Barstow Family History & Genealogy

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Ann Borgers Article from the Vermillion Plain Talk, Vermillion South Dakota, Thursday April 28, 1966

U. Rodeos Bring Back Memories
By Lee Jorgensen

The forthcoming National Intercollegiate Rodeo (June 30, July 1-4) should bring back fond memories for Vermillion's Mayor John T. Barstow, official Vermillion host for the national even.
This week when he put on the cowboy hat and tie and stabbed a halter posing for a news photo officially kicking off the rodeo season in Vermillion, he was back in some of the same "duds" he wore as a boy riding range in the short grass country of Montana.
As a resident and mayor, His Honor's loyalties now lie with Vermillion, although-as anyone who has lived in the cattle country knows-sentimental ties still draw him to the wide open spaces, the often terrifyingly vast but beautiful range country of Montata.
Those ties are why the Mayor has always done all he could to help promote collegiate rodeos. This year, rodeos of a kinds are appearing in Vermillion. Mayor Barstow, in urging Vermillion business men and boosters to don their Mustang shirts and tieseach Friday to "get the ball rolling" for the national rodeo, finds the city developing a real western flavor.
On April 29 and 30 the city hosts the annual spring rodeo for the University of South Dakota. On April 23, Vermillion was the setting for the regional Jaycee Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o (to see how well teenagers have tamed the horseless carriage). The state Jaycee Road-e-o will be here June 18. Then comes the big national Intercollegiate Rodeo which should draw as many as 40,000 fans.
Mayor Barstow, now 57, grew up near Miles City, Montana, at the end of the old western ranch era of cattle drives, just when dirt farmers rolled across the prairie grass and broke up sod that was never meant for a plow. He's now a medical preparator for the College of Medicine at the University of South Dakota. His chores now are a far cry from the job he had at 17, driving 12 bull calves from Ft. Keogh 75 miles to a ranch near the Powder River. The job was lonely - Barstow did it alone in zero weather, following the creeks he was paid $3 a day, provided he brought his own horse.
When his father, Horace Freemont Barstow, a Baptisit minister packed up the trunks and moved his family to one of the last remaining homesteads in southeast Montana in 1917, John was only eight. But he was old enough to listen to trail drive yarns of Bill Combs, who'd chase cattle from Texas to Dakota. The mayor knew old "Hell Roarin" Jones, "Baldy" Bement who ran the biggest primary horse sale yard in the world at Miles City, Red Robe (son of Chief Tw Robes), Bob Lane last of the freighters, Old Pinto John and Susan Haughians, the shrewd Irish woman who'd carved out an empire from the stubbon sage country of Montana.
One of the mayor's most cherished memories was an afternoon session amidst a stack of old photographs with L.A. Huffman, photographer of the plains.
Back then there were a few cars in Montana, Mayor Barstow recalls, but "about the only means of transportation north of Miles City, at the head of Custer Creek, was horseback." As a boy he'd walk a mile in a pasture to get a horse to ride a half mile. "It wasn't respectable to walk anyplace," the mayor explained, "and you weren't considered much unless you wore high boots either."
One of his best recollections of this transitional phase of the old west to the new was of Dan and Susan Haughians. "Old Dan had come over from the old country at about the turn of the century and got fairly well established raising sheep. He went back to his homeland of Ireland to marry his childhood sweetheart and brought her back with him. Dan and Susan reared 12 children and she, a shrewed business woman, ran the ranch. She pulled it out of the bad times until now, a widow in her 70s, she runs all of the land from Custer Creek to the Yellowstone River as the Ssan Haughians Empire.
The homestead era which lasted from 1915 to about 1930 was only a transitional period. Now the country has gone back to the big operator who often manages 100 to 150 sections.
When the mayor was 17 he got a job driving 12 purebred Hereford bull calves from Ft. Keogh, just southwest of Miles city. His travel carried him across the Tongue River, down Punkin Creek along the old Deadwood Road, across a hog back to the LO Ranch, then along the Mizpah Creek, across the divide between the Mizpah and the Powder River downstream to a ranch.
The drive south took five days on "old Roy", a big light grey which weighed about 1,050 pounds. At the end of the five-day drive, the horse smelled home and at a running walk covered the distance in just two days.
There were no trails, only creeks and landmarks to guide him on the southward drive to ranches located 10 to 15 miles apart. He still recalls Thanksgiving Day on the trail. The LO Ranched fixed him up a bacan sandwich to tide him over the zero cold.
A week or two after the Barstows arrived in Montana, the mayor's father held the first church services in their homestead shack for cowboys and their families, who rode 15 to 20 miles to the services. "We had an old piano, my sister played and we all sang; everybody had a good time," said the mayor. "After the services the cowpokes invited the family outside for some of their brand of entertainment. A dozen to 15 cowboys had lined up with their horses and raced past the ouse 'hell bent for leather.' It about scared mother pretty well to death, but she was a good sport," he said.
"That's really how rodeos originated," said the mayor. "It's one sport characteristically American Rodeos came out of making a sport out of work to see who could do better."
Because his father never tried to force any conversions, he was liked by the cowboys and was called on to bury many of the old timers.
"Things were hard in Montana," commented Mayor Barstow, "when we got there things where dry and they never got better. It wasn't farm country."
From their homestead they moved to a ranch in the Sheep Mountain country where things were better because there was a little more rain. But father wanted John to get back into school, so they moved to Casper. But that didn't pan out because the high altitude affected his fathers health and they moved back to Miles city. The mayor was out of school eight years between his freshman and senior year, but he graduated from high school finally when he was 21.
Apr 04, 2004 · Reply
Liz Barstow I am looking to connect with Family please get back to me
Aug 17, 2013 · Reply