My grandfather, George Byer was a man of gentle strength. Many people may not think those to traits go together, but in him they did. He was always a hard-working man, who gave his all to support his family, but maybe the gentleness came partly from the fact that he had 9 children, 7 of whom were girls. That can make a man understand that girls are often the fairer gender, at least in those days. Grandpa Byer lived in a time when the women stayed home and raised the family and the men went out and made the living…even if that meant working long hours or multiple jobs. Grandpa also lived during the great depression, when jobs were scarce, so the women need not have bothered to go look for one very often.

While times were tough sometimes, the family really never wanted for much, and grandma, Hattie Byer could somehow make the meager portions of food go a long way, and still never turn away a stranger in need of a meal, and it seemed there was always a plentiful supply of those strangers and friends who would come for dinner at the Byer house. They were a good team, and truth be told, Grandma Byer was probably just as tough, if not more so than Grandpa Byer, who did have a definite soft spot in his heart for people. Grandpa worked at a number of jobs, but the one I probably heard the most about was the building of Alcova Dam Grandpa had also worked on Kortez Dam and Pathfinder Dam, but my mom, Collene Spencer, who was Grandpa’s middle child, always mentioned to us that her dad had helped build Alcova Dam, every time we drove past it. She was very proud of her dad, and with good reason, because he was very special.

Grandpa served in the Army during World War I as a cook. While he was very brave, and never a man to shirk his duties, I think it would have been hard for this gentle soul to have a military career of killing people. Nevertheless, had the need arisen, he would have done it, because he always knew that he would protect those in his charge. He was a very loyal soldier, and he would never have allowed those he cared about to be killed, if he could stop it. His gentle strength was, for me, his trademark trait. I remember it from my childhood as clearly as if Grandpa Byer were standing right next to me as I write this story. he was the sweetest, kindest, most gentle man anyone could have known. Today would have been my Grandpa Byer’s 126th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. We love and miss you very much!!

My grand nephew, James Renville has been working hard, going to college, and living at home with his mom, Toni Chase and step-dad, Dave Chase. It has been a good way to go for James, because he attended Casper College, and his parents live in Casper, so why pay for a dorm or apartment. James and his parents get along very well, so it has worked out nicely. In addition, living at home gives James’ the ability to enjoy the family dog, which he could not have in a dorm or in most apartments. James has always had a dogs, and right now they Biscuit and Cricket, and they would be lonely without James.

James graduated from college in May, with a degree in Communications and Media. I wasn’t sure just exactly what you can do with that degree, so I did a bit of research. Jobs directly related to your degree include: Media planner, Multimedia specialist, Program researcher, broadcasting/film/video, Public relations officer, broadcasting/film/video, Social media manager, Television/film/video producer, and Web content manager…just to name a few. I’m not sure just exactly what James has in mind for his career, but he has time to explore the great possibilities for career ideas.

James may continue his education, but for right now, he’s taking a break from school. He is working at Home Depot right now, and saving his money, because he wants to travel overseas again. James visited the Netherlands a couple of times, where he has a close friend, and that really gave him the travel bug. His job and living at home allows him to put his money into his travel plans. James has big plans for his life, possibly including moving out of Wyoming, but nothing is set in stone right now, so I guess time will tell. Of course, we hope he doesn’t go too far. Still, the future is wide open, and I’m excited to see where it will take him. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob’s grandparents, Robert and Nettie Knox were married in Forsyth, Montana on this day in 1928. It’s strange how things come to pass. Nettie was born in Clyde Park, Montana, but Robert was born in Prosser, Washington. Had Robert’s family not moved to Montana when he was young, they likely would never have met. Distances back then prevented things like yearly vacations to tour the United States. Nevertheless, like my own Robert, who was born in Miles City, Montana; while I was born in Superior, Wisconsin; and we met in Casper, Wyoming, where both families lived then. Robert Knox and Nettie Noyes both ended up in the Rosebud area, and the rest was history.

Grandma always liked to tease grandpa that she was older and wiser than he was…at least from June 30th to November 28th, when he caught up to her in years again. It was just one of the ways Grandma liked to tease Grandma. Their marriage would have it’s ups and downs, just like any other marriage. They lost their first child, Everett Knox at birth, and it was then that Grandma decided that any subsequent children would be born in the hospital, not at home. Grandma entered the hospital with my future mother-in-law, 40 days before she was born. Thankfully, $5.00 a day covered her hospital bills. I don’t think she could have been able to afford todays rate just to make sure she had the baby in the hospital. Their daughter, Joann Knox’s birth went off without a hitch, nevertheless, I don’t think Grandma could get comfortable with the idea of having another baby…at lease not for the next 14 years, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Linda, who’s birth also went off without a hitch. Margaret “Margee” would follow just a little over two years later, and their family was complete. Nevertheless, Grandma’s belief that her son would have survived, had she been delivered by Caesarean Section, prompted her to distrust home-births for the rest of her life. Grandma and Grandpa Knox, went on to have 8 grandchildren; each of them having a granddaughter born on their birthday…Corrie on Grandma’s birthday, and Machelle on Grandpa’s.

