Otis &Lillie Family

Back: Chet, Kenny, and Billy Dipp

Middle: Mae, Grandma Lillie, and Granddad Otis Wells, holding Leah

Front: Nellie, and Harriett Wells (My Mom)

This is a picture of my grandparents, Lillie and Otis Wells, and their family. The only one missing is my Uncle Eldred, who was not yet born. The photo, I believe was taken on the porch of Granddad’s parents, Absalom and Harriett Wells.

I’m not sure what the occasion was when this picture was taken . Perhaps they had just been to church or maybe it was a holiday. The reason I say this is because all three of the boys are dressed in white shirts and wearing ties, whch they did not wear everyday. It was not uncommon for Grandma and the girls to be wearing dresses, they did most of the time. Grandma wore dresses almost all of the time. I’ve only seen pictures of her in pants twice.

This is the only picture I have seen with grandma and granddad and their children all together, when they were younger.

Back row: Kenny Dipp, Chet Dipp, Leah Colyer, Nellie Duffield, Eldred Wells, Bill Dipp Front Row: Mae Medlock, Lillie Wells, Otis Wells, Harriett Craig.

The above picture was taken at a family reunion at the home of my parents, Jim and Harriett Craig.
This was Thanksgiving, 1972 . I think this may have been the last time that they were all together at the same time, as they were spread across the country. They may have all been together again at one of my Aunts family reunions that I didn’t make, I’m not sure. Uncle Eldred, second from right in the back row, was the youngest of the children. He was not yet born in the first picture.

It was at this reunion that Mike and I decided to move to Nevada and accept the job that Dad had offered Mike. We moved here the next month, just before Christmas, and remained here the next 18 years.

I am so thankful for family pictures, and the memories and history they tell.

Springtime in Montana

Picture looking down our street

My sister, who lives in Arizona, always says, “Oh the snow is so pretty, especially when it is a calm snow and covers all the trees branches. I miss it so much!”

Well she is right. It makes a baren, leafless tree, into a thing of beauty. Sometimes the beauty almost takes my breath away. It fills me with a feeling of awe and wonderment.

That being said, I can say I AM SICK OF SNOW!! IWANT SPRING! It is no longer winter, it IS SPRING!

Same street, different direction

The thing about spring snows is that they are almost always very heavy and wet, as you can see on this evergreen. It often breaks branches, brings down power lines, and cuts off power. If it is deep enough and heavy enough, it can collapse roofs! Not to mention the hazzards on the roads.

My husband went out to clear the sidewalks. The snow is so wet that the snowblower won’t work on it. He had to shovel it by hand. It is so heavy that I can’t hardly lift a full shovel. Not an easy task!

It is devasting to the ag industry that is usually right in the middle of calving. It can cause an outbreak of scours, and other issues that can cause a loss of life. It is hard to get equipment out to feed cattle. To say it is stressfull also on the ranchers who take care of the livestock is an understatement! It is exhausting.

As you can see, we have a pretty good accumulation, and it is still snowing. But we have nothing. We have family who live closer to the mountains who have gotten 2 FEET!. They have snow plows that have gotten stuck trying to plow the highway. There is emergency travel only warnings out in several areas of the state.

Springtime in Montana, gotta love it…OR NOT!

Note to my Sis in Arizona: Fix up the spare room! 😄😎

A Place Called Home

A place called home doesn’t have to be a place that you own, or was handed down from generation to generation. Although that can be home to many; it was to my dad. His great grandparents homesteaded in Bruneau, ID. Dad was born and raised in the house they lived in. No matter where Dad lived throughout his years, Bruneau was always home in his heart.

That was not the case with me. I was raised in Bruneau until I was age 5. From then on through my childhood, we moved every few years.

I have several places that are “home” in my heart. That is because the memories of my childhood and my married life, are attached to them. They are part of me, part of my heart that beats every day in my mind.

