The stories below were shared by "Dick's" g-niece Gwen Miller-Youst Johnson who received them from his niece Winnie Yost Mishler
I want to pass on these interesting stories of cowboy life in the 1870’s and 1880’s in New Mexico, as experienced by my uncle, Gilford Youst, and my father, Leonard Yost (who changed his name back to the original spelling). Gilford was known to most of his friends and acquaintances as Dick Youst. These tales were compiled in the early part of the century, in Topeka Kansas, and preserved by me in Uncle Dick’s own words (with the aid of a stenographer). They are dedicated in loving memory to him in the hope that many of his descendants and younger relatives may find them as interesting as we, his nieces and nephews have always found them.
Winnie Yost Mishler
My Experiences Traveling West on the C.B.&Q. R/R
by Gilford E. "Dick" Youst
It was just a few days before Christmas in1860, I got on the train at Kansas City, Missouri at 5:P.M. westbound through the plains states for a long ride. Before the train got out of the state, going northwest, we encountered snow storm turning colder as we progressed northward, where blowing snow made visibility most difficult. I was riding in a chair car, and there was plenty of room for everyone, but before midnight at every station stop, college students got on the train going to their homes at various places for their Christmas vacation. Everyone had to move over and give room to the happy and noisy group, carrying their luggage, Christmas packages etc., etc., with paper rattling, calls ahead to Bill, or Bob asking " any room up there ?"
That was the end of sleep for that night, with each stop the opening of doors letting in the cold frosty draft which made you feel we were getting near the north pole. Something went wrong with the heat at the side of the car where I sat, so I used my fir coat for a blanket to cover most of my length, and settled fairly comfortable. Just before dawn everyone that was left on the train, seemed quiet, but I heard a stir across the isle from me, a little elderly lady from Canada traveling alone suddenly took ill. Two ladies sitting near her were trying to comfort her till help could come, a call for aid and ambulance to meet train at next station. They came and carried her away, but she had passed away before the train reached the station.
6:00 A.M. as the breakfast hour was nearing, I asked one of the trainmen if the dinning car was open - he said yes, I will break the trail for you. He had four buckle overshoes on, and well he did, the snow had drifted between the coaches about ten inches deep. He pushed the snow with his feet, and made a path between the coaches, and there were three coaches to go through to get to the diner.
While I was in the diner enjoying my breakfast, the conductor came through the car I had ridden in all night, and announced that all would have to move into the car ahead, as this car would be put on the siding for repair. ( I did not hear that announcement) When I came back to my chair and belongings, I could not find them. Then I began to recognize familiar faces, and they saw I was in a quandary. Then some one said "were you in the other car when the conductor came through and told us we would have to move to the car ahead as this car would be put on siding for repair?" ... no I was in the diner having breakfast, while all this was going on.
I found the Conductor and told him my trouble. This man was not the one that announced the change of cars. This was a division point, where they were at the end of their run and a new train crew took over. He said he would see if the car had left the yards. He rushed back and told me the car was about ten miles down the line on its way to the repair shop. I gave him the description of my luggage and fir coat. He wired the description ahead, and was told the contents would be sent on another train and would reach the town of my destination, the next day after I arrived. The dear people in this car when they found out that I did not have my coat or sweater, all wanted to help make me comfortable as the car had not warmed up enough. They offered sweaters and wraps of various kinds. One lady handed me a shopping bag with an Esmond blanket nicely folded, and said she was going to get off the train at my destination, that she was visiting her daughter there, it is still storming, and you will need this blanket to wrap around you. She said you can leave it at the depot with the ticket agent ... we know him quite well. I sent her a large Christmas card after I arrived and told her of our experience that I am going to now relate -
My son met the long train at the depot. I made it possible to get off the train last, so I could stop in the isle and put on this splashy colored blanket, along with a maroon scarf over my head. When I stepped off the train, and saw the look on my son's face - I went into hysterics of laughter. Then he said "Where is your coat and luggage?" I told him I lost the whole works. Walking in snow going from the train to the depot, my son was holding onto me to keep me from falling as we were both laughing like crazy. Some one came from behind us and tapped my son on the shoulder ... looking around see if it was some one he knew, there stood a tall Indian. He just stepped back and with a wave of the hand, not saying a word, he just grunted. We don't know what the Indian thought, but as we analyzed it, when we were laughing, he must have thought that I was crying, possibly being taken by force ... he must thought I was a squaw!
The Call to Go West
by LaEtta Copeland Youst
In the year 1873 Gilford E. Youst and wife Virginia Victoria and their blue eyed baby girl Delphia Olive who was one year old, left Wellington West Virginia to go to the middle west. They had received letters from brother Lenard Youst in Sumner County Kansas, encouraging them to come to Kansas to farm and raise cattle.
This part of the middle west was very new, and those young people were strong and hopeful, ready to challenge whatever it takes to help settle a new community. They first came to the home of the Hildreths. Mrs. Hildreth a sister of Mrs. Youst later they live in a sod house, the kind early settlers had to build.
They raised cattle, corn and wheat. Their fuel was a course grass, twisted tightly together to burn more even. This grass grew in large bunches. They also gathered buffalo chips from the prairie for fuel. They hauled their wheat to Wichita Kansas, a distance of fifty miles - their nearest market. They lived near the state line south toward the Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. They could go some distance into this territory and get wood for fuel. It was a days journey with a team of horses or oxen. They could not make that journey very often. In 1874 the grasshoppers took their crops and a new baby was expected that fall. The future did not look as bright for this couple as it did before their crop was destroyed.
September eleventh, a blue eyed baby boy was born named James Albert. He had brown curly hair, and fair complexion. Three years later, 1877 another boy was born named Claudius D., who had dark brown eyes and auburn curly hair, with very fair skin and chubby build. This family lived near the Chikaskia River where most of the people who lived in this community would have chills and fever. It was most prevalent in the spring and early summer.
The brother Lenard went farther west, and kept in touch with his brother Gilford. The spring of 1879 Mrs. Youst took the children and went back to West Virginia to visit for the summer while Gilford went to Leadville, Colorado. From there he went to Chico Springs, New Mexico (then a territory). He worked for a big cattle man by the name of Dorsey. He was called Senator Dorsey.
This part of the county was considered a very good healthy climate. He found a place for his family to live. Gilford was an energetic individual, was dependable and worked very hard. Those who became acquainted with him like him. He worked for a number of cattle companies; for some he worked as roundup cook, and later as foreman over their cowboys. He had a way of getting along with men. This cattle company was called the Tinsley Brothers, their horse and cattle brand was TA.
In August 1880 a baby girl was born, Lena Alice. She had dark brown eyes and black hair with an olive complexion. She grew up to be a very pretty young lady, very quiet and refined who was loved by all who knew her. In 1883 another boy was born, George B. He had dark brown eyes and black hair, with the same complexion as his sister Alice, three years older. He was rather a sensitive child and cried easily. He grew up to be a very likeable young man, a very kind patient person. I can say this with authority for when he was twenty-three I married him and he kept all those good qualities of character (as above mentioned) as long as he lived.
To read more of Dick's stories click on the link below -
Fireside Tales of Uncle Dick