John Henry Myhre homestead

Located at N43
51' 59"  W106 38' 17"   11 mi. north of Kaycee Wy.

Last Update : 

Old Homestead HouseJohn Henry Myhre was born in Sioux Falls Dakota territory in 1879 where his father James Peter Myhre and mother Ara Nola (Brown) farmed. In his early years he helped out on the family farm. He told me of diving off a high railroad bridge into the river and how he did it without the water breaking his neck. Being the oldest he left home at fifteen to fend for himself. At one time he worked at a deaf-mute school where he learned sign language that he could still use at the end of his days. At the turn of the century he owned two freight wagons and an eight horse team that he used to haul freight across Wyoimg from Sundance to Casper. He once told me a story about looking up and seeing the ridge above him covered with Indians. As they came toward him he planned to cut a horse out of his team and run if they got to close. Before he felt the need to do that he saw the army was herding the Indians along so he stopped and greeted them. The Indians ask him for "baky" he told me, so he gave them all the tobacco he had. Seems there had been an incident near Casper where a couple of white men who were abusing the Indians were killed. The army was assigned the job of rounding up the Indians and moving them to Custer, South Dakota where they were sent to a reservation. John Henry worked sometimes as a cowboy for the big ranches in northern Wyoming and was involved with the last great roundup held in southern Montana - northern Wyoming at the end of the big free range cattle operations during the first decade of the 20th century. In 1910 he married Minnie Florence Jones newly arrived from Kansas and together they established a homestead eleven miles north of the small town of Kaycee, Wyoming not far from the original outpost of Fort Reno on the Powder River. I am not sure what buildings were built first.  This is the house I remember as a boy when I used to spend a couple weeks each summer visiting.  All the log buildings were erected between 1910 and 1915 I believe.  
When unloading logs for this house one of the logs rolled off the load and struck grandpa's brother Leonard Roscoe (not Clarence as I recorded earlier) killing him.  I suppose that was one of the hazards they lived with in those days.  (Clarence V. Myhre 29 Jul 1914 03 Sep 1914 was the infant second born child of John and Minnie.)
The logs for all the homestead buildings were hauled from the Big Horn mountains a few miles west of the homestead site.  Many trips had to be made and a lot of manual labor was involved.  In the first years the family lived on the homestead in pretty primitive conditions during the summer months and moved to Sheridan, Wyoming where grandpa hired out to deliver freight with his team and wagons in the winter months.  Many of the buildings in present downtown Sheridan have bricks hauled by my grandfather in those years.  One year they rented a house on Sheridan Ave. where the trolley ran making it easy for them to get from place to place.Out buildings  

My brother took some pictures of the old place in 2001 showing what it looks like after being abandoned for forty years.  Many on these old structures in Wyoming and Montana are being destroyed for safety.  
North of the old house were two buildings.  The one pictured on the left was used to house grandma's chickens on the west end and the east end was used as a garage.  I remember grandpa having to wash the chicken dust off his old car before we could use it to go to town.  The building pictured on the right was used as a temporary grainery, I don't know what its original use was.  None of these buildings had an actual foundation under them.  The bottom logs were laid on rocks for support. There were gaps in places between these rocks allowing critters to get under the buildings.  I remember when I was about eleven being out in back of the house and seeing grandpa headed up to the grainery with his gun.  Talk about excitement, I just had to see what was going to get shot.  Where you see the circle in the picture is where there was a gap in the rocks where grandpa laid down and pointed his gun under the building with me right by his elbow.  Grandpa told me "you might want to get back a little" so I did, about an inch.  Without further warning grandpa took aim and shot a skunk and quickly rolled away from the hole.  I didn't, and the breeze was blowing right into my face as was the extra strong smell of skunk.  For a while I couldn't even see and hardly breathe. From that time on when grandpa made a suggestion I listened very carefully and tried to do as he suggested.
Path to waterMy grandparents lived on the homestead for fifty years without indoor plumbing, electricity, or a telephone.  I am still amazed at how well they lived without the modern conveniences we think we could not live without.  I remember when they finally broke down and got a refrigerator and was always amazed that their refrigerator cooled stuff with fire.  It was karosene powered.  before that they had an ice box that needed to have a block of ice put into a compartment in the top.  Running water was actually running to the well about a hundred yards down hill and packing the water back in a bucket.  Grandpa had a yoke with chains with hooks that were just about the length of his arms that he would use to pack water up the hill two buckets at a time.  He did that until they moved to town when he was eighty.  
John Henry and Minnie Myhre raised five children on this homestead through the great depression of the thirtys.  During those hard years if they didn't grow it or make it themselves they did without.  What little money they had was used to buy homesteads of neighbors who abandoned their property unable to pay taxes.  By the end of the depression the old homestead had grown to about twelve hundred acres.  They ran cattle and did as much farming as the dry land of Wyoming would allow.  In 1960 grandpa and grandma sold the homestead and moved to Kaycee where grandpa died three years later.  Some of the happiest days of my youth were spent exploring, hunting, and playing Robinson Corusoe on this homestead.  These pictures of old delapidated abandoned buildings make my heart ache.  I will always have an attachment to this land. My father John Ernest Myhre's ashes were scattered along dry creek that runs near where the above picture was taken. He was John Henry's second born.

John Henry Myhre 1879-1962
Minnie Florence (Jones) Myhre 1887-1969
John Henry and Minnie Florence (Jones) Myhre are buried in the cemetery at Kaycee Wyoming  eleven miles south of the homestead where they spent fifty years raising a family and living their lives.

Addon to this page 03/22/2010

The old house,chicken coop/garage and part of what they call the granary can be seen here. The camera is looking northeast from near the location of the old well.My cousin Cindy sent some pictures of the old place that are much better quality, taken in 2005

the house

the kitchen window

Cindy wrote: "I really like the ones (pictures) that are taken from the inside of the building looking out. Gives me a sense of the view they had."

The well, seen though the window, was drilled in the early sixties not long before grandpa died. As you can see it is much closer to the house.

This picture shows the old water tank, the original well was on the right next to this tank.  It had a log derrick with a windmill at the top.   Excess water was pumped into the tank when there was plenty of wind. Water from the tank was used to water a garden and supply water for livestock at times when there was not much wind.   This is the well that provided water to the house . All you had to do was grab a couple of buckets and run down the hill and fetch all the water you wanted to use.

I remember, as a kid, looking across to the foot of the hills in this
 picture and seeing small herds of Antelope grazing


This is a view of the house from the South East. It was the front door side. On the near end was the girls bedroom with a living room in the middle with the heating stove in winter with another bedroom on the other end.   The kitchen was off the west side as was an added on bedroom .

For lighting there were two Coleman lanterns that hung from the ceiling on wire hooks that provided plenty of light. The lanterns were only used when there was company. Card games were a favorite entertainment.  When grandpa and grandma were home alone they used a kerosene lamp on the table for lighting.

Near the window next to the east door, seen here just to the left of the post, grandpa kept a battery operated radio. It was only used to get news and farm reports. The radio used a co combination of several batteries and was used sparingly to conserve battery power.

From this angle looking over the house at the area just to the right and below the windmill grandpa told me there was a circle of buffalo bones when he homesteaded the place.It was where buffalo hunters caught a stand of buffalo and killed them for the hides. He said that sometime in the 1920's a man came around who was buying buffalo bones and hauled the bones away in wagons.

I thank cousin Cindy for these pictures and for the memories viewing them brings back to me.