Sam Jack

Aunt Nellie Wells Duffield  1935

This cute picture was taken of my Aunt Nellie when she was 4 years old.  I believe it is probably at Wintercamp, Id.  Her puppies, Salt and Pepper are sharing the stump with her.

My Mom used to tell a story from her youth about my Grandfather, Otis Wells.  He would jump up on an old tree stump and with great enthusiasm and antics, recite a poem he wrote.  It was called Sam Jack.  When I saw this picture I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the stump he used.

My Grandparents, Otis & Lillie Wells

My Grandma Lillie was an artist.  She didn’t have any true formal training but I believe Mom told me she took a class from one of those ” Can you draw?” ads in magazines.  She was always sketching something.  I have a few of her drawings…wish I had more.  She would sketch on her art notebook, post cards, or like this one she did of “Sam Jack”, on an old envelope.

Sam Jack
        “Sam Jack”            by Lillie Wells










Sam Jack

I’m Sam Jack of the West.  I was reared in the Rockies,

Sired by an aligator, mothered by a grizzly bear.

I can run faster, jump higher, dive deeper,

and come up dryer than anyone here.

I was tossed up with a basket of butcher knives

and come down without a scratch.

The further up the creek you get, the wilder they are,

and I’m right from the head!

Otis Wells

I started going through boxes of old pictures a couple of years ago.  I hope to continue digging through them and sharing the memories they evoke.  Hopefully new generations of our family will have a small glimpse into some of their ancestors.

This memory is for Sam Jack and his creators….Otis and Lillie Wells.  Love and miss you both!



Grandma’s Apron

My last blog post on Granddad’s Purses got me missing my Grandma (Grandmas) as well. Had to repost this in their memory..and Mom. Hope you enjoy.


IMG_0466 Ed and Odessa Craig   June 1957

She was born Odessa Pearl Drobny on December 17, 1905 in Ft.Bidwell, California.  Her younger years were spent in Ft. Bidwell.  The family later moved to Grandview, Idaho. In 1925, she married Ed Craig from Bruneau, Idaho.

Ed and Odessa lived on the family ranch in Bruneau for several years and later settled in Healdsburg, California on the Double J-N Ranch.

Grandma, as she was known to me, had the most beautiful yard I’ve ever seen. Fragrant colorful, flowers of every kind lined the entire perimeter. Butterflies, bees, and birds, filled the air, making her yard seem like a magic fairy land to a small girl!

Grandma died in 1966 from a brain aneurysm.

I was going through old photos the other day, and there was Grandma, cloaked in that familiar old apron.  It flooded my mind with so many memories, that I felt…

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Granddad’s Purses

Granddad Ed Craig & Grandma Odessa

We went to an auction last weekend where an enormous collection of leathercraft tools were sold.  It got me in a very nostalgic mood.  I couldn’t help thinking of my Granddad Ed and his love and talent for that craft.  Grandma is pictured with him above with the purse he made her.  It has her initials on it; OPC for Odessa Pearl Craig.

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Mom; Harriett Belle Craig

Mom is pictured above with the purse Granddad made her.  Mom passed away several years ago, and we have been unable to find her purse.  I still have hopes someday that it will turn up.  It is a family heirloom to me.

Sister Pat and me 

This picture is of my sister and I sporting the purses Granddad made for us.  Pat’s has her name, and mine has my initials.  We used these purses all through our childhood, and we both still have them.

Granddad didn’t just make purses.  He made belts, photo albums, chaps, and he even made a saddle.   But it is his purses made especially for us, that pulls at my heart-strings.  They have never been full of money, but they are worth a fortune.  That is because they are filled with priceless treasures.  They are filled with a lifetime of sweet memories of Granddad’s laughter, hugs, pranks, and his unconditional love.

My Valentine

Mike U3
Mike U3 Ranch Wells, NV

This picture was taken many years ago.  He is in his sixties now.  He doesn’t live in the wide open country that he loves…we live in town.  But this is where his heart still is; where his soul still finds peace and contentment.

This ranch is where our three children were born and spent the biggest part of their childhood.  It is where the foundation of our marriage had its start.

Mike has been a wonderful friend, husband, and father to our children.  He has been my soft shoulder to lean on in hard times, and the smile that makes my day great every day.  We still hold hands, we still like being together.  He still completes me.

Mike is still a kid at heart and I think always will be.  Below is a picture of him taking a turn on our grandsons’ bucking barrel a couple of years ago.  I love the man in these pictures.  He’s the love of my life….my buddy…my Valentine!

Mike Bucking Barrell

Good Times

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Sister Pat, me, and Duke at Fairfield, Id

Good times… their memories are what give you joy at the present, soften the hard times, and lighten the load of ageing with a smile.

