Idaho History Feb 3, 2019

Bryant Ranch

Johnson Creek (near Yellow Pine), Valley County, Idaho

1937 Topo Map

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(snipped from Yellow Pine Quad)
source: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection Idaho Historical Topographic Maps
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Time Line

1903 – Al Hennessey filed his homestead on the 160 acres on Johnson Creek that he called Morrison; he later sold it to Bryants (E. Oberbillig in Sumner, p. 19)

1913 – Bryants arrive on Johnson Creek. (E. Bryant in Sumner, p. 3)

excerpt from “Yellow Pine Timeline” – compiled by Sharon McConnel (personal correspondence)
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Hennessey and Bryant

by Ernest Oberbillig

… In 1903, Al [Hennessey] filed his homestead on the 160 acres of the Bryant Ranch, and in 1906 the Thunder Mountain News reported that he had built three miles of road from Twin Bridges towards his ranch, called Morrison, and he had built a bath house on the hot springs.

Al received patent to his ranch in 1919 and sold half of it to Henry Bryant in November 1924. The remaining half he sold to T. L. Reedy in March 1927. Bryant bought the Reedy interest later.

excerpted from: More on Al Hennessey (pg 19) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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Some of the earliest settlers [in the Yellow Pine Basin] were:

– H. H. Bryant, who came from Boise in the early 1920’s and bought one of the homesteads on Johnson Creek that Al Hennessy had proved up on. The Bryants built a fox farm on their land.

source: pgs. 117-121 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books
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The Bryant Family on Johnson Creek

by Emma Bryant

It was about 1913 that Melvin, my late husband, went into that wilderness area with Lee Lisenby and his brother-in-law, a Mr. Hanson. Lee was a ranger who also took winter supplies in to the old timers.

There was no road over Warm Lake Summit then. Going down Angel Flight, they broke a wheel and had to take it back, on foot, to have it mended. The road ended at Albert Hennessey’s place on Johnson Creek [now the Bryant Ranch], so they loaded the supplies on horses and delivered them.

After that, they spent two weeks hunting and fishing. The whole country was covered with beautiful pine trees, minus the underbrush you see today. During that time they only saw and shot one deer, which they gave to the people there.

Melvin became so infatuated with the country and its wonderful fishing streams and hunting areas that the next year he and his father, H. H. Bryant, and Glen Labrum went back there and from then on it was a summer vacation place for the Bryants.

The road over Warm Lake summit was completed in about 1917 as was the road from Hennessey’s to Yellow Pine.

Melvin drove the first Model T. Ford into Yellow Pine. Many of the children there, and some of the adults, had never seen a car before.

On vacations there we lived in a tenthouse at the Hennessey place. By that time, the family including Harry Bryant, wanted to start a fox ranch. So, the men went in with Hennessey, who furnished the land and the Bryant’s foes. Our home was built in 1922-1923.

One summer morning over coffee and cookies, Emma summed up the fox business: “It was a complete failure”. Then she went on to describe the uses of the picturesque three-story building still standing on the property.

The first story had a complete blacksmith shop, and area for butchering the horse meat slaughtered for the foxes, an ice house, and a bench for carpenter work. The ice was cut at the ice hole and stored in sawdust. The ice house walls were extra thick.

The second floor was where the help lived. There was a cooking area, with a beautiful wood-burning range and sleeping areas.

The third floor was called the watch tower. The men watched the fox all the time, but particularly during mating season careful records had to be kept because so many days after mating the bitch was fed a live chicken. They ate feathers and bones, and the whole thing. If this was not done the fox ate her young at whelping time. The chicken provided something which they got out in the wilds that the bitch needed.

excerpted from (pgs 3-4) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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First Ford into Yellow Pine 1922

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1922, First Ford into Yellow Pine, Al Behne in photograph, with several unknowns – Courtesy of Long Valley Preservation Society of Idaho, Shared by Ron Smith – Thank you!

source: Valley County ID GenWeb
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Johnson Creek Airfield

by John S. Sumner

… The Johnson Creek Airfield was cleared by H. H. Bryant in 1928 on his ranch. Bryant had been an aviation visionary and enthusiast for many years prior to this, and later his family sold the State a parcel at the south end of the airstrip. The north end of the airstrip was on an unpatented mining claim owned by J. J. Oberbillig. H. H. Bryant seems to have talked A. A. Bennett, and early partner of Bob Johnson, into flying his 4-passenger Boeing Zenith biplane in 1930 for the inauguration of the airfield. Mel Bryant, H. H. Bryant’s grandson, also recalls the use of the airfield by pilot Chick Walker of Boise in the 1930’s.