Bruneau, although I don’t have a lot of vivid memories of it from when I lived there, is one of those places. Even though we moved from there, we still had family who lived there and we visited throughout the years. My great (Granny & Grandpa) lived there, and my Great Aunt Effie and Uncle Al, and some of my Granddad’s siblings as well.

It will always be part of me.

Bruneau, My great-great-grandparents house, where my Granddad Ed, my Dad, Jim, and my Uncle Bob were born

My second “home” is a ranch in Fairfield, Id. We lived there for only three years, but so many wonderful memories from there are shared between my sister and I to this day. It is hard to believe all the life we shared, and the memories made could have been packed into only 3 years. We lived in two different houses on this ranch. This is affectionetly known by me as “The Little House on The Prairie.” Camas Prairie that is!

Sherry Craig Russell at “The Little House”

My third home would be on a ranch out of Healdsburg, California. It was a horse and cattle ranch. We lived on this ranch for three years also. When we moved from here, it was to a nearby ranch. Although the location was different, we went to the same school, had the same friends, and the same family all lived nearby. Great memories were formed in both places.

We lived in California for a total of 7 years. I loved it there; the way it was then. My husband and I took a trip back there several years ago, and I cried uncontrollably when we visited both of my old homes. It had changed so drastactly that I couldn’t even recognize it. In fact I never found the road we lived on at the last ranch. I felt like someone had stolen and destroyed my childhood. Of course I have learned since, that the memories live on.

From California, Mom, Dad, and I moved on to Montana. Pat was married by then and remained in California for awhile. Dad worked for the Beartooth Ranch in Columbus, Montana. Years later this ranch would be sold to Mel Gibson, who owned it for several years.

When we first moved there, the house we were to move into was still being occupied by the previous owners. They found a house out of Absarokee on a ranch for us that they rented for about six months. The new owners decided to live in the large house that we were originally meant to live in. They built us a new house on the Beartooth, and we moved into a house in town for the second half of the first year while it was being built.

Although the homes we lived in here did not fit the bill in my heart to be remembered as “home”, this community did. It was here that I met my husband, and years later we would move back to his families ranch.

Mom and Dad in the first rented house
Wally Thompson’s ranch Absarokee, MT

I graduated high school, here and went on to nursing school. A couple of years later my husband and I were married in Absarokee.

My folks had moved to the U3 Ranch in Wells, NV. Dad was managing the ranch and offered Mike a job. We ended up moving there in December of 1972 and lived there for 18 years.

All of our children were born here. For about half of those 18 years, we lived in this little house . We raised our children who were able to spend their early years next door to their grandparents. Dad and Mom eventually moved on to Idaho, and Mike took over as manager on the U3.

Mike, Sherry, and Dustin Russell
front steps of the house that made us a family
Main House on U3 Ranch, Wells, NV

This house, this ranch, means more to me than I have words to describe. This is the house that Mom and Dad lived in when we first moved to Nevada, and this is the house we lived in when Mike became manager.

This is where our children lived the biggest part of their childhood. When we left here we left a part of our hearts. But we have memories that bring us back to this wonderful place often.

From Montana to Nevada. From Nevada; back to Montana; back to where my husband was born and raised. Back to the ranch that his grandfather from Scotland came to America to homestead.

This picture was taken just in front of our house
looking out over the main headquarters to the
Russell Ranch at the bottom of the mountains

It is here we lived for the next 20 years. It was here we became grandparents. It is here where we thought we would spend the rest of our lives. But life doesn’t always work out the way we plan.

For the last 13 years we have lived in Laurel, MT. It is here where Mike will retire, at least from full time work hopefully in the coming year.

The first several years we lived here, we lived in a one bedroom apartment right next to the railroad tracks. For a couple of old country kids, that was pretty hard to get used to. This house has been a blessing to us. It has given us peace.

Our Present home Laurel, MT

Will this be our forever home? We don’t know. Only the future can tell. If it is, we will be fine because we have each other. If we move on, we will be fine, because we will have each other.. And we have our memories. God has blessed us with a good life and good memories.

