It is by means of three small black diaries which Mrs.
Budd takes from an old trunk that we learn why she came to Wyoming.
These frayed and worn diaries are among Mrs. Budd's most prized possessions
for they record many of the thoughts and experiences of her husband, Daniel
Budd, who passed away in 1902.
We read of Josephine Boyer in Daniel Budd's firm handwriting:
The first nine years which follow this happy marriage
are spent on a farm near Atchinson, Kansas. Here are born four children:
Sarah, Charles, Jesse and John.
In 1879, Daniel Budd goes to Nevada to settle the estate
of a brother. Josephine assumes a double responsibility in caring
for her family and home. She is not the only one who carries a heavy
burden. Daniel has the task of rounding up and branding cattle belonging
to his brother, the late owner of the Empire Ranch. His service of
three years in the cavalry, during the Civil War, proves to be good training
for this work.
The regularity with which letters are received from Josephine shows that she does her part to lighten his burdens with encouraging words. Her stories of the children and home do much to shorten the distance between them. After six months of hard riding the cattle are gathered and ready to be sold. Daniel writes in his diary:
A journey of hundreds of miles which followed the streams
of Nevada and Idaho through mountains and across plains brings Daniel Budd,
with his partner, Hugh McKay, and several cowboys to Ham's Fork of the
Green River in Wyoming.
On October 16, four inches of snow falls on the camp
and though it melts quickly, the hills in all directions remain white.
This leads the men to face the necessity of winter- ing the herd.
They find abundant feed for the cattle, plenty of deer and antelope, and
good fishing at the Fork. They decide to remain here for a few days
while Hugh McKay goes to Fontenelle to look for a winter range.
The days which follow bring a much needed rest to men
aud beasts alike. The cattle graze at leisure on the sage covered
prairie and among the willows which border the stream. Near sunset,
sage hens, like grey shadows, stalk down to the creek for water.
Antelope and deer come out of the quaking aspen grove further up the slope.
Their curious gaze is directed to the scene before them: a covered
wagon, men lounging about, and a fire sending lazy columns of smoke into
the fast chilling air. Two men ride out to bed down the herd and
take the first shift of the night at standing guard. The "Hey, hey!"
of the riders mingles with the crackling of brush. The bawling of
calves and the low mooing of cows floats back to camp. A cold starry
night settles over all. The only sound to break the stillness is
the far off cry of the coyote. The flickering of the sage brush fire
casts a ruddy glow on the sun-bronzed faces of the men gathered around
it. As they rest, the power of this land so old and yet so new challenges
their spirit of adventure.
For the next five days they hold the cattle here. On the sixth day Hugh McKay returns with information which causes the herd to be started on the move again. A forced drive of eighteen miles is made across sage covered hills to Little Muddy where sixty head of thirsty cattle become mired. It is only by working all night that the riders are able to save fifty of the tired animals. Shortly after this they come to Green River and begin the drive up the river towards Big Piney. Cold wind and blowing snow make it necessary for the men to push the cattle hard for the next few days. On November 12, they come to the place where the South, Middle and North Piney creeks empty into Green River.
A large valley surrounded by mountains lies before them.
The sun going down between Lander Peak and Bald Mountain is reflected in
a rose glow from the jagged snow covered peaks of the Wind River
Range, a mountain wall rising two thousand feet above the plains.
The smaller valleys of each of these willow bordered creeks are covered
with sage brush, rye grass, and patches of rich wild hay, truly a haven
of rest at the end of a journey of three months. Winter quarters
are established four miles north of the present town of Big Piney.
After a few weeks Daniel returns to Kansas for a short
visit with Josephine and the children. He is filled with a desire
to file on a homestead in Wyoming. His description of this rugged
country nearly a hundred miles from the newly built railroad would have
caused a woman of less courage to doubt the wisdom of this plan.
In spite of the fact that only a few pioneers, the Ed Swans, Otto Leifers
and A.W. Smiths, have settled there, Josephine feels that her place is
beside her husband where they can work together for the future of their
children. Their plans for the trip to Wyoming are completed before
Daniel returns to Wyoming.
In October of 1880 Josephine and her four small children
go by train to Green River, Wyoming. A son, Henry, is born early
in November. Mrs. Budd and her family live here until after
the birth of another son, Daniel, in 1 882. She then goes with her
husband in a covered wagon to her future home in Big Piney. The trip
takes five days and although they stop overnight at ranches along the way,
the children ranging in age from the baby in arms to eleven year old Sadie
grew very tired of the long dusty road.
The first home of the family at Big Piney is a small
log cabin on the present site of the 67 ranch. The old Lander Trail runs
close by the door. Many wagon trains go over the road and Indians
travel it on their way between Wind River Reservation and Pocatello, Idaho.
The Indians are living on the reservation at this time, but do much traveling
about the country and are friendly to the settlers. It is the custom
of the various tribes to set up a village of about five hundred teepees
on Horse Creek each year. Their horses number nearly two thousand
head. They have horse races, games and ceremonial dances.
Mr. and Mrs. Budd sell their interest in the first ranch
to Hugh McKay and in 1885 take up, as a homestead, the present site of
Big Piney. On the bank of the North Piney Creek, they build the characteristic
home of the pioneer, a log cabin with a sod roof. A government post
office is established in one room of the cabin to meet the needs of the
rapidly growing community. Mail is brought in from Opal once a week.
In the same year more logs are hauled from the mountains
and a general store is erected. The post office becomes a part of
the store of Budd and Sons. Across the road is built the blacksmith
shop. Many pioneers traveling the Lander Trail are grateful for the
use of the forge and anvil in mending their wagons and shoeing their horses.
Log corrals and barns below the store complete the ranch. The courtesies
of true western hospitality are extended to all who ride into this place.
Josephine scarcely finds the days long enough to do
all the work involved in maintaining a ranch home, and in rearing a family
of six children. She is a good manager and when unexpected guests
appear at meal times she makes them welcome with her cordial manner and
quiet smile. Her abundant energy and perserverance and the enjoyment
with which she works is reflected in an orderly and happy home.
As the children grow older they are wisely given their
share of responsibilities. The boys milk and take care of the stock.
They keep the woodbox by the kitchen stove filled and carry water from
the creek below the house. The older boys help their father in the
store and with the work of the ranch. Sadie helps with the cooking,
churning, dish washing and cleaning. She also performs such tasks
as filling the lamps with kerosene, washing the lamp chimneys, and trimming
Josephine finds time to mend and to make shirts and
underwear for the boys and Daniel. She does all of the sewing for
Sadie and herself and makes many rag rugs and quilts. She fills her
pillows and bed tickings with feathers from the wild ducks and geese.
She likes to bake and her bread, pies and cakes win her the reputation
of being one of the best cooks in the country.
Although Josephine's home and family are her chief interests,
she does her full share in the community. She is charitable and generous
and when a visiting minister comes into the country the Budd home becomes
the meeting place. Josephine is never too busy to minister her home
remedies to a sick friend, sitting up all night if necessary. Her
sympathy and faith in God is a comfort to many in their hour of bereavement.
The first school built in 1881, a one room log cabin,
stands a half mile north of the Budd ranch. Mr. Budd is a member
of the school board and Mrs. Budd boards the teacher. She is grateful that
her children have the opportunity to secure an education. With the completion
of the work which this little pioneer school has to offer, each of the
Budd children is sent to St. Joseph, Missouri, to take a business course,
a privilege denied to many of their companions.
The settlers in the valley are friendy and helpful neighbors.
The men help one another in branding and dehorning the calves while the
women cooperate in getting the dinner for the occasion. These pioneers
play as well as work together. They often meet at one of the ranch
homes and play games or dance. Frequently dances are held in the
hall above the Budd store. Families come in their wagons from miles
around. The women bring sandwiches and cake for the midnight supper.
The children are put to bed in Josephine's neat little cabin. When
the beds are filled, the floor serves as a cradle.
Some of the ranchers have built fences around their
homesteads and cut the wild hay. For the most part, hovever, the
cattle graze on the range in winter as well as in the summer. They
are able to dig through the snow for the hearty bunch grass. The
willows and cottonwoods along the streams provide good shelter from the
The winter of 1889, known as "the hard winter," brings
with it an unusual amount of snow and extremely cold weather. Bands
of elk are found frozen to death. Many wild animals perish, and thousands
of cattle in the valley die. This trick of Mother Nature is a warning
for future preparation which the ranchers are quick to heed. Irrigation
ditches are surveyed and plowed. More seed is sown in the natural
grass meadows. Men grub sage brush and clear former grazing lands.
Fences begin to appear everywhere.
The cattle are driven farther back into the mountains in summer.
The cattle and sheep men agree on a boundary line after the encroachment
of sheep on the cattle grazing districts is the cause of several quarrels.
The last of these open disputes occurs in 1898 when seventy-five men meet
on Cottonwood and ride to Gray's River. Here a few sheep are killed
killed and the cattlemen's determination to hold the range is made plain
to the sheepmen. Peace settles over the valley and cattle raising
becomes a profitable industry.
Josephine's five sons and her daughter marry and settle
on ranches of their own, all within a radius of fifteen miles surrounding
the old homestead. One of the boys takes his father's place as postmaster
and has served in this capacity for the past thirty-five years.
Several of Mrs. Budd's children have followed their
parents's example by making their homes in the valley. Here is growing
up a fourth generation, all decendants of the little pioneer woman who
has paved the way for them. Mrs. Budd's high ideals, her life full
of charity and love, and her service to humanity make her a pioneer in
the truest sense of the word.
Mrs. Budd who is scarcely five feet tall and weighs
not more than ninety pounds sits in a low rocking chair beside a window
of her home. Her gray hair is parted in the center and neatly pinned
at the back of her neck. The serene expression on her face denotes
that peace which comes with the fulfillment of life's richest promises.
She watches the lane which goes by the house. It is Sunday and the
children will be coming.
She smiles in happy anticipation of the visit. There will be letters from the grandchildren who are away. Others may bring the new babies for her to see. She must ask her boys about their hay crops and the prices which they expect for their beef. She hopes that the present administration will aid the cattlemen as well as the Midwestern farmers. The gate clicks and footsteps are heard on the porch. Thus we leave one who is lovingly known not only to her fourteen grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren but to all of the Green River Valley as "Grandma Budd."