Excerpt from Lloyd D. Pickering's Family History (pg. 28 - 58)

(This is a copyrighted work and the following is presented with the author's permission, given prior to death)


Part [1]  [2]  [3]  [4]


On August 23, 1899, Dave wrote to ask Eda to come to Granton on the 7:46 train so that they could go on a Sunday school picnic.  He closed by saying “Now you be sure and come.”  The Pickering family heartily approved of Eda and she corresponded with Hannah, Ona and Jessie rather frequently.  The night watchman’s job proved to be temporary and Dave was disappointed, but he said he was going to pick cranberries with Myron and then to harvest potatoes the first of November. 


Myron Pickerings Home in Granton, Wis.


When Eda went home for her spring vacation in 1900, she wrote to tell Dave that her father was quite ill.  She also wrote, “I’m including examples of multiplying and dividing fractions and I want you to keep on studying.”


During that same spring Dave was preparing to take the civil service exam as a railway mail clerk.  On March 26th he took the test, but he failed in the speed test of reading addresses.  His disappointment was intensely keen, but destiny had something far removed from a civil service career awaiting him. 


That spring of 1900 proved to be discouraging for both of them because they learned that Eda would not be teaching in his home district again.  Eda wrote that her father’s shoulder had been dislocated in a fall from the scaffolding and he also had a pierced lung and broken ribs.  There was not much the doctors could do for him.

Eda’s new school was near Granton and Dave was elated at this good news.  He wrote that he would now go to work in the mill at Nevins.  His Uncle Robert had the lath and sawmill there.  Dave’s father, Byron, had been running the engine and he told Dave he could have that job.  He knew how little the community had to offer an ambitious young man so he turned his job over to his son.  Dave was a good mechanic and he made $1 per day for twelve hours of work.  Besides doing the work at the mill, Dave hauled his own bolts to the mill.  After they were made into lath, he bought the lath from his uncle for five dollars per thousand and hauled them to Granton, where he sold them to a hardware man for ten dollars per thousand.  It took a whole day for the journey.  One day he sold a load of lath, hauled out some bolts and made a total of $3.70.  He felt he was really getting ahead


Nevins, Wisconsin Saw Mill


Dave wrote to ask Eda how her father was getting on.  She replied, “ He has been getting worse all the time.  Help can come only from God. We can expect the worst at any time.”  The last part of April 1900 Eda’s father passed away.  She was twenty years old and the family depended on her more than ever.  The fact that she had to be responsible for her mother and six other children left a mark on Eda that lasted for the rest of her life.  She never escaped the feeling of poverty no matter how much money she had at her disposal.


Eda wrote to Dave about her father on May 21, 1900.  “When I got home on Saturday it did seem so awful not to find papa there.  It doesn’t seem right that papa left us, and so young, but as it was willed so, we ought to be more willing to accept it.  But it seems so hard—everything does—school is, and life itself is, sometimes.”  Eda told Dave how to get to the schoolhouse and she said they could take a walk over to see it.  She told of the trailing arbutus, which was in fragrant blossom.  He did come over and they had an evening together after which he took her back to the Kinzeles, where she was staying. 


After he brought her back, she was invited to a neighbor’s for homemade ice cream, but she decided not to go.  That week she had trouble at school with two of the older boys so she decided to visit their parents after school.  She set out shortly after four o’clock, but got up the road a half-mile and took a right turn when she should have made a left.  She kept on until she reached a house only to find she had made the wrong turn at the corner.  She retraced her steps and finally found the home she had intended to visit.  The mother was very kind and even asked her to stay for supper.  She declined the invitation and left with the mother’s admonition to shake up the boys when they misbehaved.  This was a ridiculous suggestion since either of them was much larger than Eda.


The Mounds


She went home for the summer and began to enjoy her vacation.  She and her sisters made plans to visit The Mounds to do some climbing and to take some pictures.  They started at seven in the morning because the place was about three miles north of Neillsville.  It was a rocky outcropping and a wonderful place to climb around on the boulders. 


The Teacher’s Institute was held for two weeks in August and Eda attended to upgrade her certificate.  She asked for an increase in salary at the Granton School, but she did not receive it.  Dave had been home during much of that month with an injured finger.  Finally, it had healed enough that he started putting up wild hay with his dad.  They put up about five tons of it by hand.  He had gone to work on the new bridge when the haying was done, but his finger started bothering him again




In a letter that fall Dave wrote, “The folks are all in the other room singing.  This one is a piece we used to sing together and every time I hear it I think of you.”  Dave had a ringing tenor voice and he was a very good singer.  The hymn he most loved to sing was “Rock of Ages.”


