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James Albert Youst



James Albert Youst

was born on September 11th, 1874 in Corbin, KS to Gilbert Elehue and Virginia Victoria (Cunningham) Youst.  He married Goldie Hancock and had the following children:

  Gordon July Youst (1904 - 1978)*


Albert died on September 16th, 1962 is buried in the Belfry Cemetery in MT



My Grandfather Brig Youst, age 86...Riding Pickup for the Brahma Bulls.  Brig Youst- Rode the 1st Pony Express from Cody, Wyoming to Red Lodge, Montana. A blizzard halted he and his horse  16 miles from Red Lodge in the Bear Tooth Range, Brig dismounted and slung the mailbag over his shoulder, and led the horse 16 miles through the snow to the town and delivered the mail.  He later became known as the Greatest Horse Breaker in the West, and could make a Wild Bronc submit, with his mighty grip upon the nose of the horse.  He was a foreman on many cattle drives from Montana to Texas and back, and was a friend to Nate Champion...the tragic hero of the notorious Johnson County Cattle Wars.  He was a crack gunfighter, but became known for not carrying a gun--and could break a man's jaw with the back of his hand. He disarmed the outlaw Goliath in Dodge City in this manner--sending the giant reeling to the floor as he drew his weapon, blood pouring out of his ears....such was the way it those days.    by Gary Miller Youst

81 Years Young!


Albert "Brig" Youst, 88, of 123 So. 35th Street, Billings, Montana died Sunday morning in a Billings hospital following a short illness.  He was one of the few remaining pioneer cowboys of this area.

He was born the son of Virginia Cunningham Youst and Gilford E. Youst in Corbin, Kansas, September 11, 1874 and came to Montana in 1890 from Raton, New Mexico by covered wagon and trailing cattle herds.

In 1893 he drove the first stage freight into what is now Cody, Wyoming, and in 1894 was a mail route stage driver from Meeteetee, Wyoming to Eagles Nest on the Red Lodge route.

Albert homesteaded in the Clarke Fork Valley with two brother George and Claudius Youst.   He married Goldie Hancock on July 10 1903 and was engaged in the transfer business in Hardin for 14 years.  He worked for several cattle companies in south-central Montana, including John Tollan, E. L. Dana, Harvey Willcutt, Ed Kopac and Hubert Woodard.  He retired in 1953 and made his home with his son, Gordon, in Billings.

Preceding him in death were two sisters, Olive Delphia Phelan, Lena Alice May, and George B. Youst, a brother. Surviving is a brother Claudius D. Youst, residing in Belfry; his widow; a son, Gordon J. Youst of Billings; a daughter, Velda, Mrs. Edwin H. Miller and a grandson, Gary E. Miller all of Boulder, Colorado; a Granddaughter, Gwen Smith of Whittier, California and three Great-grandchildren.

Albert was better known to his friends as 'Brig' Youst.  He was a man with a great heart and love for his fellow man and ready to help any man, woman or child in need or distress.  His great wealth was his many friends, young or old, any race or creed.  To know him was to love him for his sunny disposition and joviality and he had a gift in relating his life's experiences with original humor.  He was a free spirit of the West and the open range was his heaven.

Biography of 'Brig' Youst

by Unknown Family

James Albert Youst, more commonly known as "Brig" Youst, was born in Corbin, Kansas, September 11, 1874.  He died at the age of 88 in Billings, Montana on September 15, 1962.  His parents were Gilford E. Youst and Virginia Victoria (Cunningham) Youst who preceded him in death, as did two sisters, Alice and Delphia, and one brother, George E. Youst.  Another brother, Claudius B. Youst died in 1967. The family used the middle name, Albert; before he was twenty he acquired the nickname of "Brig".

Albert moved with his parents, brothers and sisters, to Raton, New Mexico, June 27, 1888, traveling by covered wagon, where they homesteaded near Chico Springs. When the historical land grant war with the homesteaders struck in 1890, the Gilford Youst family again packed their belongings in covered wagons, trailing horse and cattle herds, traveling weeks and months to reach Sheridan County, Wyoming where the children continued their education.  At the age of 16, Albert went to work, as a ranch hand, being the oldest son, to help the family with the schooling of the other children.

