Jane Stanfel Capturing Forever


Gallery
 
Watercolors

Glendive

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Comin for a Visit
Oil on Barnwood 26.5" x 21"

Steffen Ranch
Ethel Sansborn and Laura Quick Andersen were best friends and neighbors to the Steffens, whom they would ride over to visit. Horses were the mode of transportation at the turn of the century, and these were capable horsewomen.

Ethelís father, Sam, homesteaded on land adjoining Billís. She arrived from North Dakota a few years after her dad and before she married Bun Brody did the womanís work on their ranch.

Just turning nine Laura, Gail, her elder brother, her Father, and the housekeeper, Amanda, left Cooperstown, North Dakota to claim their homestead outside of Glendive. Her mother had died and armed with furniture, belongings, and animals, the trip from Circle fluctuated between harrowing and downright disaster. Snow hampered their journey, and before it was over they had to abandon their calf and some of their furniture. When they reached their shanty they found it occupied by another family! They quickly helped the squatters complete their cabin so they might have a roof over their heads for winter, but it was not much of a place. With just a tar paper roof, all would awaken with snow upon them, for heat they would crouch around their tiny laundry stove which burned the buffalo chips they gathered. Having no well, they walked to get water from a spring, and their trusty horse slept next to their bed. Proper food was scarce, but Amanda always kept them fed. LuLuís Dad married Amanda, but after two years of disasters and poor crops, they abandoned the homestead idea and returned to his original occupation - only this time he was sheriff of McCone county.

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The Neighborhood Bachelors
Oil on Barnwood 26" x 21"

Steffen Ranch
William Steffen and his brother, Ferdinand, Fred for short, were helping farm their fatherís place in North Dakota, but they were searching for a new frontier. They wanted to be ranchers! In 1907 they found their dream outside Glendive Ė hilly land, which they felt was good for cattle and undesirable to farmers so here their cowboy adventures began.

A serious drawback to frontier life was the scarcity of womenfolk. So, when the boys wanted a night out, theyíd dress to the nines, pour their home-made brews and distillates into jugs and bottles, and celebrate a menís night out. Why they were standing in the dirt near the incipient walls of a root cellar or a barn will never be known. Perhaps they were celebrating its construction, or perhaps it was just a good place to get out of the wind. No one knows, and it doesnít matter, for they clearly had a grand time. Fred is not among the revelers, for he had been smitten by that wonderful invention, the camera, and took the picture.

The only fellow that can be identified was Bill, the handsome chap on the left. Dressed like a real cowpoke he looks like the fellow any girl would dream of catching. Yet, he is the only one in that group of chums never married. A unique individual, he even lived in a cave for a while. He worked hard too, and when he died he left one of the oldest, hardiest, continuous herds of cattle under one brand in Dawson County.

On top of the highest hill on what was once Billís land, his nephews, Clarence and John, have placed a Jayhawk stacker as a monument to their uncle.

Availability: Sold

Ultra-Modern in 1915
Oil on Canvas 24" x 20"

Steffen Ranch
Bill and Fred chose homesteads diagonal to each other and cleverly built a large shack situated on both sites. The ranch expanded when the government increased the size of homestead plots to 320 acres, and their two sisters also homesteaded property adjacent to theirs. The shack in the painting actually belonged to one of their sisters, for theirs burned to the ground and they moved this one onto their place.

When Fred married Margaret Rusche from LaCross, Wisconsin, he did not want her living in such humble lodgings. He contracted to build for his bride the first house north of the Yellowstone River with indoor plumbing and heating. Lignite powered their steam radiators and they still function perfectly. The house was beautifully sheltered by the lovely hill where their three children loved to play. Thanks to the WPA their creek was dammed and protective trees planted. The large stone ruins were once a cattle shed, while the ruins behind were a smoke house. In one of the fields to the left of the house was a large corral, used for a rodeo when their son, John, was a babe.

This beautiful home, full of fond memories is crumbling away. To no avail their sons, Clarence and John, have tried to turn the land into a state park. Now, with buckets collecting the roof leaks, the house itself is becoming a ruin.

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The Winner
Oil on Antique Metal 45" x 35.75"
(The metal sheet was used in the building of the Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad, probably as a piece of a furnace.)

