These photos featuring my grandfather, William M. Janssen, were selected with one purpose in mind: to show that cowboys and ranchers weren't/aren't always horseback.
Granddad Bill came to Montana from Iowa in 1910. He made the trip by train. Over the next 67 years, he rode, straddled, drove and navigated a variety of conveyances. He was a homesteader's son who realized his dream of becoming a cowboy, who became a sailor, who became a businessman, who became a rancher. He worked hard in his younger years and put as much effort into enjoying retirement.
Here's how I remember Granddad, and all the things he ever rode.
Montana Winter Quarters: 1910-1911
John W. Janssen (left) and sons Sam and 14-year-old William (horseback) in front of their eastern Montana homestead
The three came via the Milwaukee Road to Miles City in an immigrant car from Rockwell City, Iowa. They arrived in Miles City on October 10, 1910. They brought with them the most essential supplies: a team of two horses, a wagon, a buggy, two cows, some household "equipment" and furniture, machinery, tools, food and the dog - a Jack Russell lookin' pooch.
Mr grandfather William "Bill" described building the dugout: "We camped and fixed a home from a dug-out near the creek and covered it with logs and dirt, putting in a door and window in the front, building it on up with sod. We lived in this all winter, where we were warm and fine, except at night occasionally dirt would fall in our eyes." (Note pine trees with branches/boughs still attached, used as roof supports, and buffalo skulls piled on top of dugout.)
Prior to homesteading, the Janssens had been share cropping in Iowa. John W. worked as a carpenter and stonecutter, while two of his sons, William and Fred, did the farming. The landowner increased the share of the crop that he required from 2/5 to 1/2. John W. decided he needed to find another way to provide a living for his family and began thinking about moving west.
A train promoting Montana passed through Rockwell City in May 1910, displaying wheat, barley, flax, hay, apples, vegetables and other crops grown in Montana, and encouraging people to settle there. John W. looked at land in South Dakota and Montana before purchasing 2-1/2 sections of land 60 miles south of Miles City.
He and two boys went ahead to prepare a home for the rest of the family. John's wife, Anna, sons Fred and Albert, and daughter, Carolyn "Carrie", arrived in March 1911. All of the children, including Carrie, would establish homesteads of their own.