This is the only known photo of the adult children of James L. Bronson Sr. R to L…Jim, Lucy, Turah, Dru, Sue, Father Jim Bronson, Ora, Gladys and Bryan. Photo was taken about 1929-33 at sheep camp near Meadow Creek, Idaho which is located near the present I-84 Interchange 254, about 60 miles from Burley. Roads were gravel and dusty. Ruth Bronson Fuller at age 94 remembered attending but said they did not take photos of the children. Note the classy pants on Sue and Dru and dresses on the other sisters. Grandpa reportedly said that if he had known they were coming he would have changed clothes. Camilla always washed his clothes. By Merilyn Bronson, Reeeves, September 2009. I remember stopping to take photos of the old house just before it collapsed. This was where my father was born.
James Bronson Jr. was my beloved Grandpa Jim. Born January 5, 1889 and leaving us February 21, 1970.
This was my Grandfather, my Father’s Dad and the Great Grandfather to my daughter, nieces and nephews. It is for them that I am writing this. Someday I hope they will write the story of “Bamps”, my Father for their Grandchildren so their stories may be passed on.
I remember so many wonderful things about my Grandpa. He drove a one ton pickup with sturdy racks that often had a bull or a cow and calf riding in the back or sometimes a saddle horse or two. There was no pulling a horse trailer back then. It was jump whatever you were hauling into the back of the truck and head down the road.
Grandpa’s horse was probably a half draft, as he was huge. I have photos of me holding the horse, I was the same height as that horse’s leg! It took two men my Dad, Robert Max Bronson, with my brother to nail Geronimo’s huge shoes on. Grandpa always rode with the reins in one hand and a bull whip in the other. He could flick a fly off a cow’s ear with that whip and when he make it crack we all paid attention. Cracking bull whips was a large part of our farm pastimes. I often rode behind my Grandpa when chasing cows thru the sagebrush. I distinctly remember Jim telling me, “Hold on, we’re going places Jackrabbits wouldn’t go!” and off we would go crashing thru sagebrush taller than we were or into a grove of Cedar trees. I would bury my face into Grandpa’s back and hold on as tight as I could and pray!
Grandpa also loved to chase coyotes across the desert in his pickup, never mind the boulders, the gulley’s, the sagebrush, the pinion pine trees, he was gonin’ to git that coyote! He would bounce us so hard we’d both hit our heads on the roof of the cab.
Jim was born in Almo, Idaho where he grew up and attended elementary school. Later he completed his education at the Oakley Academy, prior to going on a mission for the LDS Church. He married my Grandmother Camilla Lewis and lived in the Springdale community near Burley, Idaho beginning in 1915. They settled on 40 acres of state land which they cleared of sagebrush. They later purchased 80 additional acres where they lived out their lives. Their home is still standing today.
Grandpa Jim had a large ranch that my Great Grandfather started nearly 100 miles from their farmland. It was near the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon near Naf, just over the state line into Utah. About twelve miles south-east of Naf is where they wintered their cattle. I remember those cattle drives between the two ranches. My cousin Tim Judd, my Dad, brothers and of course Grandpa on Geronimo with his bull whip made those drives a memorable event for me. Tim and I named all those Hereford/Longhorn crosses after our favorite (?) school teachers during those long dusty cattle drives. People driving the highway would stop and ask us if this was something we did every day. Of course we had fun leading those Greenhorns on! This was part of our lives during the 1960s.
My Grandpa was honored as Rancher of the Year in 1962 by the Box Elder Soil Conservation from Utah for the work he did on that desert ranch. My Father and Brother, Robert Douglas Bronson, have since continued that tradition several more times by clearing the sagebrush and cedar trees, running water lines and establishing ponds for the livestock. They planted their land in crested wheat grass that now sustains the cattle in the early spring and later thru the winter. They put in a corral system that works so efficiently, my even my Grandfather would have been amazed at and very proud of those who have carried on his work.
When Grandpa retired, he and my Grandmother enjoyed trips to Texas and later to Alaska. While in Texas they visited the King Ranch and the 6666 Ranch. It was on those trips, that I believe, he may have purchased quality Quarter Horses. There was always a herd of wild horses at the ranch while he was alive. I believe some of those horses were brought up from Texas and turned loose. The stallion was a Golden Palomino, who was the most wonderful horse I had ever seen, and a small flaxen mane and tail sorrel mare who lead the group. Tim and I had the job of rounding up the wild ones and driving them to the corral. We rode the fastest, the most agile horses we had available but still just before getting to the gate this quick little mare would split off and take the herd with her and the chase would continue!
It was from this herd that our riding stock came from. Peaches and Cream was a beautiful pair of Palominos that use to buck my brothers and myself off as we were coming up my Grandparent’s lane after riding all the way from our farm to theirs. Ike, was only about 14 hands, a little red mule named after our nation’s president, I was probably about 3 or 4 years old and Ike was my first mount, gosh, I loved that mule. I remember I needed a stick to make him go and a bucket to get on him but could not get into the saddle without someone to hold my stick! Flame, was a golden buckskin that I rode for many years in my teens. The stud had grabbed Flame’s neck in an attempt to kill him and left a bump, a perfect indention of that stallion’s mouth as he clamped down on the youngster. My hand would barely fit over the large bump on Flame’s neck. That stud had a way of eliminating his male competition.
When I would spend the night with my grandparents I remember that every morning at 4 or 5 am Grandpa’s Donkey would bray. Grandpa would get up and turn the light on and the donkey would quit braying. I was told to stay away from the donkey, at that time I did not realize he was a breeding jack. Other than that I really don’t remember much about Grandpa’s donkeys. I was told that Grandpa had two BLM donkeys, a jenny that no one remembers what happened to and a jack he used to breed the mares that were to wild to break or even those that were not imported from Texas. Dad said he had a breeding pit so the jack could reach the mares. Anyway we had mules, the kind that would hurt you if given an opportunity.
These photos have been tucked away in a photo album of my Grandpa Jim and his two donkeys. I guess you could say that Donkey’s are just in my genes!
Kristien Bronson Kingma, Written October 17, 2012