We called it the sled hill.  It gave us hours and hours of good times.  Duke, our dog, is not yet at the top of the hill in this picture.  Our sled run was from the top of the hill down to the road.  The down hill flight was filled with laughs.  It was one of our greatest childhood thrills!  Duke would run after us on the way down, and lead the way back to the top with a wagging tail.  He loved it too.

My sister and I shared a lot of good times throughout the years.  She was my first true friend, and she is still close to my heart.  Pat is not just my sister, she is part of me.   We share most of the same childhood memories.  Most of my good times were also her good times.  We played games, rode horses, listened to records, and danced in the living room.  We had a few disagreements like most siblings, but very few.

After we got married, distance separated us physically.  We haven’t been able to spend as much time together over the years as we would like.  We may not be able to share our day over a cup of coffee.  But we do share our day occasionally over the phone, and special moments with the help of Facebook.

And we always will share our childhood memories.

Good times!  May your heart and life be full of them!  Happy birthday Sis!





Never to Old?

sherry western ag
Sheryl Craig Russell

They say you are never too young or too old to learn something new; to spread your wings, take a leap of faith, and venture out to the deeper waters.  I have always believed that.  Or at least I thought I did.

That is what America is all about isn’t it?  We are the land of opportunity.  We can be what we want to be, do what we want to do.  Nothing stands in our way….except ourselves and our own perceived limitations.

So here I am, a self-admitted senior citizen finding myself at a major crossroad in my life.  My body won’t let me be on my feet all day anymore, but I still need to work.

I’ll admit it, I am a little anxious about the decision I’ve made.  I’ve decided to go back to college!  I was feeling fairly confident with my choice until registration day when I walked into a room filled with kids almost 50 years younger than me.  I told myself, ” It’s okay.  You are going to take this need to get intimidated.  You can work at your own pace.  Things will be fine.”

So in that class of new students, they had us all register “online.”  I didn’t feel to bad.  Though I was the only one in there with gray hair and age spots, I wasn’t the only one to need help.  Some of those youngsters who were raised on computers needed help also!

Move forward to this last week.  I had an online orientation I had to go through.  There was also a few classes online that all new students had to take.  Alcohol and sexual harassment and abuse awareness, etc.  Not any big problems, just got myself shut out from too many attempts trying to use a wrong password.  (I have no doubt I will soon have that help number memorized.)  And those tests, that they said should only take about 20 minutes each?  If that was twenty minutes for each section, then maybe I was okay.  But I don’t think that is what they meant.

It will get better, right?  I’ll learn to use this computer, right?  I mean if I can figure out how to use Facebook and Pinterest, I should be able to learn how to use Excel, The Box, Power Point, and all that other stuff on Office 365 I just had to download for my classes, right? Right?  Please tell me right!!

Deep breath….Ahh, that’s better.   No need to panic.  No need to get the bottle of rum out yet.   I am a Christian.  I am fearfully, and wonderfully made.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.

I will make it through this……but I’d appreciate your prayers!



Love Handed Down

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My Grandmother, Lillie Belle Wells

This is the story of love handed down.  It is the story of a ruby ring surrounded by pearls that belonged to my Grandmother, Lillie Belle Wells.  The story was never really clear from where, or from who she aquired the ring, but it is beautiful.

My Mom, Harriett Belle Wells Craig 1948

It was handed down to my mother, Harriett Belle Craig.  I remember Mom wearing it from time to time.  She always looked at it with affection in her eyes.  Not with affection for the ring, but for who it once belonged to.

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Me, Sheryl Craig Russell

That ring was next handed down to me.  I have had it for several years.  I have worn it on occasion but not alot.  It was missing three pearls, and I was told all of the prongs were loose. I was always afraid I would lose more stones.  There is just something so special about that ring.  Whenever I wear it, I feel the presence of my mother and my grandmother both.  I feel their warmth.  I see their sweet smiles.  I feel their love pouring into me.

I recently had that old ring repaired.  I replaced the missing pearls, and had the prongs built up, and the ring cleaned.  It hardly looks like the same ring….but it is.

My daughter, Holly Russell Hansen

This Christmas I am handing this ring of love down to you,  Holly.  I lent it to you on your wedding day, and told you some day when I got it fixed, it would be yours.  Merry Christmas sweet daughter of mine!

Granddaughter          Mikaylee Belle Hansen

I have only two requests with this ring.  One, whenever you wear it, feel my presence, and my love, along with your grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s who wore it before you.  Second, when she is old enough to truly appreciate every thing it stands for, and all the love that is being transfered to her, I ask that you hand it down to your daughter, Mikaylee Belle.

Lillie’s Ruby Ring…love handed down