“Where we love is home, home where our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

Oliver Wendell Holms

Cowboy From Birth

My Grandfather Ed Craig
My Dad Jim Craig Holding Reins

I have shared a lot about my dad, Jim Craig, about how he was born and raised a cowboy. Well I wasn’t fibbing. I am not sure if he was even walking yet when this picture was taken.

Look at those tiny little hands holding those reins! He is so alert, watching that horse like a true cowboy!

You can tell by his face that he loves being in the saddle



Jim and Nick, his pony

Here he is just a little bit older. He is on his pony, Nick, and wearing a pair of chaps made for him by his father, Ed Craig.

Nick was one of his childhood companions. They rode many miles together.

Jim and his Dad, Ed

Here he is headed out to trail some cows with his Dad. I love this picture of Granddad also. That is quite the hat he has on. Looks like he is on the set of an early John Wayne movie!

Jim on Pinky

Dad is on Pinky in this picture. His stirrups look a little short on his saddle. I think he was close to outgrowing it. He looks almost like a jockey. Dad told me he thought it would have been fun to have been a jockey. He did train polo horses for awhile. I wish I could have watched him do that. I may have, but if I did, I was to small to remember!

Jim on Pinky

Pinky was another horse Dad grew up on. I think he said he was in his teens in this picture.

So there you have it. Picture proof of my dad, Jim Craig, born and raised a cowboy.

He spent the better part of his life in the saddle and loved every minute of it. He raised his girls the same way, And when the grandkids came along, he had them in the saddle with him as well.

Jim Craig & Granddaugher Holly Russell

Jim Craig & Nick

Thanks for letting me share my story with you!

Adios Friends!

“No hour of life is wasted when spent in the saddle.”

Winston Churchill

The Craig & Wells Boys

L-R Uncle Eldred Wells, Dad Jim Craig

Uncle Bob Craig- in front

This is a picture of three men who are very dear to me. This had to be taken close to the time my Mom and Dad were married. Perhaps while they were dating. My Uncle Bob was 10 years younger than my dad. He looks between 10-12 in this picture to me. Uncle Eldred (Curly) looks to be about the same age and is my mom’s youngest brother.

When we lived in California when I was a kid, Uncle Bob and Uncle Curly, both lived within a mile of us for awhile.

It was nice to have family close by. We used to have picnics at the ocean, boating days at the lake, and family times at the ranch. It was nice having family so close. We all live so far apart now. I miss being able to see them whenver I wanted.

I don’t know where this was taken. It looks like a pretty steep and “iffy” climb. Nothing I would want to attempt!

Uncle Curly, or Uncle Bob, maybe you could tell me if you know where this is.

It is fun to find old pictures like these and see how far back these three men’s lives were intertwined.

Family ties; tied together by blood, marriage, and lasting friendships. This one is a keeper!

Neighbor

One thing I’ve learned about living in rural America or small town America, is the meaning of neighbor.

You all know each other. You may become close friends, or just aqaintances. You may visit each others homes, or you may just know where each other live.

But it is for almost certain, that they will know when a crisis hits your home. It is then when close friends and maybe those who are not so close will undoubtably come together to lend a hand. I have seen it time after time.

Fundraisers; auctions, dances, community dinners, all to raise money in a time of need. I’ve seen neighbors bringing dinners, watching children, doing chores, and pitching in to help with the ranch work you might not be able to physically do, which needs done regardless.

I have seen it with others. And we have been on the receiving end of this incredible grace, this thing; this helping hand, this miracle called a neighbor.

Verse by Sheryl Craig Russell

Art work by Terri Routen

Mathew22:39

The second is this,”You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Little Jimmie and His Goat

Jim Craig- Bruneau, ID (So Cute!)

I always knew my dad loved animals, especially horses and dogs. He loved cattle also. He was a cattle rancher and a horseman. He trained and showed Quarter horses. He also raised, trained, and sold Blue Heeler cow dogs.

