Was in the year of 1876 near Lewiston, Illinois and the month of April after a winter of cold and snow and sickness, so everyone who lived in Illinois at that time can well remember the cold and snows. Then the thaw in the spring and, how it got so muddy they could hardly get anywhere as I have so often heard. That month a man, Daniel Bolender and wife Mary Ellen, or Ella, as she was named, and their three children George Edward, age 7 yrs., Hubert Leru (Lereau), age 5 yrs., and Sarah Catherine, age 2 yrs., decided to load their belongings in a wagon and move to Kansas. The wife, Ella, had been sick with chills and fever for some time and they thought the change would do her good. Her parents and brothers were in Kansas near the little town of Corbin, not far from Caldwell.
So, they gathered their belongings together and put some bows and a wagon sheet on the wagon and loaded their belongings and family in and hitched their team to it and started on their long trek across the barren country for Kansas. How many families these days would think they could get along with so little and so many to keep? Mrs. Bolender's grandfather, Mr. Boardwine, went to Illinois in the pioneer days and I have heard he split rails in the winter. He would get up in the morning and go out and rub his feet with snow and put his boots on and work all day without any socks on. They also raised flax and wool and carded and spun and made their own clothes. I, the writer have a cushion top made out of homespun pieces.
This family had not been on the road very long, when on the 29th of April, 1876, they camped close to a farm house for the night and by the morning of the 30th of April another child was added to the family, as I, Lilly Isabella, was born. The farm lady attended my mother. Mother was still in the wagon and there is where I first seen the light of day. Was near Quincy, Illinois. How many women of today would have the nerve to start out on a long journey like that and in that condition? Not many I am afraid. My parents camped there three days and then resumed their journey Westward. They cooked their meals over a campfire. Anyone who has never eaten a meal cooked over a campfire can't have any idea how good it is. Biscuits cooked in a dutch oven are delicious. Just get a bed of coals and put your skillet on them and put the biscuits in and put the lid on and put coals on top and yum-yum, so good.
I am sorry I don't know how long it took them to get to Mrs. Bolender's parents, Tom and Sally Ogden. Mrs. Bolender was their oldest child and only girl. She had seven brothers, Pack, Ed, Jeff, Tom, Nate, Frank, and Bill. A brother or two was married and lived in Illinois. Nate, Frank and Bill were still at home. I, Belle Bolender, and the writer of this, was a very spoiled child by the time the family arrived in my grandparent's home. They said I slept all day and cried all night. I slept when the wagon was going and didn't want to stop. My grandfather raised lots of corn and hogs. He had a pen and a crib of corn near the Chicaski (y) River and the hogs could get to the water any time. That was about all he done, was take care of his hogs. He would take care of me (Belle) most of the time. My grandmother and mother were going to wash clothes one day and, of course, I done a good job of crying and my grandmother was going to give me a spanking. They said I was on a pallet on the floor and when she started to spank me, my grandfather stepped in the door and asked what they were doing to me, and she said, "If you don't want her spanked, stay here and take care of her." He was going to town but didn't go. Might have done me good if he had let them spank me a little. He would walk over to where my parents lived some days and I was always tickled to see him. Of course, he loved the rest too. He called me (dutch). I was rather fat then. My parents took up a claim across the Chicaski (y) River from them and not more than 4 or 5 miles North of Caldwell as well as I can remember. They built a frame house on it. I believe they hauled water for a while but finally got a well. The saying in Kansas then was, "You just as well haul water 2 miles as pull it out of a well 2 miles."
Finally, I started to school. I remember my first day. One wouldn't believe it now but those days I was really bashful. If anyone looked at me I would cry, but I managed some way to get along. I remember a boy and a girl that went to school and the teacher made them sit on her desk for punishment of something they had done and they just kicked and pounded that desk with their feet. They always had a runny nose if you know what I mean, and the older children called then "snot nose". It was always running down in their mouth and they would lick it off. Brrrrr.
My father bought some cattle and hogs. One sow had some little pigs and we had a pup running around and barking at the sow and made her mad and I was standing on a board of the pen and she jumped and grabbed me by the cheek and tore a three-cornered piece out of my jaw. The folks took me to a Dr. and had it sewed up, and I will carry the scar with me to my grave. I was probably around 5 years old. I had white swelling under one of my knees when about a year old and drew the cords in my leg and toes till I can never straighten my toes out as long as I live.
Just after I was five years old, my brother, Hubert, took sick with typhoid fever, if I remember right and when he was around 10 years old, he died. Was in May, 1881. He was a very sweet, tender-hearted child and we missed him so much. He is buried in the graveyard at Caldwell, Kansas. My older brother, Ed, was more daring. He would catch calves and put a yoke on them and hitch to old running gears of a wagon and drive them around or get some of us other children to ride them. He got me on one, one day and it started to run and run against a wire fence and I had on a brand new apron, and you can imagine what it did to my apron, and what my mother did to me. But, that wasn't as bad as when they put cuckle (cockle) burs all over my head. Wow!!! I was tender-headed and seemed like my mother never had any pity on me. I was very small then, and had lots of hair.
My oldest brother, Ed, was born the 10th of June 1869, and my brother, Hubert, in May 1871, and my sister, Sarah, or Sadie, as they always called her, was born February 10, 1874. I had another brother born April 27th, 1878, Robert Henry. We always called him Bob for short. I think was about the year 1883 when my parents sold the farm and moved to Caldwell. There was another family lived near us on the farm and their children and my sister and I thought a great deal of them. Mother used to carry water in a jar on top of her head for a mile or more. Don't think it can't be done, for it can be. They moved to town before my parents did. Their children and us children went to school together and thought a lot of each other, but our good times were soon ended as the parents of each family began drifting apart and ended in divorce for all. Two homes broken up by a third party. My older brother, Ed, began using tobacco before we left the farm. My father found where he had it hid, in the toolbox on the mowing machine, and whipped him severely, but he still used it as long as he lived. Did you ever hear of "gray backs" or "head lice"? Well, they were rather common when I was small. We had both but soon as my parents found out we had them, they went to work washing and ironing to get rid of body lice and combing and greasing our heads to get rid of head lice. We girls would sit by the hour while Mother patiently combed and combed with a fine-toothed comb. My sister didn't mind to have her hair combed so bad, but I was still tender-headed and still am. The tears would come and some times a few cries, or would sound like it to most people. Of course, we got all children's diseases. I had measles and scarlet fever at the same time after we moved to town.
After my parents got a divorce, my sister and I stayed with my father for about a year and went to school. These children we thought so much of would come and see us often. They took milk to different ones in town. They were living with their mother. One day one about my age was at our home where my father and us girls lived and I wanted to go and take her home on a work horse my father had. So, we got on and she got her buckets and we started out, but we never got very far on the horse, as he got scared when the buckets rattled and ran away, and scattered girls and buckets along the road. We never tried that any more. My oldest brother, Ed, was working out then, too, after we moved to town.
While we were still on the farm, my mother was sitting up sewing one night and one of our horses came up to the window and looked in and my mother went out and caught him. He was a 2-year-old colt and my father had him and his mother out on pasture down by Caldwell and came a terrible electric storm and had killed his mother and he had got out and came home.
Our house on the farm was a little more than a story high and we slept upstairs and Mother had cut out some small holes in the South side upstairs so we could get some fresh air at night, and my brother, Ed, was quite a hand to talk and walk in his sleep and one night all had gone to bed but Mother. She was downstairs and she heard something scrambling down the side of the house and she looked out the door in time to see something white go round the corner of the house and she went around there and there stood my brother, Ed, against the end of the house sound asleep. He had got through one of those small holes and down over the window in his sleep. No one ever tried to get out of there in the day time. I heard my mother tell about her father when he was a young man getting up and walking to see his girl, and he had to cross a creek and when he stepped in the water it woke him up. I am sure he was thankful he had to cross that creek. I don't suppose it would be so disgraceful this day and age, but then would have been terrible for someone to have seen him in his night clothes.
Another incident of my older brother, Ed, happened on the farm which might have been very serious. My father had an old muzzle-loading gun and had a load of buckshot in and couldn't shoot it out. My brother would use it to scare us children when our parents were gone by shooting it at us but, as luck was with us, it never went off. One day my mother was home, and he got the old gun out, and was going to shoot at my sister. We had a ladder to go upstairs on and she was going upstairs, and Mother said no, (she was afraid of any kind of a gun), and she said "shoot at the scraper out there in the yard." He said to her, "I'll shoot Charlie." That was a horse tied out to the clothes line post, (the same colt that came home when his mother was killed by lightning). And, he did shoot him and filled his side full of shot. He always put a cap on to shoot at anything. He is one person I seen scared bad enough his hair stood up straight on his head. He threw up his hands and said, "Mama I shot Charlie!" He was really scared. I suppose he realized what he could have done to his sister or to us children at other times when he would shoot at us.
My Uncle Nate rented a place to farm, not far from Wellington, and had a peach orchard on it, and my mother and her mother took a team and wagon and Mother took my sister and youngest brother (Bob) and I and we all started to Wellington one morning to put up peaches. They got off the road and we spent the night on the race track near Wellington. They took turns about watching the horses so they didn't get away. We went on next morn and gathered peaches and dried a lot and canned some. In those days they used mostly stone jars and lids and sealed them with sealing wax. Things weren't so handy to can then as they are now. Those dried peaches were delicious when cooked. We would spread a sheet up on the roof; was a shed kitchen, and put the peaches on after they were halved and seeds taken out, and put the inside up to the sun. All the peach flavor was right there in the peach.
The Chicaski(y) River had a nice white sand bed when running low and my mother and grandmother would take their quilts down and we children would tromp them down in the sand and they would come out clean and nice and we would have lots of fun. The water would be so warm and nice. We never learned to swim.
My sister and I stayed with my father one winter and went to school. The next spring, I think it was, my mother went out to Western Kansas where her brother and my Uncle Nate Ogden had taken up a farm or filed on some land seems like was near a town by the name of Kinsley, Kansas. We were there for some time. Finally, the third party in the divorce case came out there and later became my stepfather. Oh yes, my father let us girls go with our mother. My older brother, Ed, went with us to Kinsley and helped care for us and helped my Uncle some. My Uncle hadn't gotten married yet. My grandmother gave my sister and I a nice heifer calf apiece before we left the farm and we led them out to my Uncle's behind the wagon. My sister's calf died when she was a cow.
We left my Uncle's and pulled out for Colorado. had two wagons, one trailed behind the other; and four mules, one team ahead of the other. One person rode the off-wheel mule and drove the leader team. Any of us children were glad to get the chance to ride the wheel mule and drive the others. Of course, they didn't need much driving. We led the one cow which I claimed. We drove into a "lagoon" as we call them now, one evening late. My stepfather thought would be best to drive on the side instead of in the old tracks and well you guessed it, down went the mules in the mud and the lead wagon front wheels went down to the axle. They finally got the mules out and unloaded the lead wagon and hitched a team on and pulled them out backward. There we spent the night. Was by the side of a corn field and they were raking and burning stalks so made us a good light to work by for awhile. That was in April 1886.
My oldest brother, Ed, and my stepfather never got along too good, so my brother left us and went back to Caldwell where my father was. We never seen either of them again for a good many years. We traveled on till we came to Dodge City, Kansas. There, the cow I called mine had a nice heifer calf, so we had to stay there a few days and there that day, the 30th day of April, 1886, I was ten years old. It was there we seen our first buffalo. My stepfather bought a nice ham and my mother cooked it over a campfire that night, and as bad as we wanted some of it, we never got it that night as it never got done before bedtime. So, Mother fixed it away so we could have it to lunch on later, but we never got to taste it. Some dog got into it that night and our ham was gone next morn. Some very disappointed kids. We left Dodge City and started on West in a few days. We had a platform fixed on the back of the trail wagon where we hauled feed and our "grub box" so we put the calf on it and one of us girls had to sit on that all day and hold the calf. We put the "grub box" in the wagon. Was some tiresome job, but we did that till we got to Granada, Colorado. I gave the calf to my sister, as I promised her I would. When she became a cow, she sucked herself, and we took what was then a "ten lb. lard pail" (lard was put up in them.) and put holes in the bottom and a rope on and put the pail over her nose and tied it on her head with the rope. Was free range in Colorado then and sometimes we would forget and leave the bucket on her and she would wear it all day.
Well, when we got to Granada, Colorado, my stepfather got a job of hauling South to the new towns down there. They were Vilas, Stonington, Minneapolis, Springfield and others. He put up some sheds and fed the freighter's teams and them, too, later. We got a tent and set the boxes off of the running gears of the wagons, and we lived in them for a while. It was in the tent my half-sister was born on June 2, 1886. She was a very sweet baby. My mother was alone and took care of the baby and herself. She called me, but I never got awake enough to go to her. I heard her though next morn when us three children got up. (We slept in the wagon boxes and mother was in the tent. My stepfather had gone with a load of lumber to the South.). We went in the tent and heard something making a kind of a noise and mother said, "You don't know what I have here," and put the covers down and there was our half-sister. They named her Granada Colorado. She was the first baby in that town. A man by the name of Barney Gow run a grocery story and he had a wife he got by corresponding with from Scotland. She came out there and they were married and the baby born there was their girl, Jean Gow. There wasn't much there then; a lumber yard, blacksmith shop, restaurant, saloon, and store. When the cowboys got their pay, they would come in town, and gamble and drink, and sometimes someone would get shot before they left town. Or, they would go out shooting and hollering as they went. Sometimes one who had been shot to death, was brought in by a hack and team.
That fall was when we moved in the upstairs of the lumberyard, and where Mother cooked for the freighters they were called. My brother, Bob, and us two girls tended the stables where they put their teams up; tied and watered them, and kept the stalls clean. My mother was a good cook and they all seemed to enjoy the food, and the folks were doing real well. The meals were 25 cents each and all they could eat, but our income soon stopped. On Christmas day, my mother took sick, and Dr. said was "mountain fever" so the baby had to be weaned and Mother cared for too and my sister and I done the most of it for a while. They finally got the fever broke on my mother and she got "erysipelas" in her face and my stepfather and I kept raw potato poultice on her face. He would scrape them and put on a cloth and I would take them and put on Mother's face and the ones I took off would be black. We finally got it checked and then she got inflammatory rheumatism and had to turn her with a sheet and had to keep her feet in a box on a pillow as she couldn't bear the covers to touch her. My sister done most of the cooking and my brother cared for the sheds with the help of a man my stepfather hired. I took care of my half-sister at night mostly as my sister was hard to wake up and she wouldn't hear the baby cry. We fed her at night when she got hungry, not as they feed babies now, but was mostly bread and tea and her milk, and soon as she could eat we fed her potatoes and gravy. They would be sure a child would die on such food these days, but they were healthier than they are these days, or seemed to be anyway. This man my stepfather hired to help care for the teams and sheds was rather lazy, I guess one would call it. He was laying in a manger asleep one day and my sister and I ran in and begin to rattle the harness, "They had chain tugs" and yelling, ''Fire, fire!!" and he jumped up and bumped his head on the feed box. He was pretty mad, but don't think we caught him asleep any more.