… The State of Idaho took a particular liking to the Johnson Creek Airfield because of its beauty, utility, and recreational potential. The field had to be lengthened, widened, graded, and fenced. There was a land exchange to be made between the State of Idaho and the U. S. Forest Service, and those trades were put through. It was no small feat to get the water and power permits and lines in, to erect buildings and to arrange for courtesy cars on loan from the state.

excerpted from Aviation and Yellow Pine pg 69 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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Aerial shot of Bryant Ranch, Fox Farm, Johnson Creek

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Dated 1958 (?)

source: cropped from ITD Archives (larger zoomable photo)
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Johnson Creek Airfield

by Lafe and Emma Cox

… Roads were being built into this area in the 1920s. The Founder of Yellow Pine, Mr. Albert C. Behne, applied for the first post office in 1905. Homes were constructed of logs, and miners from other areas came to this basin for the winters to leave the high country snows. Meadows and flats were homesteaded by such as Albert Hennessey, who later sold to H. H. Bryant of Boise in 1923. Part of this land is now the Johnson Creek airfield squired by the State of Idaho.

Mrs. Emma L. Bryant still spends her summers at this ranch, usually with the company of one of her grandsons, who in the past has maintained the airstrip for the State throughout the summer months. One often sees her sitting on her front porch watching the planes arrive and depart along with a watchful eye on the deer wandering toward her laws to browse and a lick at the salt block.

… This area was included in the original Payette National Forest, which was established on June 3, 1905. The first ranger station was a log cabin constructed on the east side of the present airfield in 1907 by Ranger Warren E. Cook.

Much of the meadow land throughout the basin was taken up for homesteads in the early 1900s in order to produce beef for the mining population. When interest in mining waned, livestock production became unprofitable and most of these homesteads were abandoned. A few hardy individuals stayed in the country and successfully patented their homesteads.

… The first aircraft to land in this area was a Consolidated biplane from the 116th Observation Squadron, Washington National Guard, piloted by Major C. O. Haynes and Lieutenant Nick Mamer. This was in July 1928 on the meadow at the Stonebreaker Ranch one mile northeast of the present airfield. An airfield was cleared near the present location shortly thereafter.

excerpted From a welcome extended by Lafe and Emma Cox to the international 180/185 Club, June 30, 1979 (pg 71-72) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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Bryant Ranch (Johnson Creek)

by Miriam Bryant

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In 1915 H.H.Bryant discovered how great the hunting and fishing was in Yellow Pine and became good friends with Al Hennessey, a local prospector of the area. The old cabins are Al Hennessy’s homestead and in 1920 he would sell his land to H.H. which today is the Bryant ranch. The old alfalfa field would become an airstrip and today it is known as Johnson creek airstrip which is very well known to many pilots, flying clubs and back country flying magazines.

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In the 1950’s the Bryant family donated much of the land for the airstrip to the State of Idaho. H.H. Built a saw mill on the property and built the White House and two out buildings. The old cook house building was designed to house the caretaker for the fox farm. Sadly the fox farm only lasted one year.

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In the 1990’s it was discovered that the old rusty tractor that all the grand kids played on was actually a prototype sent to H.H. from Henry Ford for the alfalfa field. Uncle Marv Bryant had the tractor refurbished and shipped it to Dearborn, Michigan where today it is on display in the Henry Ford museum. Who knew the kids were playing on a piece of history!! **

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H.H. And his wife Nellie had two sons… Melvin and Harry. Melvin worked beside his dad as part owner of the dealership and other ventures. Melvin and his wife Emma had 4 children and after Melvin’s death in 1956 Emma taught one year of school in Yellow Pine. We hear great stories of the generosity of grandma Emma. She was always making cookies for everyone who stopped by the ranch for a visit. Although she lived in the north end of Boise she would stay the summers at the ranch and people from all around would come to visit her.

