Johnson recalls 90 years of ranch life

By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter

Donald Johnson was born on the Johnson Family Ranch Nov. 9, 1927 to Charles and Hilda Johnson. He had three brothers and two sisters. The Johnson Ranch is located one mile west of Roberts.
“My entire life has been spent living on the ranch,” he said.
The history of the 1,500-acre ranch goes back to 1911, when Johnson’s grandfather came from Sweden, “a jolly fellow” and bought it.
He said, “He raced horses. Billings, Miles City, Sheridan.”
That love of horses was passed down and he says he still can recognize a good horse.
His grandmother, Maria, was equally colorful.
“She ran a boarding house in Red Lodge. She would tell me stories about the Indians staying there.”
His real love “is working the cattle.”
“There have been many changes on the ranch since I was growing up. The ranch was farmed with horses,” he said. “I enjoyed a good herd of cattle riding and moving the cattle.”
He misses riding, choosing not to ride anymore after his best horse, Buck, died at 28.
“I could have gotten another horse. I should have kept riding.” But Buck was an exceptional horse. “He was nice for working with cattle.”
Johnson still runs some cows and says that he has a healthy life on the ranch.
“I enjoy the ranch life. That’s all I’m interested in,” he said, along with going to cattle sales and the Red Lodge Rodeo.
Johnson served his country during the Korean War. He was with the 51st Signal Battalion in the Army as a Corporal. He was 40 miles south of Seoul, closest to the 38th parallel.
“I wasn’t in the fighting. I was in communications, working on telephone lines. The South Koreans were taking it over.” He was drafted in 1953 at 25 years old, and served two years, with 16 months in Korea. He has no regrets, “I was glad to serve my country.” Perhaps worst of all was the ride over on the General Mann. It was rough seas and he says, “It didn’t go well.” But of his time in service he said, “It was a long two years.”
Unlike some returning soldiers, his homecoming was without incident. “It was a good homecoming.” He is happy with the response he gets whenever people find out he is a Korean War veteran and feels, “That was good.”
Johnson is celebrating his 90th Birthday, Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Roberts Café from 2 p.m.- 4 p.m.

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Upcoming Events

  • Monday, May 27, 2019 - 7:00am
    *American Legion Carbon County Post 17 Memorial Day schedule, May 27 7 a.m. Breakfast at Bull 'n'Bear 8:30 a.m. Memorial Service  at Belfry Cemetery 9:30 a.m. Memorial Service  at Bearcreek Cemetery 10:30 a.m. Parade through Red Lodge.  Meet at 10:15 a.m. at the corner of 14th and Broadway. Following parade there will be a lunch at the  Red Lodge Elk’s Lodge 11 a.m. Memorial Service at  Red Lodge Cemetery 1:30 p.m. Parade in Roberts  followed by Memorial  Service at Roberts Cemetery. For further information contact Kenneth Beggs, Commander Carbon County Post 17 at kenbeggs42@yahoo.com   *The Jim Bridger Post 1543 will hold Memorial Day services at 11 a.m. at the Bridger Cemetery.   *The Clarks Fork American Legion Post 71 and the Joliet VFW Post 5748 will be doing Memorial Day services Monday, May 27. Rev. Robert Reed of the Joliet Baptist  Church will be the Speaker of the day. The schedule for the day will be: 9 a.m.   Services at the Gebo  Cemetery. 9:30 a.m.   March through  Fromberg Main St. 10 a.m.  Services at Rockvale  Cemetery 11 a.m.   Services at Joliet Cemetery 11:30 a.m. March through  Joliet Main St. A potluck lunch will be held at the  Joliet Community Center following the services.  Everyone is welcome to come.   Any veterans who would like to help who haven’t been contacted can show up at the Gebo Cemetery at 8:45 a.m. Memorial Day or call Rich Pierce at 962-3320 or Jody Stene 962-3779.
  • Monday, May 27, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, May 31, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.

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