While we were still living in the tent in the summer this Mrs. Gow had baked light bread and had gone to the store, and left her door open, and our cow walked in the door, and the bread was on the table, and she ate part of it and part of a sack of flour she had sitting there. We kept her staked out but she got loose that day. There were lots of round cactus on the prairie there, and was all prairie, and we two girls got cans and put holes in the bottoms and dirt in them and got a cactus and put in each can and set them along the North side of the tent and there came a hard wind storm one night and looked like rain, and blew some of the tent stakes up and my stepfather went out to fix the tent and yes, you guessed it, he got into the cactus with his fingers and our cans, cactus, and ail were out on the prairie next morn. We didn't need them anyway as we got where there were plenty later. The summer my half-sister was born my parents went down South of Granada and North of Minneapolis to stake out a claim. They would find a corner and then run the lines out with team and wagon. They would tie a rag on the spoke of the hind wheel and we children would count the times it turned over and so many times was a mile. They run one place out and put up a tent and my stepfather and brother, Bob, went to Minneapolis after some water and it was a hot day and the wind got up and blew the tent down and we nearly famished for water before the folks got back. They left there and went South of Horse Creek and on to Bear Creek and there staked out some claims and there is where we really seen some hard times. The next spring, 1887, we loaded our few goods on the wagons and moved down on that place. My stepfather got a homestead and tree claim and Mother a ??? and a tree claim. Bear Creek run through the homestead and had springs under the cliffs in most places. They were only a couple miles from what is now Walsh, Colorado. No Walsh there then. It settled up around there pretty fast, lots of settlers came in; some with ox teams and some mules and horse teams. There was a fine spring of water under a cliff close to our house and a lot of the newcomers hauled water from there. One family that had oxen would drive down there a couple times a week and fill 4 or 5 barrels with water. It would take her most of the day as they had to dip it up with a quart can. No better water ever came from under the ground. Some single men took up places and had no teams so they fixed 10 and 20 gal. kegs with hooks at each end and tied ropes on them and would fill then with water and pull them home.
There was lots of rock an our place so we hauled rock and put up a barn and covered it with foot boards on top. We laid the stone with mud. We had just got the boards on and two or three cracks stripped when one of the hardest hail storms I ever seen hit and we had plenty of water inside and out. They were just chunks of ice. We lived in that barn for a year and then put two rooms on to one end of the barn and lived there for awhile. We carried water up from under the hill for several years, till finally my stepfather had a well drilled up on the hill. What a relief to us children not to have to pack water up that hill.
They finally organized a school district and had 6 mo. school. Was about 1888. An old lady filed on a claim right by her son-in-law and they had built her a sod house and covered it with cottonwood poles and brush and sod over it and she let them have school there that winter. An old lady taught school. We had cottonwood chunks sawed off for seats and boot boxes for desks. The room had one half window in it. The son-in-law "John Adams" had a half dugout with the walls of sod and covered the same way and when he would run out of smoking tobacco he would pull off some of the leaves and smoke them in his pipe. There were plenty of range cattle around and most of the people had beef to use in the winter time. Any stormy, cold morning you might get up and see a whole herd of range cattle in your field. I remember one cold morning when my sister and I got on the horses, was a mule and a horse and run them off of our place and drove them down East and must have had 150 head by the time we got to the "five mile water hole" which was about 2 miles from home. We wasn't too warmly clad and was nearly froze. We stopped at Mr. Adams' place and got warm.
The people who took up the tree claims were to plow and tend 10 acres to hold them. My parents broke out the ten acres on each and one year my sister and I put it in cane. We used an ax and sometimes a spade and what they called a "job planter." It was a planter that had two handles and you would pull them apart, and jab it in the sod and close it and that would let the seed out. We had a fine lot of feed that fall and we cut it up by hand and with a sled and it was right by the school house I have spoke about and at noon we would go out and load our wagon while the rest played and haul it home at night and unload it. There was a canyon run back from the creek on my stepfather's place and we fixed it up for a corral and that winter an old man wanted to corral some wild horses in there and he would buy all our cane at 25 cents per shock. So, our stepfather let him have it and he fed his horses till spring and drove off and we never got a penny for our feed. While hauling out cane sometimes we had to use a balky mare and had Bear Creek to cross and was sandy and wide though usually dry and one of the neighbor boys would get in front of them and fan his hat at them and she would stop and then we couldn't get her to go for some time. One day my sister, Sadie, caught him and beat him and he never done that any more.
Finally, the town of Minneapolis died out and farmers begin to buy some houses and move them out on their farms. My stepfather bought two, one 2-room dwelling and a store building, and moved them on his place. It was a common sight to see a house going over the prairie on wheels that someone was moving to the farm. They used 4 wagons and poles on the wagons and others under the house and swing them up to the ones on the wagons and hitch 4 horses or mules to the front wagon on each side and off they would go, just that easy.
They finally got one for a school house and moved it a mile East and half a mile North of where the sod house was. They still only had 6 mo. school and we children never got more than 4 of that. We raised one good wheat crop there. It made 40 bushel per acre. That was the only one we raised in the 9 years we lived there. My stepfather got some special kind of wheat and drilled it near the house and when ripe we children cut it with the sheep shears and scissors and thrashed it out. We finally got a pig and no place to put it so kept it staked out. We had a low-wheeled wagon and we tied the four head of mules to it at night and fed them. It was on top of a cliff. One morning we got up and no sign of mules or wagon and we went to the cliff and there was the wagon turned upside down and all the mules had broken loose and gone. Some broke their halters and some their ropes. The bluff was 20 or 25 ft. high.
We took 6 or 8 head of cattle down there with us and was free range and sometimes we had to walk ten or twelve miles barefoot after cattle and come in late at night and pick cactus out of our feet for an hour or more (the cactus was like the round cactus we put in the cans) and our feet would smart so bad we could hardly sleep. My stepfather bought a large team of oxen; would probably weigh 1800 lbs. apiece and guided by rope and Gee and Haw. I used them to break sod with quite a lot. My sister couldn't handle a walking plow, so she didn't have to do that. The folks had a big span of mules, about 16 1/2 hands I think, and we used walking tools and when going from the house, along about 11 a.m. one mule would lag behind and when we turned and started back he would go as fast as he could walk and when he got to the end toward the house he would bray and slow down again going back. He could tell when it was time to go to dinner.
I must tell you about one man that took up a place down there. He was a young man then and he went barefoot and the bottoms of his feet were callused till the cactus never bothered him. I seen him many years later and he said he walked to the top of Pikes Peak barefooted. He said you couldn't stick a darning needle in the bottom of his feet. His name was Charlie Frye.
One day a couple of our neighbor boys were going to S. School with my sister, Sadie, and brother, Bob, and I. They were Clyde and Archie McCoy, and they had some traps set not far from the school house and had caught a skunk and when they tried to kill it they got their perfume on them and had to go back home. Another time as we were going to Sunday School, one of the boys lit a match and flipped it out and set the grass on fire and we all fought as hard as we could to put it out, but finally got it out as folks were coming to Sunday School. It run up against a field that had been plowed a year or so before. There was a bachelor lived close to the schoolhouse, also the Church house, so it answered the purpose for both and when he came home from work one evening there was a big rattlesnake curled up on the bed. They were thick around there. We would see lots of them while hunting cows and we were barefooted too. My sister and I wore a pair of boots apiece one winter. We had feed piled on top of the bluff and would haul it to the bluff and throw over to the cattle and sometimes we would catch the spokes with our hands and put our feet on the axle and hold on and turn over as the wheel turned over quite dangerous. I was down there around 1946 and they had put a dam across that canon, or cow corral, and was full of water.
When it got so they couldn't raise much there, we sowed a patch of Johnson grass. (It would grow most any place) and when it got ripe we children had to strip the seed off with our thumb and finger; really had some sore fingers. One morning my sister and I seen a young coyote by the field and we went up there and my sister caught him with her apron. One evening my brother and I were going to one of our neighbors and about half a mile from home a wolf begin to howl. It was rather scary which you know if you ever heard one. We never seen it but folks said that was what it was. We went on anyway. There is one thing I think I forgot to mention as we moved from Granada to Baca County. The first night out we camped on Butte Creek and slept in an old shack (a sheep camp I suppose) and in the night we heard the panthers yelling and next morning when us children went out to hunt our mules we found a cow down and they had eat her flank and side out, but she was still alive. That isn't a very pleasant sound to hear either when about 10 years old and out in the open at night. There were no doors or windows in the shack as all had been busted out. That was about the spring of 1887. About the year 1888 or 89 in March my half-brother was born. They named him Edward Nathaniel Enlow. He was a very sweet child and we loved him and my half-sister both. One fall after that, we three children, Sadie, Bob, and I broke a couple calves to drive. We used harness and collars and bridles on them. We had a low-wheeled wagon. Had been an ordinary wagon with the wheels cut down low. One of us would hold them while the other two hitched them up and one would get in the wagon and get hold of the lines and we would turn them loose and they would start out on a run and we would catch the back end and pile in. We had 3 miles to go by team and they would trot most of the way to the school house; the same way coming home. We used them to harrow with, but sometimes they would stop, and one would lay down and we couldn't get them up. We would turn them loose and they got up when they got ready, and come home. We broke quite a lot of sod and my stepfather fixed a planter out of a wash pan. He nailed a board over the pan and put so many holes in the board and put a rod through the center and every 3 rounds he hooked it on his plow and planted. Was a walking sod plow. If he wasn't using it, my brother or I one would. Then we harrowed the ground with these oxen.
We built a milk house under the bluff in the cow lot and kept our milk there in creeks. The cold spring water would run through it. Every morning my sister or I would go down and stand in the cold water and skim the milk. Not a very wise thing for us to do. That was in the summer time.
We had snow storms then and blizzards. My stepfather and another man, John Miller, who had taken up a homestead a couple miles from us, went up by Lamar and worked on the Otero ditch in the winter and left the families down there alone. I remember one storm; it snowed and drifted bad. Drifts all the way from 6 in. to two feet deep over the prairies everywhere. My mother was worried for fear Mrs. Miller would be out of food so my sister and I took some food and went over there. We were all day going over and back and were very tired when we got home. Another time I went to stay all night with her and she had to grind corn in the coffee mill to have bread for breakfast. She had three small boys. The oldest was around 6 or 7 years old. There was an old bachelor lived about half a mile South of her, who every one called Dad Slider, and she got a range steer shut up in her shed and sent for him to come and kill it for her, and he sent her word to turn it loose and he would get her some meat and bring her and next day he did. The range cattle would break the fences down and get into the little feed the poor farmers had and a lot of them (the farmers) had plenty of meat to eat. Was pretty costly, too. The cattle were mostly from the J. J. Ranch up on the Picket Wire River, South of La Junta. There were other brands in there too. One spring around 1889 I think, a calf strayed into our bunch of cattle and when we went after them she was there and so thin and poor, she could hardly walk. My sister and I would help her up and she would make a lunge at us and fall down and we would help her up again and about the same thing. We took some feed out to her and she finally got so she could get up by herself and eat grass. She was with our cows till she was two years old and the cowboys came on the roundup that fall and drove her off. She would have been fresh in a short time. They had a hard time getting her away. We heard she got so hot running that she died that night but didn't know if she did or not.
My stepfather hauled freight for some of the grocery stores in Vilas and Springfield and when gone we had all the chores and farm work to do. We had to hunt for fuel. We would cut all the dead limbs out of the trees, that is us three children, and where we could get the team and wagon would go out on the prairie and pick up (cow chips). That is what a lot of people used for fuel. Sometimes some would go to the cedars West of us and get a load of cedar wood, which was a treat. Burned out fast, but was fine while it lasted.
Did you ever ride an old burro? We had no pony to ride for some time after we went to Baca County; so a neighbor by the name of Hanneberg, (Germans) let us have an old burro to ride or to try to ride. We would get on her, and start after the cows, and she would just poke along, and maybe stop and stand there no matter how you tried to get her along so no matter which one was on her, they would get off and go on afoot and barefooted. Once when I was going after the cows, the dog was with me, and he run on ahead of me. The flat was covered with sagebrush on the South side of the creek, and a bluff on the North, and he ran up to the creek bank on theSouth side and here came a herd of range cattle after the dog and he came to me and they kept coming and I took my old bonnet off and started waving it at them and running toward them and they turned and ran clear up over on top of the bluff on the North. There were ditches down through the bluff that they could go up through and had paths through them in places. There was water in the creek there and they came down to drink. The cattle usually came to the water holes around noon and would lay around till maybe two or three O'clock and to back out on the flats to eat. Especially if it was warm weather. There is an instance, I forgot to put in, which happened while we lived in Granada, Colorado. My stepfather cut the hay on the railroad right-of-way, which was East of the Arkansas River where he cut it. As he was coming home one eve he had this big span of mules I have spoke about hitched to a mowing machine. At that time, the bridge over the Arkansas River was a railroad, wagon, and foot bridge all connected together. The railroad bridge was in the middle and the wagon bridge part was connected on the North. He didn't see the freight train coming till he got part way across and here it came. The mule on the left would see the train and crowd the other and he would look down and see the water and crowd him back and the one was hit by a wide box car or two and all came out all right. Rather a dangerous place to be. That was in 1886. My brother and I went with my stepfather to haul some hay and my brother was on the railroad track when we seen an engine and caboose coming, (pay trains they called them), and he started down the track on a run and I think my heart stood still when he disappeared from sight in front of the engine, as we were sure he had got run over, but after it was gone, there he was on the railroad fence on the other side. Was we relieved to see him. Mr. Enlow asked him why he didn't jump off, and he said he was afraid of snakes.
(Right here I will say my stepfather, M. A. Enlow, was a soldier of 1861 war. He was born in the South but fought with the North. He drew a pension in later years before his death as he was almost blind. He died at La Junta, Colorado, and was buried there. I don't know the exact date, but in the l930's somewhere I believe.)
About all the recreation we had was a dance or a party at some neighbors house once in a while. There was one neighbor who furnished the music, and my stepfather or I would call for them. Other times we young folks would have just a play party and just play games. Then sometimes there would be a taffy pull and all would have a hand in pulling "taffy" and getting taffy on each other. We would usually have 2 kettles on cooking and two couples would stir. Lots of fun, but different then fun they have these days. The taffy was put in plates and usually each couple had a plate and pulled taffy together. Once and awhile some girl would get some in her hair. Sure an accident "on purpose". Ha!!
About every two weeks at school we would have spelling downs or ciphering or both and then maybe recitations another Friday. Sometimes other schools would come in and join with us or we would go to some other school once in a while. Everyone in the school had a hard time getting along. I remember one family, which had several children in school, that used flour sacks for dresses, and most of us used flour sacks for underwear. One person used more clothes then than three, or four do now and ours were made of heavier goods. Our schools were only six month terms. Once in a while there would be a summer school, but we children never got to go near a full term either winter or summer. The summer term was for three months. I remember Ida Brewer teaching winter and summer a term or two and her brother, Owen Brewer taught one summer term. He took part of our spelling from the dictionary and some were very catchy. They had a sister, , and all three had been left cripples from infantile paralysis when they were young. None were married then and all were schoolteachers and very good ones.
There was a young man by the name of David Bowers who tried to teach us young folks music, but could do no good as the boys were not interested and didn't try to learn so he gave it up. He was a very nice man and was sincere in trying to teach. He done his part if we had done ours.
Another one of our teachers was a Johnny Johnson who lived in Kansas or near there and his girl, Gertrude, came to our school with him. That was the first time I heard or seen what they called the "Intellectual Arithmetic" and they were good ones. Another teacher was Lucius McAdams, and he drove a span of mules to school and his son came with him. He was a nervous man. His son, Marion, is still living at Springfield, Colorado or was in 1955.