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The legacy that H.H., Melvin and Emma have left for all of us has been incredible. I have to really admire their determination and grit they had to even make the trip to Yellow Pine – summer and winter. It would take them 3 days sometimes and now it takes us 3 hours. And you think of the weather conditions, the old cars, flat tires, mud roads, gasoline, food,the wild animals they encountered just to get to the back country.

So, I say thank you to everyone’s ancestors for their gift to all of us of the beauty in this great state of Idaho and I hope we all get enjoy it for many generations to come. Thank you for letting me share a little piece of Idaho history today.

source: story and photos from Miriam Bryant (via FB)

** Fordson Tractor History
Wikipedia:
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Bryant Family History

from Miriam Bryant

H.H. Bryant’s sister, Clara, married Henry Ford.

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from left to right. Henry Ford, Henry’s brother in law – H.H. Bryant, not sure who the third guy is, but the last guy is Edsel Ford.
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This is a great story of how my husbands family came to Boise in 1913. Henry Ford sent his brother in law, HH Bryant, our great grandfather, to Boise in 1913 to start the first Ford dealership which thru the years became Lithia ford. Lithia put this great story together which includes history about Boise. I know it becomes an advertisement for Lithia but the story, history, is remarkable.

Where Ford Begins

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Pictures of Bryant dealership in Boise 1913 – 1930’s

Link to FB photo gallery:
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Family photos

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Harry J. , Jane, Louise, Emma Bryant, ? , holding Buddy Bryant

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Melvin Berry Bryant Model T Boise foot hills
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Here are some more great pictures of Bryant family fun!

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Melvin Berry Bryant near Cascade Idaho, 1915

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Link to more photos on FB:
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Harry H Bryant

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Added by Amanda Fox

Birth: 5 Aug 1871 Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Death: 20 May 1938 (aged 66) Boise, Ada County, Idaho
Burial: Cloverdale Memorial Park Boise, Ada County, Idaho

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Added by Amanda Fox

(Published in History of Idaho: The Gem of the Mountains Vol. 2 by James H. Hawley 1920)

Harry H. Bryant, senior partner and founder of the firm of H. H. Bryant & Son, dealers in automobiles and automobile accessories and supplies in Boise, also sales agent for Boise and vicinity for the Ford Motor Car Company of Detroit, has been a resident of the capital for the past five years, having removed to this city from Seattle in 1913. Impaired health had caused him to leave Detroit, Michigan, in 1908 and establish his home in Seattle, where he was captain of different coastwise steamboats. He was born in Detroit, August 5, 1871, a son of Melvin and Martha (Bench) Bryant, both of whom have passed away. The father was born in Vermont and made farming his life work. The mother’s birth occurred in Sheffield, England. They were married in Greenfield, Michigan, and both passed away in Detroit, the mother at the age of seventy-two years and the father when he had reached the eighty-second milestone on life’s journey.

Harry H. Bryant was reared in his native city and supplemented the public school training which he there received by study in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His textbooks were put aside, however, when he attained his majority and for several years thereafter he was connected with steamboating on the Great Lakes. During the eight or ten years thus occupied he filled practically every position from that of cabin boy up to engineer and captain. His health became impaired, however, and he decided to try a change of climate and sought the salt air of the Pacific coast. Accordingly in 1908 he made his way to Seattle, where he completely regained his health. He went to that city on crutches, suffering from rheumatism, and weighed but one hundred and twenty-one pounds. He is now robust and in excellent health, and his weight is now one hundred and ninety-five pounds. Mr. Bryant is a brother-in-law of Henry Ford, the noted motor car manufacturer of Detroit, Mrs. Ford being Mr. Bryant’s eldest sister. At the request of Mr. Ford, Mr. Bryant came to Boise in 1913 to take charge of the Ford motor agency at this place, conducting the business under the firm style of H. H. Bryant & Son, his territory covering Boise and seven Idaho counties adjacent thereto. The firm of H. H. Bryant & Son owns one of the largest and best motor car plants in Boise and also the land on which the plant stands. Their building is one hundred and fifty by one hundred and twenty-two feet and is located at the corner of Eleventh and Front streets. It is a two-story concrete building covering the whole lot and was completed in August, 1917. It is today one of the largest and best equipped garages in the west and represents an expenditure of about eighty-five thousand dollars. The entire plant is owned by Mr. Bryant and his son, Melvin B. Bryant. The firm sold thirteen hundred and seventy Ford cars in the year from August 1, 1916, to August 1, 1917. In addition to the passenger car they also sell the Ford motor truck and Fordson- tractors.