Wyoming winters were violent in those years and in 1891. While Albert was working on the Bar N Cattle Ranch, then owned by George L. Smith, news was relayed by the ranchers that the Hutchinfeller widow and her children could be in distress and possibly snowbound. Albert now 17, loaded a covered wagon with the necessary provisions and battled the elements--having to later abandon the wagon, strapping provisions on the two horses and continuing on to the Marquette, Wyoming area on the Shoshone river. When Albert reached the widow's ranch he found she and her five children, three girls and two boys, one a one a very small baby, critically ill. Albert nursed them back to health, collected fuel (wood and Buffalo chips) and cared for the widow's stock until relatives could reach them to take over. There were numerous incidents, similar to this one, during the next few years and news spread of Albert's heroic deeds and his good Samaritan response to women and families in distress--likening Albert to Brigham Young and his many women--roused joking comments among his family and friends and he acquired the nickname "Brig", for Brigham.

The spring of 1892, Albert went to work on the Mailin Frost ranch on Sage Creek. In June of 1893 he and Jess Frost, son of Mailin, drove large herds of horses to Nebraska but were unable to sell them and brought them back to Sage Creek. Then in December of 1893 he took the very responsible job of driving a freight team for Al Bell, and took the first load of freight into the town of Cody, Wyoming. The following January, 1894, he was selected to drive the first mail route stage from Meeteetse, Wyoming to Eagles Nest, on what was called the Red Lodge route.

In September of 1894, Albert joined with his brothers, Claudius and George, in the homesteading of a farm and ranch one-half mile from the (later named) town of Belfry, Montana, in the Clarke Fork Valley in Carbon County, Montana. Before the town of Belfry was named the area was known as Silvertip Flat.

Albert and Goldie Fern Hancock, daughter of Owen C. and Emilia Hancock of Silver Tip Flat (Belfry), Montana were married July 1, 1903. Goldie and her parents had traveled from Illinois to Kansas; eventually homesteading in New Mexico--losing their land holdings, as did the Youst family, and they too finally homesteading in Clarke Fork Valley. A son, Gordon July Youst, was born to this marriage on their first wedding anniversary, July 1, 1904. A daughter, Velda Belfry Youst, was the first baby born in the town (after it was named) of Belfry on November 20, 1907--and was given the middle name of Belfry.

The Youst brothers sold their homestead and Albert became a ranch foreman for John Tollman, a rancher in the Clarke Fork Valley. In the year 1909, Albert moved his family to Hardin, Montana, where he engaged in farming for a year and in 1910 purchased a house in Hardin, Montana, moved his family to town, and started the first transfer business in Hardin. The town blacksmith, Harry Ball, built two transfer wagons for Albert, with the trade name, Hardin Transfer 1 and 2 painted on the wagons, thus the birth of the first Hardin Transfer business, serving the com-munity continuously under this name until the year 1926. Automotive trucks were becoming popular and Albert sold his two large horse-drawn transfer wagons and went to work for the E. L. Dana Cattle Company.

The Owen C. Hancock farm near Belfry, Montana was deeded to Goldie Youst in 1930, and she and Albert sold their residence in Hardin moving to the farm. Albert was a lover of the open range and not happy being a farmer, so the farm was leased and he returned to Big Horn County in 1936. Until the year of his retirement, in 1953, he worked for Harvey Wilcutt, Sr., on the Grape Vine Ranch near Black and Big Horn Canyons; then on the Ed Kopac Ranch; finally retiring while working for Hubert Woodward on Fly Creek. He made his home with his son, Gordon, in Billings until his death.

Albert "Brig" Youst was a man with a great heart and love for his fellow man and never too busy to help any man, woman or child in need or distress. He had a great wealth of friends wherever he lived or traveled, regardless of race or creed. He would befriend any stranger, friend or Indian who came to him for help, financial or otherwise. He was an experienced horse trader and dealt with his Indian friends honestly and was trusted by them. He was a skilled horse breaker and wild horses were his "apple pie" -- at the age of 83 he could still ride in county fair and rodeo parades, and bucking broncos were his delight. Many old fractures and injuries took their toll in the later years, although he had no chronic illness, just the infirmaries of old age. Albert's sunny disposition and joviality; the wonderful historical stories he told, so well, of his many experiences in life; his great love for animals, the ability to doctor them successfully; his compassion for all people in all walks of life -- endeared him forever in the hearts of his family and a world of friends.



As I remember my Father, he was a kind and loving parent and always very proud of his family. My Mother was an only child and being of English-Scotch descent, she was not always loving and giving with him-- she was fault-finding and nagged him unmercifully. She succeeded in building up so much resentment in him that many times he actually did things to annoy her. She was very proud and refined and could not accept his rough ways. Other people's opinion was important to her, not to my Father, he was a non-conformist and definitely an individual and his own man. At heart he was a real showman and liked nothing better than to have the attention of any group of people, through his story telling, wild horse breaking--including wild horse teams to draw the Hardin Transfer wagons.

