Archives for posts with tag: historic diary

After a long hiatus, here is a special treat: a whole slew of diary entries from our Mystery Writer!


Mon. May 8. 

Got up more tired than we went to bed baby was so fussy all nite.  Snowed all morning so Jay did no go to the field but seeded in p.m.  Geo floated all day.  Dad went up to the head gate & shut down some of the surplus water.  Bert and Wilbur Vaughn were here for hay and dinner.  I did babys washing in afternoon.  Mama fixed window shades in a.m. 

(Blogger’s NOTE: What the heck is “floating?”  Our diarist mentions it a lot in her spring entries.  I found this entry from Herbert A. Shearer, “Farm Mechanics: Machinery and its Use to Save Hand Labor on the Farm.” 1918, Pp 155-6.  “Clod Crusher.  The farm land drag, float, or clod crusher is useful under certain conditions on low spots that do not drain properly.  Such land must be plowed when the main portion of the field is in proper condition, and the result is often that the low spots are so wet that the ground packs into lumps that an ordinary harrow will not break into pieces.  Such lumps roll out between the harrow teeth and remain on top of the ground to interfere with culivation.  The clod crusher then rides over the lumps and grinds them into powder.  Unfortunately, clod crushers often are depended on to remedy faulty work on ordinary land that should receive better treatment.  Many times the clod crusher is a poor remedy for poor tillage on naturally good land that lacks humus”.  Geez, sounds like the land on this ranch might have been worked pretty hard…now back to the entries). 

Tue.  May 9. 22.

 Jay sowed grain & Geo started floating and disking.  Dad looked for a lost sheep and found her.  A young guy stopped for a .25 cent breakfast going up to prospect for fur.  Keagle sent a man over for hay.   Expected to paper but Mama had the headache to(o) bad.  Churned and baked bread.


Wed. May 10.

 We papered the ceiling in a.m. in the front part of house & some of front room in p.m.  Jay and Dad cleaned grain in a.m. & in p.m.  Dad hauled manure & Jay started seeding across the creek & Geo. floated & harrowed.  (crossed out: a fellow was here from)  Baby was good all day.  Keagle came this far and brot the mail.  Dorma got a little bonnet from Clyde and Mary.  Keagle was here for dinner.  Keen wind.

Thur. May 11.

Washed and got thru early.  Man was here from Swan Lake after oats.  Geo. finished acrossed the creek & started to work on the piece acrossed the road.  Jay drilled acrossed the creek.  Dorma 8 weeks old the last day she wore bands.

(Blogger’s note: Wow, this shows a real old fashioned approach to baby management: swaddling bands!)  Here is what they look like:



Fri. May 12.

 Mama & Ruth ironed in a.m. & I cleaned the cupboards.  Cleaned up stairs in p.m.  I washed all the upstairs windows.  Mr. Sparry and Chas. K. were here for dinner.  Wilbur Vaughn was here but did not eat.  Ruth cleaned the milk house.  Dorma cross in p.m.  Mama, Ruth & I took our baths in the evening.

Sat. May 13.

Finished cleaning upstairs.  Scrubbed the kitchen.  Ruth made an angle (sic) food cake and mama made a molasses cake and pie.  Miss Myrtle Swanson came down on the stage to spend Sat & Sun with Ruth.  We all had a good time.  Dorma knew Mama & was so sweet.

Sun. May 14.

 I had a chill in the nite and got up with a headache & feeling pretty bum so went back to bed.  Ruth made ice cream & Jay took his bath.  Dad & Geo. W. went bear hunting & were at Binco’s for dinner.  We had dinner about 2 p.m.  I moped around all day.  Ruth & Geo. took Myrtle home in the evening after supper.

(Blogger’s Note: Bears were an important source of furs, grease, and meat to historic and prehistoric hunters in Montana.  Below is a roast bear recipe courtesy of



How to Roast a Bear


Eating omnivores, like bear,  can give you all kinds of parasites.  It’s best to cook it well done; I used the same temperature guidelines recommended for cooking pork. I cooked a rump roast, but this recipe should work well for any smaller cut of bear.

1 bear roast; 1-4 lbs
Salt and Pepper
1-2 cups mushrooms (or squash, parsnips, etc.  Something earthy and nice)
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse bear meat and part dry.  Cover generously with salt and pepper.
2.  Clarify the butter: heat it in a microwave until it melts, then gently skim off the fatty solids that have separated to the top.  Pour butter into a cast iron skillet, being careful not to disturb any sediment that may have sunk to the bottom.
3.  Heat skillet over high heat.  Place bear in skillet and sear on all sides until browned.  Add mushrooms to the skillet–it’s ok if the bear is buried in shrooms.  They’ll cook down.
4. Move bear directly from stovetop into oven; roast 10 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer in the center reads 145 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to rest before carving.
5. In the meantime, make the sauce.  Pour bear drippings from the skillet into a saucepan and add flour.  Cook over medium heat until the flour is browned, then add water while whisking constantly.  Let the sauce cook until it thickens to your desired consistency–anything from a thin sauce to a thick gravy is fine.
6.  Carve meat into one-inch thick slices.  Serve, topped with mushrooms and sauce.


Back to the ranch, our diarist lady and her family re-establish the rhythms of ranching life.  One of the those rhythms is lots of visiting by the menfolk, who seem to be taking this early spring weekend off…

“Fri. April 7

We left Potomac about nine and got to Clearwater about 2.

Rested there about an hr & got home about 6 pm. Was certainly glad to get there too.

Ruth had the house all nice & clean & supper all ready to get quick.

Baby had a nice dose of colic after we got home & didn’t sleep well all nite.

Warm but no sun.  Mama & I were surely tired.

Keagle made his first trip with the truck & had to have supper here.

Sat. April 8.

No one had a great lot of pip.  And little Dorma was cross with the belly ache all day.

Mama had an old head ache all day.  Ruth made a cake.

Fritz & Herman O. were here.

Keagle & 2 other men were here for dinner.

Sun. April 9.

No one did much but what had to be done.

Glen came over in P.m. and stayed quite late.

Baby was cross in p.m. & took up most of the attention.  Drim (?) & H. Ostromire was here in evening.

Men played cards.”

Okay Dear Readers, I’m having a hard time — no, an impossible time — picturing any men’s card game without beer.


Yet on this occasion and throughout her stay in Missoula, our lady diarist has been silent on the subject of alcohol.  This is sensible since Prohibition was in high gear in 1922, enacted across the country less than two years before (though Montanans fought it vigorously: see next posting).  But a cold one might have been welcome to a woman too, after a long day of cooking, cleaning, and dealing with a grumpy colicky infant.

Anyhow if there was illicit beer in the house, it could have been a variant of Highlander, a red Scottish ale brewed in Missoula beginning in 1910.  Scottish ales are very popular in Montana today: Highlander has been revived, and Cold Smoke is a favorite.