Wednesday, November 28, 2018

“Rufus” Reid and Agnes Just Perpetuate Century Ranch Heritage [otd 11/28]

Robert “Rufus” Reid.
Family Archives.*
On November 28, 1906, twenty-year-old Agnes Just married Robert E. “Rufus” Reid in Blackfoot, Idaho. Agnes was the youngest child and only surviving daughter of Nels and Emma Just.

Born in Denmark in 1847, Nels A. Just was ten years old when his family came to the United States. They had already converted to the LDS Church, and aimed to settle in Utah. The Justs traveled as part of one of the so-called “handcart” companies and arrived at Salt Lake in September 1857.

Emma Thompson was born in England in 1850. Also Mormon converts, the family emigrated to the U. S. in 1854. Both the Thompsons and the Justs joined the ill-fated “Morrisite” splinter group and suffered through its eventual dissolution. By the late 1860s, Nels had worked at various jobs, including running freight into Montana.

Emma married a soldier in 1865. After his discharge, the couple moved around as her husband found work. According to Bonneville County historian Barzilla Clark, “During the winter of 1866-67, we find her cooking at the stage station at Taylor’s Bridge.” (Taylor's Bridge eventually became today's Idaho Falls.)

From there, they went to Montana where, unfortunately, her husband abandoned her. After the birth of their son, she returned to live with relatives in the Blackfoot area. Divorced, Emma married Nels in 1870. They settled along the Blackfoot River and began raising livestock. Some of these he sold under contract to the Army at Fort Hall. Nels would also figure prominently in later irrigation efforts.

Besides Fred from her first marriage, the couple raised four sons of their own, and then Agnes. Agnes attended Albion Normal School to qualify for a teaching certificate. On one of her trips home, she met “Zeke” Reid (Robert Ezeckiel went by Bob, Zeke, or Rufus at various times), who then worked for her father.

Agnes taught a few years before marrying Rufus in 1906. After the marriage, they moved in with Nels and Emma at the homestead ranch along the Blackfoot River. Nels died in 1912, while Emma lived until 1923.
Rufus and Agnes in 1907. Family Archives.*

Agnes Just Reid became the mother of five sons. Still, raising them and helping run a farm-ranch operation wasn’t enough. She also became a noted Idaho article writer, columnist, and poetess.

After she became well known, The Deseret News profiled her (October 24, 1948). The writer observed, “Mrs. Reid has a knack of telling common things beautifully. Her poetry is not the modeled lacy petal, flowery poetry which is read simply for its phrasing quality and is forgotten because it lacks depth.” Instead, her “pen is strong and forceful … [and leaves] a wealth of pure gold to ponder until the reader, remembering, makes it part of himself.”

The Reid sons in their turn, acquired various portions of the old homestead.

As part of the state’s Centennial celebration, the Idaho State Historical Society prepared a list of “Idaho Century Farms and Ranches.” The specific criteria state that the farm or ranch must have been “owned and operated in Idaho by the same family for at least 100 years, with 40 acres of the original parcel of land maintained as part of the present holding.”

As of 2004, the list contained nearly one hundred ranches established during the Territorial period, along with 175 farms, many of which also raised livestock. Four of the ranches trace their roots back to the original holding established along the Blackfoot by Nels and Emma Just.

* Family archives: Presto Press, Presto Preservation Association. Used with permission.
References: [French]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County In The Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls (1941).
Idaho Century Farms and Ranches, Idaho State Historical Society (2004).
Agnes Just Reid, Letters of Long Ago, Fourth Edition, Cedar Creek Press, Boise, Idaho (1997).

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