February 21, 1957


"Ranch 5"

A good set of buildings were put on "section 5" (5-146-59) hence the name "Ranch 5" - near the shore of a small lake of good water, ''Ranch 5" was run by part of Cooper's men They wintered at the "Home Ranch" had their own foreman, and used the buildings there only during the busy season.

The barn was 28 x 80 with numbered stalls for the mules. "It almost seemed as though those mules could read! When turned loose in the yard they would go directly to their individual stalls." (Christ Wuflestad).

One of the granaries built at "Ranch 5" was later moved to "Ranch 7".

Their seems to have been some sort of either competition or collusion between Howard Oviatt and the Cooper Brothers. It cannot be learned whether the "Deal" given by the Courier was to help clear some titles, or to help Mr. Oviatt sell his other railroad lands, or just to start a "boom" in the land market. "A BIG DEAL IN DIRT" (Courier, February 15, 1884)

"A deal just recorded by Register Smart (date of deed, December 14, 1883) shows up a very satisfactory sale of soil, and considering the season is only fairly opened. The deal in question was made by Messrs. Cooper Brothers to Mr. Howard Oviatt, of New York City, and comprises the transfer of 5,720 acres of land for a consideration of $15 per acre, the whole aggregation $85,800. The land purchased by Mr. Oviatt lays in one to five miles of Cooperstown, and comprises some 3,000 acres of improved soil, the balance being wild. Cooper Brothers in addition to the $85,800 have the use of the improved land this year, which would in reality bring the transaction to over $95,000."

And: (Courier, February 22, 1984)

"The profits to be derived from Dakota soil as an investment were well illustrated by the sale mentioned last week as being made by Cooper Brothers. The land they sold for $15 per acre cost them just $1.65 per acre, for a snug margin of $76,363 on an investment of $9,480. The land improved will pay for the cost of the work, and a handsome profit besides, by the crop this season, which Cooper Brothers got, so that the above are actual figures on the deal. The land has been purchased dirt cheap and will return a rich reward to the buyer; yet the sellers can pocket a neat margin of about 800 per cent." The Cooper Brothers farmed the land as before the sale. On October 17, 1984 they bought back from Mr. Oviatt all the land they had sold him and an additional 1 1/2  sections for a total of $90,000. (Register of Deeds office.)

"Ranch 7"

During the early 80's "Ranch 7" (on section 7-146-58) was worked the same as "Ranch 5." They used the buildings only during the busy seasons. But after R. C. Cooper had bought this land in his own name, it became a year-around headquarters for a foreman and the men and teams necessary to farm the sections which surrounded it.

The month hands to care for the teams slept upstairs in the house. The transient help of the busy season slept in the barns or other places they liked on the farm.

Here Cooper built large barns with haylofts. His granaries were placed on the different nearby sections where they could be most convenient in threshing time. He built one special double granary under one roof with space between the two granaries. He used this as a machine shed for the engines and tractors in his latest farming years.


Cooper's "month hands" just had to be warmly dressed. They wore the usual winter clothing of the times. "Red flannels" were not a joke. (Courier, November 6, 1885, "Suit of medicated all wool scarlet gent's underwear - $1.39.") They were real even though later generations find the color to be funny. Even as late as 1912 a hired man (worked for C. A. Porterville) sent to a mail order house and got, by his own oversight, a suit of red flannel underwear. They were as advertised - red - he had not read the description carefully.

It was not to be assumed that all men who worked for Cooper, or any one man who might be selected at random, wore the red flannels.

The Scandinavian and German settlers usually kept a few sheep. There is no doubt but that when they worked for Cooper they had sox and mittens knit at home from the whole wool from their own ship, sheared, carded, spun and knit by their own family. The yarn was heavy, and sox and mittens gavelong wear. Mrs. Nels Tufteland, a pioneer near Red Willow Lake, long after 1900, still made this kind of long-legged sox, and they were readily sold at Larson's Store at $1 per pair.

For coldest weather these sox were worn inside a knee-high felt boot, usually in turn, worn inside large ankle high rubbers or overshoes. The felt was from ½ to 1 inch in thickness. With this protection frosted feet were few. When indoors, the rubbers or overshoes were taken off, and often the felt boots, too. In summer, a cloth folded over the feet was worn inside their shoes, instead of regular sox by many Scandinavian men.

The home knit mittens were worn inside a pair of leather mittens, together with "wristers" or "wristlets." These were knit like the top of sox, about six inches long, and worn on the arm at the wrist to cover that part between the mitten and coat most likely to be exposed to cold.

If, however, a man got chilled on a long trip, he would walk beside, or behind his team. The exercise would soon warm him, and he would then ride again.

The men of the Cooper family all had buffalo overcoats. So did several others of the Eastern American group. Others had coats of other kinds of furs.

When no longer used as coats, the buffalo overcoats were often made into heavy robes or rugs, their matted fur resembling a dark brown dried up mud puddle, broken into its irregular pieces.

Men's underclothes were some of the first garments to be bought ready-made. The women usually bought cloth and made - or hired made - the men's shirts and their everyday work pants.

The women's underclothing was all homemade. They wore heavy stockings - not "hose" - for cold weather. For dress up they owned one or two pair of silk stockings, usually black, made of a very heavy pure silk yarn that wore for years. It did not "snag" or "run", and could very well be much-darned, because the women wore high shoes, and floor length dresses.


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