Married life wasn’t always easy for them. They lived through many tough times in their own life, as well as, economic times. Nevertheless, they persevered, and their marriage lasted until Grandpa’s passing in 1985. Grandma never really wanted to continue on after his passing, but she stuck it out until 1990. If they were still alive today, which wul have put them in their 110s, they would have been married 91 years today. I know they are celebrating in Heaven. Happy 91st Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa Knox. We love and miss you very much.

My nephew, Garrett Stevens has had a great year. It has been a year of great change for him and his wife, Kayla, who welcomed their first child on August 3, 2018. Their daughter, Elliott has been the answer to prayer for both of them. For as long as I can remember, Garrett has loved kids, and Kayla has too. Now that he has a child of his own, Garrett is on cloud nine. He is a great dad, and a great husband.

This summer has been a busy one for Garrett and Kayla. Kayla was a bridesmaid in a wedding earlier that took the family to Huntington Beach, California. They had a great time enjoying the sun and sand. They went sight seeing, and just had a great vacation. This past weekend, Kayla had to go out of town for the weekend, and so Garrett found himself being Mister Mom. I think he would have had no problem taking care of Elliott alone, but he wanted to give his mom a chance to join in, and since it was Elliott’s first time away from her mommy, Garrett might have been just a little bit nervous. Having his mom there would help, in the event that Elliott was fussy. He needn’t have worried. It all went very well, and Garrett and his mom had a good visit too. It was a sweet gift he could give to his mom, my sister, Alena Stevens.

Garrett has been working hard, and making great strides in his career too. Garrett took after his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer, when he decided to become a welder. Garrett went to college for his chosen field, and he is very good at it. Garrett works at EMIT Technologies, Inc in Sheridan. Kayla told me that Garrett made her very proud yesterday, when he won an award for his work. She told me that Garrett’s boss, Will said that he has never seen a new hire come in and hit the ground running as hard as Garrett has and he was impressed with how Garrett is making changes to products to make them better!! Compliments from bosses just don’t get better than that. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you and we’re very proud of you!!

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.

After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.

These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Virginia Beadle is a woman of resilience. There are still a few of those around. They are the people who face adversity head on and fight their way back to health with strength and courage. As people age, sometimes their health can suffer. Aunt Virginia is turning 89 years today. Her mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and her body shows definite signs of weakening that comes with the years, but her spirit…her essence…the beautiful lady that her family has always love is still there, and still just as beautiful as her sweet face.

There have been times in the last year or so that her body has betrayed her to a degree, and she has spent some time in the hospital and a nursing home, but she works hard to get her strength back with the hope of going home. It’s hard to say if the nursing home will become permanent, as it did for my mother-in-law in her final five years, but I can tell you that the love that Aunt Virginia’s kids have for her will never die, because they would give anything to keep her home. They have shown this in the care they have given her in the past few years. Aunt Virginia know that and feels the blessing of that love. They would give her the moon if they could, but all they can give her is their love, and that is what they have done. That is to be commended.

Aunt Virginia worked hard all her life to give her kids the best she could. Life wasn’t always easy, but she was resilient. She never gave up. If hard work could make a good life or her family…well, she worked hard. I remember how beautiful Aunt Virginia looked when she was getting off or going to work. She was always dressed up and she had style, but more than that, she was good at her job. These days her mind might not be as sharp, but when she worked, she “rocked” it. She has earned her retirement, and the love of her family. She may be older now, but she is still the beautiful lady we all know and love…inside and out. Today is Aunt Virginia’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Gunfighters were a big part of what we think of when we think of the Old West. The reality is that there were probably a lot less gunfights that we have been led to believe, and most were not held in the way that we all think. Many were quickly started when tempers flared, and then over in a moment. The whole meeting on “Main Street at high noon” thing didn’t happen very much. Nevertheless, gunfighters were a part of the Old West and many were truly mean and evil people.

William “Texas Billy” Thompson (1845-1897), was the brother of the more famous gunman Ben Thompson. Apparently Billy felt the need to live up to an surpass his brother’s reputation. Billy was often described as “mean, vicious, vindictive and totally unpredictable.” Billy and his brother, Ben emigrated from Yorkshire, England with their family to Austin, Texas in 1851, when he was just a boy. When the Civil War began, both men enlisted in the Texas Mounted Rifles. After the war, there were a number of federal troops who remained in Texas for several years, which annoyed the people of Texas. In March, 1868, Billy was involved in a gunfight with a Private William Burk. After killing the soldier, Billy fled the area. Two months later, Billy killed another man in Rockport, Texas and when a warrant was issued for his arrest, he was on the run again, first to Indian Territory and then to Kansas.

