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Clarence Bray (Autobigraphy)

Born 14 May 1905, in what was then Riverside Township, Burt County, Nebraska. (Today it is Quinnebaugh township.) He died 8 Dec 1975 and is buried in Montana. 

Clarence Bray lived in Nebraska, but not exclusively so. His memoirs (I guess you would call them) tell of his entire life where he alternated between Wyoming and Nebraska and ended up in South Dakota. As I read the journal this particular event (1927 blizzard) took place near Mitchell, Nebraska. He begins speaking in the third person, so it seems at first as if someone else is writing it, but slips quickly into 1st person. -- Kenneth Nelson 15 Apr 1999.

[NOTE: These pages were transcribed in the fall of 1996 by Kenneth R. Nelson. This transcriber has attempted to keep all spellings and all grammar as it was. For the most part, punctuation was an invention of this transcriber for the sake of readability. There may be some errors in transcription as the writing was not always that legible and a best guess was made. The capitalization of the writer was not entirely maintained----he seemed to capitalize at random.]

On May 14, Clarence Bray was born to John and Ella Bray 13 miles Northeast of Tekamah, Nebr. In 1912, his mother passed away 6 months after his bro. James was born on May 6. In 1913 his father married Cora McAllister of Decatur Nebr. to this union one son Henry was born on Dec 26, 1914. In 1917, the Family moved to lance creek, wyo to a homestead where his father died 30 years later on April 10. When Clarence was 18 he filed on a homestead next to his father place. When he was 19 he went back to Nebr to visit his relation and while their his grandfather and mother died a nat death on Oct 9 1924. I work in Sioux City a while and help build the river side swimming pool. In 1925 I return to Lusk and married Thelma Sparks on Sept 16 at hot springs So Dak. She was a nice looking girl of 5 ft 4 dark hair and blue eyes. We moved to Mitchel Nebr where I work at the sugar beet factory thru that campain then in the spring of 26 we moved to the homestead where we lived in a tar paper shack 8X16 that my father had built for a schoolhouse. This is the last school I attended My other school was the Fairview school that my grandfather give the land for north of Tekamah Nebr.

In the fall of 26 we built house of rock and mud it was 12X24. Done some farming and realy work. In June of 26 I received 46500 estate from my grand folks. With it we bought a model T car for 10000 and other material for the place also a wedding ring for Thelma. She was sure proud of the ring.

In the spring of 1927 we were living in the rock house when it started to snow.

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It snowed steady for 14 days. About 12 feet of snow fell. I had read of 3 day storms so I thought it would quit the 3 day but on the 5 day we give up as we had never heard of any thing in history like that, We had lots of gro but was short on wood. We had a big log about 3 ft thru so cut it up. It was warm out and our stock was loose in the pasture. Nothing we could do about them. They went hungry for a few days. The only thing they had to eat was the high sage brush.

When the snow quit falling it had settled to about 4 feet and then the sun came out hot and it left in about 3 weeks. That summer we had a good crop. I wish we had of stayed there but my father in law was quite a spud farmer so I thought we could make a lot of money raising spud. So in the spring of 28 we moved 9 miles south and 2 miles west of Lusk and put in 40 acres of spud. And that fall we coul not sell a spud as there was no sale for them. All all of spuds roted while waited for some one to buy them.

Then in the spring of 29 moved to Lusk though we could make some money a farming during the fall of 28 I bought a farmall tractor for 136000. . In the spring of 29 we put in 550 acres of crop. I have never worked so hard in all my life. I would worked till my my muscles trembled. My bro Jim worked for me and another man for a month. We kept the tractor going 24 hrs a day. That fall I bought a international combine and cut our grain besides a lot of outside grain. we got 300 a acer for cutting outside grain.


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In the spring of 30 the prices fell out of everything so I saw we could not make a living farming so we turn everything back to the company and I went to Kansas and run a Nebr and run a combine that summer and fall and moved back to the homestead and Thelma got a divorce.

