Sunday, February 23, 2014

O.A. Robertson Obituary

This week I was fortunate enough to find my great grandfather's obituary on page 8 of the Great Falls Tribune, June 9, 1926.  I don't know who wrote it, but it would be fun to find out if all the information is true.  When you read the obituary, you will understand my post about the family tales of lost treasure.

Early Day Freighter, Miner and Rancher Dies at Advanced Age

Oscar A. Robertson, resident of Montana since 1964, who sluiced more than a half a million dollars worth of gold from the famous gulches of the territory and who later freighted and finally became a rancher, was buried Tuesday afternoon in Highland Cemetery.  The services were held at the W.H. George chapel, the Rev. S.C. Williams of the Presbyterian church officiating.  Mr. Robertson died June 6 at his home at 2007 Seventh avenue north [sic].

Norfolk, Va., was the native place of Oscar A. Robertson. [This is inaccurate. Alexandria, Virginia is the place he was born, according to O.A. himself.]  He was born September 20, 1843.  When the gold rush began in Montana he drove a six mule team from Omaha to Denver, then to Virginia City, arriving July 9, 1864.  He had a claim in the famous Alder Gulch from which was taken out $300,000 in gold dust.  In the spring of 1866 he went to Last Chance gulch, [sic] the present site of Helena.  Then he moved to Diamond City, east of Helena, one of the most productive camps in the west, and then to York gulch, north of Helena, where his placer operations brought him $25,000.  Also he acquired a mining claim at French bar near York, where he was in partnership with Samuel Hauser, an early day governor of the territory, and T.H. Kleinschmidt of Helena.  From this claim he took a large amount of gold dust.

February 8, 1872, Rose Byrd of York became Mr. Robertson's bride, and from this union two sons, O.D. Robertson and J.B. Robertson of Helena, were born.  Mrs. Robertson died at French Bar, March 17, 1878.

Following the mining operations, Mr. Robertson was engaged in freighting from Corrine, Utah to Helena and from Helena to Fort Benton, having several  16 mule teams engaged in this business. He later obtained extensive interests in quartz mines in the York district and in other mining camps.

In 1887, Mr. Robertson moved to the Smith river country, settling near Millegan, where he went into the cattle and horse business.  April 12, 1913, Miss Jennie B. Johnson was married to Mr. Robertson, who resided with him on the Millegan ranch until they recently moved to Great Falls.

In his freighting enterprise Mr. Robertson had an experience as an Indian fighter. This occurred in a canyon in Idaho when the redskins attacked his wagon train.  As a follower of mining, he participated in the stampedes at Sun River, Karabo, Yogo and Virginia City, Nev.  In the Sun River stampede the temperature dropped to 40 degrees below zero and several men were frozen to death.

Mr. Robertson was the proprietor of a meat market in Helena in the early days.  The market adjoined the old Gazette building near where the R.C. Wallace store now is.  He also had a meat market at York from 1871 to 1872.  He is survived by the widow and two sons.

O.A. Robertson's Meat Market  in Helena between Watson Brothers and J.H. Curtis businesses.  Although the picture date is 1865.

Cayuse Mining Company.  Not sure of the significance.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I am Montana-Native Endangered Species, and I am a recovering critiholic.  My problems began with my upbringing in a critical home.  However, taking responsibility for my own thoughts and actions is the first step in breaking the addiction cycle.   Therefore, I know my upbringing is no excuse for stigmatizing people as pompous bores when they run meetings over the time allowed.

One way I am trying to improve is refraining from murmured comments about driving that I find annoying.  My standard mumbled comment to a driver who cut me off or waited five seconds to proceed through a green light used to be, “Are you drunk or something?” This practice of murmured comments seemed harmless enough until I made a driving error. When I goofed, I vividly remember little Prudence asking me, “Are you drunk or something?”   I couldn’t help but wonder then if the cultivation of a little more patience and a little less criticism might be in order.

Now that I’m older than the hills and twice as dusty, as the saying goes, I’m giving myself permission to let up on my own blunders a bit when it comes to criticizing.  Leaving a cup of sugar out of the cookie recipe and feeding an entire spool of thread onto the vacuum cleaner brush enough doesn’t precisely qualify me as an idiot…I hope.

I have no doubt that vanquishing criticism will be good for my character.  But the problem of what reaction I should have to annoyances and irritations remains.  For example, how would be the best way to deal with someone who is constantly making me wait.  Should I paste a false smile on my face, go on tranquilizers and lie, “No problem at all.  I LIKE waiting in the foyer of a restaurant for 20 minutes.”  Should I be honest and convey in a kind way that my enthusiasm for waiting for the chronically late is equal to my enthusiasm for bread mold?

One coping strategy I have created has entertainment value.  Keeping with the example of the chronically late, it would be amusing to tell the person to arrive a half hour before I actually plan on meeting them.  Then when they arrive fifteen minutes after the appointed time, I could conceal myself and observe their novel experience as they wait for me. Instead of being irritated, I would gain satisfaction and enjoyment.  

As everyone knows, change is hard.  Now I am realizing that it could also be fun.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Fashion Sense, Western Style

I was looking through some of my grandfather's old pictures.  They depict what cowboys REALLY looked like in the 1800's and early 1900's. My grandfather should have known.  He was one of them.

One of the biggest differences is the cowboy hat.  Notice how the hat has a broad brim and is round, not turned up on the side. Wranglers wanted protection from the sun. Seems to me that the hat being turned up on the sides is probably a Hollywood creation.  My guess is that the side needed to be turned up on the side for movie shooting purposes - getting a good shot of the movie characters.  Here are what early cowboys actually looked like:

Grandpa wrote on the back:  Bill Moodry, champion rider and roper.  The photo is by Kirkland, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

This is a photo of branding by Huffman, a Miles City photographer.  Grandpa had these thumb-tacked to the wall of the kitchen.  He knew some of the people in these photos.

The back of this photo reads:  Beckwith & Bowen, Helena, Montana  The woolly chaps might have been warmer in the winter.
This is a picture of a famous roundup. According to a cousin,  Grand dad gave the original of this one to the museum.  The museum gave him this copy.  Charles Russell, famous cowboy artist and  a friend of Grand dad's is in this picture.  Grand dad also wrote on the back:  Dunc Robertson (grand dad), Highwood Hank, Wallace Storley, Grarz[?], Jerry Philpn, L.B. Taylor.

As you can see, what cowboys actually looked like, differs from the Hollywood version.