Legends of Legacy Lodge: Meet Ruth Williams

Words by Jeanie Mebane

JACKSON, Wyo. — Ruth was born in Iron Mountain, Wyo., where her parents had a ranch. She was the second oldest of her family having one older brother, who died in a submarine accident, and three younger sisters.

Ruth’s first three years of school may seem unusual. The country school she attended was at her home and the teacher lived with them. Sometimes there were only three students. Ruth fondly remembers that the teacher would occasionally go into town and bring back lovely big apples for the students.

Ruth riding her horse Ginger on Iron Mountain in June, 1955. Photo: Legacy Lodge

Iron Mountain was very rocky country—big chunks of iron ore lying around were common. Ruth enjoyed growing up there where they usually had 20 or more horses.

She had one of her own horses and loved it. Because of the rocky terrain, the horses needed shoes, so Ruth learned to shape horseshoes and shoe the horses herself!

They also raised chickens on the ranch and Ruth once bought a pig at the sales yard for a quarter. She named him Charlie. Since they had no sow, she fed him milk in a pie pan. Charlie grew up to weigh 500 pounds.

Ruth went to high school in Cheyenne, about 50 miles south of Iron Mountain. She especially enjoyed crafts, including bookbinding and saddle making. She also worked at the bowling alley during her high school years.

Ruth and her husband James Williams on July 16, 1951. Getting ready for the frontier parade in Cheyenne. Photo: Legacy Lodge

During high school, Ruth usually stayed in Cheyenne. To go home to Iron Mountain, she caught a train at 1:00 a.m., rode to Farthing and then walked four miles to their ranch home.

After high school, Ruth moved back to the ranch. There she met Jim Williams, a Native American from Lodge Grass, Mont. who worked on a neighbor’s ranch and also helped Ruth’s father. Jim asked her to marry him the very day they met. Ruth said, “Why so soon?” Jim answered, “Because I don’t want to lose you.”

They married and moved to the Jackson area where they worked at Heart Six Ranch, a dude ranch in Moran. Then they took a job at a large cattle ranch with around 300 head of cattle. There, Ruth cooked for 18 men, helped put up hay and did other chores.

Ruth has been a resident of Legacy Lodge for about three years. Photo: Legacy Lodge

They worked there for five years before moving to Jackson. Here, Ruth worked at Jackson State Bank.

While living in Jackson, Ruth and James milked a lot of cows, separated the milk, sold the cream and fed the skimmed milk to their pigs.

Of all her jobs, Ruth most loved working with cows and horses. At one job, she trained horses, took care of 500 head of sheep and 100 head of Durham cattle.

After her husband’s death, Ruth moved into Legacy about three years ago. Summing up her life so far, she said, “I’ve had a great life and loved every minute of it.”

Ruth is a resident of Legacy Lodge. To learn more about this community, click HERE.

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