Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Railroad Adventure

DSC07921_edited-1 {“Remember” journaling tag from Crafty Secret’s “Creating with Vintage Patterns” CD}

It was an exciting time…and a terrifying time, as well.

Sixteen-year-old Anna was about to embark on a journey that would forever change her life.

Anna Brandley age 16 edited {Anna’s 16 year-old portrait.  I love the look on her face.  Not the best quality copy, but I have it, nonetheless.  Most likely taken at the start of their journey.}

Her father, Theodore, had just been commissioned to lead a group of men to Alberta Canada to assist in a great canal-building enterprise…they were also to build up a community there for families to follow along and settle in.

Johann Theodore Brandley middle aged

So, bravely saying goodbye to the small, safe western town she’d been born in, the family home and bakery…her young mother’s grave…she boarded the train with her father, brothers, aunt and the other men and began the long ride along the rails to Canada…

Upon reaching Butte, Montana, their large steam engine slowed and came to a halt.  Coal and supplies were needed, and they would be in town for a couple of hours.


Butte was, at that time, considered a very wild city, and the men had an interest in seeing it, asking Anna’s father to join them.  He told Anna in no uncertain terms that she was to remain on the train with her aunt…too many tales had reached his ears of the unlawfulness of the area, and he wanted his daughter safe.


Shortly after the men left the train, Anna noticed, through the window, two well-dressed men ride up towards their train car on horses.  One got off, the other stayed on his horse…close to the window where she sat.

Soon the man entered their car—inhabited only by Anna and her aunt--walked directly over to Anna, took her by the arm and said, “You got on this train in Melrose, Montana.  Your family has asked me to take you back to them.”


This was, of course, untrue.  He had to just be horribly mistaken.  Anna was silent at first--as her father had ordered her, on this trip--to never speak to strange men.  The elegant stranger grabbed her arm harder, trying to yank her out of her seat…repeating the same thing to her over and over again.

Her sweet Aunt Eliza, horrified by all this, kept assuring the man that he was quite mistaken, but he absolutely ignored the older woman…all his attention was on young Anna.


Anna writes that being so shocked and frightened, all she could think to do was to silently pray that help would come to her very soon…

Her father and the men had barely reached the city when he felt a VERY strong urging to get back to the train as quickly as he could—he told the men his feelings, and unquestioningly they followed him back at full gallop.


Suddenly, the man waiting outside the train knocked loudly on the window, and the man with the horrible grip on Anna’s arm let go fast—and ran off the train without another word…

Anna, barely  breathing, looked out the window watching the dust as they rode off in the opposite direction from the large group of men riding fast towards the train—her father at the head of the group.

DSC07919_edited-1 {tags from Crafty Secrets’ “Creating with Vintage Illustrations” CD}

Just in time!  What joy and relief flooded through Anna’s heart…

Quickly telling her father what had just happened, he took her and Aunt Eliza back into Butte with him to the sheriff’s office.

DSC07908_edited-1 {a new page made for my heritage album.  A wild west adventure that will never be forgotten in our family…}

After giving the sheriff a detailed description of the two men, the sheriff told Theodore that he and his daughter were truly fortunate, as he knew EXACTLY who the two men were…

…so far escaping capture, the two men were part of a group of white slave traders who had recently invaded the city.


The grateful group continued on their way…more stories for other days…but Anna learned one powerful thing that she never forgot.  One she recorded on paper many times.  One she told and re-told her children and grandchildren:

“Through Father’s listening to the warning he received and his quick action and my silent prayer for help, my life was saved.”

Anna Ostlund young in sailor dress {Anna in her thirties…a peaceful, glowing beauty}

Anna was, for the rest of her life, a woman of great faith and prayer.  I’m so grateful to this beautiful great-grandmother of mine for the lessons she left and the life story she told…