James and Mildred Avery Mickelson
     James Mickelson, who was born at Tinning, Denmark, August 1, 1866, came to Wyoming as an immigrant lad of 16 in 1882. Two brothers, Soren and Rasmus had preceded him across the ocean. They settled in Rock Springs where Soren became an engineer on the Union Pacific Railroad. Rasmus worked for several years in the coal mines, becoming foreman. Soren returned to Denmark, and spent the rest of his life as a prosperous merchant there. Rasmus built homes with his savings and rented them to the miners. He eventually homesteaded in the lovely valley of the LaBarge Creek. (The name La Barge came from a popular Mississippi riverboat captain.)
The young lad, James, did not care for the Rock Springs country. His eyes were used to feasting on the green, luxuriant fields of his native land. He went to work for Ariel Hanson in the LaBarge country. He worked for the N. S. Miller family of LaBarge who had also immigrated from Denmark. Their beautiful ranch home was built of native stone, and water piped from springs watered the lawns. Jim laid the foundations for a lifetime of solid friendship reaching over into the second and third generations of this kind family. Several years ago, Mildred, his daughter, was presented with an old, pressed glass, covered compote by Stella and Mayme Miller Petrie, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. N. S. Miller. It was given to their mother by Mildred's father, the first Christmas he spent on their ranch.
     Jim, and his brother Rasmus, or Ras, as he was called, both homesteaded on LaBarge Creek. Part of the house in which Ras lived still stands. It is inculcated in the ranch home of Bonnie, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rube Fox. The setting is charming. A small mountain stream laughs and gurgles its merry way not far from the door. This nostalgic place forms one of the earliest memories of my husband, who well recalls the clear stream on visits to his Uncle Ras, when he was a child.
     Even in those early days Jim Mickelson was building characteristics of kindliness, compassion, and helpfulness - characteristics which marked his pathway all the days of his life. Allie Bayers of Pinedale, tells of the many times Jim Mickelson appeared at their place on Green River, riding horseback, but always bringing meat tied on his saddle, and sometimes carrying eggs - great treasures in those days. Allie said that their large family would have often gone hungry if it had not been for the things he brought them.
     From the "Annals of Wyoming," October, 1927-January, 1928 come a few lines from an article, "The Valley of the Fontenelle," by Ella Holden, relating to the Spur Ranch.
     "M. F. Post and Francis E. Warren brought in about 15,000 head of cattle in 1882 from the eastern part of the state and located The Spur Ranch. All the small herds owned by the settlers were sold to Post and Warren so they controlled the cattle industry in the Green River Valley. The Spur Ranch employed about 20 cowboys - for the summer roundup men came from miles around - Bear Valley, Fort Bridger - to ride for strays. The cook for the Spur Outfit would have as many as 40 men to cook for - a man named Wm. Wilson nid called "Old Tug.' Following the winter of the deep snow and cold, 1889, all that were rounded up of the 15,000 head of cattle were 800 head."
     In 1890 Jim Mickelson was working for the Spur Ranch. He became Foreman. He often told of the gambling games the boys in the bunkhouse would indulge in after their long days of riding. Ranching during this period did not entail the chore of cutting and stacking hay. Cattle ranged far and wide, the winters were mild and the cattle grazed off of the abundantly tall grass. Jim
Mickelson said that he lost his first start in the severe winter of 1889 with its bitter cold and drifted snow. He said that that spring, he could walk around his homestead field stepping from the frozen carcass of one cow to another.
     Anderson McGinnis, who as a boy trailed a herd of cattle from Utah into Idaho and down into Wyoming with Jim Mickelson who had purchased them, tells that he and Jim were out with the round-up about five years later when they heard that the Otto Leifer (Otto Leifer was one of the first settlers in the Big Piney Valley, coming to Wyoming in 1878 with Mr. Edward Swan) Place was for sale. Jim was able to pay the down payment required for the Circle Ranch by Mr. Leifer, with his savings and a loan from his brother, Ras. Cattle took a rapid gain in price after he purchased the place, and in two years time the ranch and cattle were paid for, while he retained essentially the same number of cattle with which he had started. As the years passed, Jim bought out many ranchers who wished to retire, including the two Swan Places, the Fish Ranch, the Nichols Place, the Sykes Place, the Dunham and Winkleman Ranches, the Angus Flying V, and others.
"From the 'Big Piney Examiner printed in July, 1915 and quoted from the 'Kemrnerer Gazette.'
