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January 19, 2023



80 YEARS AGO • MARCH 31, 1943

GRAND OLD PIONEER DIES

Funeral services were held for Charles Chester Thayer who died March 24, 1943. Burial took place in the family lot in the Wild Rose Cemetery.

The life of Charles Chester Thayer was packed with adventure, thrills and accomplishments. Only a few are so fortunate as to live the long eventful life he enjoyed and be blessed as he was with health and vitality up until a very short time before he died. The family contends that he was about five years older than records indicate, because of a family record notation error, and that actually he was 91. Only a few years ago the old fellow was so vigorous that he actually helped his sons placer gold on Vermilion, and placering is tough, hard work for even a young man.

Charles Chester Thayer was born at Connaught, Ohio, October 6, 1855 (family contends actually 1850). Charles had the pioneer lust and came west in 1876. He was a hunter and supplied game for the army posts. When the Cheyenne and Sioux uprising started he and his partner were deep in the Indian country west of the Black Hills. The Indians under Sitting Bull had wiped out Custer, and Rain-In-The-Face had called all the warlike northwest tribes to wipe out the hated Whites, the gold seekers, fire water traders, and land squatters who were despoiling the Indian lands. Settlements were under siege and land stakers were ambushed and wiped out.

Thayer and his hunting partner Jim Allen holed up in a remote cave that was easily defensible, and held off the Indians for five months, subsisting on what supplies they had and wild game. Finally his partner Jim Allen left to get supplies, but he was ambushed and scalped by a party of Indians.

Later Thayer worked for the N.P. when the railroad was first driving its steel bands through the northwest. He witnessed the Golden Spike driving ceremony when the N.P. System was completed.

He helped build the old Belknap trail over the mountains to the roaring, booming mining camp of Murray. He saw men fight and die for their follies – whiskey, women, greed and gambling. He also packed supplies over the trail. He saw the rise of cities, and the creation of our statehood. He knew the copper and railroad kings of those days.

He was among the earliest pioneers in Montana and Sanders County. In 1885 he took squatters rights on a farm on Big Beaver west of here.

In 1887 he married Elizabeth Martin of Missoula. From this union there were five sons born. In 1901 the family left the west and went to Michigan, where they farmed until 1914, but the call of the west was overpowering and they returned to Montana and the mountains.

Elizabeth Martin Thayer died November 11, 1927. On his death Charles Chester Thayer left three sons, Charles, Jr., Albert and Fred, all of Thompson Falls, and four grandchildren. Mrs. George Havens of Anaconda, Montana, Lyman Thayer of the U.S. Navy, June Marie and Susie Lee Thayer of Thompson Falls and two great grandchildren.

We haven’t even attempted to cover more than a few scattered chapters in the life of Charles Chester Thayer. For instance as a fur trader in his youth he ranged north into the remote, then almost inaccessible White Horse, Yukon country, trapping and searching for gold.

He was a grand old man. He led a grand, vigorous exciting life. We all admired him, and in fact envied him, for few of us will ever attain his long life, enjoy his years of health, or see days of adventure and excitement he saw, or attain what he attained.

BIG SLIDE BLOCKS ROAD

A big rock slide blocked the Clarks Fork highway east of Thompson Falls, near Weeksville last Saturday evening. The slide was about a block long. Approximately 50,000 yards of rock impeded highway traffic. The highway department had to bring in a steam shovel, and by Tuesday evening the road was opened up for travel.

Numerous travelers were forced to stop over during the blockade. A big construction convoy, bound for the Alcan highway in Canada, was held up here for this reason.

Every spring when the thaws first start, rock slides are common in the canyon. One year we remember the North Coast limited was wrecked by a big boulder plunging down thousands of feet and wrecking the locomotive and killing the engineer and fireman.

 

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