In September 2013, Bill and I visited his home state of Montana. Our objective: A research trip to fill in the blanks for Bill’s family history in preparation for the eBook, Growing Up in Montana During the Great Depression: A Memoir.
Destination #2 – Wilsall (pop 237 at the 2000 census)
In 1911, Clyde M. Lyon (who would become Bill’s uncle), was roaming around the West looking for a satisfactory place to locate, and came to Wilsall, a small community about 30 miles north of Livingston in the Shields River Valley. Already established in the Midwest as a successful businessman, Mr. Lyon began a new career in ranching and, by 1919, owned several ranches in Park County, a mercantile store in Wilsall, and was numbered among the prosperous and well-to-do citizens of his community. In 1921, Clyde M. Lyon was written up in a Montana “Who’s Who” as “one of the well-known agriculturists and ranchmen of Southern Montana…never losing the dignity which is the birthright of the true gentleman”. (Source: Montana: Its Story and Biography, Vol. II, 1921)
“When Mother and Dad married in 1921 in Livingston, my father, Harry Elwood “Mac” McGee, had quite a reputation around Montana as a top hand with horses. Clyde Lyon, my mother’s brother, who owned several ranches at the time in Park and Meagher counties, immediately spotted Dad’s talent with horses and hired him on the spot to work. Dad moved around a lot while working for Uncle Clyde, thus my three siblings and I were each born in a different part of the state.”
Bill’s oldest sister, Doris, was born in 1922 on Uncle Clyde’s home property near Wilsall. Bill’s next oldest sister, Betty, was born in 1923 on Uncle Clyde’s Catlin (or Caitlin) Ranch near White Sulphur Springs (pop 965 at the 2012 census) about 40 miles north of Wilsall. (See photo.) Bill was born in 1925 at the Lott Birthing Hospital in Livingston. Bill’s younger brother, Bob, would be born in 1927 in Malta on the Hi-Line.