Jane Stanfel Capturing Forever


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Watercolors

Red Lodge Area

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They Danced til the Feds Arrived
Oil on Canvas 20" x 16"

Gebo Barn
This magnificent structure, now a part of the Hill Ranch, was built in 1907-1909 by Samuel Gebo to shelter his purebred Belgian horses, other livestock and equipment. The structure has 20-foot high concrete walls with wood drop siding under the metal, gambrel roof. At 154 feet long, and 8,000 square feet of storage space in the hay loft, it is one of the largest barns in Montana and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Samuel Gebo was an American entrepreneur influential in the development of Montana. He grew up in Plattsburgh, New York and settled in Montana in the early 1890's. He developed the Gebo Coal mine near Fromberg, the Canadian American Coal and Coke Company in Alberta, Canada, the Spring Creek Mine near Lewistown, Montana, and the Owl Creek Coal Mine in Gebo, Wyoming. In 1910 he purchased the Citizen's Electric Company and the Spring Creek Power and Electric Company and merged them with the Lewistown Coal, Gas and Light Company. Sam was a powerful man.

On his 300 acre ranch near Fromberg he built a large, stately home and this one-of-its-kind barn. To celebrate the completion of the construction of the barn, Sam planned a magnificent dance to be held in the structure. Unfortunately the dance was never completed for the federal agents arrived with an indictment on land fraud charges in Wyoming. Gebo fled to Guatemala, where he developed a marble quarry in 1913, and his ranch was put up for auction. In 1927 he returned to Seattle, where he lived with his second wife until he died in a gas-leak explosion in his home.

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Where History and Beauty Meet
Oil on Canvas 20" x 16"

Ellis Cattle Company
Magnificently placed with a view of the mountains, the Ellis Cattle Company is ranched by the third A. A. Ellis generation to operate in this high country. In winter the cattle are driven down to their ranch north of Billings called 21 Mile Ranch. Even though the land has been in the family since 1886, when A. A., Jr. homesteaded the land, there is only the barn left of the original buildings.

The first A. A. Ellis and his wife, Lynthia, traveled to California from Ohio in search of gold. Unfortunately when returning to Ohio by way of the vessel, Central America, the ship, loaded with gold, sank. Banks collapsed with that sinking, and Alvin perished. Lynthia opened a boarding house to support her three children. Her two boys, Charles and Alvin, Jr. worked their way west getting jobs on various railroads and dabbled in cattle, which they bought from settlers headed for California and sold them to the Union Pacific to feed their construction crews. They then purchased 1,600 head in Oregon and trailed them to Montana. To survive the winter A.A. shot buffalo and sold the hides. In summer they sold their cattle to the Northern Pacific and returned to Oregon to trail a herd to Montana. In 1883, Alvin married an Oregon girl, and they built a home in Billings. He became a charter member of the Montana Stockgrowers in 1884. The organization was formed to stop cattle rustlers, and he rode with Granville Stuart and others to seek restitution from the rustlers in Musselshell. He then homesteaded the land now known as Ellis Cattle Company, though not without problems. First the land was given back to the Crows, and he was asked to pay for it. Then the government decreased the size of the reservation, and he was able to homestead it once again. He began as a horse rancher, but many of his 500 horses died of kidney failure by eating old grass rotting on the hills from a fungus. He then changed to cattle. His marriage dissolved, and he married Mattie Turttle, who gave him five children before dying in the last child birth. He passed away in 1942 at the age of 87.

Since then the land has been run by succeeding generations. Today third-generation Alvin IV oversee the operations of the ranch along with his sons and grandsons.

 

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Still Waiting for Grandpa and Dad
Oil on Canvas 14" x 11"

Ballard Ranch
Ann Ballard's grandfather bought this ranch in 1943, and she is the third generation of her family to ranch there. Picturesquely placed with the backdrop of a mountain range, the old farm house is nestled under stately trees, scattered equipment and out-buildings. It is as if time has stopped. The small modern-looking barn was rebuilt in blocks after the original burned. Frolicking around the structure was one of Ann's horses, desperately wanting to be petted, fed a treat, and taken for a ride. Nearby was an old rusting car parked in front of a structure in the tall grass. The wind whispering through those giant trees along with the sand hill cranes singing all around, made me feel as if I was standing in another era, when Lee Yeats, the original owner, or perhaps Ann's grandpa was about to come out of that log-built garage and start up the old tractor with the hay loader attached to put in a good days work. Perhaps even Ann's dad would ride by on his large red stallion, and Ann could wave to her little sister sitting in his lap.

 

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©Jane Stanfel