On October 10, Dave wrote to Eda.  She had gone to Marshfield to stay with her sister, Martha.  “Eda, I expect to go up fifty miles northeast of Chippewa Falls with Pa to look at some timber land.  If we can find the kind that suits us we intend to buy some.  We’ll go the last part of this month.  Reverend Willen told us about the land.” 


On October 17, Dave and his Dad set out for Chippewa Falls and the country north.  It was a ten-day trip and all of their exploring was done on foot.  Their enthusiasm for the land was boundless.  They had been up in Gates County along the Big Jump and Little Jump Rivers.  On the 27th they were on their way home when Dave wrote again,


Dearest Eda,

We have looked over some of the finest land I ever saw.  I expect to own 160 acres of it.  No road yet, but it has been surveyed and it will be put in after a year or so.  Fine timber and—oh, the fishing!



Eda found a school near Marshfield and she was staying with Martha and Albert.  She gave Dave the directions for finding the home and Dave replied:


Nov. 15, 1900



Well, I was really surprised when your folks told me you had gone to Marshfield to teach.  I have been away deer hunting with Myron and Allie.  We stayed in Dave Sparks old house.  I had to do the cooking.  It does me good to hear from you.  I wish I could see you.

I remain yours ever, Dave

Allie, Earl & Dave


That was the first time that Dave had expressed enough of his feelings for Eda that she could know what the outcome would be.  Dave invited her to come for Christmas vacation, but she wrote back to say,  “The doctor has just been here and from what he says, I’m afraid Louie will never grow old.”

She was wrong.  Her brother, Louie, lived to be an old man.


On January 30, 1901 Dave wrote to say that he had bought the timber rights on forty acres of land in Clark County and he also had a half interest in a forty in Wood County.  He was cutting timber on this land and getting it to the mill for the spring sawing.  He said he was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and getting home at night at 7:00 o’clock.  He sold this lumber, which was beautiful pine, to Mr. Gilman in Neillsville.


Eda had spring vacation beginning the last of April.  She was anxious to get home again.  Dave proposed during this vacation time and she accepted.  He wrote her a happy letter saying, “I take an interest in my work.  I like to work since I know that I am working for you as well as myself.  How happy you have made me.”


After spring break, Eda returned to her school.  It was about three miles out of Marshfield.  One Sunday evening she was alone because Martha and Albert had gone to Neillsville.  She said in her letter to David, “I told Martha they’d all be home together tonight except Papa and me.  I often have dreams of him.  Just think, it will soon be a year since he left us and so much has happened since then.  I get lonesome here.  Remember how we used to go driving when I was at Nevins?”


Dave was now working in a saw and lath mill at Dewhurst during the spring run.  He said, “I do like my work quite well, but expect to have to change in a week or so for some other job.  That is always my luck—to have to change, but I don’t mind when I can change to something better.”


Eda was up early on Monday morning to catch the handcar so that she could ride out to her school.  She rode out every morning, but she walked back the three miles in the evening.  She wrote, “Isn’t it just lovely outside now!  I recall when we used to go walking in the evening at Nevins.  There are such lovely flowers along the track here as I walk home.  I should like to stop and pick a bushel of them, but I usually get to Martha’s late as it is.  I have one month of school left.  Have wanted to get Martha a present before I go home just to show how much I have appreciated everything, but she and Albert won’t hear of it.  Martha says I can’t imagine how much comfort I’ve been to her.  I think of those two big cherry trees out there and how beautiful it must be again and all of you going to Sunday school on the big wagon.”


Dave replied at once, “Eda, I hope you will have a happy birthday.  I wanted to get you a present, but haven’t been out anywhere.  You are twenty-one years old aren’t you?”  The mill where Dave was working was miles from any store.  Dave continued, “Uncle Jim is going to be married soon.  His lady is staying here now.  I am getting ready to go back to the mill.” 


Eda replied to tell Dave how nicely everything was going at her school.  She invited the folks from Nevins to the “Sangerfest” to be held in Marshfield in June.  She especially invited Dave to come and stay with them.  Albert Wagner was hauling stone for the basement of their new home.  Albert’s father had given them a Jersey cow and Martha had just finished churning her first batch of butter and she was as happy as could be.


