Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Shot in the Arm

John Byrd Robertson

O. Dunc Robertson

the Millegan Country
 O.D. Robertson would have probably spent all his life working jobs that involved manual labor and the outdoors if his brother hadn't shot him in the arm.

According to my Dad, O.D. Robertson (known as Dunc) and his brother, John Byrd Robertson (known as Byrd) were hunting in the Millegan country with a few other men.  Byrd's rifle discharged into Dunc's arm. The wound was a bad one.  Doctors wanted to amputate Dunc's arm, but there was a doctor in Great Falls who treated Dunc and didn't insist on amputating the arm.

For over a year, bone fragments worked their way out of the wounded arm.  Finally, the arm did heal.  It seemed like Dunc would never be able to return to being a wrangler, rancher, miner, or all the other jobs he did.  So Dunc took a business course in accounting.  He became an accountant and worked for a store owner in Marysville.

After working for the store for about a year, the owner committed suicide.  To Dunc's mind, if that was what working inside and in a store did to you, it was for the birds.  He went back to all his previous occupations. While one arm was an inch or so shorter than the other one, he seemed to function without impairment.

Dad related that later Dunc and Byrd went on another hunting trip.  Byrd was holding his rifle in the same unsafe position that had caused the first gun accident.   My grandfather had a few choice words for Byrd's edification.  They arrived back from that hunting trip unscathed.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On Teaching How to Use a Window

We have two young ladies staying in an apartment near our house.  One young lady is from a big city and the other is from the South.  One of the most challenging aspects of living in Montana for them is learning how to use a window.

On a warm day in May I got a frantic phone call, "It's 80 degrees in here, and I can't seem to turn on the central air."

"We don't have central air.  Do you think you could open a window?"

"Oh, I didn't think of that."

Then a couple of weeks ago I walked by the apartment at 7:00 am, temperature 53 degrees, to hear the air conditioner running.  I thought it might be a fluke, but the next day at the same temperature the same air conditioner was running.  So we had a talk.

We talked about air currents. We talked about air pressure. We talked about using a fan.  We discussed opening two windows when you are using a fan so the air you are drawing in has a window that it can flow out.  We talked about how a person living in a second story could need an air conditioner for an hour or so if the day has been warm and they have been gone - until the outside air cools down.

I never appreciated before that most Montanans have a special skill set: cooling off rooms without benefit of air conditioners.  Wilbur and I purchased an air conditioner for days when we are choked by forest fire smoke.   Choked means we have so much smoke we can't see the hill a quarter of a mile away.  Terrible smoke means we can't open a window.  Paying for air conditioners running when the temperature is 50 degrees does not make us happy.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Freight Outfit

Great grandfather Oscar Andrew Robertson came to Montana July 9, 1864, according to an application he filled out for the Society of Montana Pioneers, dated June 2, 1910.  His place of arrival was Virginia City.  The application tells us he departed for Montana from Carroll County, Missouri and came via Nebraska City, Fort Bridger, Soda Springs, and Gibson's Ferry.

O.A. Robertson
According to Oscar Andrew Robertson's application, he mined for thirty years and as of 1910 had stock on the Smith.  There probably wasn't room on the application to tell us of two other occupations:  meat market owner and freighter.  O.A. owned the main street meat market for a while.  For a time when my grandfather was young, O.A. also ran a mule team to the rail head in Corrinn, Utah and operated a freighting outfit.
Pic of O.A.'s meat market.  O.A.'s Main Street Meat Market is in between Watson Bros. & J.H. Curtis.  The Historical Society told me this picture is a a big Shriner's event.  O.A. bought a copy because it showed his business.
According to my dad, the employees of the meat market.
Once when my Dad saw a painting of a freighting company (painter Selzer possibly) with a diamond R brand, he was convinced that picture had to be of his grandfather's outfit.  Diamond R was his brand, or at least O.D. Robertson's brand. The painting Dad saw featured Mount Helena in the background.

As far as the brand goes, O.D.  had his wife, Maude Brodock Robertson register her own brand, the lazy BK.  According to Dad, the diamond R was only O.D.'s brand if he used it on the animal's jaw.  This was an inhumane way to brand a horse, so they used my grandma's lazy BK on all the horses.  Then, they could brand the horses on the hip instead of the jaw.

Dad also told me that O.D. Robertson played hookie from school one time and was messing around with the freight outfit.  O.D. ended up with a broken leg.  I vaguely remember Dad telling me that O.A. Robertson had a 20 mule team outfit.  That seems like a LOT of livestock, and I am doubting my memory here.

I seem to remember too, that the freight company was involved in an Indian fight on an island in the Missouri on a trip north of Helena once.

O.A. Robertson mainly considered himself a miner and rancher, but he was an entrepreneur with the meat market and his freighting company.