Written January 19th, 1967 by Rovelia Finch-Horsman
This trip was made from Bliss, Oklahoma to Montana near Knowlton by my sister Pearlie, her husband Curgie Stallard, two boys; Berl 15 mo old, Harold 3 years, in a covered wagon pulled by two big horses. We had 2 colts along & we hitched them on when the going got rough. My sister & her husband had decided to move to Montana & take up a homestead. They came by and wanted Odette to come with them, she was still in school & had a boy friend, so I decided to come instead to take a homestead too. But when we got here I found I was too young would have to be 21 years old. So got a job as a waitress in Ismay where I spilt a glass of water in the lap of my future husband, Alvah Horseman, so he told me, I couldn’t remember the incident. But leaving Oklahoma & my folks, (who came to Montana later 1917).
We started the 1st day of April 1915 & arrived near Knowlton May 26th 1915. Two very eventful months. We camped just south of Blakewell that night. We had a little stove that sat on a ledge by the side of the driver we burned wood that had to be sawed 1 ft. long. But we didn’t travel Sundays we stopped & rested the horses & then we would wash, bake our bread in this stove in B.P.cans, anything that would fit the little oven in this little stove. Would boil meat to slice cold, bake beans, the little stove was really busy. As we traveled along, Curgie would shoot rabbits, squirrels. As we got near Montana, we had sage hen & grouse. Take Jack rabbits & sage hen & grind them together. Really made swell eating. We traveled thru Kansas and somewhere we lost our little dog. We camped for the night & in the morning he was gone. His name was Trix at Delphas Kansas. We went thru Wellington, Riverdale, Clearwater, then Wichita camped 4 mi North of Wichita the 6th of April. Then Valley Center, Sedgwick thru Newton, Hasston. All thru here it rained & rained muddy we couldn’t make very good time McPerson. 11th was Sunday. Then Salina Kan. Went thru Glasco, Simpson, Asherville, camped South of Beloit, Gleneider, Paris, Hummer camped south of Smith center camped 2 mi from Nebraska line. Went thru Hildreth encamped s.of Kearney, Odessa going west now Elm Rock Camped 1 mi north of Lexington 24th did not travel being so muddy. We traveled along the Platt River for miles & many towns. Came to one town at evening & the livery stable was so large we drove wagon horses & all into it and stayed all nite in there it rained & we traveled on 20 mi & that nite we could see this black cloud east back where we had stayed the nite before in the stable. And word came that about 4?? a cyclone blew the stable down & wrecked the town. I thing the town was Joselyn Neb.
Came to North Platte. Went thru Sutherland & 5 little town we were traveling up the North Platte River now. We turned North at Oshkosh & were in the Sand Hills of Nebraska 2 days in Sand hills & going toward Alliance, then on to Harrison. It was the 6th of May, now 9th was Sunday & we were east of Harrison came thru Harrison making our way to Edgemont S.D. and traveling the old trail where many & many wagons had traveled & left many ruts too deep to travel in.
??n here we had to camp in the morning we got up & started out & met a cowboy & he told us we were going back the way we came so we ate dinner 1 mi from where we ate breakfast. Then we saw a railroad & followed that west & north. We had to open & shut our first gate, 3 wire gate of barb wire. We camped, we had a canvas manger we would tie one end of it to a tree & the other to the wagon. Curgie always rubbed the horses, all 4 of them. Had halters for all of them. Next morning we got up & not a horse in sight. Curgie took the halters (all of them laid on the ground & hobbles all laid there to, 4 set of them). Curgie went back to the gate we had opened & shut & there were the 4 horses on their way back to Oklahoma 1000 mi down the road. Maybe you think we weren’t glad to see him leading the two big horses & the colts following. We got started & that eve we saw ahead what looked like a big stump. We ask a cowboy what it was he said it was the devils tower & it was 70 miles away, it must have been for it took us 3 days to reach it and a day to go by it. Then we were getting near the Montana line. Came by the chalk buttes, followed Powder River north. The old, old roads were still there where hundreds had traveled before us. We came as direct to Knowlton as we could. Got to Marion Cambell's homestead about 2 pm in the afternoon of May the 26th.
Curgie and Pearlier got their homestead about ¾ of a mile west up the creek from Marions. Knowlton was our P. O. They were sowing oats and planting potatoes when we left Okla.. Curgie plowed & planted his oats. We planted a nice garden on sa? from seed the government sent from Washington D. C. You would write and ask for them and a big pkg. of everything more than an average family could possible use. We had plenty of moisture & we had bushels of potatoes, beets canned and dried sweet corn and luck was with us. Curgie, Pearlie & I built a nice one big room house. Dug a well. Lived in a tent we borrowed from someone I don’t remember now.
Well folks, I am so glad I lived in those days & got to do all those things, it has made my life really exciting and have lived nearly 70 years. Feel like I, & we, were one, & some, of the first pioneers that helped settle this great State of Montana.
I am Berl & Harold's Aunt Rovelia Horsman
Ava Lee was the little girl that came tagging along a year or so after we got a home for her.