In the summer of 31 I went to Mitchel Nebr and bought _ interest in a garage but no one had any money so I could not make a liveing at that so my so in 1932 I started to hauled gravel at 10¢ a yard for the county to put on the county roads. I had a Int truck with a dodge motor and model T rear end. I made about 7000 a week with it. You could hire a man for about 100 a day.

In 1932 I had got hold of 16 head of cattle and a 28 chev truck so I went out to help Jim Bray get started on his homestead. We built him a house and dug a well. he got $50000 from his estate so we went to scotts bluff [Neb] and bought him 22 head of cattle. Then in 34 I went to the black hills and got lumber to build a house on Jeanie lewis homestead and paid the file ing fees for her that fall. on oct 26 we got married at Norton Kansas. That spring the drough came so we moved my cattle to mitchel nebr and run them on the sand bars. In the spring of 35 I went to tekamah nebr on a law suit for Jim Bray and took sick nemonia and smallpox and by July we had 4 head of cattle left So we moved to torrington Wyo. Where we traded the 3 head I sold a cow for 2600 and went to the Black Hills and

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bought a load of lumber for 1600 to build a house 12 x 24. When I got home I had 20¢ left. we went to work in the beet fields I chg 700 for tar paper and nails so got our house built then we went to work in the beet fields and jest get started to get on our feet when I got sick again. The Dr did not know what was the matter so said to go to bed for 10 days. When I got up we were broke. all was left was the house and 3 head of cattle. I was not able to do a day's work but luck was with us. a man had a recking yard he would did trade me for my 3 head of cattle and 15000 and pay the 15000 off at 1000 a month. So I traded the works for what was left of a few car hulls and I payed 1000 a month rent on the property where they were. There was a little sh old garage and shack about 12 ft squre that Jeannie and I moved in to. at First I would half to sell something before we could eat Breakfast. finally I got a hold of 1600 and bought my first car and traded it for a calf for 4000. This 4000 I used to make a down payment on an acer of land. the acer cost 30000 4000 down and 1000 a month. then for 1000 I got our house moved on to the acer in sept of 1935. We moved to our new place by that time we had collected some old cars and I had Junk made parts out our chev truck and we started to get on our feet. In the spring clare on april 17 1936 Clarence Dean was Born. that fall we put sideing an the house and line it with ply Board. we never will own

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anything that I will be as proud of as I did that place at that timeeverything semm to be coming our way at last.

In 1938 I thought we could afford a nice house so I bought a _ acer ajoing us and moved out old house then and started the new one. We just got the basement dug when trouble hit. Clarence Dean drank some gas and Jim Bray had to have money to get moved. That was a 4 of July that I will never forget. But I had good credit so could get all of the material on credit for the house and could get all the men to work for 150 a daythat I wanted. So quite buying cars and went all out to build the house. One day I had 14 men working. Jeanie help like a trooper. She and war able put on the siding done the painting and she boss putting the lath on.. When I was ready to plaster I hired the job done for 3000. It cost about 10¢ a yard to plaster. That fall our house was done and I gave Jeanie 10000 to buy new furniture. She got her front room and bed room furniture for 9000. That left her 1000 for curtains and drapes. Then in 1939 a garage out of cement blocks that we made and in 1940 I bought 320 acers of land North of lingle Wyo. At last we were sitting on top of the world so I thought a nice home good business and about all a person could ask for . But then the war no 2 come so the government said to sell everything in the line of everything in the line of Iron as the needed it for guns and ect so I sold down everything but what was in the garage and went to Vancouver Wash

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and started to work as a welder in Kaiser ship yard. I stayed there till they froze the men at the ship yard, Then I come home and went to Sidney Nebr to worked as a carpenter. I thought it was to cold in the winter time so just before the gas ration I went to seatle to work in war work and stayed till aug 16 - 45 when the Jap surrendedred.

