Richard Mann (1861 - 1928)

by Roy Mann

Richard Mann was born October 6, 1861 at Beverly, Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada. He was half English, quarter Scotch and quarter Irish. He was raised in a farming community and only attended school through the third grade.

He married Sarah Anderson April 17, 1878 at Beverly, Canada when he was only sixteen and a half years old. In later years he preferred to class himself as seventeen when he married. Sarah bore him four children: William Russell, Florence Alberta, Katherine Alvina and Claydon Emerson. One winter (1883) he tried working in a steel foundry. However this work was not to his liking and he soon started moving west, usually doing blacksmith work along with his brother Austin W. Mann. He also started accumulating a few head of horses and cattle.

Sarah died August 27, 1887 of diphtheria [see Note 1] at Brantford, Canada. Richard met Sophia Annie Brazier Hopwood a few months later. They were married September 21, 1889 at Glenwood, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

Sophia, in addition to mothering and raising Richard's four young children, bore him ten children: Eva, Archie Andrew, Lionel, Winifred Violet, Walter Martin, Earnest, Sarah Mable, Marjorie Annie, Stella Effie and Ray Stephen.

Soon after his second marriage Richard again moved west. This time close to Souris, Manitoba where he farmed and blacksmithed in conjunction with raising horses and cows for about three years. He again moved west from Souris to Moosemontain, where he stayed only one winter. Where he settled was far from any settlement. This whole territory at that time was ruled unofficially by a concern that did not welcome new settlers. Their mode of discouragement being that they refused to sell anything except flour and sugar to new settlers. Much of the family larder had to consist of wild game. Richard later told how he had brought plenty of powder but no shot for his muzzle loading shot gun. To kill ducks for the dinner table he would use small, rather round pebbles which he picked up from around a lake shore, for shot.

In 1894, he moved his family south to Montana by two covered wagons. One wagon was pulled by a team of horses and a team of bulls. The second wagon was pulled by one horse and three milk cows. The milk cows did double duty. In addition to pulling the wagon they furnished milk and butter for the family. In the morning Sophia would hang the milk in five gallon cans on the shady side of the wagon, from jolting over the rough prairie there would be small globules of butter floating in the milk by night time. Thus they kept themselves in butter. About a dozen hens and one rooster were on one wagon and provided eggs for the family. Wild game furnished the meat they needed. The older children herded the loose cattle along behind the wagons.

Richard met his brother Austin W. Mann and family at Estevan, Canada. The two families continued by covered wagon and entered the United States at Ray, North Dakota and settled close to Culbertson, Montana. He lived there for five years raising horses and cattle. He then moved to what is now Sheridan County and settled south of the Big Muddy river, nine and one half miles west of the now town of Plentywood. Here the range was good and it was easier to keep his stock separated from the larger herds of Star Cattle Company, Diamond Cattle Company and the Bain Cattle Company. Besides his own few cattle he was financed by concerns in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He would ship yearlings from Minnesota, hold them two or three years, then he would ship them out of Williston, North Dakota to market.

In addition to cattle he also raised horses. Horses at that time were only worth two or three dollars each. He crossed the wild Mustang with Percheron and developed a hardy strain that averaged one thousand to thirteen hundred pounds and could be distinguished from other breeds at a considerable distance by build alone.

Richard was quite a versatile man when he wanted to apply himself. A good blacksmith clever with an ax, he could form almost anything out of a stick of timber with just an ax until it would require very little finishing. A fair veterinarian, he also had three dental forceps and pulled human teeth before what is now Sheridan County was opened up for homesteading in 1909. One time a Canadian Mounted Police Officer rode over two hundred miles to have Richard pull a tooth that had become infected.

Richard was a fair stone mason and built the walls of the larger portion of the home place in Sheridan County and also the walls of the large house barn. He built them out of stone, sand, straw, lime from wood ashes and a particular strata of white clay he mined in near by claybuttes. Not one sack of cement did he have. The mortar was made and mixed in the following manner: a small circular corral was built and the earth excavated for about eighteen inches. The hard white clay was pulverized with hammers, soaked and stirred in water until it had a smooth consistency, then poured along with the other ingredients and water into the excavated corral. Two or three  horses were then put into the corral and the children, armed with sticks, were stationed around the corral to keep the horses moving. Thus the horses plodded around and around in the corral mixing the mortar. Though these walls did require pointing up with cement after about fifteen years, because the original mortar was somewhat soft and the rains would wear it away, they still stand in good repair after more than fifty years.

Richard was not a good farmer preferring to till the soil as little as possible. He at one time owned and operated a threshing machine and did custom threshing but a large prairie fire in 1916 burned much of this territory. The home buildings were saved but the threshing machine was burned to the ground. This appeared to be a turning point in Richard's life. From then on his farming practices were poor, there were many doctor bills to pay for Sophia, Walter and Ray. There was no longer any open free range to support large herds of cattle. He could not seem to adjust himself to the new methods required by reason of all the land around him being homesteaded and ranching changing to farming.

Richard died of heart attack or stroke. He had a total of seven, three light and four heavy attacks. The light attacks lasted only a few hours each with no lasting ill effects, the first heavy attack lasted several days but no lasting ill effects. The second partially paralyzed his right side for several days, the third about two years before his death paralyzed his right side and he was speechless for about ten days. He became better and regained the use of his right side and speech with the exception that he dragged his right leg a little and his tongue appeared thick, there were certain words he could not pronounce. The fourth heavy  attack paralyzed his right side and he was speechless. He lived two and a half days but never regained consciousness. He died April 10, 1928 at Plentywood, Montana and was laid to rest beside Sophia in the Plentywood Cemetery.
Note 1: The official record of Sarah's death indicates the cause of death was childbirth.

Sophia Annie Brazier (Hopwood) Mann (second from left) was the only person identified in this photo; however, I believe the man on the left must be Richard. The man on the right appears to be Julius VanHee. Kate (Mann) VanHee is standing in front of him. The younger child is probably Bob VanHee and the older child is probably Walter Martin Mann. This photo was probably taken around Oct 1908. Ray Stephen Mann was born 19 Dec 1908.

Richard Mann's homestead West of Plentywood was located here (Note that you can switch the resulting map to a satellite view). By 2007 the house shown in the photo above looked like the pile of stone in the photo below.

Richard and Sophia had another homestead South of Plentywood located here. It is just South of David Mann's place on Mann Rd.

Sarah (Anderson) Mann