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Remember When?


February 28, 2019


Daniel M. Rasor was born Aug. 23, 1909 in Kendall, Montana (which is now a ghost town), to Martin Rasor and Adeline LaTry, a member of the Chippewa Tribe. They had 10 children of which, Daniel was the youngest.

After their marriage, Martin remained in eastern Montana working on various ranches for at least 10 years or so until he finally packed his belongings and left the family. Adeline tried to provide for her children, a task that wore her down. In 1914 she died and all of the children were taken to the orphanage in Twin Bridges, Montana.

When Dan was about 6 or 7 years old, Neptune Lynch of Plains, Montana came and took him from the home. Nep had several other orphan boys residing at his ranch, all of whom were taught to ride and work at an early age. At the age of 14 years, Nep told him he was going to make him into a packer and with those words gave him a string of mules and taught him the art of packing loads on mules. Nep, who was well known for horsemanship, passed his knowledge on to the boys he was raising. Dan entered many rodeos, mostly as a bare back horse rider.

May-Sept. of 1931 he worked as a packer at the salary of $1,660 a year out of Trout Creek. Reason for discharge, season was over. “There was enuf (sic) packing to keep my string and a second pack string busy all season. My string and the second string came in late from lumber packing, some of the stock had lost shoes. The Ranger (Coleman) demanded me to shoe the stock and then trail to Plains, Montana, which was a 50 mile drive.”

In 1932 Dan was a farm hand or cowboy for William Clark of Hot Springs. Dan’s job was to break horses; riding and looking after cattle and horses on the range or big pastures. Pay was $40 per month.

Fall of 1929 and 1930: packed over the hill from Heron on a hundred man tree planting camp, the job lasted 6 weeks to 2 months. Winter of 1927 and 1928 worked as farmhand or cowboy for Charles Prongua of Hot Springs (Note: Dan was 16 years old in 1927).

Oct. 1948 – April 1950: $158 per month, $4,264 per year, full string packer, Trout Creek, Ralph Space, supervisor for the Cabinet Forest. Full string packing and misc., work on road maintenance, telephone maintenance, fire suppression, and acting foreman on projects where needed.

April 1945 – Nov. 1947: laborer on the Cabinet, Trout Creek, Montana $158 per month, $2,430 per year. I was layed off during each winter. I was doing trail maintenance, telephone maintenance, powder man, fire suppression and road maintenance, also doing some packing and worked as wrangler at winter range in spring of 1947. I was hired winter 1945 to keep fires, was paid $5.00 per month and was given by board and room, also kept roofs free from heavy snow.

May 1934 to Oct. 1938: packer and lookout $80 per month. I was laid off five months during winter due to lack of funds. I acted as smoke chaser, also doing all the packing for the trail and telephone maintenance, and supplying all the lookouts that were being used. The winter of '34 and '35, five months was LEM at St. Regis, Montana, at the CCC, that’s where I completed forestry and diesel correspondence course. I hired in spring ’34 to pack lookout towers for $1.20 per hour.

July ’33 to April of 1934: farm hand, $2.00 a day; $25 a month, Wisdom, Montana. On ranch I was feeding 700 cows with four-horse team during the winter months, the fall of ’33 worked putting up jack leg fences around all the haystacks, I also worked one month during haying season. I rode rodeos during summer months.

I was breaking horse to ride to take care of range cattle and the winter of ’31 and 1932 I was feeding 500 head of cattle.

Dan married Grace Johnson Feb. 5, 1939 and they had the following children: Terry Dan, May 8, 1940 and Lee Wallace, Aug. 7, 1941. They were divorced in 1953.

A fellow Forest Service worker, Larry Stone, retired Forest Fire Chief of Sandpoint, Idaho, wrote this about Dan: “Dan Rasor, a U.S. Forest Service Packer, and one of the last of a dying breed. A small thin, Wiry man of Indian descent; who would work from before dawn to late at night and always for eight hour pay. He treated his mules with a gentle hand, and always saw to it that they were fed, before he ate himself. He developed, as well as all packers, a strong bond with his animals, and each fall all the pack strings from Region One went to Nine Mile Remount Station in Montana to be wintered on the range. Once in a while an older mule would succumb to the hard Montana winters. This would bring great despair to Dan when he picked up his pack string in the spring. As this left an empty spot in his heart thinking of the many miles and years they had traveled together. Dan packed many years out of the Trout Creek Ranger Station in Montana. Packing into the back country to fill any need. Packing beams and lumber for new lookout construction; packing explosives, tools and camping gear for trail construction crews, and of course packing lookout personnel with all their groceries, radios and personal gear for a long summer’s stay.

“Dan talked of a rodeo packing contest in Thompson Falls. He was competing against a big man and they each had an equal number of packs. The big man started with the light packs; Dan started with the heaviest first and won the race, as the big man played out before he got the heavy pack tied on.

Dan worked hard and was a man with a rope. The diamond hitch, two half hitches with an overhand loop was Dan’s signature.

An observation from his son, Lee who also packed with him. “Dad would get up early and get his cup of coffee. He would then go to the material that was to be packed, squat on his haunches, slowly drinking his coffee and eyeing the material. By the time he was through with his coffee he knew just how the material was to be placed on the mule and he would then go for breakfast. Dan never had to re-pack a mule due to uneven placement. It was always done right the first time.”

Dan died Sept. 22, 1977 at the age of 68 years with burial in the Whitepine Cemetery.


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