     "The county commissioners will be in session again this week for three days when they will finish up their work as a Board of Equalization. County Assessor George Tanner states that his office now has the county valuation well compiled, and that he does not look for any material changes to be made from now on. The county assessed valuation this year was $14,016,476, and he believed the amount would be the same this year. The shortage of $350,000 in coal tonnage for the present year, he thinks, will about be offset by some increase in lands that were not assessable last year. Lincoln County has the largest individual taxpayers in addition to the large corporations, among whom the following are well known:
James Mickelson of Big Piney is the largest individual taxpayer. His assessed valuation is $239,144, the property being mostly in land and cattle. A. W. Smith, also of Big Piney, is the next largest taxpayer being assessed on the value of lands and cattle to the amount of $124,276. In the upper Green River Valley, W. E. Enos, the cattle raiser, will this year pay on an assessment of $69,660.
     At the time of his death from stomach cancer, at the early age of 54, James Mickelson owned around 20,000 acres of choice ranch lands and 6,000 head of find Hereford cattle.
     He served the public and his community in many capacities. not from a desire for self advancement, but with a desire to do whatever good he could accomplish. He served several terms on the Big Piney School Board; he served as Representative in the Wyoming State Legislature in 1916-17, representing both Lincoln and Sublette Counties. He was chosen as a Presidential Elector in the Harding election, but death did not permit him to serve. He was on the first Big Piney Roundup Association Board and served several terms as President. He served ably and well for many years as President of the Big Piney State Bank, Vice President of the Evanston National, and as Director of the Pinedale State Bank. when it was in existence.
     For 24 years he was a member of the Masonic Order in the Temples in Rawlins and Evanston, making the long trips in the early days by horseback. He belonged to the Korein Temple Ancient and Accepted Order of the Mystic Shrine, Rawlins; Albert Pike Commandery No. 4, Chapter No. 2, Evanston; Franklyn Lodge No. 2-A.F. and A.M., Pinedale." The night my husband, James Mickelson, came home from a Chapter Meeting in Evanston with the leather valise containing his father's plumed hat, and carrying his father's Masonic sword, I remember as being one of his happiest memories. He was walking on air!
     James Mickelson married Miss Mildred Avery in Leon, Iowa, November 3, 1899. At the time of his marriage, he was just recovering from an attack of yellow jaundice. His wedding picture shows his haggard appearance.
     Mildred Olive Avery was born January 1. 1869, in Leon, Iowa, the daughter of  F. N., and Martha Springer Avery. She was educated in the Leon schools, and attended college at Indianola, Iowa. She was a member of the D.A.R., and of the Music Sorority which became the P.E.O, and a member of P.E.O. for many years. A torn and aged programme from the period of her youth has been preserved in a velvetbound copy of "Bryant's Poems," given her by her first bethrothed, a young man who often sang the tenor leads in operettas and programs with her. He died at 21
years of age with pneumonia. The program follows -
Violin Solo -
 a - Fantasia, Bayber du Seville..........................................................Sengille
 b - Lieber Louie...............................................................................Herman
Professor Carl Hermann
Mandolin Solo.............................................................................................Samone
Vocal Solo - "September" - Miss CleIla Bashaw
Nocturne - Op. 9- No. 2..........................................................................Fr. Chopin
Listen to the Mocking Bird..........................................................................Herman
Professor Carl Hermann
Solo on Wooden Shoe.................................................................................Herman
Piano Solo -
                   Miss Gurley and Miss Grace Morrill
La Lipesa.......................................................................................................Rosso
Vocal Solo - Violin Obligato - "Angel Serenade"
Miss Mildred Avery
Imitation of an Old Fashioned Dat-key Camp Meeting
Schubert's Serenade
Playful Rockets
25 and 15 cents
     Mildred Avery taught music in the schools of Leon, Iowa, being an accomplished vocalist and pianist. She remembered the scenes of her childhood with love and affection. One story, in particular, I remember her telling, was of a time when she, as a child, was sent to bring home the milk cows from a pasture near the railroad tracks. She came breathlessly home with the cows and told a tale of seeing a monstrous snake, which of course, no one believed. Shortly thereafter, some men from a circus appeared in town saying that a boa-constrictor had escaped from a wrecked circus train, and asked if it had been seen in that vicinity. The men went to the pasture and found where the snake had slept, and saw the trails its body had made slipping through the grass. She did not recall ever hearing whether the snake was captured, or not.
     Her father was the owner of a hardware store, and was a mortician. Her mother was a member of a large family who resided mostly on farms around Leon. Her mother's home in town was a meeting place for all the clan. She often spoke of her mother's fear of tornadoes, and told of one night in particular when a storm was approaching, with the wind reaching a mighty gale, when the children had been routed out of bed, and all, including their parrot (noted for his outrageous language) had sought refuge in the storm cellar where the force of the wind had blown out the lantern - into the void of darkness, howling of the wind, and the fear in that black storm cellar, sounded the exasperated parrot voice, "Oh, Hell! Ain't this awful?"
