born: October 20, 1894 near La Grande, Union County, Oregon on the Pebler Farm where the La Grande airport is currently located
married: to Evalena Hyde on August 29, 1915 in Metropolis, Elko County, Nevada
died: January 14, 1976 in Enterprise, Wallowa County, Oregon
Jacob Leroy Bartmess
parents: Jacob Leroy Bartmess, b. March 10, 1868, d. July 23, 1931 Vernon Parker, b. July 30, 1873, d. July 19, 1905
siblings: Guy Arthur Bartmess, b. May 29, 1896, d. , m. Elizabeth MacMasters November 27, 1919 Jacob Leroy Bartmess (half-brother - mother was Ethel Matilda Pollack), b. November 1, 1916, m. Tressa Ethel Lewis September 1, 1941
Arthur, Wanda, Mildred, Bernice & Vernie
children: Arthur Paul Bartmess, Wanda Elaine Bartmess, Mildred Bartmess, Vernie Bartmess, Bernice Bartmess
personal history: The first I can remember was the high water when we lived two miles east of Island City, going down the river to where the steel bridge now stands. Grandpa Parker lived on the north side of the river, east of the road, and we lived on the west side of the road, south of the river. Our house and barn were between the river on the north and a deep slew on the south. Dad had a fine black team of driving horses which he used to swim the slew with, taking my brother first on his shoulders, then myself, then mother on behind him across the slew to where the hack was left.
After that we lived in the mountains southwest of La Grande. Father farmed in the summer time and worked in the logging camps with his teams in the winter. In the fall of the year he would go down to the valley and haul grain to the warehouse for the farmers. Dad always had real fine workhorses.
The fall of 1900 we moved down to Island City where Dad and cousin Frank Bartmess had a job hauling freight, flour and grain from the mill there to Sumpter and granite mining towns in Baker County with six horses and two wagons each. It took a week or sometimes more to make the roundtrip.
It was here in Island City that I started to school for the first time. The schoolhouse is the same today as it was then as near as I can remember. The next school that I attended was a log cabin schoolhouse in the mountains, and this is where I met my first Mormons; the Lindsay family when they first came out from New Zealand. They had a large family which really helped our school attendance. Some times 18 or 20 were in attendance. Clara Roberts was one of the teachers that I can remember.
My mother passed away on July 19, 1905 while I was ten years old. My brother and I missed her very much and the good family life that we enjoyed together. My father was a lover of fine horses, but he sold out the farm and moved to Tuscarora, Nevada. There he took a job driving stage; first from Tuscarora to Mountain City, then from Tuscarora to Elko where he drove 4 horses to a Concord Coach. My brother and I stayed with our Grandmother Parker the first year and walked three miles to school in Island City. The next year, about 1907, we went to school in La Grande and stayed with Grandmother Bartmess not far from the school.
Father married Ethel Matilda Pollack June 8, 1910 at Tuscarora, Nevada. In 1911 my father moved to the Grock Ranch on Tabor Creek not far from Mary’s River.
July 6, 1911 my brother and I took the train for Nevada to join our father and stepmother. We stayed all day in Ogden to make connections for Nevada. Ogden was the first large city we were ever in, and we saw many sights that day including a streetcar ride up Ogden Canyon. That evening we took the train for Nevada and crossed the Great Salt Lake at sunset. It was really beautiful. We got off the train at midnight in Deeth. It was dark with no lights. The railroad agent showed us where the hotel was: a tiny light across and down the street a ways. We felt our way across the street and into the hotel where we rang a bell and the man came out and gave us a coal oil lamp and told us which room to take upstairs.
The next morning we were awakened by a loud noise. We jumped out of bed and looked out the window and here came a wagon across the railroad track with two men in it driving a bronco that was running and kicking. They went down the street and out of town on the other side. We got up and went downstairs next door to a Chinese restaurant and got some breakfast.
My brother and I were sitting on a bench in front of the hotel when the wagon came back and the bronco was working fine. They drove up in front of the hotel and stopped. One of the men spoke to us and said that his name was Jess Morgan and wanted to know if we were the Bartmess boys, and we told him that we were. He said that Dad would be in town that evening, and that they worked for the same company over there. We could see the sign painted on the roof of the office building: Union Land & Cattle Company, Deeth Division. It was a large company. They owned 10,000 cattle, 18,000 sheep and several thousand head of horses and mules at the Deeth Division alone. Bob Anderson was Superintendent, and Arkansan and a real nice man.
That evening about 5:30 Dad and our stepmother drove in. They had come 25 miles that day by wagon to take back the haying supplies and stock salt. We were glad to see our father after many years away from him, and also glad to meet our stepmother. The next morning we started out for the Grock Ranch on Tabor Creek with two broncos and two gentle horses with a wagon loaded with stock salt and supplies. That was a long 25 miles up sagebrush flat with dust and hot sun. We thought we would never get there. The house was a low flat building with just three large rooms built of old railroad ties with a dirt roof. One large room was a bunkhouse in one end; in the middle there was a kitchen and one room for Dad and Ethel.
