Rabbit Creek Country
Three Ranching Lives in the Heart of the Mountain West
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of New Mexico Press
List of Illustrations
I walked into the lives of John Elliott, Ida Elliott, and Josephine Lamb. The chance discovery of a deserted house on Rabbit Creek in the northern Colorado foothills turned me into a biographer. I have spent the better part of a decade researching and composing the story of the...
In the early 1840s, John Charles Fremont pushed north through the eastern foothills of the Rockies in what is present-day Larimer County, Colorado. He was a little off course. Instead of ascending the main branch of the Cache la Poudre River, as he thought, he was going up its north...
1: Elliotts Go West
Daniel Elliott first came to Colorado on a wild horse chase. For the previous ten years, he had been farming in northwestern Kansas. There, his oldest son, John—one of the three subjects of my narrative— spent his boyhood years...
2: Ida Meyer
When Ida Meyer was twenty-four, she shot a bobcat. One of the earliest photos of her in the West records that event, which took place in Livermore in 1898. Whoever snapped the picture probably used Ida’s Eastman Kodak camera. It seems she took it with her everywhere...
3: Rabbit Creek
Ida Meyer married John Elliott on December 3, 1908. They had known each other at least five years, likely more. John worked as ranch hand for Ida’s employers, the Horsleys, from 1903 to 1905. Ida later told a nephew of Josephine Lamb that John met her when she was waitressing...
4: Seeing the Land in Time
The first major explorer of the interior West to see Rabbit Creek country was John Charles Fremont, who passed near the mouth of the stream in 1843. Fremont was leading his second expedition into the Rocky Mountains to find, as he put it, a new...
5: Miss Lamb
The Elliotts’ toddler had become a boy. Ida photographed him in various poses, wearing his cowboy hat, sitting on a pony, working the hay stacker. In one photo, he looks like little Lord Fauntleroy. He is dressed in a suit with knee breeches, worsted jacket, and matching cap...
6: “Aspens and Backswarth”
It is a fall day of unusual clarity. I am headed up to the Laramie River valley. The road out of Fort Collins, where I live, passes the cemetery. I slow down. I want to look at the elms, a majestic variety now rare in the United States, and I want to see the final destination of so many...
7: John Elliott
Margaret Ann McLean visited the Rabbit Creek ranch as a girl. That was in the 1930s. Later in life, she shared with me her memory of a little incident concerning the owner. “John Elliott had a doll, in Levis, shirt, and bandana—a cowboy—and he had it in his room. I was...
8: Cattle on the Land
My first hike to the abandoned ranch house took place in 1997. Since then, for a decade now, I have walked and explored Rabbit Creek country. I carry with me USGS topo maps. On them, I pencil in the derelict buildings and homesteads I encounter, and trace with a marker my...
9: A Livermore Home Companion
John’s death in 1961 brought to an end a marriage that had lasted fifty-two years. When he died, Mrs. Elliott was eighty-six and bedridden. It is doubtful she attended the funeral. In any case, she was in no condition to stay at the old Livermore Hotel, where the three...
10: Woman Rancher
The ranch men of Livermore belonged to the Larimer County Stockgrowers Association. The ranch wives had a sister organization called the Cow Belles. Jo Lamb was a little out of place in both groups, but in the 1950s she was one of two women members of the Stockgrowers...
11: Citizen Lamb
Eleanor Roosevelt visited Fort Collins in August 1958 to receive an honorary doctorate from Colorado State University. Josephine Lamb drove down from Livermore with a woman friend to hear the former First Lady. They met Mrs. Roosevelt and shook her hand. A crowd of...
12: Three Lives
A life trajectory is the trail that forms in our wake when we are thrown into time. At birth, we are cast into some region of the planet. Certain beliefs and customs fall to our lot. We are born to this mother and this father. We are a girl or a boy, and we did not choose...
The objects of history are ever on the move. Most of those associated with my subjects are beyond my grasp. Ida’s recipes are no longer to be found, the taste of her cooking lost to my tongue. Thus, I have relied on records and people’s memories of the things that my...
The Rabbit Creek project grew out of oral history and was an intensely collaborative effort. Deborah and I found special pleasure in conversing with people about our subjects’ lives and hearing about their own. The dedication at the front of the book recognizes the cooperation...
Page Count: 468
Illustrations: 33 halftones, 2 line illustrations, 1 map
Publication Year: 2008
OCLC Number: 312429881
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rabbit Creek Country