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More Stories About Herrig

Edward Stahl joined Fred Herrig at Ant Flat in 1904.  He shared his stories with folks on the Kaniksu and Kootenai National Forests in the 1950’s.  They are available at npshistory.com

In the early days, until about 1904, before Ant Flat was designated as a Ranger Station it was a regular camping ground for freighters and cattle drivers. The owner of adjoining land fenced it, although it was still public domain. About 1901, I was helping an Irishman named Riley with his wife and grown daughters, drive his cattle north from the Flathead Valley to Rexford. We were caught in a late spring snowstorm and put the cattle in the pasture at Ant Flat, and got in an old cabin for shelter.

Louis Ladue, the neighbor, rode up and started to drive the cattle out. Riley tried to get his rifle, but it was under some household effects in the wagon. Considerable confusion followed as the girls and I tried to drive the cattle the opposite way, with one of the girls crying and Mrs. Riley calling, “Mr. Ladue, will you listen to me a moment?” He paused long enough for Riley to slip up and get the horse by the bridle and belabor Ladue and the horse with his cane. As Ladue galloped away, he shouted, “You no man, big man, use club, call man name like dat.”

Riley dug out his rifle, went down to the south gate and lay in wait behind a big, pine tree for Ladue’s return. Mrs. Riley asked me to go and coax him back. I was reluctant, but she said, “You can do more with him than anyone else.” I soon had him laughing and we returned to the cabin.

Ladue went home and had taken his rifle down off the rack when his wife and some freighters prevailed on him to listen to reason. The result might have been tragic if he and Riley had met while still under the urge of the heat of anger.

Ant Flat was withdrawn from entry about 1903, and Fred Herrig built a Ranger cabin there.

After returning to Fish Lake, an incident occurred of which Fred and I were not very proud. We considered ourselves woodsmen, but ate herbs that were poisonous. Byron Henning said it was wild rhubarb and good to eat. Fred and I ate some, and by the time we reached camp were pretty sick. I rode four miles to Stryker to get help for Fred. The woman railway agent thought I was drunk and directed me to the section house. A railway agent called “Doc” was there on his fishing vacation. I passed out, and he told me later that he gave me strychnine to keep up my heart action, and was mighty worried. Henning helped Fred down on a gentle horse, and the agent flagged the fast train that took us to Eureka. A pill peddler gave us some dope and we returned to work the next day. I threw my medicine away but Fred used his and for a week could not speak above a whisper. We had all the symptoms of poisoning, with spasms, constricted chest and throat. A sample of the plant was sent to the U.S. botanist, and he reported that it sometimes killed cattle and sheep, but we were the first men who were fools enough to eat it.”

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