Montana Photojournalist Thomas Lee -Centennial Ranch 10
Near Sidney, John Mercer oversees the farm his grandfather Andrew Mercer homesteaded in 1901 along the Yellowstone River. A businessman, Andrew Mercer had been a prospector and owned and managed properties including a saloon in addition to the cattle, horses and wheat he sold. Andrew Mercer’s son, Russell, spent his life on the ranch and he and his wife, Mary, were active outside the family farm. Russell Mercer served in local government and Mary Mercer was an active advocate for the preservation of local history.
John Mercer is the sixth of Mary and Russell Mercer’s seven children. “I was doing construction in Denver,” he says, “and I came back in 1972 to save the place after Dad had a heart attack. I never knew anything about farming or ranching.”
He’s now semi-retired, he says, only managing the dry land farming at the place, leaving the irrigated fields to someone else.
John and Kathy Mercer pose in front of the house John’s grandfather Andrew Mercer built in 1906.