Buckskin Brady, The Cowboy Evangelist Pt. 2
Brady was sixteen years old when, once again, he packed his bed and war-bag, putting his Bible into his pocket and gave a farewell look at the old house on the White River Range. He rode the long, hard trail that leads west across the big South Dakota Plains and Cheyenne Badlands into the wilds of Wyoming ending at the Great Basin of the Big Horn Mountains.
Riding up to a ranch, he asked the foreman for work. The foreman decided to give Brady a chance and gave him a string of broncs to see just how good he was at chasin’ down cows. The ranch hands called him the “Dakota Kid.” It wasn’t long before everybody knew Brady carried a Bible in his pocket. After watching him read it for some time, they began to give him new nicknames, such as “Buckskin Lazarus,” “Deacon Brady,” and “Sky Pilot Kid.” Yes, they all were interested in Brady’s religion. The foreman would always give him the hardest jobs because he was “a good Christian, so if yer horse plays out you can ride in on yer religion.”
It wasn’t long before Old Mike (foreman) got orders to throw the beef steers up on the Big Horn Mountains to fatten for the Fall market; and, leave a man to “line ride” them. It was a lonely job. Mike told Brady the job was too lonely for the other guys so he gave it to him. Mike outfitted Brady with a little canvas wigwam, a month’s grub stake, packed up a quantity of rock salt for the cattle and left him alone to mind them. The herd was made up of two thousand beef steers and three hundred horses. As far as Brady knew, there was no one nearer than thirty-five miles.
A “circle line” was an area that was defined by natural landmarks. The area was large, giving the cattle great freedom so as there wasn’t any need for them to be driven about or molested night or day, as long as they stayed inside the “circle line.” Brady’s work was to examine the trails each day to keep the cattle inside the circle line and if any should stray across and down the mountain, he had to ‘trail them up’ and drive them back again. That is called “line riding.”
So Brady picked out a suitable campground just above a spring branch in a clump of pines along the edge of a wooded canyon, staked his little tent, scooped out a place for his campfire and brought a pail of water from the spring branch. While dinner was cooking, he found the tent was large enough to hold his grub, bed, war-bag and also a riding outfit, in case of a storm. As he liked sleeping in the open air best in pleasant weather, he made his bed of spruce boughs covered with moss, under a big pine.
Brady felt Old Mike had done him a great favor in giving him this lonely job, because it took him away from the confusion of men and left him alone with God and nature to enjoy his thought in peace and quietness. Weeks later, while trailing up a small band of cattle that a storm had drifted across the line, he ran across a sheep camp and the herder gave him a nice dog, which he gladly accepted, so he could have some company.
Shep was an intelligent dog and took a lively interest in camp life so Brady began to educate him . In a few days, he learned to carry camp wood, round up the saddle horses and do many other useful things. He listened attentively while Brandy read his Bible and sang. He would sit at the opposite side of the campfire with his paws over his face while Brady asked grace. When Brady would sing a bit of a hymn, Shep would bring in the chorus dog fashion, never failing to be on hand every meal with his part in the ceremony.
Every Sunday morning after returning from circle work, Brady held Gospel meetings down in the canyon, with the rocks, trees, and faithful old Shep for his audience. At one such meeting, Shep seemed unusually impressed; and, at the close of the meeting, arising to his feet with the grave look of a judge and moving slowly forward, he put his head against Brady’s hand and whined in a peculiar manner. As Brady turned to leave the ground, he was surprised to find one of the ranch hands – a big German – sitting on a rock behind him. The foreman had sent him up to see how it was going with Brady, and he had reached camp just in time for his meeting.
This was the first sermon the German had heard for ten years and asked Brady to preach again. He was in such earnest that Brady preached another sermon that same evening after they spent the day in pleasant conversation of the things of God.
After supper, just as the twilight was deepening on the range of Rockies across the way, Brady read a few verses from the little book and announced the text, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” and asked God’s blessing on their little meeting. The increased audience was an inspiration which Brady had not felt before. It helped him to forget, for the time, the solitude of rocks and trees. God’s Spirit had begun His work in the heart of this German.
That night, as they lay gazing up at the stars and talking of the love of God, he told Brady that if he would preach again, he would stay. Brady thought the best thing he could do was to open a series of revival meetings. So, he did. The German yielded his heart to God, Who blessed him with a wonderful salvation; for God never loses an opportunity of blessing a man.
Here was a poor, rough cowboy who came to Brady’s camp on business little thinking of God or his soul’s salvation. But God had so arranged things that he ran right into red-hot Gospel meetings, and got salvation. The next day, he hit the trail for home, singing praises to God as he rode along.
A few days afterwards, Brady returned from circle work to find his convert back in camp with a fresh supply of grub and word from the foreman that he was to camp with him. It was a beautiful plan, full of pleasant prospects, and Brady prepared to make the most of it. The German was cheerful, full of fun and a good camp rustler. He was always on hand with his part of the work and it didn’t matter how long the ride or how stormy the way. He would come in at the finish of the circle with a humor that would make the camp fairly shine.
As the days went by, and their studies grew more interesting, the German made up his mind that he, too, should have a Bible. Early one morning, he saddled his horse and started out on an eighty-mile ride to Prior Mission, the nearest station where a Bible could be bought. He returned in four days with a brand new leather-bound Bible. The next few days he spent much time marking passages that he and Brady had studied together.
Then came orders for him to return to the home ranch. That was the last time Brady ever saw him. The same fall, he was chosen, with several other boys, to go to Chicago in charge of a beef train. On his way home from Chicago, he was murdered and robbed of his money by an assumed friend who had treacherously betrayed his confidence. His body was shipped back to the old ranch for burial, and in the shade of the dear old Big Horns, just on a little rise of ground near the foot of the mountains, his grave is marked and kept by the love of many friends.
The boys said that the little leather-bound Bible was found in his pocket over his heart, where he was in the habit of carrying it. His little ranch and property reverted to his broken-hearted brother; but of all his possessions, he values the little thumbworn Bible most. One day, as he was reading some of the passages that his brother had marked and read so often, God’s Spirit spoke to his heart, and he followed in his brother’s footsteps.
To be continued . . .