At the age of twenty-one years, in Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Bryant married Miss Nellie. Pierce, who was born at Redford, Michigan, a daughter of Alvin Pierce and a niece of Franklin Pierce, the manufacturer of the Pierce-Arrow motor cars. Mr. and Mrs. Bryant have two sons, Melvin B. and Harry H., Jr. The former was born in Detroit, August 31, 1894, and was in the service of the government as a marine architect in the shipyards at Seattle during the World war. He holds a license as a steamboat engineer. Harry H. Bryant, Jr., born at Detroit, April 30, 1903, is a student in the public schools of Boise. The elder son was the only marine architect engaged on government work from all the state of Idaho. He had two years of submarine training before the United States entered the war. He learned his trade of marine architect with the Seattle Construction & Dry Dock Company of Seattle and on the 25th of April, 1918, he received a highly complimentary letter from Chairman Edward N. Hurley of the United States shipping board. On the 19th of July, 1918, he married
Miss Emma Louise Bucklin, of Port Blakeley, Washington, the youngest daughter of Nathan and Martha Bucklin, pioneers of the Puget Sound, arriving there in 1868. Mr. and Mrs. M. B. Bryant have a little daughter, born November 29, 1919, in Boise. In that city they now make their home, owning property at 1814 North Eighth street.

In religious faith H. H. Bryant is an Episcopalian. He belongs also to the Boise Commercial Club and he is a member of the Boise Limit Club, an organization composed of one hundred members, all of whom have purchased a thousand dollars worth the limit of War Savings stamps. Since the close of the war Mr. Bryant is planning to turn the motor car business over to his two sons and engage extensively in farming in the state of Idaho, already owning land in Canyon county. He is a firm believer in the west and its opportunities and is eager to avail himself of the advantages offered for agricultural development.

source: Find a Grave
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Clara Jane Bryant Ford

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Birth: 11 Apr 1866 Wayne County, Michigan
Death: 29 Sep 1950 (aged 84) Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Burial: Ford Cemetery Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

Businesswoman. The wife of Industrialist Henry Ford I, she was born in Greenfield Township, Michigan. She married Henry Ford on April 11, 1888, in her parent’s home, and in November 1893, their only child Edsel was born. Mr. Ford related, “I called her ‘the Believer’,” because Mrs. Ford was the only one who believed in his idea of a Motor Carriage”. On December 25, 1915, Clara Ford moved into their 15th and final home with her son Edsel, called Fair Lane, while Mr. Ford didn’t arrive until January 1916, due to coming back from his Peace Ship Excursion from Europe. The Fair Lane Mansion had 56 rooms with a Bowling Alley, Billiard Room and Pool, all made to keep their son Edsel from drinking and smoking, of which they did not approve. In 1941, with the strikes of the United Auto Workers shutting down Ford Plants, Mrs. Ford put her foot down and told Mr. Ford, “I am leaving you after fifty years, if you do not support our son Edsel, and sign off on the Union Contracts.” Mr. Ford relented and Ford Motor Company signed one of the most generous contracts ever given by an auto company. Mr. Ford stated, “Well, what could I do.” When their grandchildren stayed over, it happened every weekend that they came. Including enjoying her grandchildren, she had prized peonies, which were featured in a 1930s magazine. She died on September 29, 1950 at Henry Ford Hospital.

