HISTORY of the Schwends!
The Schwend Brothers; Ed, 1890-1958, and Claude, 1883-1937, were the youngest sons of a family of nine, born in the Louisiana Territory to Gregor and Catherine Schwend. In 1888, the Schwend family followed the national trend to migrate west to new land and unlimited opportunities. Mr. Schwend with his large family, leased and boarded an immigrant car and headed west and settled on homesteaded land about 4 miles south of Race Track (a small town between Deer Lodge and Anaconda, Montana). The elder of the Schwend boys and girls eventually left the ranch and migrated to Butte, Anaconda and elsewhere. Ed and Claude met and married the Bennett sisters, Biddie and Blanche. The families lived as one (together) for several years. It was during this period of time that the Anaconda smelter was built. Due to its structure, poisonous gasses in the form of arsenic were spread over the valley. The arsenic affected the crops and livestock, and many of the livestock went crazy or were worthless or died, which caused the brothers to look for a new location.
The Schwend Brothers came to Bridger in the spring of 1906 and purchased a farm 4 miles south of Bridger. A log house and barn were the main buildings at that time. Shortly after they came to Bridger, they bought a steam threshing rig and also a saw mill on the Pryor Mountain. They didn't have much time left for farming with the threshing and saw mill, so they sold part of the farm. Threshing took up much of their time from early fall till late in January, from south of Belfry to north of Fromberg.
After a few years the Schwend Brothers purchased a second steam rig and it didn't take so long to get the threshing done. Their saw mill operation on Pryor Mountain was a full time summer business that they operated for several years until the mill burned down, which was never replaced.
Each brother and his wife started their own family before coming to Bridger. Ed had two daughters (Violet and Beaulah), and a son, Carl. Claude and Blanche had Jess, Albert, Walt, Evelyn, Gladys, Betty, Edward (Bill) and Jack.
After each family had three or four children, it was time to split the living quarters. Claude filed on 160 acres adjoining the land that was kept back from the original land purchased in 1906. Due to the filing law, Claude and Blanche had to live on the 160 acres. They first built a frame house 24 X 24 that was sawed from the mill on Pryor Mountain. The house had three rooms, two small ones, one was used for a grain bin, it was also used as a bedroom, the other small room was used as a bedroom and the rest of the house was living room and kitchen. After three or four years, Claude added more to the house, four rooms downstairs and two upstairs. A log barn with a large hay loft was built about 1913, which still stands and is used today. The house burned down in 1980.
As the Claude Schwend family grew up, their ranch became the gathering place on Sundays for the younger generations. Blanche always managed to have plenty to eat regardless of how many were there. The Schwend place was called "home" by many of the younger groups. Many nights the boys would sleep over night in the barn loft in the hay.
This was the beginning of what today is known as "THE LONESOME SPUR GUEST RANCH". Little did Blanche and Claude ever dream their "welcoming arms" would carry on through five generations of Schwends.
Lonnie purchased the Schwend Ranch after the death of his father Bill in February 1976.
Lonnie is a past bareback and bullriding champion and was quite respected as a steer wrestler in the NRA circuit. He enjoys sharing with our guests many of his adventures and explaining what is "really" taking place during the rodeos.
Lonnie decided to diversify the ranch by taking in guests in the summer of 1993. He married Elaine, a former guest from Scotland, in 2005 and they now welcome visitors from all over the world. Between them, they have five grown-up children most of whom live locally. Lonnie and Elaine continue to compete in local rodeos. Lonnie enjoys team roping and Elaine barrel races.