Platt rolls on to 100th year

 

Photos courtesy of Mayvon Platt

A young Ralph Platt shows off prized antlers from one of his hunted deer.

Ralph Ezra Platt, son, grandson and great-grandson of Platte Valley pioneers, will celebrate his 100th birthday with a special congratulatory party this weekend.

The party takes place from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Saratoga Senior Center. Ralph was actually born Sept. 13, but the party was moved to the 14th to accommodate family and friends, who are invited to come share refreshments with Ralph and reminisce with him about the events experienced during his century of life.

The first Platte in the Valley was William, Ralph’s great uncle who came sometime in 1884 or early 1885. He soon wrote to his younger brother Isaac about the area, and Isaac, his wife Crissie and two small boys, three-year-old Ralph Henry and baby Charles, moved from Weld County, Colo. to Wyoming. According to family tradition, they loaded their possessions in a covered wagon and drove north to Wyoming. Along the trail from Colorado, they camped together with another family, the Condicts, who were also moving to Wyoming. In the fall of 1885, Isaac and his family settled in a log cabin on the Cushman place about two miles northwest of present-day Encampment. In the spring of 1886, Isaac and his family moved 10 miles southeast to the confluence of Big and Little Beaver Creeks, where William Platt was already settled. Isaac and his family lived there for the rest of their lives. In time, Isaac’s father, Henry O. Platt, joined his family in the Valley, living the past 17 years of his life in the area, most of the time with his daughter, Celestia Platt Kearns, who was married to Foster Kearns of Encampment. Henry often went to Boulder, Colo., in the winter to live with other relatives as it was a bit warmer there.


Ralph’s father, also named Ralph and known as R.H., grew up on the family ranch. In 1908 he married Alwilda Pool in Pleasant Dale, Neb. R.H. had met Alwilda when he was attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where his best friend Winthrop C. Condict was also going to school. R.H. and Winthrop married the identical twin daughters of Ezra Pool, Alwilda and Aurilla, in a double wedding ceremony on Sept. 8, 1908. The two girls were also attending the University of Nebraska, majoring in music theory.

Ralph and his bride moved to the ranch on Beaver Creek and lived for several years in a log cabin with a dirt roof originally built by homesteader James King. Ralph Ezra was born in that cabin on Sept. 13, 1913. In 1917, R.H. rented the ranch to Philip Flohr and moved the family to a farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. The second child, a daughter, Erma, was born on this farm in 1919. In 1923, R.H., Awilda, Ralph E. and Erma moved back to the Platt Ranch on Beaver Creek, where R.H. had a new, two-story log home built. Two more sons were born to the family: Wayne, in 1923, and Kermit, in 1929.

Ralph’s memories and experiences are vast. He joined the Presbyterian Church when he was 3 years old, went to school at the old Beaver Creek schoolhouse from fourth to 10th grade and graduated from Saratoga, rode bareback with Grant Forney to the ranch from Encampment when it was 60 degrees below zero, and played basketball with the Wyoming Cowboys while attending the University of Wyoming, where he graduated with a degree in agriculture and a minor in geology. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity while at UW.

A continued love of his, even to his 100th day, son Ron and daughter-in-law Mayvon read to him from his mineralogical magazines, or better yet, bring specimens for him to enjoy. Ralph remembers shoveling coal for five cents per ton, and he and a friend would shovel 50 tons per day. He also did concrete work for Banner Construction Co. and really made a great wage of 30 cents per hour. This all helped in support while he was in college.

Ralph after college was a man of many, many hats. Mayvon emphasizes, “I don’t think there’s a job he can’t do, and usually well.” His love for mining and collecting though always remained at the top of the list. Ralph married his college sweetheart Harriet (Tupper) Platt on Jan. 1, 1940. Ralph continued learning and doing after building a home for he and his beautiful bride on the Ranch where two sons were born: Vernon and Ronald. Ralph has served as water commissioner in the Valley; he and Harriet bought a Dairy Queen in Cheyenne and ran that business for two years; and he worked as a substitute teacher and taught class at Fort Warren Air Base. However, he always returned to his first loves, which were mining and the ranch.

Ralph’s accomplishments in hunting included several Boone and Crockett trophies including a deer that at one time was number two in the world. Ralph was a contractor and built several houses in the Valley, as well as helping with Ron and Mayvon’s place. Ralph enjoys the Masonic Order, which he has been a member of for over 70 years, and he has many memories of Eastern Star, where he was Worthy Patron 26 times from 1945 to 2002. Ralph served as President of the Rocky Mountain Gem and Mineral Society, and always welcomes folks to come and talk rocks with him. Ralph continues to share stories of ranching, mining and trapping to this day.

Family, friends and friends who don’t know they are friends yet can come to the Senior Center starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and share stories and memories with Ralph and his family. Family and friends can bring stories and memories written down to give to Ralph, so he can continue to enjoy the good memories through hearing about them.

 

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