I return to torrington [Wyo] and try to salvage what I could as Jeanie and I had got a devorce. My Lawyer Jeanie was 5 6 tall wt 135 black hair and eyes.

My Lawyer told me it would be best for me to leave the state on account of Jenie so I sold what I had after giving Janie and Clarence dean the home place and paying support money till he was 12 years old.

So in Oct I started out to look for a new location and on Nov 5 I bought the stock of a gro store and filling stat from Chriss Rassmuson for 160000 and rented the Building from H L Barnes for 3500 a month at Pringle South Dak and on aug 22 - 46 I bought the building from H L Barnes for 3000.00 I also Bought a Building from Ms Parthena Hendricks on Nov 4 for 50000 which I used for a house

In May of 1947 I was apointed superintendant of the Judges for elec a job I helt untill the fall of 1952.

I was elected by the people as one of the town council on April 26 - 1948

I was apointed Justice of Peace Mar 1st 1949.

In 1950 I was one of the main wittness to try and keep the C.B.Q [sp?] Passenger train

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In the Fall of 1950 I met Viola M. Sanders and we were married Dec - 1950 Viola and I run the store untill oct 1952 and we decided to go to billing [Billings, Montana] for a week rest and while we were there the switch on the deep freeze shorted and caught fire to the building. We hurried home as soon as we found out about it and after see ing the damage the fire had done we were so disciorg that we decited to have a auction sale get rid of the hold mess

I dont know what we would have done if it had not of been for her sister and Bro in law but as I was complete wreck.

I had a wonderful time with Viola in the black Hills. We took in a lot of rodeos went on picnics took trips to see our Friends and visit our relations and our relation come to see us.

[End of Handwritten pages]

[The following was included in the same packet of material as the above. It was a photocopy of a three page typewritten record of a trip to Victoria, B.C. The copy was smeared and illegible at times. An old manual elite typewriter seemed to have been used. As there were periods and capitalization, it is assumed that someone had transcribed from a handwritten account. There were definite signs of editorial work with the materials ]


My Trip To Victor ia B C

It was a wonderful day for travel the sun was warm and just a little breeze. I left home about 7am & cought the Princess Alice boat, it seems like all the canadian boats are princeses. The boat only hauled passengers. It was sure loaded. You have to get your tickets a week a head of time, Finally we left here at 8 am as it took so long to load as the had to check you to see that you could come back. The first thing of interest was a rockey spur with a light house & 2 other buildings on it, then a tank farm where two battle ships were loading with oil. Next after we had gone a little ways we saw a air plain

carrier it follow for a while then it seem to dissipear. I don't know it went, After that I saw a sight I always wanted to see it was seaplain that landed close to us then took off from the water it seem glide along the water then as quick as you could bat your eye it was in the air it went towards canada. Then I went to the coffee room and had a I0¢cup of coffee and I0¢cheese sandwitch,meat is scarce jest, meatloaf, vegatable, cheese & egg sandwitchs some pie. Breakfast is $I,00 Dinner $I,25 & not much to eat, They must have been 50 people line up to eat when we come home

I went out and took a walk thru the ship in the lounge room some people were playing cards some dice, others reading, the rest were walking around. The state rooms were towards the front of the ship on the out side,In the center was barber shop bath rooms & entrance to engine room , All thru the boat were boxes of life belts These boxes were about 4-8 ft People set on these & camp stools when out by the rails, At each end of the boat were places for cannons, The one comeing back had the cannonson it. On the boat there is several different flags those are signal flags. Now we will go bac side where I saw a air plane flying over 3 battle ships it would drop a target & these battle ships would shoot at it. Seagulls followed us all the time & when they drop garbage they make a dive for it The country is hillie covered with trees & some bare spots, you can see lots of solders station along the water front


also lots of oil storage tanks

There was not much seaveg vegetation flooting around all I saw was a long slim like branch with a ball for a root like this O----