There was a family lived there by the name of Ashcraft. Were three brothers; Billy, a bachelor and James Henry, who was married and had four children at that time. That was 1892 and Marion wire was a bachelor too. Marion went with my sister and they finally got married on Feb 10, 1892. They were married at Vilas, Colorado. She was 18 that day. He had a homestead and they moved on his place. That left my brother, Bob, and I and my sister, half-sister and half-brother at home. My brother-in-law had a frame house, just the outside shell. That was the way most frame houses were, but some had stone or sod or dugouts for houses. My brother and I never got to go to my sister's wedding as our folks didn't want us to.
In 1893, February 7, my sister's first child, a boy was born. Everett, by name. Then on June 2nd, 1894, another son was born to my sister and husband. Named him Reuben. That 4th of July my stepfather let my brother and I take a mule we drove with a hack. So we took the hack and go to a picnic they were having over near Vilas, but he told us not to go to the dance at Vilas that night for we had no feed for the mule, but our young friends wanted us to go and they would get feed for her, so we disobeyed orders and went. We got home next morn about sun-up and met a very angry stepfather. We knew we done wrong, but didn't think he would be so angry, but he was so mad he told me I had to take a whipping or leave home, so I told him he had never gave me a whipping and I was too old to take one from him then. (I was 18.) So, I picked up my few clothes and put them in a sack and was ready to leave when my brother, Bob, said to him "If Belle can't stay, I am not, for I am going with her." So, we took our few things on our backs and went to my sister's, and that fall we both got work over in Kansas for a family by the name of Heck. He (Bob) helped in broom corn and I helped her with house work. They had a little girl, Gracie, and a baby boy, Earl. I got one dollar and fifty cents a week and I don't remember what my brother got, but wasn't much. There were several working in the broom corn. She was a pretty good organist, and of evenings they would gather in the house and have my brother and I sing songs and her play the organ. "Fair Charlotte" and "Last Fierce Charge", and other old-time songs, which we knew. They never seemed to tire of us singing for them. That fall we stayed at my sister's and went to school. Had about three miles to go. A Mr. Kankel taught that winter. The young folks would gather at my sister's of evenings and the teacher too, and we would all sing songs. My brother-in-law had two nephews and two nieces that were about grown. The boys were grown and one girl. So all would get together at every chance. We all went to Sunday School. There was one young man came to S. S. and drove a cow and steer hitched to a wagon. He would stake them out during S. S. and church and let them eat. A German bachelor lived close to my folks and helped seed broom corn one time, and while the men eat supper, I went and done the chores and when I came to the house he said to my mother, "Mrs. Enlow, I give you all I got for Belle." She didn't trade. It was hard work seeding broom corn those days. They made a roller out of 2x4's, each one filled with spike nails and a rod run through it, and had a horse power to attach it to, and the power turned the roller and some one stood and held the broom corn brush over the roller and it knocked the seed off and they had a bailer and when it got full they put a beam on top and pulled the brush down with levers and tied it. I think some bales would weigh four and five hundred lbs. Some rollers had a crank on them to turn by hand. That is really hard work. We children thought so as we had to seed with one, one time.
My brother-in-law had a trail hound and she was always hungry. One Sunday my sister had fixed dinner for company and had chicken cooked and had her dinner about ready. When she left for S. S. and Church, and when she got home this hound had tore a board off the window where the pane of glass was broke out and got in the house and eat her chicken all up. In those days, was hard to get much to cook and then have it eat up by a hound. One day, a man came through there in a covered wagon and had different kinds of thing in his wagon. He had guineas and those fighting chickens, I can't recall the name now, but men used to bet on which rooster could whip the other, so he seen this dog and stopped and asked my sister what he would take for her. My sister's husband wasn't at home and she told him and he took her. I don't just remember, but think it was two and a half dollars. Anyway, her husband didn't like it very well. They called the dog Music and he said to his wife, "My, my, Sadie, I wouldn't take five dollars for her." He stuttered pretty bad, but she was already gone.
My sister and husband had dug a cellar and it came a terrible blizzard in April 1895 and lasted 5 days; blew and drifted terrible. Lots of cattle drifted off to the Cimmaron River and bunches of range cattle drifted over creek banks where they were high and died by the dozens. They went through fences and just any place to go with the storm. My sister and children, and I went to the cellar as the house drifted full of snow or nearly so. Her husband and his brother Billy were over in the edge of Kansas digging a well for a Mr. Pratt and there were three children froze to death. One was a crippled boy and was on a crutch; was on the saddle and he couldn't walk without it and they found him after the storm. He went out to get the cattle. Cattle run loose on the range then. The other two; a boy and a girl, small ones, and they found them after the storm both froze to death. They were laying in the middle of the road with his arm around his sister and the horse standing at their heads. They said it looked like the mare had tried to get them up, as there was a dent on the little girl's cheek like she might have kindly bit her. A lot of people hunted for days for their cattle and some never found all of theirs. My parents found theirs down on Cimmaron River far from home.
I broke a mare to ride that belonged to Billy Ashcraft. She was a two-year-old and I went on her to chase some range cattle out of the field, and she was very awkward, and there was a male in the herd and he didn't drive but just stood his ground and I had a rope and I begin to swing my rope and kept going at him, and he finally turned and beat it for the herd. I couldn't have got out of his road if he hadn't gone. This mare couldn't run, she wasn't bridle-wise, and I was bareback and sideways too. We girls always rode that way. I got a saddle horse from this same man to ride to Minneapolis one day for some groceries and I had to go along the side of the creek; was Bear Creek and the road had been cut out and was a bank about a foot higher then the main road, and as I went around the bend in the creek some ducks flew up and the horse jumped up on the bank and I landed in the road. I went off backward and about broke my neck. I finally got so I could get up on him again and went on to town but was sick all day. Another time I was riding the same horse and trying to head off some horses to get them out of the field and he stopped and begin to buck and the saddle turned and I went off and the saddle turned under him. I went off forward that time. A neighbor boy just came over the rise as I went off and he called and said, "Stay with him, Belle," but I was off already. This same boy and I went to a dance on horseback one night about 15 miles from where we lived. Was really cold. He frosted his ear going to my home that morning as was about morning when we got to my sisters'. We had a good time though. We went to school together. Also, Pete and Willie and Inda and Ada Ashcraft go to the same school. The Haley and Spicer children went to the same school too; also McCoy boys. There were others too. In the spring of 1895 there were three of us passed the 8th grade; two Spicer boys, Fred and Ernest, and myself. The two boys took the exams for teaching, and passed and taught the next fall. I didn't go and take mine, though the teacher begged me too. He said he knew I would pass, but I had no money or clothing to go to the exams. They were held at Springfield, so that ended my schooling.
In June of 1895 my sister and husband, two children, his brother, nephew, my brother, and I and John Butler, a11 left Baca County and went to the Arkansas River to try and find work. Mr. Butler had been a neighbor to my folks and we had all known him for a long time. He lost his wife a year or more before and had one child; a baby girl which he left with a friend to care for, and he had went to Texas that winter and worked in the coal mines at Bridgcport. A friend of his, George Staut, went with him. They drove through, so he went with the rest to the river, to find work. He had a large span of mules, and wagon, and my brother-in-law had a span of mares and a wagon and one was balky. She didn't like to pull too good. There were nine of us and our belongings in the two wagons, beside horse feed and our grub too. We went to Lamar, but no work, so kept on going West and got to Colorado Springs and camped in Manitou a couple nights and then went on. There was no graded roads and was all open country. They always turned the teams loose at noon and night. Sometimes they would hobble one at night, but they were usually near the wagons in the morn. We had feed boxes with hooks on and would put their feed in them and hang them on the wagon wheel and when they heard them fixing the feed boxes, they would all come for the wagon and their feed. It didn't cost very much to travel those days. Grain for the teams and meat, potatoes and bread was the main food for us. We would make a kettle of potato soup and fry some meat and bake bread in a dutch oven and did all taste good; yum, yum. Just try it once. Ha!! They usually put a small bell on one of the horses or mules and one could hear it for a long distance. (That is the way my stepfather did his.) He done a lot of freighting before we knew him. He went from Caldwell, Kansas, down in the Indian Territory with goods for the general stores down there. (Chickasha was one town he hauled freight to and other places down in there.) --Food for Indians.
We went on to Divide and Cripple Creek and on to Gunnison. The roads were just trails, and the road across the Monarch Pass wasn't a very good trail. A place once in a awhile where two wagons could pass. We seen where several vehicles had went off the road and smashed up down the side of the Mts. We all had a snowball fight while on top of the pass and most of us wrote our names in the book that was in a box on top of the pass. The balky mare would pull just so far and then stop and someone had to run along behind and chuck the wheel with a stone when she stopped or the wagon could have run off the road. Most of us walked up the worse places. We went over the Black Mesa to Hotchkiss. We camped for dinner one day and that night we camped on top of the Black Mesa and could look down and see where we eat dinner. That was July 4th, 1895. All the men got work at Hotchkiss, working in hay. Was lots of fruit there and fish in the river. I believe is the Gunnison River. The top of the Black Mesa was beautiful, so green and nice. Mr. Butler thought he seen a deer and shot at it, but it was only a dead tree stump. All had quite a laugh about that.
The morning of July 13, 1895, my sister, her husband and two children, and Mr. Butler, and I went by wagon and team to Delta, Colorado, where we were married that eve. by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Joseph Laney Lower. It took us most all day to make the drive. We camped out that night and drove back to Hotchkiss next day. So started a new pattern in our lives. In a few days we went back to Gunnison, all of us, and my husband got a job with an odd fellow; a Mr. Vader, and the rest got a job with a widow woman and her daughter up the Gunnison River a short way from Gunnison, putting up hay. I got a job helping with housework where my husband got work. They had five or six children and milked twenty-five to thirty cows and separated the milk and churned and molded and wrapped butter and sold it at Gunnison. They had a ten gallon barrel fixed into a churn with a crank on and we had to turn by hand till the butter was there. Was about two cranks there before we got butter sometimes. Mr. Vader had a hay ranch too, about nine miles West of Gunnison on the Tomichi Creek along with his cattle ranch. He was haying and usually had two to four or five to cook for when they were haying. My husband got thirty dollars a mo., and I got ten dollars a mo. They usually sold around ninety lbs. of butter a week and wrapped in paper each lb. to itself. We usually got to bed around ten P.M. and up at four A.M.
Mr. Vader had a horse that all were afraid to ride, only one man that worked for him. So it happened one morning my husband had to ride him to work and he liked him so well he traded for him. Gave Mr. Vader a gun for him. It wasn't long till I rode him to Gunnison and met a string of pack burros going to the hills and a miner with them. He was going prospecting and the horse shied from them, and I thought here is where I get dumped off, but didn't. He was all right as soon as they passed. I had a saddle that day but was riding sideways. I liked to ride him. After a mo. we left the Vader's and went up where the others were and spent a while up there working. I often went with the girl there to hunt her cattle and she would have to cross the Gunnison River sometimes. I rode this outlaw horse, they called him, and bareback and sideways and she had a good horse and saddle and the rocks in the Gunnison River are round, small, and not so small boulders, and some horses could hardly stand up on them, but he was surefooted, and never fell down and I never fell off. The girl said she couldn't ride over them that way. She was some older than I and had been raised there. Not bragging, I was a fairly good rider. When they got done there, we all started to Baca County and home. We camped on a creek several days and the men went on a deer hunt and got a deer and we jerked the meat. Maybe you never heard of that. They cut the meat in strips and fix a bed of coals and put a grate over the top of the hot bed up four or five inches above and lay your meat strips on it and let them heat from underneath and turn them over from time to time. It is like dried meat. We didn't have any salt to put on ours, so was rather tasteless, but we would chew on it any way. Billy Ashcraft went out one morn. and killed a deer and brought in the front part, as he couldn't carry it all and hung the other in a tree, and when he went back to get the rest of it was no where to be found. At least he couldn't find where he had left it. I wanted to kill a deer or some kind of wild animal while there, but only got to shoot a sage hen. She was flying when I shot her. Finally, the haying was done and we all started to Baca County and to Springfield. We headed for Saguache, but on the way one of our horses got lame. (I forgot to say my husband traded his big span of mules to Mr. Vader for seven head of horses. There were a couple colts in the bunch.) Mr. Butler found a mule shoe on the road and he had some horseshoe nails and he put a shoe on the lame foot. A tire also busted in two on the road and the men took a cold chisel and punch and some rivets and put it together and put it back on the wheel, and we went merrily on our way. We got to Saguache and we put up at one wagon yard and the others at another and next morn. my husband rode this outlaw horse as they called him, down to the blacksmith shop to get him shod and the blacksmith told him if he would help him he would shoe him, so he did. It was getting chilly weather by that time. We went on through the valley to Walsenburg. There were a good many Artesian wells through the valley, but not many people in there. We had one mare would try to drink from them; she done a pretty good job of it, too. From Walsenburg we went to Trinidad and on to my husband's place on Bear Creek where the family were living that had his little girl. The folk's name was Classen. We were there for ten or 15 days and visited friends we knew and looked after some business he had there. He had a nice yearling colt he had left there when he went over the Mts., and he left all but two of the ones we had traded for there in care of some friends of his. So, we started for Texas. Bridgeport was to be our destination. I think it was the last of October or forepart of November when we got into Oklahoma. We spent a night at Woodward and bought a sack of flour and when we opened it there was a mouse nest in the top if it, so had to pour it out. As we went through the Indian Reservation, the Indians were about on the warpath. As we started into it, there were a couple Indians raised up and looked at us and hid again. They were on top of a hill. There had been a man shot an Indian and they were watching for him, so we heard. We had my step-daughter with us, and she would be eating apples and candy and when Indians would go by they would want an apple, so she got so when she was eating one and an Indian was coming she would hide her apple under her blanket so they wouldn't see it. One night we camped in the Reservation and tied our team to the wagon wheels and we never slept but very little that night. They were passing by all times of the night. I will say here, we never had a gun or weapon of any kind, but they never bothered us once. That wasn't long after the Indian Territory was made the state of Oklahoma. We crossed the South Canadian at Taloga, on to Chickasha, and Marlow, Waurika, and crossed Red River about where Terrill is now. Crossed on the ferry boat, and went on to Barvie, Texas. The weather was stormy, so we put up in a wagon yard and slept in our wagon but cooked in the house. It snowed that night and lasted a couple of days and were a good many people there. They had a heater in one room and we all gathered around it and had a good fire and began singing songs, first one, then another, would sing a song, sometimes three or four knew the same songs and all would sing. One couple had been somewhere picking pecans so they brought some in the house and all helped themselves. Just a nice, friendly bunch of people. The man that owned the place came in and joined the people and his wife called to him to come in where they lived. I guess she thought they were too noisy for them, but he seemed to enjoy it all and so did the others. There was no rough talk or drinking either one.