     She often described the quiet walks along tree-shaded lanes in the sultry afternoons when the young folks would go calling. They enjoyed choir practices and church socials and reveled in picnics the summer long. This was in that era when the young ladies wore lisle stockings, and widebrimmed, flowered hats. She attended the World's Fair and there purchased the regal, rose-wood piano which she brought to her Wyoming home.
     The summer of 1899 she came to Wyoming to visit her cousin Jessie Springer Fear who was married to Frank A. Fear. The Fears lived in the log ranch home that is still standing on Clifton Fear, Jr.'s ranch on the bench above Middle Piney Creek. Her cousin, Jessie, and Mildred had much in common. They were both pianists, and Jessie composed music.
     When she first arrived Mildred heard people speaking of the young Dane, James Mickelson, who had bought Otto Leifer's ranch and paid for it in two years. She and Jessie rode horseback on sidesaddle, to the ranch where the Charles Holden's lived, one evening. There, for the first time, she met James Mickelson. She always maintained that she ignored him that evening because someone had said that he was looking for a wife, now that he had his ranch. When the young women went to their horses the young Dane was "Johnny on the spot" to help Mildred mount the sidesaddle. She, womanlike, was determined to do the job herself, with the result that she got halfway up on the horse, ran the saddle horn through the buttoned opening of her jacket, and could neither get up or down, without his assistance. That was how the romance began that ended with the marriage of James Mickelson of Big Piney, Wyoming, and Mildred Olive Avery, on the 30th day of November 1899, by Rev. W. H. Ilsley, pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Leon, Iowa. Mildred was a tall, slender woman with light brown hair when she came to Wyoming. When Mildred, her daughter was 12 years of age, she could not wear her mother's wedding blouse.
     Those first years on the ranch were trying one for the young music teacher. A succession of women for what used to be called "ranch help" came, and went. If they were single, they were quickly married. One woman, this was after the new ranch home on the Circle was built, was brought out from Salt Lake City. She was sent to the old house to put out the wash. After several hours, and no wash appeared on the lines Mildred went to investigate. She found the woman highly inebriated from sampling some cowboy's private liquor horde, standing over the washing machine, swirling a suit of James P. Jensen's red flannel underwear in the machine filled with her best linen table cloths.
     She became a marvelous cook and was very hospitable. Like Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aunt, she was never happier than when her friends and family were gathered about her table, to enjoy a fine meal. She dearly loved to picnic in the mountains. We indulged this liking every chance we got, especially after the grandchildren came along. The lack of a church association was early noted. From the first church register of the Congregational Church in Big Piney, I have taken the following -
"Sept. 15, 1907. We the following persons whose names appear below met in the school house  (Big Piney) and voted that we would resolve ourselves into a Congregational Church. The Rev. W. B. D. Gray, Rev. 0. E. Reach, and the Rev. J. W. Naylor being present - Rev. Gray presiding. John Budd, Christian Jensen, James Mickelson were elected trustees. Mrs. Sarah Hibbens, Deaconess. Mrs. J. B. Nichols, Clerk, and Mrs. James Mickelson, Treasurer. We voted to adopt the Council Manual for our Rules and Government, and the Creed adopted in said Manual for our Creed.
Charter Members
   Mrs. J. B. Nichols  Mrs. Josephine Budd
   Mrs. Mildred Mickelson Miss Jennie Boyer
   Mr. James Mickelson  Mrs. James Jensen
   Mr. James Jensen  Mrs. Chris Jensen
   Mr. Christian Jensen  Mrs. A. J. Schmer
   Mrs. Sarah Hibbins
  "The Church voted to be incorporated October 6, 1912.
  The Moderator, Rev. D. D. Reese named the Directors -
   Mr. C. P. MacGlashan Mrs. Mildred Mickelson
   Mrs. Claire Tanner  Mr. James Mickelson
   Mrs. Josephine Budd
 The incorporation was accomplished on October 14, 1912 at 9 o'clock A.M. Its term of existence is perpetual.
     The contract was let for the brickwork on the Congregational Church on February 2, 1914. Mr. George Durnford secured the contract. Mr. J. E. Miller was awarded the contract for the carpenter work. A grant of $1200 from the Congregational Building Society, and pledges from members built the church. The new church was dedicated on August 29, 1915. The Rev.
