M. T. F. ROSENBURG
                         March, 1956
     Early on a bright June morning in 1883 my mother, father and
my grandfather (Thomas Regan) left Deadwood, South Dakota on a
pioneering trip to the Pacific Northwest.  They traveled in a
high covered Conestoga   wagon, drawn by a span of Missouri
mules.  They carried provisions for a three months trip.  They
averaged twenty miles a day when the going was good.  In those
days there were no paved highways, and they were very happy to
have a dirt road which many times was not more than a trail.
Some of the grades were so steep and rough that it was all the
mules could do to get the wagon over them.

     They traveled out of Deadwood on such a road until they came
to the Belle Fourche River and followed it a long way, striking
across the Northeast corner of Wyoming.  They traveled through
cattle country and wandering bands of Indians until they arrived
at the Powder River.  They followed it north many miles, then
turned west and followed the Yellowstone River to Billings,
Montana.  Traveling old freight-wagon trails which were very
dusty and full of holes and ruts, many days they would travel
without seeing any habitation or human being.  There was a great
plenty of game in this part of Montana, especially prairie
chickens which are a kind of grouse.  They enjoyed them very
much.  Following freight-wagon trails traveled on to Livingston,
then on to Bozeman and then on to Butte, and over the Bitter Root
Mountains through One-eyed Gap into Missoula, Montana.  These
last four towns were typical frontier towns with cowboys and
miners in the majority.

     They passed large farms, mostly in wheat, also many large
cattle ranches.  The people were friendly and wanted them to stop
and take up land and settle there, but they were determined to go
to Seattle, so on they went.  There were many grim reminders
along the wagon trail to keep them always alert.  One day as they
were traveling through a very sparsely settled part of Montana
about fifty miles above the Wyoming border they came upon a scene
of devastation.  There before them scattered over the prairie
were the remains of what appeared to be of two wagons with all
the contents burnt and destroyed beyond repair.  Of the occupants
there was no visible sign.  I want to state here that they were
following part of a wagon train that was freighting supplies to
Miles City.  They never did hear what had become of the people
whose wagon had been destroyed.  The wagon boss of the train that
they were with told them that anyone traveling in small parties
was in danger of attack, not only from roving bands of Indians,
but also from desperados who hid in the hills.  This news and the
scene on the prairie gave them great worry.  They were very lucky
as the only Indians they saw were in small numbers.  They did not
see any Desperados at all.  In passing through Montana there were
many things which stood out in regard to this trip.  One night
when they made camp along the Musselshell River some cowboys rode
into their camp and advised them to move to higher ground because
of flash floods which were common at this time of year.  My folks
heeded this advice and packed up and moved about a mile above
where they were.  There was another family camping near the banks
of the Musselshell who would not move.  During the night a
terrific rainstorm occurred and they did have a flash flood that
took everything before it, including the family who did not move
to higher ground.  They lost everything including their lives.

     Another thing that impressed them was a large wheat field.
They could see the wheat waving, but feel no wind.  While they
were watching the field a man rode up on horseback.  After asking
about it, he informed them that the waving was caused by very
short Indians harvesting wheat. The wheat was so high that the
Indians could not be seen as they were only about four feet tall.

