Ted Wiederseim 12.23.2021

Bio: Ted’s father was WWII injured, recuperated at White Grass, cousin to owner, Frank Galey
Descriptor: Creating a White Grass like life in PA, experiences at WG with Frank Galey.

Ted’s Story: Remembrances of My Cousin Frank Galey and the White Grass Ranch – By Theodore “Ted” Wiederseim The first time I met Frank Galey was at my father’s funeral service at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Ludwigs Corner, Pa. Even at the age of twenty, I remember Frank vividly as he walked into the church. My father, Harrison Caner Wiederseim, better known as ‘Topper’, was only fifty-five when he died. He and Frank were first cousins. His mother, my grandmother, was Eleanor Taylor Chandler, Frank’s aunt. His mother Marion Andrews Chandler and my grandmother were sisters. Being from Philadelphia, I knew two of Frank’s sisters (my father’s first cousins) very well; Helen ‘Henney’ F. Galey Scattergood and Marian ‘Mopsey’ Allison Galey Fox, later Ingersoll. Towards the end of Mopsey’s life, I would often take her out for a drink, or we’d play bridge or backgammon for hours. She was quite accomplished at all three. One of her sons, Fran Fox, is a rancher in Wyoming.

During World War II, my father Topper was with General Patton’s 3rd Army in France and Luxemburg where he was severely wounded. After initially recuperating at Valley Forge Army Hospital in a suburb of Philadelphia, he made his way to Cousin Frank’s White Grass Ranch to continue healing. His time at the ranch would forever change his life and, to a great extent, his family’s as well.   

While recovering at the ranch he learned to ride and honed his gambling skills – I never knew until now why he loved silver dollars so much. I am sure he spent time at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Jackson Hole. Dad already knew how to drink, and drinking was done in earnest at the ranch. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best environment for him! Eventually, Topper made his way back to Pennsylvania, married and started a family.       

We grew up in Birchrunville a beautiful bucolic countryside outside Philadelphia, perfect for four kids to run free. It was the 1960’s. What I didn’t know then was that Dad had created the White Grass Ranch, “East”, right in our own backyard. We had five horses and rode English, for my mother, but mostly we rode Western. Daily long trail rides were a year-round activity. At age 14 my friends and I were smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and gambling (mostly poker). And, more often than not, Dad would always sit in for a game or two of poker. That year I got a .38 revolver in my Christmas stocking. Shotguns were for pheasant, squirrel and rabbit hunting, rifles for target practice and handguns were all in play. In the summer we would camp out under the stars for weeks at a time complete with campfires and fishing for bass. All my friends loved coming to our 18th century farmhouse for this ongoing ‘wild, wild, west’ life. Dad would tell us all about the White Grass Ranch. In 1967, we were supposed to fly out on Piedmont Airlines. But it never happened.      

At 66 years old, I decided it was time to visit the White Grass Ranch. In late September 2021, my fiancé Jean (I am a widower), along with my childhood friend Scott and his wife, Mimi and I made the trip. It was then I was able to put everything into perspective/meaning. I was awestruck with the beauty and flooded with emotions as we walked the Ranch. I could feel Dad there. As a side note, Scott knew Topper well being part of our ‘hole in the wall gang’ growing up. Elk hunting in Wyoming for the past fifteen years, Scott visited the White Grass Ranch about five years back which planted the seed in me to visit.     

My father and Frank were a lot alike in many respects. Although to the manor born, the cousins didn’t care for nor adhere to the strict conventions Philadelphia Society that their families demanded. They preferred the lifestyle that White Grass Ranch offered, and they both liked to spend more money than they made. Interestingly, dad loaned Frank $10,000 for his West Indies venture which was eventually paid back. After posting pictures and my abbreviated story on my Facebook page, I received many comments from our Philadelphia friends. Stories about their parents and their parents’ friends visiting the White Grass Ranch every year. Apparently, Frank nurtured his Philadelphia connections Sadly, we have only one photo of Dad’s time at White Grass Ranch taking a canoe trip on the Snake River. In retrospect, I am sorry we never made the trip when dad was still alive. When I toured the ranch and saw the main lodge, especially the side room with fireplace, I could almost see my dad sitting there with Frank playing poker with the wranglers or a guest and loving every minute of it.

Harrison Caner Wiederseim, better known as ‘Topper’ post WWII injuries, Circa 1945.
Harrison Caner Wiederseim, better known as ‘Topper’ on canoe trip on the Snake River, Circa 1947.