Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Homestead

This is a photo of the group of men that established our original family homestead, forerunner of our family ranch, known as the 711 Ranch. My grandfather, Ferry Larter, is the taller young man in the center back row. To his left (our right) is his father, my great-grandfather, Claude Larter, and to grandpa's right is Claude's half-brother, Will Larter.

In the front row are grandpa's brothers and one brother-in-law. Left to right are: Ray Bradshaw, Shirley Larter, Clark Larter and Fay Larter. These men established a homestead using the acreage around the Whiskey Springs Stagecoach Stop that had been founded in 1908 and run by Claude for years. The building behind them is the original homestead house, which later became the bunkhouse where traveling cowboys bunked while they worked for the ranch.

I'm not totally sure of the relationship between Claude and Will, although they are identified in the records I have as half-brothers. Claude's father (my great-great-grandfather) was Henry Neach Larter, born in Norfolk, England, in 1932. He had more than one wife. One of these wives was Phebe Maria Curtis, and she was Claude's mother -- hence, my great-great-grandmother. I'm still not sure who Will's mother and father were, but I'm working on finding out!

Phebe's father, Erastus Curtis, was 19 years old in 1847 when he accompanied his father to travel to what we now know as Utah. They came with Brigham Young in the first wave of Mormon pioneers to settle the Salt Lake area. I do know that Erastus had four wives and at least 25 children. It appears that he was a polygamist, since these marriages all appear to have occurred around the same time, in 1848, one year after the first wave of Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake. One of his wives, Mary Caroline Barton Curtis, died in 1911 in a place now called Barton, not far from Whiskey Springs.

Some of this family history has made its way into my forthcoming novel, "Belle o' the Waters," due out this summer. Friends who have read early drafts of this book will definitely recognize some of the names, since I've borrowed liberally from my family tree for character names in the novel. I know so little about these early generations, though, and the details of their daily lives, even their exact relationships to one another, are still a mystery, and may always remain that way. Hence, my book is not a family history - it's a novel, totally fictionalized, but based on the history that so many of us who grew up in the western US share.

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