Beyeler Ranches LLC, since 1915

Lemhi Valley 1856, 1959


In 1856 Thomas Bingham Sr. was a member of the party which built Fort Lemhi.  The cost according to the journal of Gibert Belnap, a clerk, was about $50,000.00 plus wear and tear on the equipment.

Fort Lemhi was built 16 rods square and was on a bend of the Lemhi River.  It was made of cottonwood poles 12 feet long which were placed three feet into the ground leaving nine feet above the ground.  Inside were built 11 homes and a blacksmith shop. Outside was a corral for the cattle.  It was made of clay to a height of seven feet.

The Indians were at first friendly but this soon changed.  It became almost impossible for anyone to step outside of the stockade.  Four men were sent back to Salt Lake to report to Brigham Young of the situation.  Thomas Bingham was one of them.

When they reached Bannock Creek they were attacked by Indians; one member of the party was killed along with a pack horse.  The others took cover in the brush along the creek.  The Indians set the brush on fire above the crossing.  The smoke became so intense that the men were about to suffocate or be required to abandon their hiding place.  Captain Hill suggested, “Let’s pray.” Almost immediately the wind changed direction and pushed the smoke in the direction of the Indians, allowing the men to continue living until night fell.  In the darkness they found two of their horses and took turns riding and walking until they reached their destination.  Fort Lemhi was abandoned shortly thereafter.

Thomas Bingham was the brother of my mother’s great grandfather.  I often think this event occurred on what is now a part of our ranch.

Fred and Lena Beyeler, my grandfather and grandmother, found a nice piece of ground to homestead along Crows Creek where Sage Creek joins.  They fenced the 160 acres and built a cabin.

One day my grandmother had the strong impression she should go visit their neighbors.  She had just been there the day before and dismissed the feelings, but they would not leave her.  She saddled the horse, took their two small children, and made the trip.  When they arrived, teamsters were watering their horses and in the conversation one of them mentioned they had encountered a Mister Allred who was headed to Montpelier to file on some ground.  Grandmother realized the ground they were talking about was their homestead.

Grandfather was out riding so all Grandmother could do was wait until he came home.  It was late in the evening when he arrived.  She told him what was happening and my grandfather immediately saddled a fresh horse and headed for Montpelier, some forty miles away.  He rode all night and arrived at the court house just as it opened.  Grandfather already had a legal description of the property, so he did not have to go to the land office.

Grandfather filed the paper work and as he was leaving the court house he met Mister Allred who was coming from the land office.  On this day Beyeler Ranches came very close to not ever being.  Later the ranch was expanded into Sage Valley were our family lived.

My world extended as far north as Pinedale, as far south as Ogden, as far west as Montpelier, and as far east as Afton.  Tromping up and down Sage creek, Crow Creek, Rocky Creek, and others was a great adventure for a boy growing up.

However, the elevation was high and the snow deep which separated the family during the winter months for schooling.  So in the early 1950’s, we moved from Star Valley.  I remember coming down the Snake River and my Grandfather pointing out the construction on the Palisade Dam.  It was late in the evening.  We arrived in Roberts, Idaho in the dark.  I couldn’t wait to explore our new surroundings.  I remember getting up with the sun and rushing out of the house.  On the porch I stood feeling my breath being sucked away.  I remained there for some time trying to process what was before me.  At the age of eight I realized, for the first time, that the world is flat: no mountains, no forests, and no streams.

This move almost ended Beyeler Ranches.  The soil was heavy clay.  If it would grow potatoes, it would take a chisel to separate them.  We lost just about everything.  Working out, as it was called, was not uncommon.  It became the norm.  By February of 1959, we were able to get enough credit to purchase a small ranch just north of Leadore, Idaho.

Following much the same route of Thomas Bingham, 103 years later; our family had come full circle.  The Lemhi valley became what we now call home.

The way we feel, what we value, and how we protect those values is shaped to a large extent by our heritage.