The next day was Sunday, but none of us were church members then. So we just got acquainted, looked the place over and went fishing. There was another man working there on the ranch by the name of Slim. By the way he was a Mormon boy from Utah, and Slim Peterson was the only name that I ever knew him by. He had been doing the irrigating and he knew how to catch fish “Paul Bunyan style”. There were no game laws or wardens then. So it was time to shut the water off so that they could start haying. He had it all planned out so he had shut it off the evening that we got there. He gave us a welcome that made us forget the dry dusty ride we had had the day before. The ditch that went to the lower meadow was about two miles long out through the sagebrush. When we started down the ditch Slim told us to just take the big ones, that there would be plenty. So we caught the fish out of the holes with our hands, and when we had caught about one hundred, Slim said that was enough “it will be all that we can eat before they spoil”. We had no refrigerator. When we went back we had about all we could carry, and he turned a little stream back into the ditch so that the small fish could get back to the creek. We had a real fish feed for a few days.
That was our first experience haying with broncos. We only had two gentle horses and five hundred tons of hay to put up on this small ranch. The wages were two dollars a day or $40 a month, take your choice.
After haying I went back to La Grande to school, but I got homesick and went back to Nevada before the term was out, and that ended my education. The next winter my brother went back to school and did about the same thing. Neither of us went to school any more.
The winter that my brother, Guy went back to La Grande to school was my first winter in Nevada. Dad and I fed the cattle and broke colts to lead. The weaned colts from all the ranches were brought to the Grock Ranch for us to break to lead. We kept ten tied up all the time and when we got them leading good we turned them loose and caught ten more, and that went on all winter. It got real cold there in the winter, sometimes down to 50 below zero. The beautiful Ruby Mountains to the southwest 30 miles away shone like big icicles in the weak winter sun. The Burnt Creek Mountains were to the south, the Tabor Mountains, back of the ranch, to the East and the Jarbridge Mountains to the north 30 or 40 miles away. The snow would crackle under your feet as you walked, and the sled runners would make all sorts of noise. It was so cold, but beautiful. I really loved that work.
In the Spring when my brother, Guy came back I went to Malo Vista Ranch to try my luck at cooking for a large crew of ranch hands and buckaroos. It was about nine miles northwest of the Grock Ranch and belonged to the same company. Jim Tucker was the ranch foreman, and he said that he would help me get started, and he really did. But that was a hard job. I had to cut my own wood with a bucksaw, cut all of my own meat, and do my own washing and a thousand other little jobs. I got up at four in the morning and got through at eight in the evening, but I stayed with it for years and worked for three different ranch foremen; Jess Larson and Billy Gillahim.
While working for Jess Larson we started going to the dances at Metropolis and Tabor Creek, a short distance from the Grock Ranch, during the time that I was cooking at Malo Vista. Dry farmers, mostly from Utah, had moved into the valley and settled all over, and they had large families and real pretty daughters, and that is where I met Evelyn Hyde. Once or twice a week I would ride horseback or go in the ranch buckboard with a span of slick mules fifteen miles across the valley to the south near Metropolis to see her. The ranch hands and buckaroos really kidded me. But they were swell guys and they would harness and have my team ready to start while I did the supper dishes, and usually one of them would help me clean up the dishes.
I had three gates to open before I hit the open country, and sometimes that was a problem with a team of half broke mules, but once we were in the clear those mules really would put distance behind them. One of those pitch black dark nights in April or May we left the dance hall in Metropolis and my brother, Guy and a man from the Grock Ranch by the name of Charlie Furnace left at the same time, and they were on horseback just behind us. As you left the small town there was a country telephone line beside the road for a short distance. It was so dark that we just had to let the mules find the road. Well, they didn’t, and we drove into one of those telephone poles and broke the tongue out of the ranch buckboard. The mules started to snort and kick. Evelyn got over the back of the seat and out of the rig, and I held the mules there until my brother and Charlie came up. They heard the noise and hurried to our rescue. I went back to the dance hall and the implement store man was still there. He got me another tongue, but it didn’t fit. So we wired it to the axle and went on our way, and didn’t that make the news! Even Jim Russell, the Superintendent of the Ranches kidded me, but he also told me to take the tongue back and had the ranch blacksmith make a new one for the buckboard with no cost to me. They were a rough bunch of men, but I never in my life was treated better. They would just do anything for me, and they didn’t hesitate to let it show.
Jim Russell was one of my best friends and like a father to me. His wife was his bookkeeper and a wonderful woman. They had three children: Jim the oldest son, then Charlie who later became Governor of Nevada, and Peaches their daughter. I stayed at their home in Deeth any times and was treated as one of the family. On August 29, 1915 Evelyn and I were married in Metropolis, Elko County, Nevada, and during the next seven years I worked at different jobs and during this time five children were born to our union.
When Arthur was one year old we moved to the V. N. Ranch on the Owyhee desert to work for Reed & Taylor where we lived for one and a half years. We then moved to Star Valley and lived on the Forbs place near the 71 Ranch where Wanda was born. The next move was to the Bueno Vista Ranch on Mary’s River. While living there Mildred was born in Metropolis, Elko County, Nevada.