by Harold Harrison
There is a latent fingerprint being revealed across this country in the sparsely populated Red Counties. Nearly all these areas were claimed by settlers both before and after the Homestead Act. That baseline condition back then was a solitary life, initially with larger families, that remains endemic to farmers and ranchers to this day.
I experienced that growing up on ranches in Montana in the 40s and 50s. At the edge of our spread was a one-room grade school built around the turn of the last century where I attended with about seven older kids from the neighboring ranches. It was better than homeschooling in that I got to listen to lessons far beyond my level which resulted in my being well ahead of my peers when our family eventually moved to a small town with a normal school.