June 18, 1901


Dearest Eda,


  I was so glad to get your picture.  It made me happy just to look at it when I was way out to that mill in the swamp.  Now, I want you to spend the fourth of July here with us at Nevins.  I’d like to come for you on the third, but if you are going to celebrate together at home, I’ll come for you on the fifth.



The millwork was over for the season and Dave was building a house for Ernst Watts.  He promised to show Eda the house when she came to visit because she had teased him about not being able to build one.  The truth is that he was a very good carpenter.  He promised Eda that he would take her advice and do more looking around for a market for his lumber before he sold any more.  Sometimes he got a low price for his lumber and sometimes he didn’t even get paid, so even his Dad thought this was a good idea.  Eda became his financial adviser throughout life and it was because of her advice that he did so well.


Eda had liked the school near Marshfield and she had been asked to return, but she wanted to be nearer to her home.  When Dave asked her if she had a new school, she was pleased to tell him in a letter on August 11, “Of course I’ve got a school.  It begins a week from next Monday.  It is six miles from town and about ten from Nevins.  I shall be home every weekend.  Won’t that be lovely?”  Dave let her know that he would drive out to see her the very next weekend.


Now, it was Dave’s turn to stay in Marshfield.  With the summer building and harvesting done at Nevins, he had sought work where ever it might be and he had taken a job at a livery stable in Marshfield.  He wrote Eda, saying, “I like the work.  It isn’t hard and the days go by quickly enough.  There are five teams in my care and the carriages and the hearse to keep clean and polished.”  He was tied down to this job for the full week, including Sundays, and always on call.  He didn’t like this part of his job. 


Edith & Ward


Sept. 19, 1901

Dear Davie,

I’m glad you like your new job.  Isn’t it awful about McKinley?  Just when they thought he was getting better, too.  I hope it won’t change the times any.  After supper we sit around and sew and visit.  There is a rural mail route here now, but our mailbox is a mile down the road.  That is still better than when it was six miles away.

Love, Eda


By September 26, David had decided the livery job was not for him.  He decided to go to Minneapolis to visit his sister, Edith.  She and Marcus had now been married for eleven years.  At this time Ward was ten years old, Blanche was seven, Irene was almost five and little Byron was going to be three in November.  What a wonderful and boisterous family it must have been.   David enjoyed playing with the children and visiting with Edith.  No doubt he wanted to talk over many things with her, since she had been married for the longest time and she was his oldest sister.  Dave had thought about finding work in Minneapolis, but after a short time he was so overcome with longing for home and Eda that he decided to return to Nevins.  He went over to the round house with Marcus Wilson, who was an engineer on the Soo Line, and returned as far as Abottsford, riding in the engine cab with Marcus.  Among the letters he saved is a receipt for the purchase of one pearl ring, single stone, in a gold setting.  Signed Wm. Stone, Jeweler.  It was dated October 9, 1901.


When he returned to Nevins, Dave called on Eda first of all and presented her with the ring.  Later, she wrote, “Everyone thinks my ring is a perfect beauty.  Well, I do too.  It is prettier every time I look at it.”  Dave answered, “I feel happy all day long and my work is easier than ever before.  We just got the last of the DLP logs sawed today.  I am not sorry that it is done, but I wish there had been sawing enough for a month.  Now, I will hunt deer for a few days.  Haven’t been out hunting since last fall.”


Dave spent that winter in the woods cutting and hauling railroad ties to Lynn.  He wrote to Eda, “I feel so much happiness since we are so much to each other and because we are young and it’s our first real love.”  It was hard work, but Dave didn’t mind the labor as much as the cold trip. 


In March Eda wrote again and indicated that she was still undecided about getting married without waiting a year or two.  “It is because we don’t know just yet what we intend to do or where to settle down.  That depends on you and you must decide that for yourself.  Of course, I’ll help all that I can.  I enjoy myself just sitting alone and thinking about the future and what it holds.”


During spring vacation in April of 1902, Eda persuaded Dave to make a trip with her to Marshfield to visit Martha and Albert.  She had made three house plans for Albert’s inspection.  Dave had let Eda know that they would not be at Nevins for many more years.  Things were already changing.  Almost all of the pine had been cut and the country was poor for farming.  Therefore, the house plans were not extravagant.  The plan they decided on was a model of practicality, with rafters longer at the back “so the dining room will be larger.”  There was a long hall from the front door, which led to the kitchen.  Beside this was a stairway to the second floor, which had three nice bedrooms.  Finally, they decided to be married that summer. 