Steffen Ranch
As the flyer proudly heralded, ďSome of the most astounding Wild West Features ever seen in the state will be exhibited to the public. They will consist of saddle riding, bareback riding, steer riding, etc. These horses are the wildest and most untamable that ever grew hair. If you donít believe it come and seem [sic] them - Cow Boy [sic] Running Race, Keg Roping, Potato Race on Horse Back - Big Bowery Dance at Night -Admission 50c Ö Fred Dreyer, ManagerĒ

On July 25, 1922 over 200 folks swarmed onto Bill Steffenís Ranch to witness history Ė the first- ever rodeo in eastern Montana. Participants and riders came from what now is five counties. The prize for the lucky winners was hard, cold cash, no fancy belt buckles back then. Native Americans flocked in, too, for they were eager to try their hands at the wild horse race.

The gentler sex really did not participate, for it was not lady-like to be standing close to the events, and back then there were neither stadiums nor grandstands where they could find a seat. They coyly gathered up on the hill overlooking the site, from which they had a good view while picnicking in the grass with neighbors they rarely saw and watching the little ones frolic.

Fred Dryer, a local homesteader, tried his talent as manager, found he was good, and decided this was for him. He quickly gave up his ranch, moved to California, and rumor has it he made it big, though the old-timers are not quite sure doing what. As to the winner of the bucking horse competition, it was a Prairie County rancher, Don Holt who walked away with the prize..

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The Drifter
Oil on Barnwood 21" x 27"

Steffen Ranch
Earl Coryell and his twin sister were born on their parentsí homestead outside Glendive. Rumor has it he was a good artist, though nothing survives to prove the story correct. Nothing is left of the Coryell Ranch either, for when hard times hit in the twenties, the homestead reverted to the government. Grasshoppers consumed what wheat the farmers were able to grow on their sun-baked, wind-swept patches of land, and those so lucky to have water rights had a chance to survive. Those without moved on to survive. In reality the ranches were just not large enough to support families in the drought years.

Earl had another amazing talent for which he is revered. He was one of the best trick ropers around. Folks paid hard-earned coins at the local rodeos to watch his feats with the lasso. Sadly, though, one couldnít thrive on that talent, and, one day, Earl just drifted on - hopefully to a better life.

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The Steer Rider
Oil on Barnwood 21 " x 27.5 "

Steffen Ranch
It just wasnít his day to win. Poor Ted Hammond, a popular local, drew a mighty mean steer, and no matter how hard he tried to stay on, his ride quickly ended with his eating dirt. You might call Tedís draw a bum steer. Yep, there was no cash prize for him, but he consoled himself with the thought of the dance that evening.

A Bowery Dance is one held outside with planks laid for a dance floor, local musicians joined together to create the music, and the local bootleggers Ė donít forget 1922 had Prohibition - smuggling in their wares. After a little hooch, it didnít matter if yer won or yer lost. What was important was dancing with your pretty lady, drinking a little more than a little, and holding her in your arms as the sun began to rise, when everyone drifted back home tired, happy, and with a wee headache.

Available
Price: US $800
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Field of The Forgotten
Oil on Canvas 20" x 16 "

Steffen Ranch
Henry Stefanís son was a wild boy, and it worried him. To tame the chap he decided to buy him land, not in La Cross, Wisconsin, where they lived, but in Dawson County, Montana. He contacted the railroad, bought the land, and sent his son west. Once settle the young manís cousin, Margaret Rusche, came for a visit, met Fred Steffen, and voila, love blossomed. A year later, in 1915, much to the chagrin of Fredís brother, Bill, they were married. Bill was disturbed because Margaret was a Catholic, but, from what I read and from stories told by their sons, I think Bill was equally upset because the ranching team of Bill and Fred had been destroyed by this lovely, though to him, intrusive woman.

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Taming a Wild One
2012 Oil on Old Barn Wood 23" x 26" unframed

The first rodeo in the eastern part of Montana .was held at the Steffen Ranch outside Glendive on July 25, 1922. The name of the chap riding this wild horse is unknown. How long he stayed on top or whether he won is also unknown. John Steffen couldn't remember, even though the nonagenarian scrupulously catalogued all his father's old photographs and memorabilia. What John wrote as a tribute to all the homesteaders of this era though is more important.

"We, the sons and daughters of the homesteaders, owe you a debt of gratitude. You suffered and sacrificed much for us. You have given us a less rigorous, more enriching and rewarding life than you endured. You gave us a heritage surpassing monetary worth. You gave us a sense and appreciation of values, a love of country, family, and neighbor. In the western ranching and homestead areas of today, this heritage is reflected in our present day youth who show a greater sense of balance than their counterparts in other areas of America."

John died last year, just six months after his brother, Clarence, and with their passing, another Steffen generation of great ranchers and fine people has ended.

To Sidney

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Copyright 1998-2012
©Jane Stanfel