The second morn. the storm had stopped and we all went our ways—some going to North and some South. We went on to Bridgeport, Texas where my husband had worked the winter before in the mines. There were a bunch of camping houses there and we got one on the corner from the others. There were miners in most of the others, too, but some were not miners. A family of six lived next to us and he was a soldier of the North and was eligible to a pension, but was unable to get it there. There were him and wife and 4 children at home and he had heart trouble and unable to work. His wife took in washings, all she could get and the children done all the little things they could get to do. There was a girl at home around fourteen and a boy and girl twins around twelve and another girl younger and they had a girl married. They were fine people. I helped them all I could since they had no income, only what her and the children could make. We had wood hauled to burn, and then let the boy cut it up for us, and they would carry water for me to drink and I would pay them some for that as the water we used was out of a mine shaft and not fit to use for drinking. I never knew what became of that family. Their names were Chumley, I think. The oldest girl at home was Mary and the twins were Earl and Pearl. Some people there were so against the North they wouldn't go after their mail if they had to walk under the U. S. flag. Mr. Chumley was a veteran of the Civil War, but of the North. They would do anything they could for me, and my stepdaughter Lillie, when my husband was working. She came over to my house one night and asked, if I bad any scraps of bread she could get for her children as they were so hungry they were crying. I gave her some bread and meat and flour and after that I would give them any food from our meal that was left over. We didn't have much, as a miner didn't make much in the mines those days and risked his life too. We had to trade at the company store and was higher than at other stores. I will never forget the first evening my husband came home from the mines. He looked like a darkie coming up the road. They had to take a bath every night. This young man that worked with him the winter before came down there and he boarded with us and worked with my husband again that winter. They never made more than three or four dollars a day if a good miner and some couldn't make two. One family had two or three men boarding with them and they came to us to buy meat for their breakfast, and we didn't have very much our selves. You could buy a heavy fat hen for 25 cents and eggs got to four and five cents a dozen but part of them would be spoiled. But, food out of stores was cheap and was cheap pay for their work too. People didn't have much but were happier and got along better far than they do now in 1955. The road going to town forked at the corner of our house and part went one way and part the other into town. Some would go by in wagons, or hacks, or buggies, most of them rather dilapidated and any kind of harness on their horses and some on horseback with a half or one bushel shelled corn, taking it to town to get it ground for meal and I want to tell you it was far better than this we get today for it didn't have the good all taken out of it. The graham flour they made then was far better than this flour of today. It was good and had some taste to it and it didn't say it was enriched or bleached either. Most of the men, women, and some girls used snuff and would go out to the timber and dig roots and use them for snuff sticks. They would chew one end into a brush and dip it in a can of snuff, and put it in the side of their mouth and some could spit and hit a spittoon clear across the house, or hit an ash pan that far. You could always tell where they had spit though, as part of it was on the floor. Nearly everyone kept a can of water on the heater with some kind of disinfectant in it to clear the air of germs.
In the spring of 1896, work got slack. The mines only worked two or three days a week and nothing else to do. On July 27, 1896, out first baby was born. We named her Mary Belie. My husband and this young man that worked with him in the mines went on a horse trade and this Mrs. Chumley I spoke of stayed with me. It was a terrible hot summer and we nearly famished for cool water. Her little children would go downtown, and get a bucket of water out of this well of good water and bring it up to me. We kept a five-gallon keg wrapped with gunny sacks and kept wet to have some cool water, and they kept water for us as they used water out of it to drink. One evening there was a man came out from town on horseback and rode in behind our house and just sat there on his horse, like he was asleep. I was there, just the two children there with me, and this Mr. Chumley stayed out in the yard and watched him. He finally went and asked him what he was doing out there and he said he was waiting for another man. I guess he was partly drunk. The other guy finally came and they rode away. I never was alone, but a very few times while there. There was lots of travel, on the roads both East and South from the corner of our house. Sometimes there would be a few get into a fight, but nothing bad ever happened. Mostly just quarrel among themselves.
When I was able to travel, we went to Thurber, Texas to try and get a job in the mines, but they couldn't make anything as mining was poor. We crossed the Brazos River at Brazos. They were just building a bridge across the river there. We went to Mineral Wells, but no work, so we finally went back to Bridgeport and they worked there the fall and winter of 1896 and spring of 97. When we left there and started to Colorado again, we had a couple of stoves, and a table and a few things to take to the second hand store, so we got them in the wagon and had the sheet all tied down and when the team started the stoves begin to rattle and scared the horses and they run away or tried to. My husband had the lines and I was holding the brake on. Our brake was a pole swung under the wagon and a hole bored in one end and a small pole put in there and a rope at the upper end to pull forward on and hold the larger log against the wheel to lock them. We used it going across the Mts., too, while in Colorado. We finally got them back where we started from and they run straddle of a tree stump and the wagon caught on the stump and there we were. The team pulled and couldn't get the wagon over it. We finally got the sheet loose and I got out and tried to pull them back but one jerked and threw me down and my husband told me not to try any more. There were four men came out there and they finally got them back off the stump, but not one would get in the wagon. One did stand on the side and went downtown with him. The horses hadn't been used all winter, just tied up and fed. There was a snow that winter and children got out in the snow bare footed. We had a snowball fight and we made a snowman. Was the first snow a lot of them had ever seen.
Next morn after the runaway, we left for Colorado. We had three horses and used one as a "swing horse". Had an extra hitch on the side of the wagon and a single tree to it by a length of chain and we hitched one on it. The road was just paths and sandy, too.
We went from Bridgeport, Texas, to Bowie and again crossed the Red River at Terrell, Ok., and from there to Chickasha, Okla. As we went through Chickasha, the roads were lined with Indians on foot, horseback, and with all kind of rigs and poor horses. The store there was so crowded one could scarcely get in to get any groceries. It was ration day for them. We camped just two or three miles West of there that night and the Indians were passing by our camp all times of the night. It was on the Washita River. We went through Anadarko and up through Clinton and Custer and to Independence, Oklahoma. There we heard of a man who had bought a right to file on a place and wanted to sell it so one of his neighbors got him and my husband together and my husband bought him out. That was the spring of 1897. We went to work and put in a crop there. The house was a one-room, roughly put up of logs and covered with poles and brush, and cane pummies on top and dirt over that and when it rained, the roof leaked and wherever it got onto anything, it was dark and sticky, really a mess. We got some blocks, sawed off of cottonwood poles and used them for seats. We had some springs made so you could turn the legs under and lay it flat or pull them down and was a bedstead. We had it in our wagon for a bed. We had what they called "over jets". We had some braces made and set the side boards out wide enough for the springs and fastened the braces to the wagon box and to the side boards, and put a board between them and had a bed right in the wagon, so we had it for a bed, and made a small one for the children. Made a table out of some native lumber and had a small stove a neighbor loaned us. After we got out crop in, we hired a man to cultivate our crop and we left for Colorado. Was around the forepart of July if I remember right. Our baby was about a year old. One day on our trip the wind blew so hard we all eat on one side of the wagon to keep it from blowing over. So there were windy days in those times but not so much ground broke out as there is now.
We went to my husband's place on Bear Creek and was going to get our horses we had left with one of his friends and come to find out, there were none there. He said he would take care of them for us. They said they all died but we heard they had taken them over in Kansas and sold them. We never knew what did happen to them. The only one we had was the three-year-old filly we had left on the range and she was a beauty. Was a kind of dapple gray and very fat. We put her in the hamero and broke her to work and drove her home. After we got her to OK, where we lived, every time she got loose and got a chance she would beat it back to the South Canadian River on her way back to Colorado. She never tried to cross the river. We got all our things together and were about ready to start back home when my sister and family and his brother and family and another brother loaded up and went with us. Also, my brother Bob. There was quite a bunch of us; were three wagons and several horses when we crossed Cimarron River. There were sand hills along the river and the hills were covered with wild plum bushes and were loaded with plums. We gathered quite a lot of them. When we got to the South Canadian and the river was up, we seen a good many trees that were uprooted by a cyclone that had gone through there a few years ago. We spent the night on the North side of the river and next morn, the men crossed the river on foot and picked out a toad to go by to cross. That river is a quicksand bed and dangerous to cross. After noon we started moving. They put two teams to a wagon and my brother rode one of our Vader horses and we went over without any trouble, but Billy Ashcraft and his nephew came behind us, and Billy drove the two teams from the wagon and there were three or four channels to cross and when they got to the East channel the lead team held back and didn't want to go in the water and the wheel team came on and one stepped over the double-tree of the leader team and she couldn't get her foot off till the leaders went on and she got in the water and fell down before they got across and all had to stop and the wagon begin to sink. They finally got the teams loose and someone kept shaking the wagon to get a solid bottom under it and they hitched one of our teams to the end of the tongue and finally pulled it out. Mrs. Jim Henry Ashcraft stood over on the North bank and jumped and down and kept waving her hands and hollering as hard as she could.
My brother-in-law and his family, and his brother's family, were all to come across yet. It was after dark when all the wagons got across and all were hungry by the time we got supper ready and all tired, too. We all got to our place without any more trouble. There were lots of sweet potatoes raised and we had plenty of them and cooked them by the kettle full. Everyone liked them and meat and butter on them or with them and dutch oven biscuits too. It wasn't long till another family came down there from Baca Co. A Jack Bridwell and wife and three or four children. They bought a place over near the town of Themes. A post office was about all that was there, I think. It wasn't far from Independence, the place we were near. It wasn't much of a place either. The next spring the Ashcrafts all went back to Colorado and went up on the Arkansas River and rented places up there and all farmed up there for a few years. In 1896 another boy was born to my sister and husband and in 1897 while they were in Oklahoma a girl was born on Sept. 20. The boy was born Jan. 10, 1896, and our next baby was born on Sept. 20; a girl, Dora Charity by name. We were still in the leaky house. That fall my brother, Ed Bolender, wife, and three children drove in from Ill. They came through in a covered wagon and one team. They got to move into a dugout a bachelor had on his place. He was away working, then my mother and stepfather moved down with us and were there the next summer. My half-sister had married a man by the name of Henry Moore who lived at Weatherford and my half-brother was with them. We gathered kaffir corn, and put up hay, and got some millet hay, and put it up, had some hogs, a cow or two, and were getting along very well that fall when a prairie fire came along and cleaned us up. It burned up all our feed and we had a hard job, keeping it out of the hog pen. The house was built on the bank or rather in the bank of a kind of a draw and we had a team tied to the wagon down in the draw close to the house at what we called the woodpile and I seen it was coming toward the house and I run and got them loose and brought them up in the door of the house and it jumped the draw and was over the feed before you could hardly think. My husband and another man went down the road South of the house to try to backfire against it, but it came so fast they had to run and get in a field to save their lives. Next day a man came up and begin to unload a wagon load of corn and my husband was gone and I went out and asked him if he wasn't at the wrong place and he said, "This is where John Butler lives isn't it?" and I said, "Yes," and he said "It is for you folks," and he dumped it all out. A good neighbor I say. Somehow my husband got acquainted with a cattle man by the name of John Dunn and he came down and wanted my husband to feed five hundred head of cattle for him that winter. There was lots of water as the creek run through the place. He said he would send a man to help him, so he took them and my husband didn't have time to cut wood or very much of it. This boy that helped feed would scratch and dig when sitting in the house, and we wondered what was the matter, so one day my mother and I were washing clothes and my mother got to looking at his clothes and found the seams were full of gray backs and mites and my husband told him about them and he said he didn't know he had any. His name was Grundy Bryant. He told us about taking one of our neighbor girls to a party one night and they went in a buggy and he stopped close to the tongue of a piece of machinery and when he went to help her out she made a jump and he fell back on this tongue, and another time the men were down on the creek working, and she had a pony she rode all the time, and she was going by where they worked to another neighbor's and this young man kindly coughed to attract her attention and she just went in and he done that two or three times and she said, "You feel better don't you?", and never slacked up. Her name was Mamie Eschler. Her brother used to come up to our place and would take our daughter Mary and hold her, and she would always go to him; she was about two years old and his name was Dave Eschler. She wouldn't go to this young man that worked there, and he was always wanting to take her, but she didn't make up with him so good. Dave Eschler's father always called her his doll, and made over her so much and they said when he died he wanted them to come down and get the "doll" so he could see her again, but they didn't. If I had known it, I would have took her down myself. I believe they were of Swedish descent and didn't talk too good English. This Grundy Bryant always said he was going to wait for Mary till she was old enough to get married, but we never seen him any more after that winter.
We farmed the place till the fall of 1898, then sold it and in the spring we moved in with my brother and family till the last of March, 1899. There were 5 of them and my other brother, Bob. The winter of 98 and 99 the three men, my husband and two brothers, went out farther West and took up homesteads. The brother's were just West of Leedey a couple miles and ours was Northwest of Leedey about seven miles on what they called Pow Wow Creek. The creek run clear through were just West of Leedey. On the 25th of March, 1899, another daughter was born to us while we were with my brother's family. My husband had to ride to Arapaho to get a Dr.; was about fifteen miles. It was a bad, stormy spring and the winter had been too. My husband rented a place North and West of Independence and the last of March, we moved up there. The dugout where my brother lived had a fireplace in one and my bed was there and the cold wind came down the chimney and onto me. It was really cold, but could do nothing about it. My sister-in-law was a fine woman and done all she could to help me out. She took care of her own and my children, too, and waited on me, and the baby, and the men, too. My parents didn't live far from us, and when the men were gone they helped us some. One time it came a bad snowstorm, and one of our horses got down in the creek, and we couldn't get her up, and we went and got my stepfather to come and help us and he couldn't do anything with her so he hitched a log chain around her neck and hitched a team to it and pulled her out. We put a horse blanket on her and fed her and she got all right. She really was cold and shook for a long time. It came a storm on the boys when they were looking for their claims and they all slept on the ground together and next morning the bed was covered with snow and none of them wanted to get up and fix a camp fire and they told my husband he had to make the fire as he slept in the middle (he wasn't very large) so when he raised up it spilled a lot of snow in the bed and all had to get out. The last of March we moved up the place we had rented; was a terrible windy day. It was a frame house, one room, just a shell and there was cellar under it which had just been dug out and never finished and the dirt down there is red, nearly everywhere I was, and Dora and Mary would sit on the floor and play in that red dirt most of the time and you can imagine what their clothes looked like and what a despondent mother they had. While there, my husband bought two short horn cows and they were really good cows. He gave twenty-five dollars a piece for them. They were 6 gallon cows, both of them, so we had all the milk we could use and to spare; also, butter. We thought that was a big price to pay for cows.
Along in May or June after we had put in a crop of corn near Independence, we moved out to the homestead near Leedey. We bought some 1"xl2" boards and made walls and put a tent over it and lived in that all summer and up in the winter till we could get logs hewed to put up a house. My husband hauled the logs from North of the South Canadian River and him and I hewed the logs, and put them up and filled the cracks with mud. We also put a roof over it, and we thought we were rich when we moved into it. My husband was gone most of the winter hauling corn from the place we had rented near Independence. This man, Dave Eschler, I have spoke of, took up a place South of ours, and had got married, and he hauled corn and feed from down there, too, and his wife stayed with the children and I when her husband was gone. She was afraid to stay alone. There were range cattle around there and not too many people near us and we didn't know anyone then, but were plenty in there in a year or two. People came in from everywhere nearly and settled all around us. After we got our house up, there were often people stopped there that were going over the river after logs or posts. They would get to our place going over and spend the night there coming back. We had to drive to Leedey to get our mail or mail anything. There were lots of centipedes there. We dug a well near the creek and used the water out of it and one day at noon the sun was shining in the well and there was a big centipede in the well. My husband got down in the well and got it out. We could often see one crawling along the logs in the house, and once in a while a scorpion would show up in the house. The first summer we went out there, we plowed out same of the ground and planted kaffir corn and cane and had a nice lot of feed. We had to herd the range cattle off, but finally got it fenced that fall. That was the year "99"--and to fix things up the children got the whooping cough. The baby wasn't a year old and she almost died. A Dr. came from Red Creek East of us about seven miles everyday for two weeks to see her. He had us give her three tablespoons of castor oil a day and blow sulfur in her throat that often beside other medicine. I didn't mention her name; it was Sarah Ellen. She was so good to take her medicine and when she got better she couldn't talk or walk, but soon learned again. Lillie had had whooping cough before we were married, but Mary and Dora had it pretty hard. We were glad when they all got over it. We kept trying to farm and improve a little, but was slow going. Finally, Mr. Bridwell and family moved out there from Thomas, Oklahoma, where they had bought a place and they put in a little country store. That helped out a lot and they soon got a post office started which helped out more. The store was just a quarter mile from us. In fact, his place joined ours on the North. Just the section line between. Then they got a schoolhouse and had school. It was just a quarter mile from us too and there was a grave yard just South of the schoolhouse, so it begin to look like there were people living around there, which there were also some deaths.
