January 25, 2008
James Shockley in Military Uniform
During much of the time that the Crowleys lives near Thunder Butte, my grandmother's brother James also lived with his wife and children in the vicinity of Coal Springs, which was just a few miles away. We did a brief post on James Shockley and his family a year ago, which can be found here. It's always interesting to find old pictures of long-lost relatives, and we've unearthed another picture of James from his days serving as a military policeman in World War I. James was born in 1892, so he would have been about 25 or 26 years old in this picture.
January 04, 2008
Winter on Thunder Butte Creek -- Part Two
When the hay had been raked and winnowed in the field for a couple of weeks, it would be hauled in with a hay wagon and stacked in great tall stacks near the ranch. Enter the rabbits: During the dead of winter when the snow piled high over the grass, rabbits would come in great droves during the night and eat at the bottom of the hay stacks. After a while, if they ate long enough, the stack would become top heavy and fall over, and the rabbits would continue eating until they had eaten tons of hay.
Enter the shooters: If we were lucky, the moon would come into the full phase when the rabbit hordes were overrunning the hay stacks. We would lay in the top of the haystacks during this moon phase, with our .22 rifles and shoot rabbits as they approached the stack.
On a good night, a bad one for the rabbits, we would shoot hundreds upon hundreds of rabbits. They were of a single purpose, all they seemed aware of was the food at the hay stack, so it was quite easy to keep shooting until we had eliminated an entire wave of rabbits. No one seemed to think of this rabbit shooting as fun, it was self preservation. If we didn't save the hay, the animals would starve, and if the animals starved, so would we. Another facet of this venture was the selling of the rabbit carcasses. When we had finished shooting, the rabbit bodies would freeze rapidly. Then we would pile the bodies in a huge stack where they would remain frozen until someone could ride into Faith and notify the 'hide and fur' people who would eventually come by with a huge truck and cart off the rabbit bodies. The hides would be turned into fur coats and the meat would be turned into pet food.
I do not recall anyone ever laying around during those times. Couch potatoes had not developed yet—maybe because their were very few couches. We only had chairs, and pretty uncomfortable ones at that. It was easier to sit on a horse than to sit in the house.
January 01, 2008
Send Us Your Stories
Well, it's a new year and I would like to try something a little different at ThunderButte.com. I want to open this blog and site up to others who might have stories to tell about life around Thunder Butte, whether stories about the distant past, recent times, or the present. And, when I say the “area,” I am not simply referring to the butte itself. Draw a circle with a radius of 50 miles around Thunder Butte and the area I have in mind encompasses a broad swath of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, the towns of Isabel, Dupree, Faith, and Lemmon, the settlement of Thunder Butte, itself, and a good deal of ranch country and prairie. If you have a story to tell that you think will interest others, let me post it here. Whether you are a rancher, a Native American, or someone with family or other ties to the area – even if only ties in passing – I would like to provide you with an opportunity to tell your story. So, here is my proposal:
(1) Send me an email with your story to firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply Click Here.
(2) Also, you can send mail to me at:
P.O. Box 27095
Washington, DC 20038
(3) Alternatively, and this really is an experiment, you can telephone your story to me by leaving a message at (605) 593-4530 in Rapid City. I have a message length of 2-minutes, so if you need more time for your story, just call back.
Of course, I reserve the right not to publish anything that I consider to be in poor taste, offensive, or disrespectful or hurtful to others. Also, I may edit your story to keep it to a reasonable length. But, if you have a story to tell that may interest others, I'll post it here with your name. Send us your stories!