Mildred “Mickey” Styer (1917-2013)

Mildred “Mickey” Evelyn Ellis was born May 19, 1917, in Roy, Montana, to parents Pearl Lee and Jennie Ellen Ellis. In 1921, the family moved back to Missouri and Mildred grew up in Rutledge where she completed her education. In 1934, at age 17, Mildred and her parents returned to Roy where they operated the Nick Nickolson Cafe and Hotel. This is where she met her future husband, Ed Styer.

On June 29, 1935, Mildred and Ed were married in Lewistown, Montana. They had $50.00 to begin married life north of Roy. Together they broke horses for $5.00/head. Mildred rode a “form fitting” saddle made by Ed. In 1936 and 1937, their two children Alta Mae and Jack were born. In 1938, they bought an old log house that had to be taken apart, reassembled and transported it to Armell’s Creek. The young family moved in while it was only half assembled.

In the mid-1940s, Ed went back East to rodeo, so Mildred moved to the Holland Ranch with the milk cows, 35 cows, and 15 yearlings. The relocation didn’t work out, so she leased a place at Heath, Montana, from Joe Finley and put the kids in school at the Piper School.

In 1947, Mildred and Ed also leased the Galloway Ranch. That same year Mildred started working at the Lewistown Livestock Sale Yard yarding cattle horseback. A good job for riding colts that paid fifty cents an hour for Mildred and twenty-five cents for the horse. In 44 years of working at “The Yards”, “Mickey” missed 12 sale days. She worked under several owners, clerked the sales for most, was dependable, accurate and considered one of the best in the business. Mickey continued to milk cows during this time and would take the cream to the Lewistown Creamery when she went to work the sale. During this time, the family lived in Roy and later moved to a leased place at Fergus, Montana.

In 1947, Mickey was the only woman to compete in the Hell Creek Ride. An endurance race horseback from Hell Creek to Miles City. To prepare for this race, she rode her horse many times from the ranch at Heath to Gilt Edge and back, a distance of thirty miles. She was in seventh place when her horse went lame at Angela. She had covered 100 miles in 10 hours. There was only about twenty miles left, but not wanting to hurt her horse, she quit the race. It has made for a lasting family history memory.

In 1953, Mickey and Ed bought the Galloway Ranch and the family moved there for good. For the first several years they ran their cattle on open range so there was a lot of riding to do, which made for good horses, and Mickey, being a good horse hand, had lots of them. Later the range was fenced, and there wasn’t as much riding. Over the years they seeded most of the farm ground to alfalfa and crested wheat and raised cattle and hay. For nearly twenty years they put up the hay on the home place as well as at the Neil & Hicks Ranch near Lewistown. Mickey continued to always have milk cows, chickens and a good garden.

Mickey helped build the rodeo arena at Roy around 1953 and was a timer at the rodeo from the beginning until 1989, nearly 40 years.

Mildred “Mickey” Styer could do any job on anybody’s ranch and was considered to be a good horse hand and livestock handler.


by Mildred Styer

The passing of time, the wind and the rain

For Mother Nature they toil

They work night and day to return things man made

To their natural place in the soil

The Farmer came with shining plow

To till the fertile soil

But every year disaster struck

Their efforts all to foil

The crude built shacks and sagging fences are all that now remain

They came from earth

They shall return through time and wind and rain.

Time and wind and rain will heal the scars upon the sod

And then there’ll be just grass again

A land returned to God

The shining plow, the wire fence, the rain will cause to rust

And with the time the shack will fall

The wind will spread the dust

That man was made from earth tis said

He shall return again

And with his death his struggle ends

With time and wind and rain.

Written history by Mildred Styer.