A One-Name Study
for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname
Notes for Gordon E. BARNUM
Early Settler Tells of Pioneer Experiences (This was written around 1935). Gordon E. Barnum, now of Bozeman, Montana, sends a most interesting letter to the (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) Pilot telling of his early experiences and also discussing public affairs. Mr. Barnum writes: 'It might be of interest to some of the later citizens of Routt County (Colorado) too know more about what happened there 30 or 40 years ago. The writer first came to Steamboat in October, 1900, via Wolcott (Colorado). I was looking for a location to raise cattle. A schoolmate of mine in Kansas made a trip to Steamboat in the summer of 1900 by wagon and told me about the fat cattle, grass and water, so I concluded to investigate it. I met Frank Overman in Wolcott, who had met my friend from Kansas. I wanted to learn first-hand all I could about your country, so rode home with him on a load of freight he delivered in Yampa. But, he lived just over the Yellow Jacket pass near the river in Egeria Park. So, I took the stage from there to Steamboat Springs and met Bob VanDeusen, Fred Metcalf, and Charley Baer, who was your very efficient and accommodating postmaster. Your country appealed to me, so in April, 1901, I started overland (in a covered wagon) with 100 head of cattle for the 'Promised Land,' a distance of 700 miles (from Western Kansas). In six weeks I found myself in the vicinity of Tie Siding, Wyoming, and having plenty of trouble with poison weed. A rancher there offered me what I considered a good price for my cattle, sold them, and put in with two four-horse outfits headed for Craig (Colorado) over Rabbit Ears Pass. No one had crossed the Pass yet that spring, and at times we put 10 horses on a wagon to get over. I then bought Bob VanDeusen's ranch one-half mile north and one mile east of Sidney. I was told I could not raise much on it and that it was too frosty. But, I was not discouraged, though my only implement to put in oats with was a 14-inch walking plow. I plowed 30 acres, broadcasted the oats, and took a Routt County bridge plank with four horses on it and worked the seed in. I threshed 1,400 bushels - not bad for a no-good ranch with a foot-warmer plow and a bridge plank. I sowed the first Red and Alsike clover in that part of the valley in 1902. I also sowed eight acres of alfalfa. I was told the clover would ruin my hay. By 1905 my hay crop had nearly trebled and my grain increased some, but not having many cattle of my own, I had a surplus of hay and grain and no market. I helped John Harris to take 200 beef steers and cows belonging to my father, John, and some of our neighbors over the Rabbit Ears pass to Hot Sulphur Springs. We were six days and five nights. John and I drove all day and two nights. We were in the saddle all night, and they were plenty frosty nights, too. These were the first cattle shipped from Routt County over the Moffat railroad. I bought two cars of steers in Middle Park and drove them to my ranch. I started to feed them grain and hay. I expected to drive them to Wolcott in January, which many said could not be done, but about the middle of January, when the mercury registered 40 below, and two feet of snow lay on the ground, we started our two cars of steers for Wolcott and Denver. These cattle had done better on feed than I expected and netted me $6 per ton for hay and $1 per cwt. for oats and barley. The 20 acres of meadow I fed them on nearly doubled in yield in 1906. In 1907, I fed more with similar results, except I loaded them above State Bridge and the Moffat railroad instead of Wolcott. In March, 1910, El Houston and Pete Werner came out one day on horseback and asked me what I would take for my ranch. I thought I had a price high enough so there was no danger of selling. That night El phoned me to come in the next morning and fix the papers. Your ideal cattle country had been badly shot_ – the railroad coming in and our range taken up for homesteads, so I had to hunt new pastures. I have always had a warm spot in my heart, not only for the many friends I had there, but for the good soil and water. You were building a telephone line from Wolcott. Your roads were next to impassable at times, no railroad, no autos, no radios or airplanes. Today you have all of them.
After selling his ranch in Steamboat (which still exists in 2003, by the way), the family moved to Kalispell, Montana, and resumed ranching. All of the sons, Don, Dick, and Frank, and the only daughter, Mildred, stayed and lived throughout their lives in Montana. Frank was a sheepman in Miles City, Montana, Don a forest ranger in Glacier Park for some thirty five years, and Dick a lumberman. Mildred lived in Bozeman until her death. Only Harold J. left Montana. After graduating from Montana State, he went to Michigan State in Lansing, Michigan to get his Masters Degree in Milk Sanitation. He married there, and had two children, Beatrice and Jim. They left Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1947, moving to Denver, Colorado.
Gordon E. Barnum married Alice Vine Barnum on April 8, 1997. Her maiden name was Cunningham, and was born July 7, 1874. She died, April, 1946, in an automobile accident. They had the following children: (1) Frank Niles Barnum, born January, 1901 in Steamboat Springs. He married Gladys Lee in 1926. She died May, 1976; Frank in 1995. They had three children: Mary Alice, who married Matthew Riley and she is still living (2003) in Whitefish, Montana; Marjorie, who married Donald Winship. She is still alive and lives in Casper, Wyoming; and Evahlia, who died in October, 1974. (2) Charles Donald Barnum, born November 1899, died July 1954. He married Grace Johnston in 1924. She died in the 1980s in Kalispell. They had no children. (3) Richard L. Barnum, born 1908, died in 1965. He married Irene Burns; they had two children, Billy born in 1935 and died in 1951, and Vicky, dates unknown, but obtainable. (4) Mildred Mae Barnum, born August 3, 1905, died in the late 1990s. She married Ethan R. Ford in 1927. (5) Harold James Barnum, born November 17, 1902 in Steamboat Springs. He married Margaret (Peggy) Barnum, born November 19, 1903, in East Lansing, Michigan, on July 2, 1931. They had two children: James Gordon Barnum, born January 8, 1938 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, still living, and Beatrice Ann Barnum, born on 29 July 1935 in Ann Arbor, and still living. James G. Barnum married Lois Mary Kelly in Washington, D.C. on 15 May 1965, no children. Beatrice married David Shenkenberg on 26 December, 1959. They have three children, Martha Ann, Jennifer, and Craig Barnum Shenkenberg.
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