view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife: Wickahoney

Random Thought:

"The darkest nights produce the brightest stars"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Wickahoney in it's heyday.

My great grandma Rosella Tindall Chambers was raised on a cattle ranch that doubled as a stage stop in southern Idaho.  She was married when she was 19, had my grandma when she was 20, and was divorced by the time she was 22.  She watched her older brother die from a bleeding ulcer one day while trailing their cattle to the rail station in Elko.  Not long after, her father hung himself when the bank turned him down for a loan to buy hay for his cattle at the start of a hard winter.  Her mother having nothing to live for without her son or husband took rat poison.

This all happened in the Early 1930's.  My great grandma found herself divorced and alone with a baby girl, and a cattle ranch to run in the great depression.  A very unheard of situation for a woman at that time.  Her cowboys wouldn't take orders from a woman, so she found a foreman who would.  She would give him her orders and he made sure they got done they way she wanted.  The bank wouldn't give her a loan, so she found someone who would.  She was out of underwear for her daughter, so she would take the cowboy's old, worn out clothes and made her some of whatever she needed out of that.  She worked all day doing cowboy stuff, then came home to take care of her baby and make a home.  She made do, she got by.

Wickahoney today.

From the time she could stand on a box, she was expected to work.  My great grandma could work just as hard as any cowboy, but at the end of the day she was always a lady.  After a hard days work, she came in and cooked dinner.  If she was going to town she wore her best clothes and did her hair.  My grandma and great aunt (her daughters) never learned to cowboy.  Grandma said that "If you can't milk a cow and you can't ride, you don't have to.  If you can, you do.  You have to do your work and real man's work too."


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you! I'm pretty proud of my great grandma!

  3. Really cool. Nicely written. My Grandma wasn't suppose to be milking the cows (not sure if it was cause she was female or younger) but she paid off her older brother to let her...a deal he thought was pretty good! - SRW

  4. This is incredible Jennifer! Thank you so much for sharing this story, I am impressed, inspired and also feel like a major wimp!! :)

  5. This is an amazing story. You come from some good stock! When I got my first job in college riding horses for a lady she asked if I would mind helping her dad with the alfalfa fields. My mom joked with me and said "Gina, don't let them find out you can run a shovel! It won't stop with a shovel. You may be sorry." I rode horses, ran a shovel, corrugated fields, sprayed weeds and built fence. I was fine with that. But, my mom was didn't stop with a shovel. lol

  6. Just love this story. We think we have it so tough. Living at cowcamp was a piece of cake compared to her days!

  7. Sylvan, sounds like your grandma was crazy! ;) I don't blame her brother for going for it!

    I know what you mean Liz! I have a long day and think I've done so much, then think about My great grandman and other women from that era and think I have it pretty easy!

    Gina, your mom is a smart woman!

    I wanted to share this quote from my Aunt Robing in Montana, I thought it went pretty well with the discussion! "My Grandma told me to never learn to milk the cow too. I thought that was kinda cool. Del wasn't impressed with that advice when my dad gave him a milk cow for a dowery."

  8. Jenn you really should write a book! This is great, so glad you shared this! Guess I shouldn't complain afterall...could be much, much harder work! You come from some wonderful "roots!"

  9. Was your great grandma one of Dow and Margaret Dunning's children?

  10. I had the opportunity to visit the ruins yesterday. Sadly, the the chimney is now down. It is very cool to get a bit more of the history of the site beyond the usual dry stage stop/post office facts. Thank you!