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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #11143

Title: Joseph C. Meyer

Dates: ca. 1890-1930s       

Collection Number: 11143

Quantity: .5 ft.

Abstract: Unpublished manuscripts, an autobiographical sketch, and published essays by Joseph C. Meyer of Beach, ND. “Calamity Joe” Meyer was a pioneer rancher who raised cattle and traded horses, and later owned the Hebron Hotel. The collection has been digitized and is available in PDF format. The collection also includes portrait of Meyer, ca. 1890, by W. H. DeGraff.

Provenance: The papers were donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Kim Allen Scott, Professor/University Archivist on behalf of the Montana State University Libraries on January 21, 2013. Typescripts were prepared by the staff of the Montana State University library from original manuscripts loaned by Alan Lovall of Beach, ND in the fall of 1969. The original order, as received from the Montana State University Libraries, was retained. The portrait of Meyer was donated in July 2016 by Michelle and Rodney Bean.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.         

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

From North Dakota History and People: Outlines of American History (Volume 3), 
Colonel Clement A. Lounsberry, pp. 754-755

Joseph C. Meyer…was born in Aurora, Illinois, in 1862, a son of Joseph Meyer, a native of Germany, who on coming to the United States in 1846 settled in Illinois after residing for a brief period in Iowa. He became connected with the firm of Brown & Company, wagon manufacturers of Aurora, Illinois, and remained in that association for a long period. Retiring from the business, he removed to Dakota Territory in 1883 and proved up on a homestead, after which he returned to Illinois, where he has since resided... His wife, who bore the maiden name of Wilhelmina Dietrich, is also a native of Germany and by sailing vessel reached the United States…To Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Meyer were born four children and the family circle yet remains unbroken by the hand of death.

Joseph C. Meyer, the second of the number, was educated in the public schools of Illinois and afterward went to Nebraska and still later to Denver, Colorado, where he remained until March, 1878. He then entered the employ of a man who handled horses and cattle but after a brief period he went north on a hunting trip with the son of an English lord. In return for saving the life of the man he was given the hunting outfit. Eventually Mr. Meyer reached Dakota Territory, taking up his abode in what is now South Dakota in 1879. He made a business of hunting and trapping and followed that pursuit until 1883, when he turned his attention to the live stock business, establishing a ranch about fifteen miles from Medora. There, in connection with a Mr. Tracy, he began raising cattle, ranging his cattle in the same country with Theodore Roosevelt, with whom he has slept many a night. He remained upon the place until the spring of 1887 and then took up his abode upon a ranch twenty-five miles southeast of Glen Ullin, where he began raising horses, keeping on an average about one thousand head. He also made cattle raising a side line of that business and upon that place continued until 1897. He afterward engaged in buying and selling horses, covering almost every state in the Union. After four years devoted to that interest he removed to a ranch about thirty miles southwest of Medora. On his second ranch he turned his attention to cattle raising, keeping on an average six hundred head, and when he sold out he had nine hundred head of cattle and two hundred head of horses…He sold his stock and leased his ranch, taking up his abode in Hebron… He [was] the owner of the Hebron Hotel and also of a beautiful residence in Hebron, together with his ranch, compris[ed] six thousand acres of valuable North Dakota land.

In 1901 Mr. Meyer was united in marriage to Miss Matilda Eberhart, who was born in Clinton county, Iowa, in 1864, a daughter of Peter Eberhart, who was an early resident of Iowa but was born in Germany, whence he came to the United States when fourteen years of age. He married Leopoltine [Elizabeth] Toborsky, a native of Austria, who came to the United States when eleven years of age… In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Eberhart were seven children... The sons [were] jewelers of Iowa and the sister of Mrs. Meyer is Mrs. Ernst, who [lived] on Mr. Meyer's ranch. To Mr. and Mrs. Meyer [was] born a daughter, Josephine Leopoltine, who was born on her father's ranch.

