Mrs. Grace Mashek Tells of Early Logging Operations on Rawhide Buttes
As I looked upon the Pageant of the Legend of the Rawhide Buttes last summer I wondered how many of the cast knew that the rings of rocks can can still be seen in places that held those teepees, made of rawhide, down in the early days by the Indians. It also reminded me of fifty-eight years ago when I came to Wyoming with my grandfather from Iowa, the first of March, 1889. The last of March my two younger brothers and I started afoot to explore the Rawhide Buttes without saying a word to our folks. We got as far as a deserted cabin known as the igloo cabin, then rested. Only a child would have taken the risk at this time of year as a storm could so easily have come up and ended in a tragedy for us as we were a long way from home.
After resting we decided to go home. How ever we got home I don't know. It was late at night when we finally reached home. We had found an old Montgomery Ward catalogue at the cabin, the first we had ever seen. We thought that it was a picture book. I was in bed for a week after that trip so I had plenty of time to look at it. I have had one to look at every six months since, but don't think that I enjoyed these as I did that old catalogue.
The first part of that summer my brother and I made this same trip on horseback, on one horse, clear to the Rawhide Buttes. Here we picked raspberries along the chute. Also we tried to count the rings formed by stones which held the Indian tepees down. Some of these rings can still be seen if we would only look for them.
Whenever friends came to see us, they would suggest that we go to the buttes. So we would roundup the horses, saddle the horses and hitchup the teams to the lumber wagons, while mother prepared a big lunch. Then off we'd go to the Rawhide Buttes to pick raspberries along the chute. Now the word "chute" is why I am writing this story. It was constructed of large pelled logs. Several were laid side by side and wedged together to hold them solid. It extended from the top to the bottom of the Rawhide Buttes, making a white streak that could be seen from a long distance. This chute was a landmark for the pioneers for miles around. The chute was built by the hands of Herb Kingman and Bill Powell in 1884. They also built the first sawmill in these parts. They used the chute to slide logs down to the sawmill. There were not any tractors or gasoline engines in those days. They used horses to drag the logs to the chute on which they would slide the logs down to the sawmill. Horses were used to run the sawmill. The pioneers were thankful to get this rough lumber from which they made their doors, windowcasings and floors for their log cabins and sod shanties. The door hinges were made from rawhide and the latches of wood.
The pioneers were proud of their floors even with the knotholes and cracks. You can ask one of our pioneers about the first time their tableware was dissappearing. At first they thought that the pack rats were getting it. Then one day they happened to see their little son pushing a piece of of it through a crack in the floor. Who was it? It was little Tom Arnold, a school mate of mine.
Many pioneers old and young came from miles around to dances given at the home of Tom Arnold and his parents. Cornmeal was used instead of wax on the rough floors to make them smooth. I know that we were as happy with our rough floors as our young folks with their hard-wood floors.There are still parts of these cabins left on some of the homesteads of our pioneers which were built from lumber made at this old mill.
My husband and his brothers, Jim and Henry, set up the next sawmill. They used this same chute to slide their logs down to their sawmill. The lumber that they made was used to build the barns, sheds, windbreaks and fences on the farm that my husband took me to as a bride in 1896.The buildings on the place are still standing except one wing of the house. It is now the Hunter Hereford Ranch.
Ed Arnold said that he hauled lumber from thr Kingman sawmill in 1886 for the erection of the Congregational Church, which is now the Baptist Church. The old Kingman home, later the Bill Bonsell, Sr.,home, was also built from lumber from the Rawhide Buttes. The first residences in Lusk built of the Rawhide Buttes lumber were "Capt" Louger and Goodwin Homes, still on Elm Street. The railroad was built through Lusk about the same time.
My husband and I were the first couple married in this Congregational Church and all of our children were baptized in the same church, namely: Anna Marcello, Alexander Joseph,Vernice Renetta, Grace Mary, Irene Leda, Arthur James, and Dorthey May. We would drive a team and buggy seven miles every Sunday from the ranch to attend Sunday School and Church Services. When we were married twenty-five years, we had two daughters, Vernice and Grace, who had a double wedding in the same church.
At slack times my husband and our 13-year-old son, Joe, would put up camp for several days, "snaking" out wood for fuel. When enough was gathered to make a load, he would send Joe with the load, while he stayed on to fell more trees or gather pitch logs for the next load. Joe would arrive home about eleven o'clock at night. We could hear him coming by the creaking and rattling of the wagon. Then I would be out to meet him and help him unharness and put the team away. Then a bite to eat and to bed. Next morning real early I would start him off again on that 14-mile streach to the Rawhide Buttes for more wood. One time his father chopped down a tree which started rolling down the hill, coming right at him. He ran as fast as he could and was almost caught by the tree before he reached the bottom of the Butte.
Another thing that I want to tell the pioneers is for them to save and preserve their old leather saddles, as Tommy Neilson is going to put them on the shelf and replace them with plastic saddles. Then they will be as difficult to get as the side saddle was to get for the pageant. An old pioneer made the remark that a plastic saddle was a disgrace to the cowboy. I answered "No". They are an improvement the same as a car is over the wagon and the airplane will be over the car.
Improvement goes on just as the people built this new Congregational church to have more room to work in and do God's work for the people. But the first church built 60 years ago by the people is still doing its work for God and is called the Baptist church. The people will observe the 60th anniversary of the Congregational Church on Febuary 23, 1947. And this day means so much to me, as 60 years ago this month I went to my first Congregational Church Sunday School with my grand-father at Monticello, Iowa. I have always attended and been a member of the Congregational Church. Not many pioneers are here to be with us on the 23rd of February who helped to build the first Congregational Church 60 years ago. All have passed on one by one to travel the heavenly path to meet their maker. GOD BLESS THEM ALL!
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|Mashek, Grace (06/25/1880 - 04/03/1962)