Bio by: Joel Hurley

source: Find a Grave
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Yellow Pine Teachers

1955-1956 Mrs. Emma Bryant

excerpted from: (pg 93) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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Yellow Pine School 2003

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photo by Billie G.
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The Year I Taught School

by Emma Bryant

In the summer of 1956 I went down to Boise to see if I could get a teacher up here, and the State Superintendent of Schools said, “Why don’t you take it?” My family pushed me into it. They thought that it would be wonderful for me. I was having a hard time adjusting to the loss of my husband in January.

I never regretted taking the job. It was a wonderful year. The children hadn’t had science, they hadn’t had music, and they hadn’t had any art. So it was really a fun year.

We had the old, old piano [the one Harry Withers tells the story about].** About once a month in the winter we had a covered-dish gathering on Friday and always square danced afterwards. There was always so much food left over that we all got together Saturday night too.

I lived in the teacherage, and we had Benjy the buck there (we raised two fawns that year). All the dogs accepted him as a friend and none chased him, you know. And I had a dog named Sheba. Every morning Benjy would come in and wake me up for his bottle. Finally, the nipple gave out and we found that he loved chocolate milk, so I made chocolate milk for him and pushed his head into the bowl. He was very obnoxious if he didn’t get his ration of milk for the day – and he was a grown buck by then – but every day I reduced the amount of chocolate until he was getting straight powdered milk. After the holidays he became too rambunctious for the children because the men up town teased him, so Dick Bailey took him down to South Fork where he got along fine, because they saw him the next year. The Fish and Game men had tagged him. He never came back because usually, you know, they get wild. He was a beautiful, beautiful buck.

That winter the water didn’t freeze at my teacherage, but it froze up town, so my supply was cut off after the first of the year. Vance Husky brought me 10 gallons of water per week. (Vance and Susan ran the store.) They couldn’t understand why one little lady had to use so much water. Why did she have to wash her hair every week and whatever? Once a week! My! That was too much. But the people from around Antimony Camp took pity on me, and every once in a while they would bring me an extra 10 gallons, which I certainly appreciated. I did melt quantities of snow water that winter, and I found out that snow doesn’t have very much water in it.

The water situation didn’t improve until the first of April when it finally thawed out, so I moved back up here to the ranch and commuted with the Baileys, Ethel and Dick, and their two children Connie and Bob. They had come up to live with me. They had lived where the Colenbaugh cabin is.

Anyway it was a wonderful year. I enjoyed the children and there were no disciplinary problems, thank God. I started the year with ten children and when school finished I think I still had seven. That was the year they hauled the machinery out of Stibnite and some of the families who had been living in Yellow Pine moved out.

from (pgs 95-96) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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** The Yellow Pine School Piano

link to history post:
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Emma Bryant

by Nancy Sumner

Dear Emma Bryant, who spent winters in her Boise home, died in 1981. I can still see her marvelous smiling face and hear her chuckle as she described elegant bridge luncheons in Stibnite’s heyday. The ladies wearing hats and gloves would drive over 20 miles on the dirt mountain road. Emma thought the fancy dress was necessary. The farther folks are removed from civilization, the more civilized the trappings!

excerpted from The Flatlander Remembers (pg 40) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner
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Melvin Berry Bryant

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Added by Amanda Fox

Birth: 31 Aug 1892 Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
Death: 18 Jan 1956 (aged 63) Boise, Ada County, Idaho
Burial: Cloverdale Memorial Park Boise, Ada County, Idaho

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Added by Amanda Fox

(Published in History of Idaho: The Gem of the Mountains Vol. 2 by James H. Hawley 1920)

(Melvin B. Bryant)…..The former was born in Detroit, August 31, 1894, and was in the service of the government as a marine architect in the shipyards at Seattle during the World war. He holds a license as a steamboat engineer. Harry H. Bryant, Jr., born at Detroit, April 30, 1903, is a student in the public schools of Boise. The elder son was the only marine architect engaged on government work from all the state of Idaho. He had two years of submarine training before the United States entered the war. He learned his trade of marine architect with the Seattle Construction & Dry Dock Company of Seattle and on the 25th of April, 1918, he received a highly complimentary letter from Chairman Edward N. Hurley of the United States shipping board. On the 19th of July, 1918, he married Miss Emma Louise Bucklin, of Port Blakeley, Washington, the youngest daughter of Nathan and Martha Bucklin, pioneers of the Puget Sound, arriving there in 1868. Mr. and Mrs. M. B. Bryant have a little daughter, born November 29, 1919, in Boise. In that city they now make their home, owning property at 1814 North Eighth street.