While in Abilene, Kansas, Billy met a dance hall girl and prostitute named Elizabeth “Libby” Haley. Haley went by the alias of “Squirrel Tooth Alice.” The two quickly began an affair that would eventually lead to marriage and nine children. Billy made his living as a gambler. He and his brother Ben, were living in Ellsworth, Kansas in April, 1873. Four months later, in August, Billy’s temper got the best of him again, and killed Sheriff Chauncey Whitney. He was on the run again.

Billy had a reputation for constantly being trouble for one thing or another. This meant that Billy and Libby were constantly moving. The Texas Rangers finally caught up with Billy in October 1876, and was extradited to Kansas. Amazingly, he was acquitted of the murder of Sheriff Whitney. He must have had a great attorney, because everyone knew he did it. Billy made his way to Dodge City, Kansas. There is also evidence that places him in Colorado and Nebraska, before he and Libby finally settled down in Sweetwater, Texas. He purchased and worked a ranch, while she established a brothel in town. In 1884, he was reportedly in San Antonio and witnessed his brother being gunned down by assassins. Billy took no revenge on his brother’s killers. Maybe he had lost his taste for killing and running. On September 6, 1897, William Thompson died from a stomach ailment at the age of 52.

Nurses are the cornerstone of medicine in many cases. Yes, we must have doctors, but nurses are the support system that allows doctors to do their jobs. One such example was a woman named Mary Ann Bickerdyke. She was born on July 19, 1817 in Knox County, Ohio, to Hiram and Annie (Rodgers) Ball. She was married in 1847 to Robert Bickerdyke. The couple and their family moved to Galesburg, Illinois. After her infant daughter died suddenly, she vowed to learn more about medicine, studying herbal medicine at Oberlin College. Mary Ann was widowed in 1859. She was alone and the mother of two sons, who were in their adolescent years.

Widowed just two years before the Civil War began, she supported herself and her sons by practicing as a “botanic physician” in Galesburg. When a young Union volunteer physician wrote home about the filthy, chaotic military hospitals at Cairo, Illinois, the citizens of Galesburg collected $500 worth of supplies and selected Bickerdyke to deliver them. She left her sons with a neighbor, and after seeing the horrible conditions for herself, Bickerdyke decided that she was needed there, so she stayed as an unofficial nurse. Her never ending energy, and her dedication made her just the heroine the Union soldiers needed in those awful war years. She organized the hospitals and cleaned up the filth that served only to breed germs, and in doing so, she gained the respect and appreciation of Ulysses S. Grant.

While there, she worked alongside another famed Civil War Nurse, Mary J. Stafford. When Grant’s army moved down the Mississippi River, Bickerdyke went too, becoming the Chief of Nursing and setting up hospitals where they were needed. Bickerdyke’s goal during the Civil War was to more efficiently care for wounded Union soldiers. She insisted on cleanliness, was dedicated to improving the level of care, and unafraid of stepping on male toes. That, in itself, was almost unheard of in that era. She was adamant about scrubbing every surface in sight, reported drunken physicians, and on one occasion ordered a staff member, who had illegally appropriated garments meant for the wounded, to strip. Though she antagonized male physicians, staff, and soldiers alike, in the name of better patient care, she won most of her battles…a good thing for the wounded soldiers.

Union General William T. Sherman was especially fond of the volunteer nurse who followed the western armies. It is said that she was the only woman he would allow in his camp. When his staff complained about the outspoken, insubordinate female nurse who constantly disregarded the army’s red tape and military procedures, Sherman threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Well, I can do nothing for you, she outranks me.” Running roughshod over anyone who stood in the way of her self-appointed duties, when a surgeon questioned her authority to take some action, she replied, “On the authority of Lord God Almighty, have you anything that outranks that?” I guess Sherman was right when he said that she outranked him.

To the wounded soldiers, Bickerdyke was an angel. They affectionately called her “Mother” Bickerdyke, and she called them her “boys.” The soldiers would cheer here when she appeared. She was more loved than the celebrities of our day are for some fans. During the war, she worked closely with Eliza Emily Chappell Porter of the Northwest Sanitary Commission, worked on the first hospital boat, helped build 300 hospitals and aided the wounded on 19 battlefields including the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Vicksburg, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. When the war was over, she rode at the head of the XV Corps in the Grand Review in Washington at General William T. Sherman’s request. Afterwards, she worked for the Salvation Army in San Francisco, and became an attorney, helping Union veterans with legal issues. Later, she ran a hotel in Salina, Kansas for a time before retiring to Bunker Hill, Kansas. She received a special pension of $25 a month from Congress in 1886. She died peacefully after a minor stroke November 8, 1901. Her remains were transported back to Galesburg, Illinois and she was interred next to her husband at the Linwood Cemetery. In memory of Bickerdyke’s selflessness, a statue of her was erected in Galesburg, Illinois. Two ships…a hospital boat, a liberty ship, and a cemetery in Kansas were named after her.