R. F. Paxton officiated."
     Besides the Frank A. Fear family from Iowa, there lived on a ranch further up the creek from the Circle Home Ranch of the Jim Mickelson's, a Mr. Eugene and Margaret Pence Noble. Margaret Pence had been a bridesmaid at Jessie Fear's wedding, and Mildred Avery remembered the wedding as she had attended it as a child. Then, directly across the field lived Oscar and Mary Beck. This small group formed a nucleus of good friends. As the years passed, all holidays were celebrated in turn at each others homes. Mildred lost a still-born son and James Mickelson chose a burial spot on the hill above the creek, where Mildred could see it from her sitting room window. A few months later, the only son of Eugene and Margaret Noble was buried close by. This first child buried on the hill by Jim and Mildred Mickelson, marked the beginning of the Big Piney Cemetery. Later on, they lost their nine-year-old son, Maxie, with scarlet fever. He was also buried in that high place affording a panoramic view of the Big Piney Valley and the valley of the Green River. The onlv flowers to be had for Maxie's funeral, were the blooms off of Jessie Fear's geraniums.
     The passing years, as they always do, brought changes. On one trip to Iowa to visit her people, Mother Mickelson told me that she saw her two sisters, one of whom was Mrs. Lena Hamilton, had something of which she knew nothing. It was that inner peace and spiritual radiance she acquired when she became a Christian Scientist. Her daughter, Mildred, has said that all her life she knew that no matter how badly off she was, if she could only reach her mother, and come within the radiance of that spiritual thought, she would feel better. Mrs. Mickelson continued to support the Congregational Church in Big Piney, and all other worthy causes.
     She spent a couple of winters in Cheyenne with Mr. Mickelson at the Legislature. When his colleagues wanted him to run for Governor, it was she who said, no. She loved her home too much to exchange its calm for the turbulence and the trials of a political life. They leased the ranches one year to her brother-in-law and traveled. They were going to visit Denmark and Jim's mother, who was still living, but an obstreperous baby named James, caused them too much trouble. Instead, they spent the summer at the Riley cabin on South Piney. The first night James was placed in a pine packing box (his head just came to the top of it) where he went round and round all night, screaming at the top of his voice. The next night he cried half the night, and then went to sleep. They had no more trouble with him as they had had when they were traveling on the west coast.
     Mildred Mickelson was a member of the Sublette County Historical Society, the Artist's Guild, the Twentieth Century and the Triangle Clubs, and an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star. She was organist of the chapter at the time of her death.
     She spent two separate winters in Salt Lake City where she had many pleasant memories of the old Salt Lake City Theatre built by Brigham Young with the girders of huge logs hauled from the mountains by Maud Adams' grandfather. Many of the great, and near great actors and actresses of the turn of the century cast the spell of their acting, on its boards. She had her private carriage and driving horse, and missed few of the plays.
     After Mr. Mickelson's passing, she purchased a home in Salt Lake City. While living there, Mildred, her daughter, attended the Roland Hall School for girls, and, later, the University of Utah. While living in Salt Lake City she became a member of the Music Club of that city. With Mildred, she traveled through Canada and the U.S. They began a World Cruise together but Mother Mickelson had to leave the ship at Honolulu because she could not cope with the seasickness of which she was a victim. Mildred sailed off around the world and left her there.
In 1928, Mrs. Mildred Mickelson married James P. Jensen. a distant relatives of her first husband, who had been associated with him on the ranches for many years. Mr. Jensen was one of the first forest rangers in the county, often spending six months at a time out in the mountains. They spent their winters in their lovely Spanish home in Glendale, California. and their summers on the Circle Ranch. Mr. Jensen long represented the County as a State Senator in the Legislature.
     She passed away early Tuesday morning, August 24, 1943, at the LCM Hospital in Kemmerer, Wyoming, suffering from a throat ailment.
     Quoting from the Big Piney Examiner -
     "Mrs. Mickelson Jensen was best known for the many kind and unselfish deeds she has clone throughout her long residence in Big Piney and the faithful thought of those less fortunate in life than she: kindness to all, in all walks of life, for wealth made no difference to her friendship and liking for others - as she trod down through the pathway of life."
     From a book of "Tribute" presented to her daughter by members of the Artist's Guild, I have chosen this poem, written by Ada Budd -
   "In Memory of Mildred Mickelson Jensen
   In the evening of her life
   After days lived long and full
   Of love and devotion
   To her fellow men
   God's fingers touched her, and she slept.
   Yesterday, the smile of her
   Countenance lighted up our lives.
   Her words of encouragement were ever
   A beacon light.
   She gave of her worldly goods
   And was a friend of little men.
   There was much of joy
   And laughter in her manner.
   Friendliness was the keynote of her nature.
   The hospitality of the Old West
   Found deep expression at her fireside.
   Just to know her added a richness
   And a deeper meaning, too.
   She left the world a better place
   When she passed through."
Tales of the Seeds-Ke-Dee, p.156-167