     Between Livingston and Butte, Montana they ran into very bad
weather in the form of a cloudburst.  The rain started coming
down hard in the afternoon and as they were passing a prosperous
looking ranch, they stopped and the good people insisted on them
staying the night with them.  This was the first night they had
had a roof over their heads since they had left Deadwood.  As the
rainstorm was getting worse they were very glad to stay there.
During the evening a man and a boy of about eighteen years old
arrived, and said they were heading for Butte.  They were mounted
and each led a pack horse.  They said they were going to work in
the mines in Butte.  The people at the ranch gave them something
to eat and told them they could find feed for their horses in the
barn and would find a dry place to sleep there also.  They were
very grateful and did as the farmer suggested.  The next morning
when my folks got up the man and boy were gone.  The farmer said
that they left at daybreak.  Not long after my folks were on
their way, having spent a very restful night. The farmer seemed
to be ill at ease as though something were troubling him. On
questioning him he told about the horse stealing going on around
those parts, and said that if the Vigilantes caught up with the
two who had spent the night there it would go bad with them.
They would not be given a chance but would be hung to the first
tree unless they had positive proof that they owned their horses,
especially the two that they led.  The farmer decided to ride
ahead of my folks to see if the rains did much damage, and also
to see if the two men were out of danger.  He told them he would
ride until noon and then turn back.  He started out and they
followed.  Soon he was out of sight.  About four hours later they
saw a clump of trees in the distance, and there seemed to be a
number of men and horses gathered there. Upon approaching there
were the two men, also the farmer and eight other tough-looking
men.  My folks stopped and there before their eyes were two ropes
hanging from a limb of a tree.

     This was a Vigilante committee.  Many horses had been stolen
that week and they were out to put a stop to it.  So coming upon
these two, they decided that they were the ones they were after.
The farmer put in a strong plea for them and persuaded them to
remove the ropes from their necks until my folks arrived, saying
that my folks could vouch that they had stayed at the farmers
house the previous night, which was a long way from the district
in which the horse stealing had been going on.  My folks were
glad to do this.  After considerable talk the Committee agreed
that if the two suspects could produce credentials that were
satisfactory they could go free. This should have been done in
the first place.   The prisoners thought that this band of
horsemen riding down on them were desperados, and they tried to
outrun them but were soon caught.  They protested their
innocence, but if the farmer had not arrived when he did they
would have been hung pronto.  On examining their credentials
everything turned out all right.  The man had a letter from a big
mining man in Butte to come there as superintendent of his mine.
The boy was his son, and they were from Colorado.  Everything was
settled to everyones satisfaction.  The Vigilantes left, and the
farmer went home knowing he had done a good deed.  The two men
stayed with my folks until they reached Butte.  I have often
thought of that farmer. If he had not taken an interest in the
two men and followed it up, they would have been hung, and they
were innocent.

     In writing this account I mention a few experiences in order
to show the type of people and a description of the country they
were passing through.

     They had been on the road a little over a month by this
time, and it was very warm being about mid-summer.  They were
enjoying the trip immensely, and everything was going smoothly.
On leaving Missoula the road seemed to be climbing  --not a
direct steep climb but a gradual ascent. They kept plodding on
getting into tall timber, something new to them. They went
through a gap in the mountains called Kellog Pass, and on August
10th, they drove into Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  They stopped a few
days to freshen up and give the mules a much needed rest: then on
to Spokane, Washington, a thriving city even in those days.
Leaving Spokane, they drove in easy stages over barren windswept
country to Pasco, Washington, on the great Columbia River.  At
this place they made a very bad choice of roads.

     Leaving Pasco they were directed to take the road to the
right where the road forked about five miles out of town.  When
they came to the fork in the road, the road to the right was such
a poor looking road and the road to the left was so much better
that they decided to take it.  They traveled about ten miles on
it and the road just petered out.  There they were with the
Columbia River on the right and sage brush as high as the wagon
all around them, and as far as they could see, nothing but sage
brush.  They knew they had made a bad mistake, but the worst was
yet to come. They did not want to turn back so on they drove
going deeper and deeper into sage brush and willows, and just a
trail to travel on.  They stopped at sundown and made camp.  They
were tired and discouraged because they didn't know how much
further they would have to go through this sage-brush country.
The mules were taking a terrific beating and so was the wagon.
Many times they wondered if wagon, mules and themselves would get
out of this together.  They had a good nights rest and got up
early to make a fresh start, however, when they went outside
(they slept in the wagon) the mules were nowhere to be seen.
They were sure in a predicament now, with sage brush as high as
their head and a wagon with nothing to pull it and all by

     While they were in Pasco the preceding day the town marshal
told them to be sure and hobble the mules at night because they
had been getting complaints of horse-stealing.  Of course as the
folks remembered that talk with the marshal it did not help the
situation any.

