Josie Bassett Morris in 1914 was a 40 year old divorced woman, with two grown boys, wanting a home of her own. She looked for a good pasture, plentiful water, and a place suitable for growing fruits and vegetables. An 80 acre homestead on Cub Creek in Utah became the dream. She built her cabin, covered the dirt floors with braided rag rugs and covered the beds with hand made quilts. The cabin had a fireplace for heat. Josie settled in, planted fruit trees, raised chickens and lived her life.
Cub Creek was Josie's home for 50 years until she died in 1964 at the age of 90.
That's the official story posted at the site by the National Monument. Remember Paul Harvey and the "Rest of the Story"? Well, here's the rest of Josie's story:
Josie actually had four spouses, the 4th being Morris, plus she had romances with Etzy Lay and Will "News" Carver. She and her sister, "Queen" Ann Bassett were known for their associations and love affairs with well-known outlaws, in particular Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch.
Indeed, I am sure Josie held body and soul together homemaking, gardening and ranching but she was also a noted cattle rustler and bootlegger.
I love homesteading history and I have fun seeking out "the rest of the story". It's easy to envy the lives of some of these old homesteaders, until the lack of indoor plumbing creeps into the fantasy.
The land of Josie's homestead is now within the boundaries of the Dinosaur National Monument. This photo shows the road we drove to reach the cabin. No doubt Josie would consider this "improved" road more like a freeway than the washboarded, rutted track she used...
Fireplace, braided rugs and quilts on the beds aside, it must have been cold in the winter. I'd guess there was a wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen, in addition to the fireplace, but none of the furnishings remain in the cabin so I can only guess. But I can also guess at the cold--wind blowing through the cracks, huddling under quilts to keep warm.
Josie's Chicken coop...
Gates didn't seem to be a favored feature because all five entries into Josie's fenced homestead area were ingenious zig-zag designs that worked for a human but not a cow or horse.
The remainder of our day was spent visiting Echo Park, The Center of the Universe, up, up, up to 7,625, from the 5.000 feet we were camped at.
So this is it, the center of the universe...
We had planned to camp at Echo Park Campground but it was beginning to rain and the road warning sign said "Unpassable in wet weather. 4-wheel drive vehicles recommended." See that dirt road that goes for miles and miles down into that valley in the photo below. That's the road to Echo Park Campground.
If you want the crowds to be gone; quiet you can almost hear; peace oozing from the land; beauty beyond description; and complete and wonderous isolation; then Dinosaur National Monument is the place for you! And then there are the bones!
Exclamation marks on the wonder of another day!
"Think and wonder; wonder and think."
~ Dr. Seuss