They soon got a Sunday School started, and was held in the school house; then got a preacher in, and looked like we were beginning to get, or at least look like, a civilized country. They all proved to be fine people and good neighbors and like ourselves were poor people and looking for homes. Everyone was ready to help the other one out in sickness or trouble of any kind. Our school district was four miles square and there was an average attendance of sixty-five scholars, so you may know most of them had large families. One teacher taught all grades up to eighth grade with 8 grades included and when they got through the eighth grade, they could take their examination to teach school, and most of them got their certificates that wanted to teach. They put in their time studying books and their playtime was at noon and recess, and for more exercise, they got it on the farm helping their parents. I feel like there would be less juvenile delinquency if children could be out on farms after school, but, they have tore up all the schools in the country and got the children in town schools and some were so far from towns they had to sell out and move to town and find jobs in town so their children could get to school without going so far on a bus and now the towns are complaining about schools being overcrowded and they are the cause of most of it by consolidating so many districts together. I believe there are many who will agree with me. I have heard many say a child knew more those days from the eighth grade than they do now through high school and I agree with them in most cases.
In the year 1902, on Nov. 6, a son was born to us, Jesse L. Butler. We had managed to get another room built on to the log room we had. My husband hauled logs and got them sawed into lumber at a saw mill that had come in across the river, and we had got it finished in May 1903, and were going to use it to sleep in, when the 26th of May a cyclone came through and when it got past we had no roof on either room. We both seen it coming, but no place to go, so had to stay in the house. I got the children down on the floor on the West side and hovered over them as much as I could and my husband tried to hold the door shut, but it slammed him back against the wall and he got down there with us. I was sure we would all be killed, but only our baby boy and I got hurt. I got a bruise on the hip and he cried, but couldn't find anything wrong. He must have got scared. There was a terrible sound of ripping lumber and wind and when we looked up, there was the sky for a roof. There was a window on the West side where we were, and the logs blew in about six inches over our heads, and when it was gone, it begin to rain and hail and got everything wet that was left in the house. Didn't last long. There was a family lived West of us three or four miles and they had a baby about three or four days old and her sister was staying with them and she had taken the baby to the cave, but the mother didn't want to go, but when it got pretty bad he picked his wife up and started to the cave and when he got out the door, the wind pulled her out of his arms and he got to the cave, but they found her a short way from the house dead. As soon as the storm was over one of our neighbors drove up to see if anyone was hurt and we wasn't, so he went on to some others who were in it to see if anyone was hurt, but no one was, so they came back by, and took all of us home with them. He helped my husband dig a cellar and cover it with brush and poles and sod on top. We were at their place for ten days and were always the best of friends. We put out beds in the cellar and the cook stove out in the yard and I cooked outside the rest of the summer. We had a lot of rain and before my husband could get in the field to work the crop got very weedy and mostly what they called "mule tail" and they were really thick and tall. I never seen them so bad before or since. It drew clothing and bedclothes out of the house and some we found three quarters of a mile Northwest and some Northeast. The folks we stayed with were Mr. and Mrs. Rube Hubbard and family. It didn't hit them, but Dave Eschler had built them a nice one-room house and a cave and a small place for a kitchen out back of the house. It picked the house up and one corner hit near the cellar door and blew away. He got about a small load of lumber down on the creek East of the house after it was over. Don't know where the rest went. She had a small trunk with a lot of keepsakes in and she had a set of teaspoons in the bottom of the trunk and she found them in the yard by the cellar. It never bothered the little kitchen. At our place we had a well about thirty feet deep and drew water with a rope and two wooden buckets and it pulled those buckets out of the well and wrapped the rope around the clothes line post and all there was left of the buckets were the stays the bail was fastened too. It tore the curb off of the well. I could tell of many things that happened that sounds impossible, but did. The schoolhouse was moved about six inches off of the foundation, but didn't blow away. The man that had the store had a cellar and they finally got to it, but their dwelling house which was close to the store was destroyed. It took the top and sides off and left the floor and a bed all made up was left and the cook stove was there, not even moved. It damaged their storeroom some. The mailman had a place dug out in the bank on a draw on our place between our place and the store where he used to stay in over night and one of our neighbors was at the store and when he seen the cyclone coming he started for this shack and got so bad he had to crawl on his hands and knees before he got there, but he made it safe all right. His horse, an old mare he rode, was tied to a wagon right by the store and after the cyclone, she was eating grass in the yard, but it carried the wagon through two fences and smashed it all to pieces. Our wagon was standing by the South end of the house facing West and after the storm, it was in front of the East door facing East and the tongue run back between the front and rear wheel, so it had been up in the air some, too. Another family not far from us and a neighbor man were in the house playing cards and when it hit, they left the house for the cellar and when this neighbor went around the corner of the house he caught hold of a barrel and it upset. He got to the cellar, but the barrel had molasses in it, and they spilled out over the ground and cards scattered all over the yard. I heard she threw down her cards and started praying. Anyway, they were saved. We were just about in the center of the storm. It got dark at night almost before it hit. We had a couple colts down in the pasture on the creek and cut one bad. We didn't think it could live, but did. Cut the other one some; broke tops out of big trees, and uprooted some. Every time any of us seen a cloud coming, we would go to the cellar day or night. There were a good many bad looking clouds came up that summer. My two brothers lived close to Leedey. but it never hit there. Was only about two and a half or three miles wide, but reached quite a distance East and some miles West of us. They said it blew straws into fence posts and picked chickens and birds feathers off, and I believe it too.
My youngest brother, Bob, as we called him, had got married and had a boy or two and the other brother Ed and wife had a pair of twins; a girl and boy. They had three other children later on in years. One of my brother Bob's boys, the oldest one, Murl, took sick and died about the year 1908. Was about four years old. They had three girls born in later years. My sister and family had settled up on the Arkansas River after they left Oklahoma in 1898 so wasn't in touch with her for awhile so very much.
In the summer of 1905 my husband and Mr. Bridwell decided to go to Canada to look at the country. They left the forepart of June. My girl, Mary, had some kind of skin itching when he left and he sent me some soap and salve to use on her. They had to go to Elk City to leave. I used it, but no good, and finally all the children got to itching and at night was terrible. We still slept in the cellar while he was gone and was hot in there. They got back on Fourth of July, I believe it was, and my husband went and seen a Dr. and he said was "seven year itch" and he said, "John, half the people around have it," and come to find out several neighbors had it and like me, never said anything about it. We thought it would be a disgrace to have itch. We wasn't very long getting rid of it. We used red precipitate and lard (may not be spelled right) and was rid of it soon. A neighbor cut our oats and my brother, Bob, came and helped me shock them. I cultivated the crop and took care of it and cows while he was gone. We had put a tar roof on our rooms and stripped the cracks and put sod over that and put paper under the sod, so I had a place to cook and sleep, too, if not stormy looking. My husband said he looked down in a well in Canada and about 5 feet down was a rim of ice where it had froze the winter before and he said wheat was high as his head and you could throw your hat in a patch and was so thick would hold a hat up and when they had thrashed wheat, there would be a lot of mustard seed, too. They never found any place to go to though. On Jan. 3, 1906, another son was born to us; John Daniel. Was a very cold night when the older boy was born and was that night. Had to go fifteen miles for a Dr. when the first boy was born, but just had a midwife when this one was born, so we had quite a family and just the small house. We tried raising cotton a time or two, but didn't pan out right, as we were no good at picking cotton. Broom corn was our principal money crop. Corn and kaffir corn and cane were extra crops.
We got a sorghum mill and ground cane and made sorghum for our selves and neighbors. We had a vat and made a furnace and put a fire under it and cooked the juice down to molasses. Sometimes when it got done, a bunch of young folks would come and they would all make a paddle and scrape the pan. They had lots of fun. Everyone raised lots of melons and they were good, too. There were lots of sweet potatoes raised, too, and some fruit. My husband was always buying or trading horses and if he got one that wasn't broke, him and I would hitch it up with a gentle one and drive it awhile and put it to the plow. We had a two-year-old we raised and she was gentle to handle but when we hitched her up she really tore around. We hitched her and two others to the riding plow and she reared around till she threw herself and got under the tongue of the plow and we had to take them loose and we put her to the wagon and she lit out on a run and she finally got tired and calmed down and was all right. Another one we hitched up to the plow; he lunged forward and broke his harness and pulled back and got loose and went to the house with just the collar on. He traded for a span of mares that had had colts taken off of them and the man said they would have to milk them, and we did; he also said he harnessed them over a pole. He was afraid to get too close to them, but we didn't do that. My husband didn't and when he got sick I had to harness them and haul some feed, so I did, I admit I wasn't too brave about it, but I did anyway and drove them too; also used them in the field a lot--they were a fine team.
We had to haul broom corn to Weatherford for awhile, but finally they got a railroad through to Elk City, Oklahoma, so wasn't so far to go. Several would go together and sometimes was bad weather, but I think the fun they had offset the weather. The women had just as hard a time as the men did, if not more so. The cyclone blew down a tree on a bank, and it fell with the top down lower, and one of our best cows we had bought slipped off the bank, and her fore feet went on one side of the log, and her hind feet back and under and left her hanging with her head down and hind parts off the ground and when we found her, she was dead. We had other cows by then, but she was the best.
They started up a Christian Church there first and a man whose wife was still in Missouri joined it and she wouldn't come out there, so they got a divorce and they put him out of the church and wasn't long till the church broke up and then a friend's preacher and family moved in there and he preached and started up a church and most everyone joined it. Even the young folks liked him. They would have singing somewhere every week or at the schoolhouse. This preacher's name was Walker and he had two son-in-laws who were Christian leaders; also their wives, and they were at our home often and our girls and theirs were good friends. In fact, nearly everyone were friends with everyone else. We all had many good times there, even though we were all poor. Sometimes crops were not too good, but we always got along some way. They finally got to having literary, too. We had a good literary for some time.
Well, here it is 1956, and I have neglected my writing for some time.
Well, in 1908, our daughter Ethel Rozella was born on Feb. 22. Mrs. McClasky, a neighbor woman, and who she was named after "Rozella", was with me. So, our family kept increasing. When she was 6 weeks old, I had 6 in bed at the same time with measles. The 3 older girls were very sick but it didn't hurt the other three children so bad and the baby never took them. But years later after she was married her and her husband were sitting in their buggy talking to a friend who had them, and she took them from him. There were a lot of old folks had them when our children had them and other children, too. There wasn't enough well people to care for the sick. One boy came to school and broke out in the schoolroom and nearly everyone got them. The good neighbors that took care of us after the cyclone and helped my husband dig a cellar and cover it so we would have a place to sleep got them and his wife had had pneumonia and wasn't over it when she took the measles and she passed away. Her husband had had smallpox and had lost one eye before that and the measles went hard with him. My husband went and got a woman to come and stay with them, with the measles, but he went back next morn and she had left them and they had two small, children there trying to take care of them and give them their medicine and their mother would just spit it out. She didn't know what she was doing. There were 2 smaller children at home and two older, but they were working out, but then their mother got so bad they went in to help them. The parents didn't want them to come in for fear they would take them and they did.
When my daughter, Sadie, was a baby, my husband went to Weatherford with broom corn and came back by Independence, where we had raised some crops and haul some home and on one trip he got to Independence and got sick. Mr. Bridwell was with him (that was the man that run the store), so Mr. Bridwell came home in a couple days and told me my husband would be home in a couple days and I looked and watched for him, and one eve I seen our team coming and I thought it was him, but it was the man where my husband was staying; coming after me to go down, so I went down and he was able to come home in a few days. I got a cot and put in the back of the wagon and got him in on that and started home with him and 4 children. We had to cross Red Creek, so I watered the horses there and while I was doing that Sadie, the youngest, had got up in the spring seat, leaned out too far on the side, and fell out. As it happened, the bank on the side of the road was higher than the road and she didn't get hurt much. We finally got home all alive. Another time we went to Weatherford to get our family pictures taken and were 1 1/2 days going, and I got them all ready and the photographer couldn't take them till after noon. I had to change their clothes and dress them again after noon for their pictures. We started home next day, and when we stopped that eve and I was getting supper, Dora was laying on a quilt playing and I went to pick her up and had the frying pan of hot grease in my hand, and it turned in my hand and spilled some hot grease on her head. Oh, I felt so bad about it and my husband rode 10 miles to get a Dr. and she got to having spasms and the folks we were camped close to and lived there had me come in and we bathed her and done all we could till the Dr. got there. She will carry the scar to her grave. The children had all kinds of diseases about; whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever, but only one had mumps till after they were married and that was Sadie. She had rode a horse after the cows and when she jumped off, she said, "Oh, my jaw!" and a friend standing there said, "Yes, young lady, you have got the mumps. There were a lot of Mexicans there thinning my beets and they were all around there, so I guess she took them from them. Some haven't had them yet. I forgot to say as we were going from Baca Co. to Oklahoma we seen a lot of wild horses along the road, at a short distance away. They are really pretty when fat; some of them their manes go to their knees and their tails touch the ground. The stallion stayed between us and the herd all the time.
1908--by this time we had a school and a good number of pupils and a post office, which helped a lot. Mr. Phillips run the post office. He had a large family. They had a church by that time, and a good attendance and most everyone went to church and S. S. One night they were having church some boys got some paint and painted the seat on one man's buggy and also on one boy's saddle. The man, Mr. Hubbard, seen it before he got in the buggy and was a lot of us looking at it and one of the boys that had been into it and helped do it came riding up and he couldn't talk plain and some were wondering what it was and the boy said, "smells like paint to me" and that was what it was. The boy that was on horseback got on his horse before he noticed it and ruined a new suit of clothes' for him. Another time, some boys took the front wheels off of one man's buggy and put them on back and back ones in front. We usually walked to church and one night as we came home there was an opossum in the road and he lay there like dead, but someone killed it, and my half-sister and my husband said if I would roast it, they would eat it, and our daughter, Mary, said, "I will eat its stummick" but after I got it roasted, no one would eat it, and it was so nice and white and tasted good.
We had some good and some not so good schoolteachers. One, Mr. Noble, boarded with us and he would come home for dinner and leave the children alone the noon hour, and they would dance and play and have a fine time. Sometimes go skating down on the creek. Another time was an old lady and I guess she didn't teach at all; just let them do as they pleased. The scholars got to calling her snag tooth. They would sing, "Here I go down on my farm carrying snag tooth under my arm." They were grown youngsters, too. Not a bit nice of them. When a child got through the 8th grade, they had a pretty good education, if they tried to study and the teacher was allowed to punish them some, too, which they did. They had all grades to teach, and just in one room too.