The propeller throwed big waves & erery now and you could see a rainbow Now we will start pulling in to victoria there is a small battle ship about I mile from the coast & the coast guard ships are blue and whit The shores are r ockey & line with loading docks & so on, Now we all get in a hurry to get off you don't have to show any thing to get off jest push & be pushed. The first thing I saw was team of horses pulling a buggy or TALLY- HO asthey called it filled it with people. Those were sigh sight seeing busses and all you could get as gas is scarse there next was the flower basket hanging on the street lights,Now we head up town & there is a old street car loaded with people but not many people on the streets Everthing close up on Sunday even the stop lights were off no one in a hurry only us foreniers they are slow moveing people the wimon have a more of a broag to their talk then the men

Walked about _ mile before I could find any thing to eat stake dinner was 85¢ chicken dinner 75¢ & don't go in to eat if you are in a hurry it took I hour & _ BUT I wanted to eat in Canada. Then I started out to look the town over,THE town is 40000 with 20000 on the out skirts now due to the war it is 100000 ,very few souvinears

I got a ride on a TALLY-HO 1hr for $1,oo It holds 21 people & a little boy 13 years old was the conductor He explain the trip for us About the fir st thingwe saw was the Parliament building made from sandstone & granite taken from the island Turning up main street Isaw the empress hotell The union club the Belmont building it is their largest store , Don't cover quite a block There is 3 theatres on this a street one was showing caben in the sky, Allthe pictures were like we have at home,Now the big round white church, it was built round so as the defel could not catch you


saw some tires but theywould not let us have them

now to the resdential district where we saw the monkey trees the limbs were like a monkeys tail and mt baker it has snow on the year around & there was 18 miles of water between us & it, a stucco house with stucco put on like boards,now a long street with trees on each sideeof it with leaves on them that are a redish blus coloor it was come kind of plumb tree. Then a street line with chestnut tree then pass the old dunemuir castle which the city took for taxes and made the victoria college out of it has a high rock fence around it to keep the girls in and the boys out. There is a lot of rock buildin

there, agreat big school house & as I under stood it there was four parts to it one for the big girls one for the little girls & one ffor the big boys ,one for the little boys

Now down pass the Lieutenant Governor Official residence it covers about five acers and is the most beuitiful place I ever expect to see all kinds of flowers lilly pools with geese swiming around in them,Rock gardens all kinds of rocks The castle set back from the road,With a circular driveway,no street leading to the castle none of the castles have a street up to them The govner is a merchant who is elected every four years by the people & draws no pay His castle is kept up with taxes Inotice that thecastles all have steeples on them There was one big castle that had lots of chimneys on it.IT had a fire place in each room & no gas or electricity of any sort

Now to beacon hill park consisting of 155 acres of trees flowers drive ways football & bowling greens & a crictet court about the size of a tennis court it is a game something like hockie no one is allowed in this park after 10 p m,we went up by the bandstand it is the only place that you can see the sound as well as hear it I saw the royal swans ina artificial lake & some of the wild animals they had in a cage

Now to the thunder bind parkwhere they have the crystal gardens & The largest salt water swiming pool in canada The water is pump 1 mile from the ocean & heated to 70 degrees Now pass the token poles where there is a tree with a box on it about 2 ft by 2ft by 4 ft that is how the indians used to bury their dead . They have some big wooden fish & a boat about 25 ft long & 7 foot wide This boat has travel 42000 miles & been Around the worald once.

The maple leaf is the emblem of canada & the cops dress like They do in england They have 2chip yards in victoria.Every thing was cheaperthere then in the USA

I left there at 5 pm & I should of got a state room as a person is so tired & not much to see

Ill will call this trip 3 sweethearts for a day as I went up on the princess Alice come back on Princess charlotte and it was such a beautiful day

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project, Ken Nelson , T&C Miller

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