How Does a Buffalo Fit Into Your Family History?


Family stories are short articles meant to inspire capturing, saving and sharing your own stories. This one is about seeing a most amazing animal.

In June of 2007, my sister and I flew from San Diego to Denver, then took a small plane to Billings, Montana. From there we rented a car and headed to North Dakota. The trip turned out quite differently than we had planned as rain and flooding kept us away from several Montana sites and got us to North Dakota long before we had planned. Blessings in disguise.

In Medora, where Teddy Roosevelt had lived, we visited the Chateau de Mores, home of a wealthy French aristocrat. A reenactor kept us glued to our seats as he recounted his adventures in what wasstill the Wild West.

While in the area, we visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park as well as the Sully’s Hill Game Preserve near St. Michaels. While at TR’s, we drove up a steep hill, following the road around a big circle with grass in the middle.  Sitting in the grass was a huge buffalo – truly gigantic. At first, Vicki and I thought it was a statue that had been placed there to honor the many buffalo that once filled this area. Then, it swished its tail.

We were shocked. The buffalo “statue” was alive and we were close enough to get some marvelous photos. At the same time we were cautious enough to stay far enough away to be safe. I’m sorry to say other people arriving weren’t as safety minded and got out of their cars, trying to get far too close to the giant buffalo. Fortunately, he was enjoying his roll in the dirt and paying little attention to any of us.

Of all of the animals I’ve seen over the years – and I live close to one of the best zoos in the country (San Diego) – I will never forget my astonishment and utter delight at spending several minutes watching what we called Grandfather Buffalo. What must it have been like to be a pioneer and witness thousands of buffalo thundering across the plains?

Want to see one of the photos I took of Grandfather Buffalo? Here it is:

Grandfather Buffalo in North Dakota

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  1. If you ever get to the Salt Lake area Nancy I will take you to my dentist bison herd in the Rush Valley. It’s really wonderful to see them being preserved.
    My ancestors were farmers and preachers prior to and after the Civil War.

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