In 1910 our daughter Orrie Jewel was born on August 13. My brother Bob's wife came over and stayed a few days with me and, then the children helped with the work. Was pretty hot weather and broom corn pulling time about. There were 12 men went together and bought a broom corn seeder and mower and bailer and they would help each other seed and bail their corn. Usually some of the women would go and help the other one cook for thrashers. There were a lot of young folks there, too. One day they were thrashing at our place and a good many of the neighbor girls and women were there. The older boys helped with the thrashing. I killed 8 or 10 frying chickens for dinner and when dinner was ready, they came and washing and the boys came in the house and seen the fried chicken and got after the gizzards and the girls tried to get them away from them and they run out and got up on the rail fence and eat them. They had lots of fun. Another time it wasn't so funny. They put 2 teams on the horse mower to thrash the broom corn and one morning they never took the lines down and Dora was driving and they started to run away and no one could get hold of them and the mower began to turn sideways and pull up the stakes and Dora started to get out and fell down and held on to one of the levers and was dragging her into the mower where it would have caught her clothes and got her into the machine, when her father got in far enough to get hold of her and pull her to the outside and by that time someone had got hold of the horses and got them stopped. Everyone were sure scared for looked like the cogs in the mower were sure going to get her clothes before she could get out or anyone could get her out. The good Lord must have been with us. One year some of the men got in a quarrel and they hit two or three blows and one knocked the other in between the wagon wheel and broom corn rack. No one was hurt and they got over it soon. Most of the farmers had low-wheeled wagons and a rack just to put broom corn on. I don't suppose all ever seen it raised and a lot have. When it is ready to pull, you go along and catch hold of the top shuck, we will say, with one hand and the head with the other and jerk both ways and the head comes out of that shuck, or boot they call it sometimes, and you get a handful and then lay it between 2 stalks till it dries out and then haul it in and stack it In ricks, heads together and when ready to thrash they have 2 to hold the straw over the rollers and one or two to sort it out in bunches and one or two to carry it to the table and 2 to put it in the bailer and when the bailer got full, they put a lid on top and a beam on that and it took 4 or 5 men to pull it down to half the amount in the bailer and then put wires around it. I don't know if they still use that method or not, but they probably don't; that was way back in the early 1900's. They had to haul it to the railroad after they sold it and was 5 or 6- day trip till they got a railroad through Elk City and that was closer. My husband and Mrs. Bridwell took a couple loads to Oklahoma City one year.
We had a nice looking horse to ride, but he was very lazy and one day Sadie put on a pair of spurs and rode him down to the field and coming back, he ran away with her. The tighter she held her feet to his side, the faster he ran. We all had a good laugh about it, and another time our boy, Danny, was taking the men a drink of water, and he got to where our son-in-law was working and when he started to leave, our son-in-law, James Fisher, hit the horse and he gave a jump and Danny sat down in the road. Really did tickle Jim.
When the children, Mary, Dora, and Sadie had whooping cough, Sadie was very sick and the Dr. came every day to see her. A false membrane formed in her throat, and was something like diphtheria. We didn't think she could live, she was so bad. We sat up with her every night till she got a lot better. The Dr. came one day and his team was tired out. He was a country Dr. and went all over the country and he told my husband to let him drive our team over to the post office where they had a few drugs, so he drove our team and one mare had a colt and we had a dog that followed the team and when he got back he told my husband he didn't think he hurt the team any, but was hard on the colt and dog. There was no one at the post office, and he broke in a window and went in and got what he wanted and said to my husband when he came back, "John, you will have to stand by me if the law gets after me for breaking into the post office." No one bothered about it.
Some of the children would go to the field sometimes and take sacks and gather some maize or kaffir corn heads for the chickens and one day the boys and Ethel went out and got some and they took knives to top the grain and when they came back, Ethel took her knife and cut the string on her sack and it cut easy and her hand went to her face and the knife blade point stuck into her eye and she almost lost the sight in that eye. It is weaker then the other one today.
We had got able to buy a riding plow and Jesse was following his father one day and caught his pants leg on the plow and couldn't get it off and his father happened to look behind and there he was jumping along the best he could; didn't get hurt.
One day Mary took her father a drink of water and he was harrowing feed and she wanted to harrow and he let her, and he fixed some fence and she went a few rounds and went to turn around and the harrow raised up on one corner, because she turned too short, and scared the 3 horses and her, too, and the team run away. They went to the gate and one went through the gate, and one went through and broke loose, and the other two went down the inside of the fence and finally stopped. They tore down a few posts and fence. She never wanted to work them again.
There were a good many prairie chickens when we first went out on Pow Wow and I used to take the gun and go out and kill one or two once in a while. There were no close neighbors, and one day I had got some, and my husband had got some and I was taking them to the house and a man came riding up. I seen him coming and dropped the chickens and he stood and talked a few min. and rode on. He come to our place often after that visiting. I killed 2 rabbits at one shot at one time after that and also some hawks.
I forgot to mention my stepdaughter got married on April 19, 1910 to James Fisher. They were married at Butler, Oklahoma and a year or so after he got typhoid fever and was very sick part of the summer. They were at Butler then and when he was able to be up, my husband went down and brought them up home, and we had lots of watermelons, and they were on a raise in a field higher than where the house was and Jim would go up and pull one and roll it down hill with his foot about to the house, and all of the children would go out and carry it to the house for him. He finally got able to do a little work. Lillie had fried some chicken to eat for dinner on the road as they had to come up in a hack and at noon he was hungry and he was to chew the juice out of the chicken and not swallow any chicken, but I guess he must have swallowed some as he was a very sick man that night, and they had to get the Dr. for him. He was better next day and came on over to our place. They were at his parent's place the night he was so sick. They lived about 7 or 8 miles from us.
When we moved out on the farm, the first few years the Indians would come out and camp on the creek on their way West farther hunting. Sometimes they would come up to the house wanting to trade something for feed. Once they had soup plates to trade for kaffir corn. One of them looked at Mary and said, "Pretty" Her father nodded, "Yes." If they found a dead cow brute dead in the creek anywhere, they would drag it out and cut it up and cook it. Someone told them it wasn't fit to eat, it stank, and they would blow their breath out and motion their hands up in the air as if to say, "Poison go off in steam." I guess it did, as they were seldom sick.
The children and I started to the field one day and Dora was running down the road, I think was Dora. Anyway, one of the girls and she seen a rattler coiled up in the road and was too close to stop and jumped over it and it shot its head up to strike her, but she was too high. He didn't hit her. We had a mare borrowed from my brother, Bob, and had her tied in the barn with one of ours and came a thunder storm one night and lightning hit the barn and killed his, "my brother's", mare and didn't hurt our horse any. We had a cow killed with lightning while we were there, too. We finally got a kind of a barn built after the cyclone.
There were a couple of incidents happened in the cyclone I don't think I mentioned. We had a "piano" box, one they shipped pianos in, out in the back yard and full of broom corn seed for the chickens and had a wagon sheet over it and the cyclone took the sheet off and one of the ropes in the end caught on the fence and pulled out and you couldn't pull them out by hand and tore a 3-cornered place in the sheet about 6 inches each way and never hurt it or tore it anywhere else. Was about 1/4 mile, no not that far from where it was. Another thing happened; we didn't have our rooms with ceilings, but we had a shelf nailed upon the wall and had a "Seth Thomas" clock sitting on it and it hadn't been running for some time and it had a cast iron angel by the side of the door on both sides and it threw it to the floor on its face and never broke the glass behind the angels or the glass door, but tore all the trimming, woodwork off all around the clock and when I picked it up and set it up it started to run. Don't look possible, but true. I guess you have heard the destruction of cyclones these days that one would believe most all of it.
On Jan. 31, 1913, our son Waiter Eugene was born. The last child of our family. Was a bad, cold night when he was born, too. They had phones in then, and the lightning had hit our line and the men had fixed it up that week and that night it got so cold the line snapped in two and my husband had to ride East 6 or 7 miles to get to a phone to call a Dr. The Dr. had a car by that time, and he said he nearly froze his fingers driving. On decoration day, they had a meeting at the school house and had preaching and Jesse played with a neighbor who had whooping cough and about all the families that had children, some of them got it; Jesse got it, and the rest of them took it from him all about the same time. I had my hands full. Walter was so little, he couldn't cough up anything hardly. It was in the spring, but all were pretty sick. They put out word if anyone didn't want whooping cough, they better not go to the 4th of July picnic. There were lots of them had it; old and young.
That fall diphtheria got bad all around us. One of our neighbor's babies died and some other family lost 2 and another family one and several had it. One that lost their baby, his wife had it bad, but got over it. One day when there was a funeral, one neighbor came to our place and spent the day with us and while there she washed and dressed Walter. I wasn't up yet, but Mary was home that day. This woman was a very fleshy woman and Mary was watching her wash Walter and after she went home Mary said, ''Mama, don't let her wash and dress him again, her lap is too small to hold him and she might let him fall." I felt a little like Mary. She had no lap to wash babies on, but she was careful. Walter had whooping cough then: I was mistaken about the time of year, it was in the spring of 1913. The 25th of April, 1913, out first grandchild was born. Lillie and husband had a baby girl. Named her Opal Fisher. She was pretty and curly hair and in Dec 14, 1912 a daughter was born to my brother, Bob, and wife. Made them three children; a boy and 2 girls, and my brother Ed and wife had 9 children. One pair of twins; a boy and girl and we had 9 -- was increasing the Butler and Bolender name pretty fast. The Butler name has kept growing, but the Bolenders don't have very many boys to carry their name on.
Well, that year we never had much crop. The hot winds got most of it, so we sold and traded our farm off and got a little money and a span of horses. Dan and Sam by name. So we decided to go to Colorado where my sister and family were. My youngest brother decided the same way. So, we begin to get things ready for the trip. We put overjets on 2 of our wagons and one of his and a grub box on the back end of one wagon. My brother traded for a cook shack so he had that to cook and sleep in. We had 3 spans of horses and 3 wagons and an extra team and hack and one wagon was a low-wheeled wagon and we had it loaded. We took some extra horses, 2 cows, and some chickens and a couple pigs, and a lot of heavy stuff on that wagon and when my husband hitched up to it the team couldn't move it. We had been having rains and the team hadn't done anything for some time. My brother took 2 cows and some loose horses and chickens. Some of the neighbors helped us get ready. Albert Pritchett, Willie Allen, my brother, Ed, and others helped some. I am sure there are some people who never heard of a chuck wagon grub box. The back is straight and about as high as a wagon box side boards and another set of side boards and the bottom may be 1 1/2 ft. wide and the top 6 or 8 in. and is set in the back of the wagon and the end gate rods go through it to hold it in the wagon and then shelves put in it and the front is a door and when you stop to eat you open the door and it has a leg on it and let it down and it makes a table to eat on. That is the way we had it. You had to stand up or hunt some place to sit down on. When we stopped to eat, we made a fire and cooked out food on it, just a camp fire; we usually had to use cow chips; we picked them up as we went along.
The first night we started, we just went to a close neighbors and spent the night. We all slept in our wagons and that night she was called to her sons and a boy was born to them that night and they had their first grandchild. It was Robert McClaskey's son that had the new baby. We left the McClaskey's next day and started our long drive to Colorado. Had quite a few things happen on our trip. One place we stopped at night and next day was raining and the men and boys tried their skill at riding burros, some stayed on and some didn't. They had lots of fun.
When we got to the South Canadian River, the first thing that happened one of my brother's loose horses went into a pool of water after a drink and she bogged down in quicksand and they had to pull her out with a team. We finally got across and camped on the North side of the river. We built a campfire and I had to bake biscuits for supper and forgot to put salt in them!! Ha!! They were eat just the same, though they all had laughs about it. My oldest brother went with us that far, and he went back home next day and we went on our way. "Headed for Colorado or bust" and we made it.
My youngest brother's wife's parents lived at Harmon, Oklahoma and we were headed for there. They were the folks that run the store down where we lived, but had sold out down there and had gone to Harmon and put in a store.
My brother's boy, Eldwin, and our son, Jesse, drove the horses as we had several loose ones. People would see us coming and could get out in the yard and watch us go by. I guess looked like a circus coming to town. My brother led his two cows behind his wagon and we tied our two behind our wagon. One of ours would pull back, when we came to a bridge or culvert, so they took a rope and made a crupper to go under her tail and up over her back, and through her halter ring where the lead rope was and then tied them to the wagon and when she pulled back it pulled on her tail and she soon quit pulling back. We had milk all the way to Colorado. Were in several rains and was getting cold when we got to Colorado. The following is an account of part of our trip, as my daughter, Dora, kept it as we went along. Part of it is gone, but will write what is left.
As we went into Harmon, we met Walter Bridwell on the bicycle and he got in Bob's wagon and his brother, Cecil, who was with us took the bicycle and went on into Harmon where his folks lived. Next, we met Mr. Bridwell and son, Glenn, in a 2-wheeled cart coming to meet us. Bob's wife and girls went on into Harmon with them after we eat dinner. Well, the rest of us didn't get to Harmon till next day and everyone were out watching the circus cone to town!! Ha!! We got to Mr. Bridwell's about noon, Sept 14. The men got the horses in a pasture. My brother traded for his chuck wagon while there. Bob's wife and I washed clothes while there and all of us washed our head I think.
We left Harmon the 20th of Sept. and continued our long trip to Colorado. Three of the Bridwell boys went with us till noon; we were 4 1/2 miles West of Harmon and eat dinner and they left us and went back home. That night we camped close to a farm home and the man and women came out and brought some popcorn and we popped it over the campfire and was really good. Had a nice visit with them. Went through Shattuck and on. The first silo we seen was on Wolf Creek. Went on our journey again. Went through Ivanhoe; came a rain and we spent a day close to there and Bob and a couple men went hunting. Was a rainy day and chilly. That was where they rode the donkey and got thrown, some of them. Us women went to the house and visited with the women that lived there. Was a little town named Kiowa near. We were there about 3 days, as was rainy. The men played ball and helped cut wood and also sharpened their axes.
We started on next morn. and crossed Kiowa Creek and the next morn. was raining again. Stayed camped all day and night. Bob's wife, Mary, washed clothes. All they done was eat, sleep, clean guns, and cooking and washing dishes, and doctor horses. Some of them got sore shoulders, and rained all day.
Went on next day and my husband traded horses with the man where we were camped. The team he traded both had mule colts, so they had to tie the colts to the horses and learn them to lead. They wasn't long learning. Eat dinner near a place called La Camp. Came up a bad looking cloud and had to drive till we could find a pasture to put the horses in, but the cloud went around us. After supper my husband and I went to the house and visited with the folks for awhile.
Next night camped where we could put the horses in pasture and I went to the house and baked bread for breakfast. Everyone were fine and so friendly to all of us. Not very many had their fields fenced as was herd law then most places. Some woman took a picture of the outfit at Hartsell; would have liked to seen It. We crossed Cold Water Creek and there let the chickens, pigs, and cows, and calf, loose for awhile and horses, too. We camped one night at Gray Oklahoma. Bob broke his double tree as we crossed a sand creek. Came through Guyman, Oklahoma. One of the mules got sick; got all right soon. We camped on the North Canadian River for dinner one day and on the prairie at night. Staked some horses and hobbled some and turned the others loose. When they are with a wagon for awhile, they seldom leave it very far. One night we camped and had popcorn and popped corn and visited and had a nice time. Was hard to find a place out on the prairie where someone lived and where we could get water, too. One time we came to what they call a Buffalo "waller" and had water in it and we filled our keg out of it and that was all water we had for supper and breakfast. We crossed the Cimmaron River and got to a ranch the other side of Wiley's ranch and filled our jugs and kegs there. We had a 5 or 10 gal. keg fastened to the wagon box and set on the step that is on wagon boxes and had a faucet in the side to draw water from and we would fill them up every time we got a chance to get water. Found very sandy roads North of the Cimmaron River. We were not in Colorado, and was the 5th or 6th of Oct. One of our horses got a cut on her shoulder and "screw worms" or maggots as some would say got into it. They had to doctor her and then tied her to one of the horses and led her. She was 2 years old and wasn't broke. She got all right.
