Saturday, June 14, 2008

An Historical Franch Tale

Jeff’s uncle grew up on a ranch in Gateway Canyon. His family had owned the property for several generations. His grandfather, Preach Massey, worked the ranch as did his father before him, back when the West was wild. So here is an exciting Franch history lesson for y’all. One thing that is all important to any farm or ranch operation is water. No one can run a successful operation without a source of water. The problem is, water is not always easy to come by. You don’t really hear about it so much around here, but water and grazing rights were and very important to farmers and ranchers. Having water and grazing rights gives you the resources you need to care for your property. Often fights arose over who had the right to what. Feuds started and anger rose. It was something like this that started another family in the canyon against the Massey’s. The story has it that there was a dispute over water. I am going off my memory here, so I may not have the details quite right. Whatever it was, there was a dispute. I believe that the Massey family refused to sell the rights to their water. One day when Preach was about three years old, he was riding a horse with his father along the ridge of the mountain. I am not sure if there was a confrontation or not. I don’t remember, but Preach’s father was shot off his horse. He died right there. Preach sat alone on the horse at the top of the mountain. The shooter then went on to burn down the cabin containing the deed to the property in dispute. The family story goes that the horse found his way back to the ranch, with Preach still perched atop him. You may be wondering if this is a tall tale. I kind of wondered the same thing. While I didn’t think that the story was made up, I wondered if it was really all that spectacular. Not long after, when I worked at a retirement home, I actually took care of a man who also grew up in Gateway. He was older than dirt and remembered the story too. The only differing detail was that his father had found Preach and the horse wandering the mountain and led them back home. If that weren’t enough confirmation, we also knew a lady from church who also lived on a ranch up there. She, too, verified the story. Jeff’s uncle actually took us up to the ‘scene of the crime’ one time, and that was pretty interesting. Sometimes the truth is more exciting than fiction I suppose.

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