Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Flying S

I’ve had folks ask me a number of different times about my company and blog logo and “What’s up with the little horns on the Ss?”  Those little horns are actually wings, and this is their story:

In the late 1930s, my grandparents became ranchers in Idaho.  The family had lived in several different places in the West and Midwest over two generations.  They had started out in Minnesota, homesteaded in Montana, and spent time running a livery stable in Zilla, Washington. 
My grandparents on their wedding day.
My grandfather John Engwald Sylte, who was the eldest of five sons, once traveled by train through northern Idaho during the tail end of the Dust Bowl years.  He was enticed by the surroundings where the lush green of the Selkirk Mountains met the open grassy space of the Rathdrum Prairie.   

My great grandparents and their five sons, with my grandfather in the middle.

He had been a soldier in the US Cavalry in Montana and loved horses and working with animals, in general.  He and my grandmother settled the family in Idaho and started the ranch that I later grew up on.

My grandfather (& buffalo) at Fort Meade, Montana.  

At that time, all ranches had a livestock brand.  It was a way of identifying which animals belonged to you, as well as a way to deter theft…or just make sure that your cows didn’t get mixed in with the neighbors’ if your fence went down in a storm.  They are a mark recorded by the state livestock agency.   

I would love to know exactly how my grandparents settled on our particular brand, since there were so many possible variations and combinations to choose from at the time.  Brands in many ways resemble hieroglyphics with (sometimes strange) combinations of letters, numbers and symbols that become more “readable” as you get used to them.  My grandparents had a shotgun rack in their front sitting room where they displayed all of the brands of friends and neighbors.  I remember sitting there on their smooth naugahyde davenport, staring at the marks and trying to decipher each of the symbols, with the smell of my grandmother’s chicken and dumpling soup hanging in the air.

What they came up with is called the “Flying S”.  Since the family name is Sylte, the S part is pretty obvious.  I think that adding the wings to the top of the S was a nice touch and seems appropriate, given my grandfather’s tendency to dream big and help foster a love of adventure and inventiveness in future generations. The risk-taking has mostly served us well, despite some noteworthy episodes worthy of Icarus.  For many years, the cattle on the ranch all carried the mark on their haunches, and it can still be found all around the ranch on gates, signs and other less predictable locations. 

I have now spent many years living away from the ranch.  Even though my business is not located in Idaho and has nothing at all to do with cattle or ranching, I carry the spirit and history of it all with me as I go about my life.  So there you go…they’re not horns, they’re wings.


Jenny Cruz said...

What a lovely story and your grandparents seems so in-love with each other. Thank you for sharing this, your so lucky to live in a place covered with lovely bushes and horses. I live in a crowded place which has few trees, counted horses (but I sees nothing since birth just pictures) and it make me think of what it feels to be like if you spend your day riding horses. But I guess I can figure that feeling sooner since one of my friends invited me to visit at Texas Ranches and I just said yes.

ASBloom said...

Thanks Jenny. My grandparents were very much in love, and a great example of a good marriage that lasted many, many years. I miss them both.

Have a great time on your Texas ranch adventure! Enjoy yourself!

Anne-Marie said...

What a sweet story. It's great to hear that you continue to carry on the family symbol and to dream big yourself!

PS. Love those old photos too!

ASBloom said...

Thanks Anne-Marie! I like to think that I'm a big dreamer too, like many before me.

And yes, aren't the photos great?! I came across a huge stash them when I was visiting home recently and have been having the best time going through them all. It's about time to revisit to my old genealogy hobby!