In this issue, the first for (Insider's Report), we will start our coverage of the Steve Reeves story. Beginning with a look into his family history, we will follow him through his first couple of years. In the forthcoming issues we will continue our quest, a few years at a time, until we have the complete Steve Reeves' saga.
While researching the early years of Steve Reeves' life I found, to my amazement, that very little has been written on those years. This lack of information only fuelled my interest to fill in those very important youthful years.
After acquiring as much information as possible, I wanted to verify what I had learned with Steve. The story that follows is a combination of my research and the interview that Steve gave me at his ranch in Valley Center California. Thanks to Steve, I was able to fill in all of the gaps. I hope you enjoy reading this story and the ones, which will follow, as much as I did interviewing Steve for them.
Steve is a descendent of a combination of Welsh, Irish, German and English heritage. On his mother's side of the family, Steve's great grandfather Boyce, a tailor by trade, came to America from England and settled with his wife in a town in Ohio. Later, his son Stephen Boyce moved from Ohio to Montana and eventually purchased a hotel and a cattle and sheep ranch in the community of Scobey, Montana. With in two years all his investments had disappeared. The hotel had burned down, the cattle had contracted hoof and mouth disease, and the sheep were wiped out by some other sort of ailment.
Not to be stopped by these unfortunate events Steve's grandfather Stephen never quit. An interesting story Steve told me was of the time when his grandfather and his great uncle drove a herd of horses from Montana to Oregon. After this demanding trip they arrived in Oregon with the horses. It is told that the boys met a fair maiden and competed for her affection. The brothers liked this young lady so much that they ended up in a fight over her. Because of hard feelings, Stephen returned to Scobey and his great uncle stayed in Oregon.
Steve's grandfather started a successful ranching business with his share of money from the sale of the horses, while Steve's great uncle continued on to the State of Washington. There he homesteaded a large piece of property which eventually became the town of Walla Walla. Stephen Boyce married and had six sons and a daughter. Two of the sons died, one from influenza and the other was hit by a car. Stephen's daughter Golden Viola Boyce became Steve's beloved mother.
On the Reeves side of the family, Steve remembers hearing about his great grandfather Manasseh Reeves, who was a veteran of the Civil War. Manasseh fought under General Sherman's Command. Steve has letters dating back to this period that his great grand father wrote and is amazed by the clarity of thought and his excellent handwriting. Manasseh's son, Steve's paternal grandfather Sylvester Reeves who stood 6'4" and weighed 240 pounds, was born in Minnesota and moved to Montana sometime during his youth.
Sylvester married Steve's Grandmother Jessie Day and they had four boys Ted, Claude, Lester, and Archie. Archie died sometime before his twenty-first birthday. Sylvester and Jessie Reeves divorced while the children were still young. Later Jessie remarried to a man by the name of Jack W Peters.
Jack Peters and Jessie came to Scobey sometime before 1915, as the filing of their homestead was dated 1915. Jessie worked in Burton's restaurant in town to help out the family. The boys Ted, Claude and Lester all attended and graduated from Scobey High School. They were all very intelligent and had excellent memories. Steve recalls being told that his father, Lester would sometimes have fun by adding the numbers on the sides of the train boxcars as they would go whizzing by.
Steve also told about the time his father relied on his memory when he traded a milk cow for a flax field. It had not rained for a long period of time and the farmer who owned the field was concerned that the crop would not come in. Lester recalled that throughout all recorded time there had always been rain within a certain time period. Armed with this information he bargained with the farmer to trade him the flax field for his milk cow. A few days after the trade it rained, to no surprise of Lester. Not only did it rain, but it rained just the right amount and the crop came in. Steve has also been blessed with a superb memory.
Lester's brother Claude enlisted in the army in WWI and did not return to Scobey until he was asked to come back and help out on the ranch. His other brother Ted was given a scholar ship of his choice to either the School of Mines in Butte, or the University of California at Berkeley. Ted finally decided to attend Berkeley but married Geneva, whom he met in Portland Oregon on his way to California, and never made it to Berkeley.
Jack Peters, Jessie Reeves Peters and Lester Reeves leased land for a ranch about nine miles north of Richland, Montana. Lester did carpentry work and was a contractor. He also worked very hard on the ranch. Lester Reeves and Golden Boyce were neighbors in Scobey and were considered by the people in Danials County to be the most desirable and attractive couple.
Lester was an extremely fit man who stood 61" and weighed 200 pounds. He had broad shoulders and a fantastic build. His physique was genetically passed on to him and was honed by hard physical work. Steve's mother Goldie was a very pretty, loving and giving person. Through the years, Lester and Goldie became very close and fell in love. They were married on April 3, 1924 in Scobey and were very happy. They had only one child, Stephen L. Reeves. We know him as the one and only Steve Reeves.
Steve was born on January 21, 1926 in the home of his uncle Stephen Boyce, Jr. in Glasgow, Montana. When Steve was 6 months old, Goldie entered Steve in his first contest in which he received the title as the "Most Healthy Baby" in Danials County. Those were the happiest of days for the Reeves family.
Then one day in October, 1927, tragedy struck in the form of a terrible accident. Lester was in the field's one day watching the harvesting operation. While Lester was talking to someone, one of the workers got his pitchfork caught in the belts of the thresher. The pitchfork was yanked from the worker's hands and it soared back towards Lester without warning the pitchfork drove into Lester, piercing his intestine. He was taken immediately to the local doctor in Scobey.
The doctor administered some medication internally, but Lester only got worse. Infection set in within 48 hours and Lester was put on a train to the nearest hospital many miles away in Minot, North Dakota. A short time after arriving at the hospital, Steve's father Lester passed away. Steve was just 20 months old at the time.
When the citizens in Scobey found out about his death, they grabbed a rope and headed to the doctor's office to string him up! Luckily for the doctor, the citizens were convinced to not carry out that sentence. The day of the funeral, a small boy about 6 years of age looked sadly at his mother and said "I wonder what will become of his son?" Well, we know what be came of him. He became a real Hercules among men. Many years later, Steve met up with this same boy, now in his seventies, and told him the whole story.
That's it for the first addition of the Steve Reeves story. Next time I'll tell you about how Steve had a run in with a car at close range. You won't believe it, but it's all true!
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