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History of Western Nebraska and Its People



   About 1870, the Coad Brothers took possession of the old Stage station, "Scotts Bluffs," and put in a herd of cows. This they developed to colossal proportions. The younger Coads still have the ranch north of Cheyenne at which Mark M. Coad was killed a few years ago by a Mexican.

   At the early date, however, the principal ranch was just a little west of the present site of Melbeta, and their range took in all of the south part of the North Platte valley, from Court House rock to and including Mitchell valley. The partners were J. F. and Mark M.Coad. They had 10,000 cattle and their brands best known were FF-Bar and C-12. The "Wisconsin Ranch" previously operated by Coad, near Julesburg, was for caring for bull herds and was the scene of bloody Indian conflicts.

   From Perry Braziel, who "met up" with "Shanghai" Pierce at Coffeyville, and drifted up the Texas Trail in 1880, and who went to work for the Coads in 1882, and who still lives in the splendid country south of Henry, and from R. C. Campbell and from other old timers I have been able to get a fairly accurate description of the old buildings at the Scotts Bluff Station, which became the Coad ranch house.

   It faced the south, and was 20 by 50 feet, its walls were thirty inches thick and the sod were eight or ten inches in thickness. It had red cedar cross logs and ridge poles, and poles and dirt were used for the roof. A row of posts through the center supported the center ridge log. The building contained two rooms, the smaller being about 12 by 20, was used for the kitchen. A large sod fireplace added cheer to the larger room.

   It was in and around this old building, that "Baldy" Kelly, and "Iron Leg Bill" DeCamp had their bout over who should win the affections of, their enamorita. I never learned her name, but the stories first gave Baldy an advantage, and then Bill's Winchester took part, and the last of Kelly was a fading fog in the direction of Cheyenne, with a pocket full of Yorick Nichol's money.

   The younger generations of Coads are now here frequently, and are interested in developing the feeding industry in the land where their fathers ran the big range herds.
The Powers brothers came into the Scottsbluff country in 1870 or 1871, and they built a ranch on the north side of the river, within a mile of the present site of the north end of the Bayard state aid bridge. They were Texans and run from 4,000 to 5 000 cattle. Dennis Sheedy bought this outfit sometime after, and here was the famous Seven-U (7U) brand. He increased the herd to large proportions. Sheedy accumulated a fortune and has been busy for years in the commercial affairs of Denver, being president of the Denver Dry Goods Company only a short time ago, and now (1919) vice-president of Colorado National Bank. It is to be ventured that his active brain is still working in lines for which it was splendidly equipped.

   Around the Seven-U clusters a number of old anecdotes which extended down to the advent of the granger. The cowboys used to sing a song, "The Famous Seven-U Brand," when I first came into the west. It was more of a slam than a song, and one time years after, when Sheedy stopped at Tusler's, the lady who had an old melodian, thought to revive a pleasing memory by singing it, but it made Mr. Sheedy indignant. James O'Hallern was in charge at the time I first visited this ranch, and he was a character all to himself. He liked company and had many festive occasions at the old sod ranch house, where the people came for one hundred miles to dance.


History of Western Nebraska and Its People


   Tim Montrose was the cook, and a good one he was, albeit that he "was not much larger than a drink of water," as the cowboys used to say. Tim was particularly tired of one fellow in the olden days who settled down near the ranch and made it his general source of provender. Almost daily he would sojourn from his squatter's cabin to the ranch to visit Timmy, and-incidentally "get his fill of grub." One day Tim pulled-out of the capacious oven a particularly delightful roast of great dimension. The visitor's nose soon led him to it. He gorged himself outrageously and had some internal pains as a result. Yet he felt called upon to compliment the cook. Tim asked him if he knew how to make roast beef tender in the cooking. Receiving the negative response, he told him to put a little strychnine upon it - not too much, as a little too much might be fatal, but that he always put some on his own cooking. This suggestion, and the internal agonies increasing, so frightened his visitor that he never bothered Tim any further.

   Montrose made regular trips to Chicago, to his old home ward, and he invariably came back with the scars of battle, for he loved a fight.

   One time in a cow outfit, a big bully tried to "run a whizzer" on Timmy. For a little time those who knew Montrose were surprised to see the stranger apparently "getting by with it." Suddenly the battle fire in the little Irishman blazed up, and after a short but terrific battle, the bully turned and ran.

   James O'Hallern liked a good time, and he frequently called the scattered people of the country together in the big buildings at the Seven-U, where they would dance all night and into the next day.

   One time when they had gathered for one hundred miles to trip the light fantastic, the cook, Montrose, found access to too many flasks, which the boys had hidden in the barn. Tim had found the cache and hiscondition was such that O'Hallern had to deny him the joy of the dance floor. He was tremendously humiliated, to hear him tell it, and likewise angry in a maudlin way. He planned deeply and from his pondering a scheme of revenge was formed, that lacked only one little essential element of successful strategy.

   He saddled his pony, from the woodpile he selected a club. Ordinarily he was a good man with his fists, but this time he was taking no chances. He took his station. at the door from which he had been ejected.

   Soon one of the boys stepped out to take the air, and Montrose very politely asked him to tell O'Hallern that there was a gentleman at the door who wanted to speak to him. As the foreman crossed the threshold, the blow fell, and it was well aimed and effective. O'Hallern fell across the doorstep, and was insensible for several hours. With a whoop of exultant victory and defiance at the whole world, Tim Montrose leaped into his saddle and rode away across the yard toward the Camp Clarke trail. Here came the disastrous detail he had over- looked. The clothesline was hung at a proper height to lift him from the saddle, and the impact upon the earth was sufficiently hard to leave him in an insensible condition until the next day. But scratches and bruises were common in those days, and after a brief delay to ascertain how serious were the casualties, the gay party went on with the dance until after sunrise.

   At the Seven-U there are four graves - two of which were emigrants and two are old cowboys that died with their boots on and were so buried. One of the latter was a brother of Henry Bradford, who was with the English boys later, and the other a Texan concerning whom later reference is made.

  The surviving Bradford had become possessed of a large acreage north of Camp Clarke, which was called the Bradford ranch, and which was operated by a man named Elliott. Bradford had some income therefrom, and he spent part of his time at the Seven-U until his breather was killed.

  One day they were discussing a certain out- law horse that had been run into the corral with great difficulty. The discussion was mixed with sundry libations. At a certain stage "Brad" offered to bet twenty-five dollars that he could saddle and bridle the animal unassisted. The bet was covered and he repaired to the corral. After much difficulty he managed to get a rope over its head and this he looped about a log in the barn. Gradually he worked the animal nearer and finally he got it into the barn and snubbed up to the manger. Here he proceeded to blind it with a gunny sack, and then saddle and bridle it. One sudden upward swing of the head at an unexpected moment took "Brad," who was leaning over the partition from an adjoining stall, squarely in the face, and he lost all the teeth of his upper jaw on the left side. Occasionally afterwards, he would point out and display the gold teeth with which they were replaced, and say: "Well, I won the twenty-five, but it cost me a hundred."

   When the granger came, the Seven-U was occupied by Ed Burnett, who was one of the old families about Bayard. Ed one night had a very vivid dream about the grave of one of



History of Western Nebraska and Its People

the emigrants who was buried at the Seven-U. He awoke the next morning convinced that the grave was a cache for hidden gold, and he proceeded to put his faith in dreams into his works. But when he reached the proper depth he found a crude coffin and the remains of a little girl. After that Burnett lost all faith in dreams, and such foolish things.

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Contributed by Sandy Smith

© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Sandy Smith, Ted & Carole Miller