Married Emma Louise Bucklan on July 19, 1918 in Seattle.

source: Find a Grave
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Fox Farm Cook House

In 2010 I asked Yellow Pine Times subscribers for stories of the Fox Farm at the Bryant Ranch.

Marjie Fields (October 3, 2010)

Your question about the history this morning sent my memories back a good many years. I know that the Bryant’s would have a more accurate story and maybe the Cox family, but I’ll tell you what I recall about the fox farm.

We started coming to the airport in 1963. We camped at the airstrip. My mother was very friendly; she and Emma Bryant became fast friends. My younger brother Bill played with Emma’s grandkids. If he were alive he’d really be the one to tell the fun stories about the fox farm. In 1963 it looked just about the way it looks now, but a good many years before Emma’s husband (who owned a Ford dealership in Boise and was a distant relative of Henry Ford) decided on a get rich scheme. I think it was the latter part of the 20’s. He was going to raise fox and sell their pelts. As I recall it only lasted a year or two and no one got rich.

The top floor was the look out, the middle floor was the bunk house and the bottom floor was the cook house with storage. When we were growing up, the bottom floor was the tack room for the many horses. I remember looking out from the top floor and seeing the mountains and airstrip from a completely different view point.

The reason that there are no trees around the white house that sits on a perch is that Emma was afraid of lightning.

Al Haskins (our local artist until he sold his little trailer to the Barclay’s) painted a picture of the fox farm from a photo. That painting hangs in my bedroom in Portland.
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by Teri Norell (October 4, 2010)

In regards to the history of the three story building at the Bryant Ranch, Marjorie Fields brought back some great memories. As one of Emma Bryant’s grandchildren, I spent many a summer playing in that building. I can certainly remember times with Bill Sumner. One in particular was when my cousin Kathy, Bill and myself went to the top floor late in the evening to see if we could connect with the spirit of Al Hennessy (an old timer who believed in the spirit world). We soon became bored and decided to check on the mother cat and her kittens on the second floor. As we started down the stairs a lg white form appeared below us. Thinking it was a ghost we all let out a scream only to hear laughter coming from the form. As it turned out it was our cousin Bob who had caught wind of what we were doing and had dressed up in a white sheet.

The three story building is known as the Cookhouse and was built in 1925 as part of a fox farm started by my great grandfather H H Bryant (whose sister, Clara, was married to Henry Ford). The name of the fox farm was “Three Star Fur Farm”. Marjorie was right, in that it was a “get rich quick” idea that unfortunately ended shortly after it began when a dog with distemper came in and wiped out the operation. The area to the west of the Cookhouse had rows of pens that housed the foxes. The top floor was used as a look out to watch over the foxes and whenever a fox gave birth, the mother was given a live chicken in order to keep her from eating her young.

The second floor was where the caretaker lived. It was equipped with a homemade log bed, kitchen table, Garland cook stove, sink, china cupboard and medicine cabinet that for years housed a set of false teeth. The bottom floor was where all the tack for the foxes was kept and on the N. side was a sawdust walled ice room.

It is a building full of memories and history and it will be a sad day when it is no longer standing.

source: personal correspondence 2010
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Cook House at the Fox Farm (Bryant Ranch)

Please respect private property.

Photos taken May 17, 2016 Local Color Photography

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(click image for link to enlargable source)

This has got to be the most interesting and beautiful old building in the area. The “Fox Farm Cook House” at the Bryant Ranch on the hill just south of the Johnson Creek Airstrip.

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(click image for link to enlargable source)

There used to be a sign over the door that read “Short Order” – this is another angle of the Fox Farm Cook House building.
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Old Aerial Photos of Johnson Creek

From the ITD Archives. Includes aerial shots of Cox’s Ranch, Johnson Creek, Yellow Pine, Fox Farm all dated 1958 (some probably earlier)

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