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Bill Wade


William Vose Wade was born in Massachusetts in 1850. His early days included some seafaring out of Massachusetts on a schooner.  He later worked on a Mississippi river boat before coming up the Missouri in the late 1860s and took a job maintaining a wood yard that provided fuel for the Missouri river steamboats.  Later he was one of the workers hired to build the Ft. Yates military post.  After that, Bill hauled freight for the Army using teams of oxen.

Bill worked as a teamster for Colonel David Stanley and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer in the famous 1873 Yellowstone expedition. He was also a teamster for Custer in the 1874 Black Hills expedition.  Later he was a stage driver on the Mandan to Deadwood trail.

Wade served the Army during the Indian wars and was an enemy, then intimate friend, of Sitting Bull, Rain in the Face and John Grass of Standing Rock.  In later years, Sitting Bull once noticed Wade’s brand on some stolen horses on the reservation.  Sitting Bull saw to it that the horses were returned to Bill.

Wade went on to serve as a deputy US Marshal and became the first sheriff of Emmons County.  Bill also served as Legislator for Morton County, and was on the original board of county commissioners for Grant County.

In 1889, Bill finally settled down on a ranch he built west of Shields, North Dakota, among the scenic buttes near the Cannonball River.  He called his place the Anchor Ranch with a nod to his early sea fairing days.  He said, “This will be the place to lay anchor and spend the rest of my years.” Bill married Ordia Parks and had two children.

On this date in 1927, Bill Wade died on his ranch with his boots on.  He had left the house at 6 in the morning to milk cows.  When he did not return, his wife investigated and found him lying in the paddock, a victim of heart disease.  He was 76 years old.

Wade was buried in a little cemetery near Shields. The Anchor Ranch was bought by the Voigt family and has been inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame as one of the area’s most historic ranches.

Dakota Datebook by Scott Nelson

Sources: - William Wade

Bill Wade obituary, Bismarck Tribune May 5,1927

Book, Paha Sapa Tawoyake: Wade’s Storiesby William Wade republished by Lynn Bueling) - William Wade, Shields ND


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