There is a couple of things I noticed about this picture. On the back it says, “Little Jimmie and his goat.” When he was younger he went by Jimmie a lot of the time. I have seen his name spelled Jimmy before several times and I thought that was the way he always spelled it. But on this picture, it looks like his mother spelled it Jimmie. I am now pretty sure that is the way his name was spelled back then, because I discovered a letter he wrote to his mother when he was little, and it was signed “Jimmie.”

There is so much history in pictures. Dad and his parents were very good about writing on the back of their photos. I wish I would have followed in their steps. So many of mine were kept in boxes with the good intention of “some day I will write on these, organize them, and put them all neatly in albums.” I am 72 now and decided it was time I get started on that project….maybe tomorrow.😉

I found another picture of Dad and his goat when he was a little younger. I think this is probably the same goat.

Jim Craig, Rosalie and Shirley Hawes, Bruneau, ID

I shared this one on a post I wrote a few years ago, titled, “Beloved, Billy The Kid.” It was about a baby goat my dad gave our kids when they were little. You should read that one if you haven’t. We came to think Dad had something in for us! He could be a handfull!

I can see now how much he loved his little goat when he was a kid, and I am sure he wanted his grandchildren to have some of those great memories.

I also see the little kitten playing with his foot in the top picture. In his later years, Dad had a couple of cats that were his companions and a great comfort to him in his struggles through ALS. But when we were kids, I never thought Dad really liked cats. Dogs were his chosen pets then, not cats. I think he really loved all animals. Well, maybe not skunks. But that is another post!

Lillie’s Little Treasures

Lillie Lanning Wells… Age 72

I’ve shared a few posts of my Grandma Lillie Belle Wells lately. They seem to keep churning up more stories. She just seems to be sitting on my heart right now.

I thought I would share a few stories about some of Grandma’s little treasures she left behind for us.

Lillie’s Deer Covered Bowl

This story was shared with me from my cousin. I’m not sure what exactly the bowl was. It looks fairly small in this picture. I am wondering if it was maybe a bowl for powder, possibly had a powder “puff” with it? Not sure. But the story touched my heart strings.

It was my aunt’s birthday. My Granddad Otis was gone, perhaps on a fence contract, I don’t know. Regardless, Lillie never learned to drive and was not able to go to town to get my aunt a gift. So she went through her things hoping to find something that my aunt might like. She found this cute little treasure and wrapped it up for her. Lillie couldn’t not have a gift for her little girl on her birthday! She had such a tender heart.

Needless to say this is now a family heirloom. Not because of its monetary value, but because of the sweet story that acompanies it.

Lillie’s Ruby and Pearl Ring

This was Grandma’s ruby ring. No one seems to know how she aquired it. It was handed down to my mother, and upon my mother’s passing; to me. A couple of years ago I handed it down to my daughter, who will eventually hand it down to her daughter. I wrote a post telling the story, titled, “Love handed Down,” in December, 2017.

Sam Jack- Character from Otis Wells’ poem

Above is a sampling of some of Lillie’s art over the years. They are a treasure for us all. I am especially fond of Sam Jack, which was sketched on an old envelope. Sam Jack was a character in a poem written and often ‘acted out’ by Otis Wells, my grandfather, when his children were young. I also wrote a post about Sam Jack in March 2018, about this cute poem.

Grandma Lillie…The Best Treasure of All!

But the most valuable treasures she left us all, were the memories of times spent with her. The two pictures of Grandma on this post is the way I always remembered her. She was a pioneer daughter and a wife to two very lucky men, (she was widowed by her first) a loving mother to eight children, and a Grandmother and Great-Grandmother to many. She was a follower of Jesus. She shared her faith by the example she left us.

Someday, I will be greeted by her sweet smile, and loving arms. I’m pretty sure there will be a plate of cinnamon rolls waiting for me up there also! Keep them warm Grandma!