We went through Vilas; camped on Lot Creek East of Springfield that night. My parents had lived East of Vilas 6 or 8 miles when I was a girl. There is where my brother and I had been when we got in late and my stepfather was mad and we left home, so were there again after a good many years. Things had really changed for both of us. We went on to what they called Muddy Valley about 35 miles South and East of La Junta, Colorado. My half-sister and husband and son and my half-brother, wife, and baby girl lived down there. Both had homesteads there. They were trying to open up a road off the hill into the valley East of them and we went down that. I couldn't begin to explain how bad it was. They had dug out rocks and were places where the wheels would drop 6 to 8 in. in a place. The wagon boxes slipped forward till one nearly hit the team. They could hardly stand up sometimes. Everything in our wagons were shook loose and us, too, nearly. But, we made it down finally, but had to fix the wagon boxes back and most everything in the wagons. Was a wonder some tires didn't bust apart. We camped in the valley that night not too far from my half-sister and family. We got to my half-sister's next day and they had gone to La Junta. (My mother and stepfather lived in La Junta). My half-brother, Natie, as we called him, seen us and came over and had us go over to his place that night and were there a few days and the valley is closed in by hills and there was a canon up West of where my half brother lived and they said cattle lived up there all winter without any feed, only grass, so we took our outfits up there and set the wagon box off and one set of overjets off on the ground and banked up around the overjets and had the wagon sheets on them and on the wagon box and used them to sleep in. Had a 10x12 tent to live and cook in. There was plenty of water and grass and some tree cactus and we burned the stickers off of them and fed them to the cows.
My brother and family had their cook shack and they got a tent and we were doing just fine for a while. We were taking the 3 oldest girls to La Junta to stay with my mother and go to school. So, I loaded them and some clothes in the wagon one morn. and drove up there and we stayed all night and they went to school next day, and I was going to get them books that day and when they got up, Mary, the oldest one, said she didn't want to go to school up there with the Negroes and Mexicans so Dora said if Mary wasn't going to stay and go to school, she didn't want to and, of course, Sadie didn't want to go by herself. So we loaded up and went back to the valley. So they all missed that year of school, as there was no school in the valley yet. We wasn't there very long till my brother's father-in-law came up there from Oklahoma and one of his sons came and them and my brother went over the Mts. to took for a place. While they were gone, my husband went up to the J. J. Ranch about 15 miles off toward La Junta. Was on the "Picket Wire" River, and got a wad of baled hay and some groceries in case it should storm. They got back the latter part of Nov. and hadn't found a place either.
On the first day of Dec. 1913, it begin to snow and kept it up for 5 days and really was a snowstorm. They had to tie the horses one to another one's tail and string them out and lead the first one and break a trail through to the valley. They had fed up all the hay and we could hear the horses biting the bark off the cedar trees at night they were so hungry. They got them out to my half-brother's and got some feed and several of the men took teams, and wagons and went to the J. J. Ranch, and got some hay and groceries. There were 4 or 5 teams and they took turn about breaking the road, going in the lead. We had loaned a man one of our teams to winter for the use of them and they were in good shape. Snow was 2 ft. deep on the level and some ravines were full and 4 to 6 or 8 ft. deep. They had took the horses across one up where we were till it was packed down; solid ice underneath and had got so they could get a wagon across by middle of Dec. We burned cactus and fed the cows. We would cut some cedar limbs and cut the cactus trees down and make a fire out of the cedar boughs and hold the tree cactus over it till the stickers were burned off and the cows would eat them. When they would see the smoke they would come on a run to where we were to get the cactus. When the snow begin to melt, it would freeze at night and the roads would be so slick and icy the wagons would slip off the road almost. The back wheels of the wagons did sometimes. There were no graded roads there then. I had canned a few apples that fall and we got so near out of food, we had bread and apples and no sugar. Ha!! We had a little milk as we still got milk from the cows. There still was no school. My husband and a couple of the girls finally got out and took the horses to La Junta and got them in my folks corral and the girls took care of them, but before that about the 23rd of Dec. we thought we could get out of the canon, so we worked all day getting wagons and things ready. It had thawed all day and water running everywhere and I put a team to one wagon and 3 of the children and I got in the wagon and when I went across the ravine near the camp, one horse got behind the other a little and the wagon slipped off the ice and upset on the snow. The children and I just stepped out of the wagon on the snow. It was late and getting cold and no one else could get out till the wagon was got out of the road, so my brother didn't get out that night. Some of my family had gone on to a neighbors, so my half-sister took the children and went on and my sister-in-law was there with a team and wagon so she took me and we went to this neighbors, and one of her horses got down in a snow drift and I got out to try and get it up, which I finally did and went on and got there, and my feet were so cold I couldn't tell I had any. They got a tub with snow and rubbed my feet and legs till I got some feeling in them, then someone said Mary hadn't got there yet. She had went on horseback so that started a hunt for her, but they soon found her. She had got on the wrong road, but had turned around and was coming back. We were all worried about her.
These folks where we went had 2 boys and a one-room house and there were all of us and them and my stepsister's family and the folks dogs, cats, and chickens were all in there together. We had lots of fun as well as trouble. Ha!! The men went back next morn. and helped get our wagon out of the way and my brother got out and on Christmas morn, them and my husband started to La Junta and my brother's shack broke down and he had to fix it before he could go on so my folks went on and got to La Junta with the horses. It was my nephew's birthday, Christmas day. My half-sister came over and helped me get the cows, chickens, and pigs over to their place and the other children and I stayed there till my husband got back. We had to burn cactus for the cows and melt snow to have water for them and us too. They had no well and had to haul water. My brother-in-law went with my brother to the J. J. Ranch next day, and they spent the night there and next morn my brother could hardly get his clothes on by himself, so my brother-in-law went on to La Junta with them. Him and my husband came back and we gathered up the rest of our things and took the cows and went back to La Junta till in Feb. Our baby and my brother's baby were just learning to walk while there and they would fall down and our boy would get up and then go to her and catch hold of her hair and try to help her up. There wasn't much difference in their ages.
In Feb. we loaded up and started to what they called the "divide" up near Matheson and Limon along the Big Sandy River. We hadn't got far North of Ordway till we met some friends of ours that had lived in Oklahoma, but had been up on the divide for awhile and he said we couldn't get to the divide unless we went in on sleds as they had to come out on sleds; the snow was so deep. My sister and family lived South of Matheson around 15 miles South, so we turned around and went back to Ordway. The man and family we met were Mr. White and family. His son married a niece of mine later after they got back to Oklahoma.
We camped at Ordway for a while and finally the men got jobs plowing and disking ground for beets. The Whites went on to Oklahoma. After the folks got work South of Sugar City, we moved down there and hauled water from Ordway to drink. Paid 25 cts. for a 50 gal. barrel. They had a reservoir where we camped and we used water out of it for other purposes. They filtered it into a cistern and all used out of it.
There were several houses there, as it was a big beet co. that was having the work done. My husband and son, Jesse, and my brother all worked there. There were Mexicans and Germans came in to thin beets and their children used to play in the small reservoir in the daytime. One day a girl was playing in it with several others, and her mother came out and told her to get out of it and the girl kept going from one side of the pond to the other. It was a rather small one. So finally the girl got on the side nearest the houses and made a run for their house. I don't know what happened to her. She had no clothes on.
We had a low-wheeled wagon and had a long rack on it to haul broom corn heads on and we took our tent and put on it, by making it into a hay rack and we cooked and eat and had one bed in there and some of the children slept in the wagons. We had what they called a "monkey stove" and kept the tent nice and warm in wintertime. We got it when we were camped up in the canon. I also done our cooking on it.
We were camped right behind my brother's house he had rented. There were a lot of Mexicans and Germans came in soon as beets got up big enough to thin and some Sat. nights they would get beer by the keg and have a dance and maybe a fight and get to shooting and we didn't know if anyone was hurt or killed till next day. They would get their beer Sat. and put it in the cistern to get it cool. One day that summer my two boys and my brother's boy went down to a large lake and went in swimming and left their clothes on the bank and some Mexican girls slipped down and got their clothes and walked off with them and the boys got out and run and caught them and whipped them with their clothes. They never tried that again. It was embarrassing to the boys, but I don't think the girls cared. Ha!! One Mexican girl came over to our tent and we had heard they had mumps and Sadie asked her if she had mumps, and she said, "No," and Sadie said, "Let me look in your throat" and she said, "You have got the mumps and told her to get for home and she did and Sadie got them in about 9 days. She had been riding horseback and when she got to the tent she jumped off of the horse and caught her jaws and said, "My jaws hurt". A friend was standing there and he said, "I bet you have got the mumps," and sure enough she did have. We were just ready to start to the divide where my sister lived, so we had to put it off for awhile till we seen if any of the rest of them took them; but they didn't. She slept with 2 of her sisters and they never took them.
A girl I went to school with in Baca Co. and family came by and spent a day and night with us. Hadn't seen her since she was married and they had 3 children and her and I were sitting in the wagon looking at some pictures and all at once she got sick and would have fallen out of the wagon had I not caught her. My husband and brother came and got her and took her in the house and we called the Dr. We didn't know where her husband was and when we did find him and he came back, we told him about his wife and he said, "Why didn't you take a whip and bring her out of it". She died not too long after that. I never seen her any more.
We still had our cows we took from Oklahoma and one was fresh while we were at Sugar City and I had to milk her 3 times a day. She was a roan shorthorn and a good one. Mosquitoes were terrible there that summer. The horses would come in fighting them and their bodies were covered; you could hardly tell what color they realty were (the horses... ha!!) We finally got off to the divide about Sept. 1914. We took our cows and horses and my husband began trading horses for cows, so we had some cream to sell soon. We rented a place and had a frame house on it. Just 2 small rooms and a small cement house. I suppose was for a chicken house, but had never been used so the girls took it for theirs and we used the other house and a wagon box to sleep in. My brother-in-law had a patch of corn where he had beans the year before and the beans came up volunteer. He told us we could have them if we wanted to pull them, so the children and I pulled them and hauled them home. They done their bean thrashing with team and disc those days. They would start around the stack and keep going round and round till they got on top of all of them then keep stirring them with a pitch fork till the beans were all out. Then wind them out to get the hulls out. They were about as clean as they could get them with a thrashing machine later years. We spread a wagon sheet out and took clubs and beat ours out. That may be why I got arthritis 40 years later in my arms. Ha!! We had about one thousand lbs. of the nicest big clean pinto beans I ever looked at. It gave us beans to use and plant too. We raised a nice lot of them next year, but the weeds were very bad and kept the whole family working all summer. We hauled the weeds out and stacked them and used them for feed that winter. When we got up there, we got cabbage 50 cents per hundred and onions for $1.00 per 100 lbs. I made 25 gal. of kraut in a barrel. We had a well there, but had to draw water with a rope and 2 buckets. Was pretty cold sometimes. We did the same in Oklahoma, but just for house use as was plenty of water on the creek and some springs that never froze up.
We still used our "monkey stove" but we got a drum and put in the stovepipe and I could bake bread, cakes, and even light bread. Was rather slow if several came, but we managed fine. My husband and others took potatoes to the river and traded or sold them and got wagon load of apples at a time. He also took potatoes, and sold and brought back cedar posts. Nearly everyone needed posts. Everyone done a lot of visiting those days. There would be a big dinner first at one place then at another and all had lots of fun and didn't have to go l00 miles to find fun. Was a lot of young folks around in the neighborhood and all enjoyed each other and no meanness going on as in these times of cars and planes and such. All drove horses most of the time. A bunch would get in the wagons and some on horseback and strike out hunting coyotes and rabbits. Maybe antelopes too. There were some that had horses that could run down antelopes and coyotes till they could rope them. This was after we went to the divide that the above happened.
While we were at Sugar City after the beet work was done, my husband and son, Jesse, (he was 12 years old) worked in the hay till fall. Jesse raked hay 26 days straight or about all the time and he was sure tired when they got done. My husband run the mowing machine that long or nearly so.
Back now to renting the place. We had a good crop of beans and some potatoes and that year my half-brother passed away and we rented his place from his wife that fall. It was in what they called Muddy Valley, where we were caught in the big snowstorm. They had a big crop down there that year. That was in 1915. Some hauled potatoes to the Arkansas River and traded or sold them and brought back loads of apples for winter. The school was just 1/4 mile from us and we had 5 children in school that winter. There were only children from three families made up the school. A boy close to the school house had quite a crush on the teacher and would be there most every noon to see the teacher and the children would play and they usually had a long noon. I think they locked the teacher out a few times and had a longer noon. We stayed there that winter till Jan. and on the move again. We loaded up and went back to Muddy Valley. We had got several head of cows by that time and drove them down there.
Two of my nephews and another young man went with us. We had lots of fun. The young man later became my son-in-law. We were 3 days going down I believe; anywise, we camped out and cooked our food on a campfire. They all said if anyone got mad, they would put them in the first tank of water we came to, and if my girl, Mary, got in a good humor they would throw her in a tank. Everything went off fine.
When we crossed the Picket Wire River one of our wagons came coming apart. We had the low-wheeled wagon as we called it with a tent on and I was driving it and the river was up and when we got up the bank on the other side we found the coupling pole was broke and the hayrack was all that was holding it together so had to stay there all night and fix it. We got there next day. Some didn't know the directions, were turned around to us. The boys that went with us slept in their wagon and one got up pretty early and left the lantern lit and it smoked and filled the wagon with smoke and I guess there wasn't enough air to let the smoke out and he came near being asphyxiated. Could hardly make himself get out. There were 10 of us and the three boys with us. The young man that came with us got work from one of the farmers and the other two stayed for a few days and went back home. They were my sister's boys.
There was a two-room house on the place, fair size and some slept in the wagons and we put the tent up, and some slept in it. Jesse done quite a bit of the farming and his father hauled posts. They would cut them there most anywhere on the hills and he took them to the divide and sold them to the farmers to fence with. They had to fence their crops then as was open range; no pastures. We planted our crop in the spring and never got enough rain to bring it up till Sept., so we had no crop. Had a load of volunteer cane. They used to go out and kill a deer once and awhile as they, the deer, would eat their feed. The children had nothing to do all winter only go to parties and have fun. They started up a literary and that was pretty good for awhile. They got to writing a paper and reading it at literary and some got rather peeved as they got a little too personal I guess, so it wasn't so good afterward, but they had lots of fun.
My half-sister and husband and son lived not far from us and my mother and stepfather lived close to us, so we were together quite a good part of the time. Mother and I pieced quilts and made comforts. That was in 1916. I had a friend that lived at Houston, Texas and had asthma very bad and had had for years and we wrote to each other all the time. Her uncle lived near us in Oklahoma and her and her mother and sister used to come up there for her health. One summer she spent the summer with us in Oklahoma for her health, so I invited her to come up to Colorado and spend the summer with us again. She was single, so she came out and she slept in the tent where she could have plenty of fresh air and one day I went in the tent to get some beans to cook and I heard a snake rattle and got to looking around and it was there by the sack of beans. It didn't bother her about it being in there; she kept sleeping in there. She went with the children everywhere they went and that was quite a lot as was no work to do only milk cows and separate the milk. There were lots of rattlesnakes down there. The valley was covered with tree cactus and they and rats stayed around the roots of them. There were what we called blue racer snakes. They were long and slim and they would run under the house and the floor was foot boards and we could see them through the cracks of the floor. They really could run. There were lots of snakes killed each summer down there. The boys killed a good many and every once in a while a horse or cow would get snake bit. We had a colt get bit and we bound a buttermilk and flour poultice on his head and he finally got well.