The Gold Rush affected many states and many people. Everyone headed west to try their luck, hoping to strike it rich. While the big strikes seemed to be in California, the Black Hills, and Alaska, there were many other places where miners struck it rich…and just as many where the miners went bust. It takes a special group of people to persevere in the gold rush years, and many went home broke, or found another way to cash in on the god rush, such as stores where the miners could buy supplies, or saloons, where they could drown their sorrows.

Wyoming had it’s share of gold mines and gold strikes too. Atlantic City was located in west central Wyoming, it was one of three mining towns in the area. The others were South Pass City, and Hamilton City. These towns sprung up as a result of the gold discovery at Spring Gulch in 1867. Hamilton City is located about three miles east of Atlantic City, but it could prove very difficult to locate, because early on in the town’s history, the townspeople unofficially renamed it to Miners Delight after the area’s largest and most productive mine, which carried the same name and was located on Peabody Hill.

The Miners Delight mine was founded by Jonathan Pugh. After a while, the town was officially changed to Miners Delight, since no one called it Hamilton City anyway. At first the mine was a rich enough producing mine to warrant a 10-stamp mill to be erected to crush the rock. The first mention of the town in newspapers appeared in July 1868 with the Sweetwater Mines newspaper describing it as: “…some thirty buildings are up, and more in course of construction. Spring Gulch is turning out the bright ore in very comfortable quantities,” and continues “Ten companies are at work in Spring Gulch…and all appear content with the result of their labors.”

Strangely, the owners of the Miners Delight mine found that recovering gold is more expensive than the gold is worth. After a short few years, the town’s population fell dramatically from its peak of some 75 residents. The Miners Delight Mine shut down in 1874, but soon reopened again…only to close again in 1882. The mining camp would endure good times and bad times over the next several decades, including the Great Depression. Over the years the mine produced over $5 million in gold ore…a relatively small amount as gold goes. The town was inhabited as late as 1960, but today it is nothing but abandoned ruins.

If you go there, you can expect to see rusting iron equipment, such as this old stove, and a couple of iron box screens, around the cabins of Miners Delight, Wyoming. It all seems like nothing much, but in the town’s heyday, it was even home to a couple of famous residents. Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock, would later discover the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada, and a young orphaned girl named Martha Jane Canary, who became known a Calamity Jane. As a child, Marth was adopted and moved with her new parents to Miners Delight. She liked the wild life in both Atlantic City and Miners Delight, and then in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Today, the site is located on Bureau of Land Management property. Some preservation work has been done in order to keep the few remaining buildings standing, but the site is not being restored. Miners Delight is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site continues to preserve several cabins, one building that was said to have been a saloon, a baker, a barn, and a couple of outhouses. They are the last remnants of a long ago era.

My niece, Kayla Stevens is first and foremost a wife to my nephew, Garrett, and a mom to their daughter, 10 month old Elliott Michelle. Being a mom is a dream come true for Kayla, and she is having the time of her life. She and Elliott are very close, and now that the weather is nicer, they have been going on walks every evening after Kayla gets off work. It’s their mother daughter time. Kayla is a great mom, and Elliott is a happy, healthy baby girl, who is full of smiles.

Kayla has been busy this summer being a bridesmaid for her friend Hannah’s wedding in Huntington Beach, California. The whole family went and had a great time. It was Elliott’s first vacation, and they made some great memories there. Kayla will be a bridesmaid in two more weddings this summer, so the summer is shaping up to be quite busy. Weddings are always fun, and for Kayla to be able to help celebrate with her friends is awesome.

A couple of weeks ago, Kayla started a new job at the VA Hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming on their suicide prevention task force. She has worked hard both studying to become a social worker and in her prior job, but I think that this is going to be the culmination of the vision she had for her career. So far she likes her new job. I think is takes a special kind of person to deal with the stresses and problems of other people, but Kayla has a heart for that, and I know that she is a blessing both to her coworkers and her patients.

Kayla’s family all live in Sheridan, and she still has all four of her grandparents, so her little family has been spending lots of time with all of them. They have started a tradition of getting together for lunch after church on Sundays with a lot of the family joining in. They also go to Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley’s house in the country for dinner on the weekends. Elliott loves to look at the cows and horses. Also, now that the weather is nice, they have been able to come to Casper to visit Garrett’s family, my sister, Alena and her husband Mike, as well as his sisters Michelle and Lacey. Alena and Mike have also had more opportunities to go to Sheridan to visit. Its a busy life in so many ways, but Kayla and Garrett feel very blessed with their little family, and their extended families. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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