screen in English. You’d have a woman playing the piano. It was all silent pictures — no sound. The first movie I saw was Madam Sherland High. She was a classical singer. That was over in Casper, Wyoming. That was the first time I had ever heard sound at a theatre.

What I enjoyed least was history. The biggest change was the way the world goes. It goes faster and faster. Gotta get things in a hurry now. You have got to learn your A B C’s and if you’re good you have gotta have a computer and all this stuff.

We had coal oil lamps. It is a lamp made of glass around the coal oil. It had a wick and a chimney. The wick went down in the oil so you light the wick. There was a little thing that made the wick go up and down to make [the] glass not smokey and when you got it like that you put the chimney back on top. That[‘s] how you could see. It is called a coal oil lamp.

Interviewed by Denise Brown and Marcy Mansor


Hello, everyone! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these interviews as much as we have. I thought I’d make a little update for clarification into the formatting of these entries.

First of all, the records themselves provide little context into the original purpose of these interviews, but from what we can infer, they were conducted as a project for the benefit of local students in the late 1980s or early 1990s, comparing and contrasting aspects of early life from the early 20th century with the late. If you have more information on this project, please contact us and fill us in.

The formatting of the interviews is inconsistent, and since I am working to transcribe them exactly as they are, those inconsistencies will also appear on this site. The only changes I have made are in the interest of clarity, and those amendments can be recognized through the use of [brackets].

Anyway, thank you for your interest, and I hope you continue reading these fascinating biographies! We will continue to post at least one per day.

- Buck

Dan Budd

I am [eighty-nine] years old. I lived in Big Piney all my life. I have a wife and [four] children. I worked on a ranch. We did most anything we could find for fun. We would slide down hills on a scoop shovel and ride horses. The first school I went to was a country school. There they had 1-8 grades. There was just one teacher. I went to school [one] month in a country school and then came to school in Big Piney. We walked to country school and rode horseback. Since we didn’t have electricity we used kerosene lamps and candles. I think the most important change in lifestyles until now was when we got the automobiles. The thing I enjoyed most was when Santa Claus came. I didn’t enjoy having to carry wood in to fill the wood box. The chores we had to do were carrying the wood and milking the cow. We had a cook stove and a heating stove that we burned wood in.

Interviewed by Gretchen Sherwood

Elva Marincic

I was born in Dryfork, Arkansas in 1905. I lived on a ranch most of my life. My whole family grew up on a ranch northeast of Big Piney on the highway towards Rock Springs.

Our school was a one room log building that had four or five children attending. During recess we played games. One of the games we played had to do with the trees on our playground. We would swing on the branches just like kids now swing on swings. Also we played ring around the rosie.

Our chores were to carry in wood for the stove. Early in the morning we had to milk the cows. We did this daily. We also had to help with the housework.

What I least enjoyed doing depended on how far away we were from town and other children. What we enjoyed doing the most was school and playing with friends. We had a lot of fun when we were children.

When I grew up I married Phillip Marincic (also called Phil.) [.] Our children’s names were Phil Jr., Helena, Harvey, Micheal, Donnie, Patricia, and Joann. I’ve been living in Wyoming since 1929.

We managed without electricity okay in our house. We used wood stoves and coal oil lamps. The coal oil lamps let off some heat and it helped keep the house warm.

When we were children we had many family gatherings. We had a large family. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters all enjoyed each other.

Now I’m eighty-four and have thirty-two grandchildren and I love them all!

Interviewed by Michelle Lockwood and Marcy Mansor

Homesteaders and Pioneers - An Introduction

Every item in our museum is a window into someone’s life. That’s one of the reasons why the collection here is so interesting. Just as interesting as people’s things, though, are their words, and those can be a little harder to display. This is why we’re excited to announce Homesteaders and Pioneers, a new addition to the website which features insightful interviews and brief biographies of local homesteaders and pioneers, granting us a personal view into the lives of those who forged our community.

These interviews and biographies are enjoyable to read, and we hope you learn something from them. They really have a lot of character.

Stay tuned to this page for continued updates as more and more entries are shared, and be sure to come to the museum to see the files in person.

- Buck