Life at the Spear O Wigwam Dude Ranch

Jun 13, 2024 by Tempe Javitz

Last summer the Spear O Wigwam Dude Ranch, high in the Big Horn Mountains, celebrated 100
years of operation.  I discovered this grand poem from my grandmother Jessamine’s time as the
manager of the Wigwam from 1930 to 1943.  The poem was written by one of her aunts after a
summertime visit.  It’s a window into the activities back in 1933 when family and friends enjoyed
the unique setting that the Wigwam afforded.  You can find current information by typing
Spear O Wigwam into your google search.

I’ve just had a grand vacation

At the “Wigwam” high up in the hills.                         

Our hostess, Jessamine Johnson,

Planned for us some wonderful thrills.

A weenie roast first on the program,

Then a fish-fry of ten hundred, I think,

With fritters and syrup and other good things,

And coffee – the finest – to drink.


The “Wigwam” – a place you all should see:

Indian trophies and couches of ease,

And a camp fire right in the middle

Sheds its mellow light soft and free.


The cabins have every comfort:

Water both cold and hot,

The softest of blankets for covers,

And soft mattresses on every cot.


I hope every year I can visit this spot

And meet these people so grand,

Who provide all these comforts and pleasures

With such a glad, friendly hand.


Here’s a long, happy life for the “Wigwam.”

For the hostess, the same pleasures and joys

She plans with such vim for others;

And all hail to her fine girls and boys.

By Emily Spear DeWitt, August 1933

Jessamine with one of her favorite horses.

    Martha Eder cooking up a picnic lunch.

                 Lovely fire inside the Lodge.

I’m back in the saddle again after back surgery in April.  Hope you enjoy receiving new
posts about Jessamine Spear Johnson’s busy life as an active participant in ranching life
in Montana and Wyoming from the early 1900s through the 1950s.  My book
"Bighorn Visions, the Photography of Jessamine Spear Johnson,” is readily available
from the South Dakota Historical Society Press: