Sadie Hollister became my ranch friend after Riley left the Circle C. Sadie has never been to school. She’s a hillbilly girl who lives just beyond the ranch boundaries with her parents, her granny, and seven brothers and sisters. (Lily, Tom, Zeke, Sadie, Joey, Mimi, Jonah, and Casey).The Hollisters raise “stinky” sheep. The Hollisters scrape together a living on their overgrazed land. Sadie pretty much can do whatever she wants. She has no chores. There is nothing to take care of but a few sheep, some pigs, and a few horses.
Sadie and I were good friends for two years. I missed Riley, and Sadie took his place as a fun and adventurous playmate. I gave her a cat and she gave me a lamb (which Chad told me I had to take back.) But Sadie and I began to grow apart the year I turned 12. By now, Cory had entered the picture, and the rift between sheepherders and cattlemen got wider and wider, until it was obvious that Mr. Hollister preferred Sadie to stay away from the rich cattle rancher’s girl (me), and Chad made it clear that I better stick closer to home. With school and more ranch chores, I saw Sadie less and less. Now and again, we played together, but it wasn’t the same. I even invited Sadie to school, but she says she’s too old to start going to school now.
It was a number of years before I saw Sadie again. Riley and I took a trip to the Hollisters and Sadie looked very different. A lot older, like life was wearing her out. Plus, she had a toddler about Sammy’s age hoisted on her hip. I figured it was her baby but didn’t want to ask. We were polite to each other but that’s about it.
Later, Sadie visited me on Memory Creek ranch. She was kind. I think she’s lonely and wishes we could be friends again. But a rancher’s wife has little time for casual friendships, and Sadie and I are no longer children. She has two children now, Jeffrey and Rosie. I’m not sure who her husband is, and I’m afraid to ask.
Vince Hollister is Sadie’s father and the head of the Hollister clan. He came to his land years ago with his ma (Granny) and pa (deceased) and settled up in the hills, away from those “rich cattle ranchers” and to keep from being pestered. He is ten years older than Justin and doesn’t want anything to do with the Carters or their kind.
Vince is the oldest of his clan, so he inherited the house and few hundred acres of hill country. His brothers live nearby, as do a few other relatives. Once in a while they sneak a stray steer and butcher it before their rancher neighbors suspect, but they do it out of desperation and not because they are criminals. They are hungry, but Vince is too proud to ask for charity. He yells a lot but rarely do the Hollister kids get their backsides walloped. Vince is too busy trying to keep his sheep and his other livestock fed. He and his brothers and their sons shear their sheep each spring and sell the wool, but it never brings in enough to keep the clothes on their backs.
Vince is not an especially pleasant neighbor, and he threatens to shoot any Carter he finds trespassing on his land, but he can’t just leave Andi lying in the middle of nowhere when Sadie runs to get him. He follows his daughter and takes Andi back to his cabin to be ministered to by his mother, Granny. But he prefers Sadie stick to her “own kind.” Sadie, as usual, pays him no mind and plays with Andi anyway.
Granny Hollister’s real name is Sofia, but everybody calls her Granny. She’s a tiny, wiry woman who bosses everybody, even her oldest son, Vince. She’s not afraid of anything or anybody. When she and her husband left the backwoods of North Carolina for the golden hills of California, she was almost scalped in an Indian raid on their wagon train. She survived and is now tough as nails.
Sofia and George Hollister found no gold but they found land that suited them. They squatted there and nobody could make them leave. Their backwoods neighbors had joined the gold rush too, but like the Hollisters, they arrived too late to get in on the easy pickings. They were happy to settle in a part of the country that never got too cold. They built a cabin and raised a bunch of wild kids.
Granny Hollister and her family knew James Carter, the man who bought thousands of acres so close to their piece of land in the Sierra foothills. He had struck it rich, and the Hollisters were ready to hate him for his work ethic and drive. But Granny couldn’t. James Carter was just too likeable. And he treated them with respect, not like the other valley ranchers. James refused to join in the many times the other ranchers wanted to clear out the “riff-raff.” James sided with the Hollisters in the stand-off. Granny knows the older Carter boys as well. She sensed in Chad a willingness to go along with the rancher crowd and try to start a range war to get them out of the hills. That all changed when Chad gave up the land the Hollister’s insisted was now theirs, and a truce of sorts has existed between the families ever since.
The rest of the family is shown here as of 1877 (well, most of them, anyway). They got hold of this donkey and decided to keep it. Sadie refused to even try it out. She doesn’t like donkeys! But four of the kids climbed on. Pictured from left to right are Vince, Mama (Lacey), Lily (13), Joey (7), Mimi (6), Zeke (10), and Tom (12). Sadie (9), Jonah (5), and Casey (4)are not in the picture.