     They decided that my mother should stay in the wagon while
they started out to look for the mules.  As their wagon was the
only one on the trail they did not have any trouble following the
mule tracks which led them right back to Pasco.  There they were
inside a large corral.  The town marshal had picked them up
expecting my folks would call for them.  In the meantime my
mother was very worried (this is putting it mildly).  In fact she
was so unnerved that she did not eat a bite all day.  About four
o'clock in the afternoon she thought she heard the men coming
back.  She climbed up to the front seat of the wagon and sat
watching the trail.  She sat there five minutes or so when
through the sage brush in front of the wagon rode a big buck
Indian.  And he sat on his horse and looked at her. It could not
have been very long but it seemed like hours to her.  They had a
shotgun strapped to the side of the wagon.  My mother reached
around, got the gun and put it across her knees, never for a
moment taking her eyes off the Indian.  They sat staring at each
other a little while longer, then the Indian turned his horse
around and went back the way he came, for which my mother was
very thankful.  About a half hour later she heard sounds of
horses approaching and she thought the Indian was returning with
other Indians.  It was the men returning with the two mules.
After relating her experiences they had a hasty meal and broke
camp, traveling till long past dark.  They did not see any more
of the Indians and guessed that he was as much surprised to see a
woman in a wagon as she was to see him.

     Following the east bank of the Columbia River they
eventually arrived at The Dalles, Oregon.  The crossed the river
on a ferry: the river being over a mile wide at this place.  They
were no in the state of Washington again.  They started up the
longest and steepest grades of their entire trip. After leaving
the river it was four days before they saw any form of
habitation, and for three days they did not have water either for
themselves or the mules. Now and they could catch a glimpse of
the river about fifteen miles away but not in the direction they
were going, nor was there any way to approach it.  In the
afternoon of the fourth day there was smoke against the horizon
and it proved to be a farm house.  The mules were giving them  a
bad time as they were in desperate straits for want of water.
This farm was like an oasis in the desert.  The farmer was very
friendly and urged them to settle in that locality, but they said
they had started out for Seattle so on they went.  They arrived
at Yakima, Washington where they remained resting for about a

     The people in Yakima informed them that they could not take
their wagons over Snoqualmie Pass as there was no road over, only
a mule trail which they found to be true.  They drove to the end
of the read in Snoqualmie Pass and pulled the wagon off the road
amount the trees, intending to go back the following year and get
it.  Them mounting the mules, they rode them into Seattle.  It
took them five days to reach Seattle from the time they left the
wagons.  This was September, 1883.  My father did go back the
following year, but the wagon and everything in it was gone.

     They liked Seattle as everything was so green and fresh
looking, and the weather was very mild.  On November, 27th, 1883,
my sister Agnes was born just two months after they arrived.  On
September 28, 1886, a son was born and christened Martin.  On
October 11, 1889 another son was born and christened John. On
March 17, 1890 they took up a homestead in south Snohomish
County, about three miles northeast of the city of Bothell,
Washington.  The homestead proved to be too lonesome.  The
nearest neighbors were about two miles away, and there was too
much back-breaking labor so they sold out everything in 1895 and
moved back to Seattle.

     My mother, Christina Ellen Regan, was born in Minneapolis,
June 7, 1863.  Her family moved to Deadwood, S.D. in 1869.  My
mother and father (Henry Rosenburg) were married Dec 5, 1882
(note - April 15, 1883 according to Elizabeth Bowen Gerrish -
from information from the Catholic Bishops house in Lead City,
S.D.), in a little town named Rosenville, about ten miles from
Deadwood, by a Catholic Priest named Father Rosen.  Henry
Rosenburg was born in Stuttgrad, Germany.

Created: November 27, 1995

(last updated 11/27/95 9:42 PM)