In his political views Mr. Meyer [was] a republican but while he has had many political positions offered him would accept none, preferring to do his public duty as a private citizen. There is no phase of the pioneer development of North Dakota with which Mr. Meyer is not familiar. He was early inured to the hardships and privations of pioneer life incident to the development of land for farming and stock raising purposes and even prior to that time he roamed over the great prairies and along the rivers of the state in search of fur-bearing animals. His life history if told in detail would present many a thrilling incident and no one is better informed concerning the progress and upbuilding of the state than he. He deserves much credit for what he has accomplished in a business way and his success is the merited reward of his earnest, persistent effort.  

From Mathilda’s obituary in the Golden Valley News (Beach, ND), March 2, 1950

Mrs. Meyer, the former Mathilda Eberhart, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Eberhart, was born on a farm in Clayton County, Iowa, near Elkader, April 6, 1864, and when still very young, started to show great skill in sewing, doing all the family sewing at the age of 12, even to making her brothers' and father's clothing. She clerked in a store, and did sewing machine repairing for them on the side, later becoming a full-fledged dressmaker, and milliner. In 1901 she and Joseph C. Meyer were married in Elkader, Iowa, Dec. 4, 1901.

In the spring of 1902, Mr. Meyer came to this community, and took a homestead, building part of a house; Mrs. Meyer joined him there that fall, and finished shingling the house, while Joe went for cattle.

In 1914, because it was a 5 1/2 mile ride by horseback each way to school for their daughter Josephine, and bad weather so often prevented her going at all, they moved to Hebron. In 1919 they moved to Jonesboro, Ark., after Mr. Meyer had a siege of pneumonia.

In 1922 they returned to their ranch on the Little Missouri, where they remained until 1936, when they retired, and moved to Beach.

Her husband had come to this community back in 1878, when he was 16 years old; he hunted, dressed and cured game meat to sell to the gold seekers in Deadwood, S.D., and later supplied game meat for construction crews building the Northern Pacific railroad, when they were stationed in the Medora vicinity. In his horse raising and trading about the country, he was usually in company with is friend, Ben Bird of Medora, who is one of the few remaining Texas trail herd cowboys.

Mrs. Meyer devoted herself to her favorite occupation of fancy-work, for many years, lavishly giving away much of her handiwork, and teaching many the craft. She had many friends, and always endeared herself to them by her generosity and kindness. She was noted for her sense of humor, always enjoying a joke, giving or taking.


Box 1:
1              Unpublished manuscripts (book 1), ca. 1930s              
1) Indexes of unpublished manuscripts and articles published in the Golden Valley News
2) Autobiography “The Last of the Buffalo Hide Hunters: His Life as He Writes it to Date”
3) “The Doings of Two Old Partners Old Ben (Shingle Eye) for Nickname, and Old Jack (Three Fingered Jake) for Nickname”
4) “A Pioneer Family: Joseph C. Meyer and Wife, Their Family Tree and Origin”
5)  “First Trail Herd from Texas”
6) “Liver Eating Johnson”
7) “My Two Old Pardners, Ben Ferris and Jake Tetters”
8) “Copper Heads”
9) “The Indian Burial Tree”
10) [Untitled] Marquis de Mores and early Medora
11) “Trapper Johnstone, Charles Johnstone Died and Buried in Glenullen [Glen Ullin] North Dakota in 1916-1917”
12) “Lew Stone: The One Stoneville, Montana was Named After”
13) “Our Pretty Chattering Mischievous Destructive Magpies Who Do More Damage Than All of Our Coyotes”
14) “Our Persecuted Coyotes or Prairie Wolf”
15) “The Two Saddle Partners, Time: 1895, Location: South Red Lodge”
16) “Our Extinct Passenger Pigeons”
17) “The First Community Photographer West of Mandan”
18) “Primitive Packers”
19) “Glenullen [Glen Ullin] in 1885”
20) “Buffalo Hunters That I Knew”
21) “Dakota Territory: Yankton First Capitol”
22) “Henry Gilbert Was the First Family Who Moved Into What is Now Golden Valley and Stayed”
23) “Large Range Cattle Outfits that Trailed in from the South to Little Missouri River Points”
24) [three miscellaneous pages]
2              Published manuscripts (book 2), 1937-1938
1) “My Grass Widow Romance, in the Early Days,” Feb. 24, 1938
2) “My Two Old Partners, Old Single Eye Ben and Old Three Fingered Jake – Both California 1849 Gold Rushers,” Golden Valley News Jan. 21, 1937
3) “My 1883 Christmas Present,” d in the Golden Valley News, Dec. 31, 1936
4) “Three Hardest Winters (1880-1881, 1886-1887, 1896-1897),” Golden Valley News, March 18, 1937
5) “The Winters of 1886-7 and '96-7 and after,” Golden Valley News, June 17, 1937
6) “Some Early History of New Salem,” Golden Valley News, date unknown
7) “Where and When I First Met Theodore Roosevelt,” Golden Valley News, Sept. 23, 1937
8) “The Lone Ace Buffalo Hunter (Mostly Dead Ones) – Stinker Scottie Mack,” Golden Valley News, Sept. 16, 1937
9) “An Early Day Missouri River Steamboat Man (Joe Beaubean),” Golden Valley News, Sept. 30, 1937
10) “A Brief History of Sims, North Dakota,” Golden Valley News, Dec. 23, 1937
11)  “The American Bison, Called Buffalo,” Golden Valley News, Oct. 21, 1937
12) “Sam Heintz and His Tame Buffalo Wolf (1893),” Golden Valley News, May 13, 1937
13) “First Dude Ranch: Howard Eaton and Three Brothers,” Golden Valley News, March 13, 1938