He loved to take part in county fair and rodeo parades and always there to help organize and assist in any community gathering --never missing funerals, school and church events. He was also an excellent ballroom dancer, in fact he taught me to dance at the age of 10. My brother, Gordon, and I were both musical and had organized our own dance band by the time we were in high school--this gave our Father much pleasure and pride in our performances. Though Father was extremely profane, as were most cowboys and western men of that time, he was quite religious, always proud to dress in his finest--showing his respect--in attending any community meeting or gathering. Everyone was his friend. He would travel any distance to attend and assist in the funeral of any person he knew. He was raised a Methodist but our family attended the Congressional church in Hardin, becoming members before a Methodist church was organized and built. In spite of his rough ways, our minister, Rev. Cory respected my Father and was grateful for his willing and generous acts. Father Tomlin and the Catholic Sisters were also fond of Father. George M. Harris, Hardin High school principal at the time I was in high-school, remarked that Father was a gifted philosopher and should certainly write a book. They spent hours talking over experiences.

Father never got to finish his education, as he was the older son and had to go to work and help the family financially so that his two younger brothers and a sister could complete theirs. However, he loved to read and certainly could write a good script and had enough math to handle his own business affairs--although money went through his fingers like water--he was always helping some friend, tramp, neighbor or Indian. My Mother was a fine cook and Father was very proud of her; but one thing that seemed to upset her the most was when an Indian buck, and perhaps his Squaw, would drop in at meal time and Father would insist that they share our dinner. Coming from a rather aristocratic family, Mother always had the dinner table dressed in fine linen, china and silver. The eating habits of the Indian was just more than she could stomach! She would serve but not eat with us.

My brother and I have always felt that the dominance of our Grandfather Hancock (Mother's father) and his uncalled for dislike of our Father (as no man would have been good enough for Grandfather's only child and daughter) robbed their marriage of any compatibility and much happiness. They separated in 1936 and never lived together again as man and wife, though there was no divorce. Mother lived with my husband and I for over twenty years, then after Father's death, returned to Billings to live with my brother her few remaining years. She mellowed a lot in those last years and was very kind to our Father whenever she visited my brother.

Goldie, our Mother, was a fine woman and was simply an eastern girl, pampered and not prepared for the rough western life that faced her after her marriage. It took her all those years to learn to respect our Father and accept him--she did love him but just didn't-know how to cope with it all.

As long as I can remember my Mother worked with her hands. As a young girl she practiced the piano four hours a day; learned how to do all kinds of fancy work, she made all of our clothes--always making over castoff garments if there was no money to buy new materials--we were always nattily dressed, clean and neat. Whenever Mother could afford to buy the oil paint and brush she would paint a picture. When she was past 55 she started attending the WPA Adult Art classes in Billings, Montana and continued with them in Denver, Colorado after coming to live with my husband Ed and I. We moved from Denver to Sterling, Colorado in 1943 and during our twenty years there Mother did many oil and pastel chalk pictures--selling a great share of them --and received a Blue Ribbon first prize award from the Northeastern Colorado Junior College, in Sterling, for her fine work of art--a real life scene of Bear Lake in Estes Park, Colorado. Our son, Gary, has her talent and owns his own art gallery in Old Montreal, Quebec. He has named it Gallery Miller-Youst. Gary is also a published writer. He also has musical talent as does our daughter, Gwen. My brother, Gordon, and his wife, Helen, do not have children but have been loving and devoted to all their nieces and nephews.

Father's firm instruction was all my brother and I needed, he refused to punish us. Mother was the disciplinarian. She was generous in her own way, devoting much of her time in assisting with church, school and community functions and aiding neighbors and friends in times of illness and distress. She took great joy in making all her gifts--giving something of herself--and spent long hours sewing items to be sold at the church bazaars.
As children of Albert "Brig" and Goldie Youst, we look back on all those years with great love and compassion and are grateful for the enrichment they brought into our lives.

Daughter, Velda B. (Youst) Miller Albert's widow, Goldie, died January 21, 1970, in Billings, Montana. He is survived by his son, Gordon, of Billings and a daughter, Velda (Mrs. Edwin H. Miller) of Boulder, Colorado; a grandson, Gary Edwin Miller, of Montreal Quebec; a granddaughter, Gwen Lee (Hiller) (Mrs. Chas.) Johnson, and three great grandchildren, Randy, Minda and Blaine, all of Terrebonne, Oregon.