Family History

Addison Brooks Woods

Addison Brooks Woods and the horse Maud Early 1900s

I grew up hearing wonderful stories about horses from my grandmother, Laura Cheney Wilson. Grandma and Grandpa Wilson had a television set that had color, one of the first in the neighborhood. Grandma Wilson loved to watch westerns and we admired the beautiful horses on the shows. One of her stories starts with “Peggy, where are you??!!” Great, great Grandpa Woods was calling to my grandmother, Laura, when she was a little girl. (His nickname for her was Peggy.) “I’m here in the barn under Old Maud,” my grandmother called back to her grandfather. Grandpa Woods ran to the barn and found her laying under Old Maud in the horse’s tie stall in the barn. My grandmother had climbed the sides of the tie stall to pet Old Maud and fell from the top board landing in the stall and breaking her arm. Old Maud had her foot up so that she wouldn’t step on my grandmother. I was amazed by that story as a little girl thinking that horses were magical, brilliant and caring beings!

Grandma said that she used to sit under the apple tree that was in Old Maud’s pasture and read. She spent a lot of time petting Old Maud and shared the apples with her. One day, her brothers wanted to go to town and couldn’t catch Old Maud to hook up to the buggy. They asked my grandmother to catch her as she always willingly came to her due to their good relationship. Grandmother went with the boys to town and Old Maud took off at a run and the boys couldn’t stop her. One of them asked my grandmother to help. Grandmother said, “Whoa Maud!,” and the mare stopped. The boys asked her why she didn’t do something before and she replied, “you didn’t ask me!” (My grandmother was quite a character!!)

John O Saugstad Family 1913

My mother used to tell stories of the horses on their family farm when she grew up. She often said that her father took very good care of his horses as he depended on them for work in the fields and for pulling the buggies and sleighs. The photo shows the Saugstad Family on their farm in North Dakota with their two precious horses, Queenie and Prince. My Norwegian relatives sent some of the letters my grandfather sent them back to relatives in the United States. One of the letters expressed my Grandfather Saugstad’s desire to have more horses for his farm so he could get more work done. I often wished that I could have met my Norwegian grandparents! I’m just glad that my mother and her siblings were able to share some of the wonderful family stories and history.

Aunt Zella and Horse

These early experiences with my Grandmother developed an early admiration of and desire to spend time with horses. They taught me the value and importance of developing a relationship with horses before asking them to do anything else with you. Another great lesson that my Grandmother Wilson taught me as a young girl was: “Bethy, are you happy???” She would look into my eyes waiting for my reply and then say, “You know, you make your OWN happy!” I often look back and remember her wise words and stories full of meaning!

Beth helping her grandmother, Laura Cheney Wilson

The photo of Beth as a little girl with her grandmother, Laura Cheney Wilson, is of the day Beth was allowed to make angel decorations for the Christmas tree with Grandma. Beth’s “job” was to keep her hands by her sides and watch. Grandma later helped Beth make angels that weren’t quite so delicate! Grandma Wilson’s angels are Beth’s most cherished Christmas ornaments to this day!!

Photo by Erin Johnson

Elizabeth “Beth” Wilson

Beth owned and operated Rocky Run Stables since 1987 and has been involved with horses for over 50 years. Having planned on getting miniature horses some day it became evident when Paula Moore began volunteering at Rocky Run Stables that her dream came true. Paula introduced her to the world of miniature horses. Beth then decided to implement the miniature horse visitation program in memory of her parents.