3              Published manuscripts (book 3), ca. 1937
1) “The Early German-Russian Settlers, A Trapper Johnston Story,” Golden Valley News, n.d.
2) “The Prong-Horned Antelope,” probably printed in the Golden Valley News, n.d.
3) “Trapper Johnstone,” published in the Golden Valley News, n.d.
4) “The Old Oak Tree,” published in the Golden Valley News, n.d.
5) “Sitting Bull as I First Saw Him,” Golden Valley News, Apr. 29, 1937
6) “‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody as I Knew Him, Also as the General Public Knew Him,” Golden Valley News, May 6, 1937
7) “What I Know about the Sioux Indians and the Custer Battle,” Golden Valley News, Apr. 15, 1937
8) “Lew Stone, the Man that Stoneville, Montana, Was Named After,” Golden Valley News, March 25, 1937
9) “Don't Go Native and Become the Squaw Man,” Golden Valley News, June 10, 1937
10) “My Second Meeting with Sitting Bull,” Golden Valley News, June 23, 1937
11) “The Old Fort Lincoln-Fort Keogh Trail: 1876-1881,” Golden Valley News, May 20, 1937
12) “How the Sioux Indian Liked His Meat,” Golden Valley News, June 24, 1937
13) “Rattlesnakes and More Rattlesnakes,” Golden Valley News, Feb. 18, 1937
14) “The First Settlements West of the Missouri,” Golden Valley News, Feb. 25, 1937
15) “Frozen Foot Andy - A Two-Bit Horse Thief,” Golden Valley News, Feb. 4, 1937
16) “My First and Only Remittance Man,” Golden Valley News, Feb. 11, 1937
17) “Fort Saur Kraut, the Last Sioux Outbreak, the Death of Sitting Bull,” probably published in the Golden Valley News, n.d.
18) “The First Trail Herd from Texas,” Golden Valley News, July 1, 1937
19) Hunted Buffalo in Bowman County, Golden Valley News, n.d. (Meyer tells about the early days in this country)
20) “Students Compile Data on Early History of Golden Valley County,” Golden Valley News, June 3, 1937 (Meyer was interviewed)
21) “Roosevelt at Maltese Cross in Days When White Arrived,” probably published in the Golden Valley News, ca. 1937 (not written by Meyer, no mention of Meyer)

Box 2:
Portrait of Joseph C. Meyer, W. J. DeGraff (Bismarck, N.D.) photograph, ca. 1890

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