My sister-in-law had some cattle down on her farm we had rented and one of them had warts all over his neck and head and we bought a big bottle of castor oil and doped them up with it for a few days and they finally all left. Some were large as a good-sized egg. My son, Jesse had some on his hands, not near so large. Ha! We just put castor oil on them and they soon were gone. My husband kept hauling posts to the divide and selling them. My sister and family were still living South of Matheson about 13 miles. They heard of a place for sale up there and he went and looked at it and we sold our cows a1l but one crippled one and bought the place. We had no feed for the cows. 1 made butter and sold it all summer and till we sold the cows, so in Mar. we again loaded up our belongings and moved to the divide. There was a well on the place, but when we cleaned it out, found out it was just a seepage well, so we had no water only when we had a big rain. There had been one dug and one or two drilled but no water. We had one drilled but no water. There was 240 acres of it. Was good land, but dry for water to use. We hauled water for some time. The men broke out more ground and we rented some and had a fair crop that year. We planted watermelons and muskmelons down on the cow ground near a low place close to the creek you might call it, and had some fine melons of both kinds and as good as I ever eat. We had lots of company come to eat melons. It was in April when we got there and my daughter and husband lived a mile West of us and their first child was born the 3rd of April. My nephew was waiting to take me up to be with her. We had got to my sister's that eve. That was in 1917. My first grandchild--that is, of my own children. My stepdaughter had a couple and they were always as close to me as my own children. One of the boys took a team and sled with a barrel on it to get some water at this seepage well one day and one horse got scared or something and ran away and one fell down and the hook on the singletree caught in her nose and she couldn't get up. We never could tell how it happened; she wasn't hurt otherwise and the other one just stood till they got her up.
We lived there for two or three years. Loco weed was bad there then and we had one horse got locoed very bad; seems they can't see very good when locoed. He would go up to a water tank and just stumble into the tank. The tank wasn't very high, as was set down in the ground some and was cement. Was on the place our daughter and her husband lived. He rented another place later and we rented that one where we had plenty of water, but a small house. We sold our place and were thinking of buying it, but another place was for sale near there and had more pasture and a better house, so we finally bought it. We had poor crops for a few years. We moved on it in Mar. 1920, I believe, and lived there for 31 years. Some years we had good crops and some years not so good. One year we had 5 different hail storms, and some winters were very bad; snowstorms and wind and snow would drift as high as the roof on the houses.
In 1918 we were still on the first place we bought, and the flu got very bad. Nearly every family had someone down with flu and sometimes the whole family were down; hardly anyone to help care for the sick. Our oldest son, Jesse, came down first. He had been helping dig postholes for to put in posts for a phone line and came home sick one eve. and in 2 or 3 days the rest of us came down with it. Jesse was able to get out in a few days and help with chores some and our son-in-law went and got us a load of lignite coal and helped with chores and he got the flu and stayed at our place. When Jesse got up he tried to cook something for us to eat and done a pretty good: job of it for a boy. Ha!! He had never done any cooking before. There were 8 of us in bed at one time and there wasn' t anyone for miles around but what most of them were down and those that got partly over it went to help the neighbors. There was a Dr. in Matheson and he had to be taken to see the sick in a buggy so they would leave Matheson in the morn. and visit each family as they went along and would drive all day from house to house. Our son-in-law got able to be up so he helped where help was needed most also our son, Jesse. An aunt of mine came up and stayed with us a few days and she got sick. About the 3rd day, my husband got up and said he felt fine, but the Dr. told him he better stay in bed, so next day he stayed in bed and never got out for a mo. later and then the Dr. told him to get up every day, some or he would never get out, so he did, but he never had very good health after that and wasn't able to do a day's work any more. I got able to get out and my aunt went to another place to care for an aged lady, but she died. That was the only patient that Dr. lost. The first time I went out to milk the cows after I got up I thought I could never get it done I was so weak. I only had 2, but what a job. We had to tie one cow's foot back and milk her over a fence sort of shield, for she could kick harder than any cow I ever milked.
There was an epidemic of flu. Hardly anyone escaped it. One of our girls was married in Mar. 1916. They had the boy that was born in April 3, 1917. Another girl was married in Sept. 5, 1919. Her husband had been in the Army in Germany and another girl was married Feb. 20, 1919, so our family was leaving us fast. None of our boys were old enough to go to service though, and were too old in 2nd World War. Anyway, they were never called. The oldest boy, Jesse, rented a place and bought a span of mules and went to farming for himself. About the year 1918. We had a nice driving mare, and he bought him a buggy and he and his oldest sister went places together till she got married, then some other boy's sister took her place...ha! He finally got him a new Model T. Ford, which was more attractive than the horse and buggy.
When our girl got married in 1916, we lived in "Muddy Valley" and there wasn't much to do so they went to parties and different things so the young folks had planned to charivari them one Sun. night as they were going to La Junta next day and be married and were leaving there for Kansas, where his folks lived. I have that wrong, they were to charivari them Mon. night and they were leaving on Tues., so all the young folks went to a party or somewhere Sun. and while all were gone they got their things all together and Mon. morn. I took them to La Junta. Was a good day's drive with team and wagon, so her older sister seen us getting things loaded up to go and she asked us what we were going to do and I told her I was taking them to La Junta that day, and she got so mad she cried and when the rest found it out they said they were going to dip me in the water tank, but they didn't. Ha!! I thought they were going a little too far to charivari a couple before they were ever married. We went to my mother's and spent the night; and they were married next day and took the first train out to Kansas. One young man that lived down there had a span of mules and he had gone to Las Animas, or they probably would have followed us. They came back through there that fall but they never did charivari them. They went to the divide and rented a farm and farmed up there. They were close to where we bought a place when we went up there. They had school and literary down there for a couple years before we left too.
There was a school up on the divide too, was over 2 miles where our children went. Had 5 in school at one time. They also had Sunday School and Church most of the time; also literary and grange. Had some real nice times and every one were good neighbors. One night at literary the men made up to have a fuss at literary and when they began to quarrel and almost fight one woman said to her husband, "Come on Ab and let's go home." She got scared for she thought they were in earnest. Ha!! All had a good laugh. At that time, we were living about 1/4 mile from the school house as we had sold our place and bought another one and had moved up on it. There were 3 families moved the same day. A family moved from our place to one our son-in-law was on and they moved where we had lived and we moved to our place where the other family had lived. The wind blew a hurricane that day, too. We lived on that place for 31 years. Was 1920 when we moved on there, and we lived there till Jan. 1952. My husband died Dec. 20, 1932 and I lived there till 1952. Our son, Jesse, rented it before his father died and lived there till after his death, and when he left and went to Canon City another son rented part of it and I farmed 50 acres and he left the farm in the 1940's and moved to Limon. Then my grandson rented it a couple years and we didn't raise much crop for a few years and I decided to sell out and did in 1951. I had one son living in Vancouver, Washington in 1944. Him and his wife worked in the shipyard there and he was expecting to be called to service, so I went out to see them and also a daughter and family lived near Caldwell, Idaho so went and seen them too. My grandson's wife taught school out there while he was on my place. When they came there, they had just got married and lived up near Calhan and they were at his Dad's place when they went to charivari them and they got her, but he got away and a number of them came to my place to catch them, and she made an excuse to come over to my place for a match to get a light and her man's brother was with her and she went out first and ran around the house and he thought she had went back to her house and she slipped back in my house and got under the bed, and when the brother came back to find her, he looked under the bed with a flashlight but didn't see her. So, soon her husband called me and wanted to know if his wife was there and I told him she was, and soon him and a couple boys with him came and gave themselves up. The bunch let the air out of the car wheels and put him in the water tank. That was in 1947. Before my husband died, I was taking care of an aged couple for the county. He had had 3 strokes and was helpless and she was so fleshy she couldn't do much. We got them in August and he died the 6th of Dec. 1932, and my husband died Dec. 20. I raised hogs and chickens and had a couple cows and calves and took care of all three of them. I took care of this woman four years and she left me and went to live with some folks she had known in Ill. She left in Aug. and died in Jan. After I was left alone, I took a school teacher to board. I boarded her the winter of 1934 and 35. Was a rather cold, bad winter. I was just a quarter mile from the schoolhouse. She was a good teacher and the children really learned. She was still teaching in N. M. in 58 and 59. The next winter they got another teacher and she boarded with me. That was 36 and 37. She got a car and was gone more than the first one. The next year was another one; that was 37 and 38 and she was a good teacher and she taught three terms at our school and boarded with me all three terms up to 38 and 39 and 40 and 41. Another one 41 – 42.
To go back to the 1920's. We had some good crops and some years not so good during the 20's. There was a large "lagoon" North of our house and a good rain would put a lot of water in; sometimes was around 3 ft deep in center. One Sun. my brother and wife were there from Oklahoma on a visit and some of his family and my sister's family and all of my family and neighbors and the young folk got into a water fight and used all the water out of the water tank and water barrel and went to the lagoon and finished up. There were 15 or more were wet as they could get. My daughter and husband lived about 3/4 mile from us and she took girls down there and got dry clothes for them and I hunted up some of the boy's clothes for the boys. I don't remember how many eat dinner there that day; some brought some food with them to help out with dinner. One rime they had a surprise on me on my birthday and there were 75 there. One time they had another surprise on me. My husband and Jesse had gone to take our daughter home to La Junta, Colorado and the children and I went to school and church and one family got their mail on the road in front of our house and they went down by there and they told me to get on the running board and ride down home. We did and I handed them their mail and said to them, "I would ask you to come in for dinner, but my husband wasn't home." I started to the house and they drove around the corner of the fence and on up to the house. There were several of the young folk that would drive in and water their horses and I didn't pay any attention to them, but soon here came rigs driving in and it dawned on me what they were doing. I felt plum silly. Ha!! My husband and son got there in time for dinner. My husband and I took a trip to La Junta; were going to Pritchett, Colorado. to get our son, Walter who had been down there helping his brother-in-law harvest. Had some hard rains, and washed roads pretty bad and when we crossed the old bridge at La Junta, the people were standing on the other side, that when we got across it, they were so many we could hardly get on away. They were watching for the bridge to wash away. We went to our daughter's and spent the night and next day we went South to the Picket Wire River and 2 spans of that was out, so came back and went to Las Animas and seen one of the Commissioners and asked him if we could cross the Picket Wire River and he said, "You might, but they were looking for it to go out any time", so we went on and got there and a larger crowd was there than at La Junta and some of the fill had washed out clear into the side of the road, so we had to go down on one side of the fill in a man's field and straight up the bank and right on the bridge. We made it, but when we came back next day, they had it condemned and had to go East 15 miles to get across. The fill had all washed out at the new bridge at La Junta as we went down.
One year we had a very good wheat crop and had to haul it to Matheson with teams and wagons and some came from the East and some from the South. Sometimes, if they seen each other they would run races to see who could get to the corner first and get on ahead at the elevator with their wheat.
Back to the 1920's. We were in debt on our farm and bad crop years didn't help very much. Hail and dry weather hit us pretty hard, as it did others; didn't have much to sell. We had quite a little grain planted and the hails hit it pretty hard one year, and I took the team and mower and cut and raked it and hauled it in and stacked it and had good feed for the cows. My husband wasn't able to do much work after he had the flu in 1919, so I helped a lot in the field. I believe our son, Jesse, came down and cut our beans and the other children helped shock them, but one year I hauled the beans in and stacked them myself. I heard a man I knew, when I was in a store in Matheson, he would like to get someone to help him stack beans, and I said to him, "Why don't you stack them yourself?" He didn't think he could and I said to him, "I stacked ours." I heard later he went home and stacked his. Our daughter, Sadie, was married in 1919 on Feb. 20 and daughter, Mary, married 1919, at La Junta, Colorado. Her husband had just got out of service in World War One. That was in Sept. and in 1924 our oldest son, Jesse, got married Jan. 23rd, 1924, so we had lost about all of them and our second son, Daniel, was married Feb 28, 1927, and our daughter, Ethel, was married Feb. 22, her birthday in 1926. She married a cousin to Sadie's and Dora's husbands. Then on Oct. 9, 1928, the last girl, Jewel, was married. That only left one boy at home. About this time or before their father had a bad, sick spell and was sick for about 7 years before he passed away, Dec. 1932. The children and neighbors came in and sat up nights someone about every night for two or three months. We never did find out just what was the matter, though we had him to 8 or 9 different Drs. He had worked in coal and gold mines and I felt like he had T.B. and asthma, the way he coughed. When he first got sick, a local Dr. told me he might live 6 months or a year, but he lived about 7 years. My father had passed away in March, 1930 and my mother in April, 1926.
In the L920's, there was plenty going on in S. S. and church, when we could get a pastor and that was real often, literary, grange, and once in awhile a dance and plenty of work. The children were all out on their own. Only one boy and he, Walter, was married Aug. 6, 1931 and in 32 their father passed away, so I was left alone. The children; some of them were close and came to see me or called every day. When my husband and I were first married, he was a great hand to trade horses and some were not broke and him and I would hitch them up to a gentle horse and drive them around and then hitch 3 to a plow and work them. We had a gentle two-year old and we hitched her to the plow with 2 others and she threw herself under the tongue to the plow and we got her up and went to the house and hitched her to the wagon with one of the others and she started on a run and we let her run awhile and she soon calmed down. Another time we put a colt with 2 others to the plow and he pulled back and broke his check and plunged forward and broke his harness and went to the house with the collar on. I helped the boys some when breaking colts to work. When my son, Danny, was on my place, he had an unbroken horse and he sold him to a neighbor and the neighbor came down to get him. They run the hayrack up on one side of the door and my granddaughter was watching one door and I was watching the one by the hayrack. After they got him in the barn and all at once he backed up against the door I was holding and knocked me down and had a foot on each side of me and whirled and ran away. Several were around there and all thought he had stepped on me as he had to swing around on his hind feet to get out, but I wasn't hurt, thank goodness.
We always milked cows and raised hogs and chickens and had our own meat, milk, eggs, and butter, and raised some vegetables, potatoes, and would go to the river to get apples and trade potatoes for them in the fall. A good many of the neighbors did the same thing. We went to the Arkansas River, around Rocky Ford and other towns around nearby in Colorado. One night of literary my son and a friend of his dressed my son up in girl's clothing and they went to literary and a good many didn't know my son. Finally, someone knew him and spoke his name and the windows were up and they went out through the window. They caused quite a laugh.
In the 30's' people began to sell their farms and move out. We had a $1200.00 mortgage on our place and I hadn't got much over the rent to pay on it. The interest was 8% and payable twice a year and it sure kept me wondering how I could keep it up, but I did and a little beside. I had it renewed once and the man that held the mortgage didn't have anything to do with it, so I found out his name and we (the boys and I) went to see him, and he put the interest down to 7%, and when it was due again, I asked him if he would give me a small sum and him take the place or cut the debt some and me keep it, so he studied about it and cut the debt and gave me the deed back. He said I had always paid my interest up prompt and he didn't need the place and I did. They were fine people.
I sold the farm in 1951 and I went to Wash. and visited a son and daughter out there; she was in Idaho and the son and family -in Wash. I was gone a mo. or more and came home and my son and wife lived at Calhan and they came to Colorado Springs with me and helped me find a place. On Christmas eve, I bargained for one and paid some down on it and we left for Calhan and was snowing so we could hardly see the road at times. I went to my brother's in Calhan and they went on home. They lived about eleven miles South of Calhan. I moved out on the place the latter part of Jan., 1952.
Submitted by: Rich and Teri Moberly
Memories of Rich's GGAunt.
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