Eda wrote, “I can’t make Mama really believe we’re to be married this summer.  Emma said she supposed Mama dreaded to see her girls leave home.”  Eda suggested that it bothered her that Dave hadn’t talked with her mother about their intentions, to which Dave replied, “It probably would be better for me to see your Mama, first I had a hard enough time to coax you, now I have got to coax your Mama, too.”


May 25, 1902

Dear Davie,

 A young man, a neighbor of ours, is to be buried today.  I’ve thought lately that should you be taken away suddenly, how terrible I’d feel that I had never shown how much I love you.  Now, if we lived together a hundred years, if we were always as good and true to each other as now, then a hundred years wouldn’t be enough to show it all.



Hannah & Jesse


Hannah’s father, James Sparks, died on June 1, 1902.  He was buried in the little Sherwood Cemetery, which is just east of the Town Hall.  James Freeman Sparks was born on July 23, 1818 at Summit, New York.  He married Sylvia Calkins on August 20, 1837.  She was born on September 5, 1813 at Liberty, New York.  Grandma Sylvia died on January 23, 1871 at Plainfield, Wisconsin.  James lived with various members of his family for the remaining thirty-one years of his life.  Most of his children were living in the Nevins area.


Jessie was still at home with her mother, so Hannah had company and someone to help with the daily chores.


By June 12, David and Eda’s new house had been lathed for plastering.  This particular evening Dave had written a letter to Eda and then gone for a walk across the road to his new home.  The garden was planted and growing well.  He spoke of the fine looking melons and hoped for a good crop because he liked them so well. 


 By June 18, Eda’s last term of school was over.  She had been asked to return and there was disappointment expressed that she would not be back again.  Each time Dave came to town, Eda packed a box for him to take back to Nevins in preparation for housekeeping.  June was a very busy month.  There was furniture to be picked out and linens to embroider.  There was a lot of discussion with the family about their preferences for gifts and it was a very happy time.  Grandmother Ketel was preparing her home for the wedding.  She had a new floor laid and oak woodwork installed.  Dave furnished the lumber.  Meanwhile, Dave was preparing to plaster his new house and was digging a well.  It was only three weeks until the wedding day.  Dave wrote a last letter just before the wedding.  “Pa is out in the hayfield already and I’ve got to go and help him.  I’ve got to come to town this week, haven’t I, to get the license?”


Hannah, Byron, Edith, Allie, Eda, Dave, Ona, Myron, Mary, Earl


 It was a lovely mid-summer wedding held at the Ketel home in Neillsville on July 30, 1902.  Myron Pickering and Mary Borgers were married on the same day in a separate ceremony at the Borgers’ home.  There was no honeymoon trip for these young folks.  They went to their new homes satisfied to have a place of their own.  Dave and Eda’s home was across and up the road from the Ranch and next door to the school house.  It was not a farm, but they did have the fine garden that David had tended all spring and there was a cow and a team of horses in the little barn.  Dave continued to buy and sell lumber and other mill products.  He did some carpenter work and roadwork, too.  He was elected as a member of the school board in his home district.


Mary Borgers Pickering


Myron also built a home near that of his parents.  He was working most of the time with his Dad and Dave in the mill.  He also kept a few hives of bees as a hobby.  He liked to roam through the woods, hunting and looking for wild bee nests in hollow trees and obtaining the honey.  Edith’s husband, Marc Wilson, loved guns.  One time Myron took him out hunting.  At this season the partridges were feeding on the ground, so it was necessary to flush them and shoot them on the wing.  Myron gave Marc the shotgun and he took the rifle.  They flushed a partridge.  Marc was a bit late on shooting, so it got away.  Myron knew that the bird would still be where it lit, so he went over to flush it again.  Myron was razzing Marc about letting that one get away while they were walking side by side, Marc with the shotgun and Myron with the 45/60 rifle.  When they got near to where the bird had lit, they got their guns ready.  The bird flew up.  The partridge has a heavy body and small wings, so it starts off with quite a roar of wings.  It is also a swift flier once it is airborne and it was getting away fast.  When it was far enough away and the shotgun had not spoken, Myron pulled on it with the rifle and down it came.  Nothing was said until they picked up the bird and Marc said, “And you hit it in the head, too.”  Myron replied, as though it had been intended all along, “Well, if I’d shot it in the body with that large rifle bullet, there wouldn’t be anything left of it.” All of the young brothers roamed through the woods hunting game.  They provided much of the meat for the families.







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