Filed Under Volborg

Cheever / Cain Ranch

George and Martha Cheever arrived in Miles City with daughter Lucretia in 1889. There Martha and Lucretia taught music while George worked as an engineer for the state reform school. In 1905, Lucretia married Ernest Shy, and the newlyweds accompanied the Cheevers, then age 65 and 58, to a homestead along Little Pumpkin Creek. They brought with them Lucretia’s piano, despite the difficulty of transporting it by team and wagon. George died in 1909, but with the help of her daughter and son-in-law, Martha successfully proved up. By 1912, the ranch boasted “an excellent house of 7 or 8 rooms … a large barn, several sheds, a large cellar, outhouses, big substantial corrals, etc.” Martha died in 1918, but the Shys continued ranching here into the 1930s. When advancing age slowed Ernest, he leased the ranch to his closest neighbors, Oscar “Sal” and Gladys Cain, who ultimately purchased the property. The Cains moved into the ranch house in 1943, adding two porches and, after electricity arrived in the 1950s, a bathroom. (Indoor toilets require electric water pumps to function). The Cains used, preserved, and sometimes updated other buildings that the Cheevers constructed, maintaining a living connection to the ranch’s homestead origins. These buildings include a substantial barn, a milk shed (for milking dairy cows), a tool shop/granary, a loafing barn (which shelters livestock in bad weather), a garage, corrals, and a chicken house (which saw almost a century of use). More modern buildings store fuel, grain, and machinery, reflecting the evolution of this twentieth-century farmstead.  


Picture of Oscar Sal Cain ranch, 1937
Picture of Oscar Sal Cain ranch, 1937 Picture of Oscar Sal Cain ranch 1937 (verso) color print Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana Creator: Unidentified artist Date: 1937


8 Trails End Road, Volborg, Montana | Private


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Cheever / Cain Ranch,” Historic Montana, accessed June 18, 2024,