Stories From The Tamaracks: Part 19
I Remember When...'


After a successful hunt 1943. Left to right: Ken Demmons; Russ Maloney, a grade school classmate of Pel Turner's; and Henry "Bud" Turner, Pel's brother. Bud at the time was a Marine Corps fighter pilot with Squadron VMF 222, the "Fighting Deuces," in the South Pacific. He had seen a lot of tough action and was home on leave, but would return shortly to that theater of operations. Photo courtesy of Tom Demmons, Frank Anderson's nephew.

February 15, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

Stories From Long About The Tamaracks of Seeley Lake and Surrounding Area compiled by Jack Demmons.

This is Part 19 and includes stories gathered by Tom Demmons, as told to him by his uncle, Frank Anderson, who at one time operated the Seeley Lake Post Office and managed Kenny Freshour's store while Kenny was in the U. S. Navy during World War II. At the end are comments made by the compiler.

Enter Fred Ostermeyer

Over on Placid Lake, which is just west and south of Seeley Lake, there was a fella who lived there by the name of Fred Ostermeyer, and his father lived with him and his uncle lived with him, and Fred was just a real nice guy - they were from Germany. Fact is, the father was about six-foot-eight and he had a big white beard and a huge red face, and he had belonged to the Kaiser's Elite Guard. He was a tough ol' devil. Fred, his son, was just a gentle, nice guy. And Fred was tryin' to raise some thoroughbred cattle and he had a nice strain goin'.

Well, Jan Boissevain, owner of the Double Arrow dude ranch, along with his partner George Weisel, had a little scrubby bull. It was the poorest excuse for a bull you ever saw, but he was very active. Well, Fred got up one mornin' and he looked out in his pasture, and here was this damned, scrubby bull minglin' with all his thoroughbred cows. So he immediately went down and caught the bull, saddled a horse and led the bull clear back to the Double Arrow dude ranch - about eight miles. He found Boissevain and he said, "Mr. Boissevain, I found your bull in with my cows and I don't want 'im in with my cows, and I brought your bull home. Will you please keep him shut up?" Boissevain said, "Oh you bet Fred, you bet. Ya." (Boissevain was from Holland and was once a reserve officer in the Dutch cavalry.)

About a week later, Fred got up in the mornin' and again, here's that scrubby ol' bull back in with his cows. And Fred was a patient man, he really was. He once more saddled up, got the bull, and took the damn thing back to Boissevain again, and he said, "Jan, now Jan, this is twice I've had to bring this bull back. I don't want to see him back in with my cows!" "Oh, I'll take care of that Fred. I'll see that he doesn't come over again," said Boissevain.

Well, not much later, here's this same scrubby little bull in with Fred's cows again, checkin' things out. So Fred takes him up to the barn, sharpens his knife, real sharp, and went to work. He then put a rope around the bull's neck and takes him back again, and he said Boissevain, "Jan, I'm bringin' your steer home this time." What he'd done was castrate the scrubby little bull, you bet. Jan Boissevain of course couldn't do anything about it.

Compiler's Notes: Ken Demmons and Jan Boissevain did not get along too well. There was strong competition between The Tamaracks and the Double Arrow, both dude ranches. (The Double Arrow was originally known as the Weisel-Boissevain Ranch Company.) In the end they clashed, physically, one day.

Ken and his brother-in-law, Henry "Bud" Turner, who was a Marine Corps fighter pilot home on leave, were hunting ducks along Morrell Creek, which ran though the Double Arrow property. Jan Boissevain saw them and came riding over on his horse and ordered them off his property. Ken said something like, "Why don't you try to put us off." Boissevain, who was a very big man, got off his horse and started for Ken, who was trying to get out of his waders, but did not have time to do so. Ken flattened Boissevain who then got back on his horse and headed for the Double Arrow lodge. Calls were made to authorities, all the way to Missoula, but in the end nothing came of it. (Boissevain liquidated his assets in the Double Arrow during World War II and moved to California.)

Ken was tough and wiry, fast with his fists, a hard-working, easygoing fellow, but when riled, he could "come off the floor" like a wildcat. He stood about 5'9" and weighed around 145-150 pounds. He had once competed in Golden Gloves boxing competition - a U. S. annual amateur boxing tournament founded in 1926.

Eddy Coyle once told me a story about Ken, an incident that took place years ago in his bar at Seeley Lake - Coyle's Key Bar Resort. Ken and Horace "Shorty" Koessler, another very large man who owned the Gordon Ranch near Holland Lake in the Swan Valley, had a few problems one night. Eddy said Ken told Shorty several times to keep out of his way, but Shorty persisted. Then there was a bit of action. "Kenny struck like a bolt of lightning," Eddy said, "flooring Shorty." (Eddy had also been a boxer, a very good one, and had trained boxers. He was in charge of the Seeley Lake Boxing Club during the 1950s and into the 1960s. Several of the youngsters he taught went on to become state champions.) The next day Shorty was walking around Seeley Lake with a big black eye. People asked him, "What happened to you Shorty?" He replied, "Aww, Kenny Demmons accidentally poked me in the eye with his elbow last night."

Shorty and Ken were actually good friends and remained so. He was a frequent visitor to The Tamaracks.

Sometime in the future there will be a story about Shorty, to include his death when, at the age of 78, he crashed on Mt. Hancock in the extreme south-central part of Yellowstone National Park, while flying alone in his Cessna 182, one cold, stormy winter night on February 1, 1987. Searchers found the wreckage at an elevation of 9,200 feet four days later. His dog usually flew with him but wasn't along on that flight. Shorty was originally from Chicago. His death was tragic.

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