Monday, February 2, 2015

The Rutherfurds in Douglas, Wyoming

Malcolm Rutherfurd (back), his brother Archie (center) and two farmhands in Douglas, Wyoming

I've been writing about my Dickson and Rutherfurd ancestors and the years they spent as ranchers in Douglas, Wyoming.  Recently, I found a newspaper clipping amongst the files of my grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd Smith.  It reveals interesting information about the lives of those ancestors in Douglas, including some anecdotes I'd never previously heard.  People mentioned include my second great-grandmother Anne Amelia Dickson, her second husband (my step-second great-grandfather) Malcolm Brakspear Oliver Rutherfurd, and Malcolm's brother Archibald Aymer Oliver Rutherfurd.  The entirety of the article is posted below.

November 11, 1992
Douglas Budget

The Search for Roots Never Stops
[Column: The View From Pex's Pasture by John Pexton]

The search for one's roots never stops.

As one travels down the family tree, the trail usually weaves all over the country; and on occasion, some interesting stories and events turn up.

Connie and Claude Sipe of [removed for privacy], California were in Douglas last week.  They were hot on the trail of Connie's ancestors, the Rutherfurd family.  I had the honor of helping them climb down their family tree looking for the roots.

We started by going out to where her grandfather, M.B.O. Rutherfurd and his brother Archibald Aymer Oliver Rutherfurd lived.  The Rutherfurd ranch was located on Reid Creek (also called Rutherfurd Creek) 30 miles south of Douglas.  Charles and Gene Pexton are the present owners of the property.

The Rutherfurd trail really starts in Scotland where the brothers were born.  They evidently were from a wealthy family because in reading Archibald's will it mentions a trust.  It is thought that they came to America because of an invitation from the Foxton Family who were also from Scotland.  The Foxtons settled on land presently owned by Jerry Sober and where Tim Pexton lives.  The Rutherfurd name was really Oliver-Rutherfurd as evidenced in the brothers' names.  The "Oliver" has since been dropped.

Buying the ranch from Charles Reid, Sr. (Beef Bolin's grandfather) in 1892, they continued to live there unitl 1909 when the ranch was sold to J.C. Saul.  Do any of you readers know where the M.B.O. Rutherfurds lived between 1909 and 1913?

Connie read for the first time a story about Archibald Rutherfurd.  Since it is the Halloween season, it is a very fitting story to be retold.  Laura Reid, a daughter-in-law of Charles Reid, Sr., recalled the story in an article about Pioneer Cemeteries several years ago. She wrote:

"Archie Rutherfurd was numbered among the early day ranchers of the Laramie Peak region.  In order to get to his ranch, he had to cross a sandy creek bed, which at times had a trick of water, sometimes dry, and occasionally went on a rampage.  Among Archie's friends, perhaps his closest, was a sheepman by the name of Vetter.  While tending his sheep camp one day, Vetter was shot and killed by sheepherder John Koch, an employee of another sheepman.  Koch was apprehended and jailed in Douglas; but upon being made a trustee until the spring term of court convened, he fled the country never to be heard of again.  A short time after the incident, Archie bought a mowing machine in Douglas and loaded it on a wagon to be hauled to his mountain ranch.  Nearing home towards evening, the heavy load pulled by the tired team felt the jar of crossing the narrow creek.  Archie looked back to see if his machinery was okay.  Much to his great surprise and shock, he saw the ghost of his good friend, Mr. Vetter sitting on the seat of the mowing machine."

Mrs. Reid doesn't explain what happened after the sighting, but she does go on to say that, "From that day to this, the creek has been called 'Ghost Creek.'"

Archie (a bachelor) died in 1899 at the age of about 32 in Douglas after a winter's ride to town.  He was found dead in the morning after retiring to his room in the Reid house on North 2nd Street.  He had complained the night before of not feeling well.  Pneumonia was determined to be the cause of death.  Archie is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

M.B.O. (Malcolm Brakspear Oliver) died in 1913 and his body was shipped to Los Angeles for burial.  He had married Mrs. Annie. A. Griffin on April 29, 1897 in Douglas. George Dickson and Dr. Mortimer Jesurun were the witnesses.  The new Mrs. Rutherfurd was the former Annie Dickson, a sister of George Dickson who owned a hardware store and Elizabeth Dickson who built and owned the first hospital on North 6th Street.  After her marriage, Annie used the name Annie Oliver Rutherfurd.

Connie never knew where or when her grandfather M.B.O. had died.  You can imagine the look on her face when we found his obituary in the files of "The Douglas Budget."  Connie's dad's name was also Archie.  She said because of personal circumstances and not because of the kind of person he was, his mother always called him by the nickname of "Odd."   He is buried in northern Utah.

The family story goes on and on.  It was such a delight to meet such nice people like Connie and Claude.  I had the opportunity to smell the roses with them as they dug out their family history.


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