Biography of 'Brig' Youst
by Unknown Family
James Albert Youst, more commonly known as "Brig" Youst, was born in Corbin, Kansas, September 11, 1874. He died at the age of 88 in Billings, Montana on September 15, 1962. His parents were Gilford E. Youst and Virginia Victoria (Cunningham) Youst who preceded him in death, as did two sisters, Alice and Delphia, and one brother, George E. Youst. Another brother, Claudius B. Youst died in 1967. The family used the middle name, Albert; before he was twenty he acquired the nickname of "Brig".
Albert moved with his parents, brothers and sisters, to Raton, New Mexico, June 27, 1888, traveling by covered wagon, where they homesteaded near Chico Springs. When the historical land grant war with the homesteaders struck in 1890, the Gilford Youst family again packed their belongings in covered wagons, trailing horse and cattle herds, traveling weeks and months to reach Sheridan County, Wyoming where the children continued their education. At the age of 16, Albert went to work, as a ranch hand, being the oldest son, to help the family with the schooling of the other children.
Wyoming winters were violent in those years and in 1891. While Albert was working on the Bar N Cattle Ranch, then owned by George L. Smith, news was relayed by the ranchers that the Hutchinfeller widow and her children could be in distress and possibly snowbound. Albert now 17, loaded a covered wagon with the necessary provisions and battled the elements--having to later abandon the wagon, strapping provisions on the two horses and continuing on to the Marquette, Wyoming area on the Shoshone river. When Albert reached the widow's ranch he found she and her five children, three girls and two boys, one a one a very small baby, critically ill. Albert nursed them back to health, collected fuel (wood and Buffalo chips) and cared for the widow's stock until relatives could reach them to take over. There were numerous incidents, similar to this one, during the next few years and news spread of Albert's heroic deeds and his good Samaritan response to women and families in distress--likening Albert to Brigham Young and his many women--roused joking comments among his family and friends and he acquired the nickname "Brig", for Brigham.
The spring of 1892, Albert went to work on the Mailin Frost ranch on Sage Creek. In June of 1893 he and Jess Frost, son of Mailin, drove large herds of horses to Nebraska but were unable to sell them and brought them back to Sage Creek. Then in December of 1893 he took the very responsible job of driving a freight team for Al Bell, and took the first load of freight into the town of Cody, Wyoming. The following January, 1894, he was selected to drive the first mail route stage from Meeteetse, Wyoming to Eagles Nest, on what was called the Red Lodge route.
In September of 1894, Albert joined with his brothers, Claudius and George, in the homesteading of a farm and ranch one-half mile from the (later named) town of Belfry, Montana, in the Clarke Fork Valley in Carbon County, Montana. Before the town of Belfry was named the area was known as Silvertip Flat.
Albert and Goldie Fern Hancock, daughter of Owen C. and Emilia Hancock of Silver Tip Flat (Belfry), Montana were married July 1, 1903. Goldie and her parents had traveled from Illinois to Kansas; eventually homesteading in New Mexico--losing their land holdings, as did the Youst family, and they too finally homesteading in Clarke Fork Valley. A son, Gordon July Youst, was born to this marriage on their first wedding anniversary, July 1, 1904. A daughter, Velda Belfry Youst, was the first baby born in the town (after it was named) of Belfry on November 20, 1907--and was given the middle name of Belfry.
The Youst brothers sold their homestead and Albert became a ranch foreman for John Tollman, a rancher in the Clarke Fork Valley. In the year 1909, Albert moved his family to Hardin, Montana, where he engaged in farming for a year and in 1910 purchased a house in Hardin, Montana, moved his family to town, and started the first transfer business in Hardin. The town blacksmith, Harry Ball, built two transfer wagons for Albert, with the trade name, Hardin Transfer 1 and 2 painted on the wagons, thus the birth of the first Hardin Transfer business, serving the com-munity continuously under this name until the year 1926. Automotive trucks were becoming popular and Albert sold his two large horse-drawn transfer wagons and went to work for the E. L. Dana Cattle Company.
The Owen C. Hancock farm near Belfry, Montana was deeded to Goldie Youst in 1930, and she and Albert sold their residence in Hardin moving to the farm. Albert was a lover of the open range and not happy being a farmer, so the farm was leased and he returned to Big Horn County in 1936. Until the year of his retirement, in 1953, he worked for Harvey Wilcutt, Sr., on the Grape Vine Ranch near Black and Big Horn Canyons; then on the Ed Kopac Ranch; finally retiring while working for Hubert Woodward on Fly Creek. He made his home with his son, Gordon, in Billings until his death.
Albert "Brig" Youst was a man with a great heart and love for his fellow man and never too busy to help any man, woman or child in need or distress. He had a great wealth of friends wherever he lived or traveled, regardless of race or creed. He would befriend any stranger, friend or Indian who came to him for help, financial or otherwise. He was an experienced horse trader and dealt with his Indian friends honestly and was trusted by them. He was a skilled horse breaker and wild horses were his "apple pie" -- at the age of 83 he could still ride in county fair and rodeo parades, and bucking broncos were his delight. Many old fractures and injuries took their toll in the later years, although he had no chronic illness, just the infirmaries of old age. Albert's sunny disposition and joviality; the wonderful historical stories he told, so well, of his many experiences in life; his great love for animals, the ability to doctor them successfully; his compassion for all people in all walks of life -- endeared him forever in the hearts of his family and a world of friends.