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Copyright 1975 O'Fallon Historical Society, Baker, Montana. ALL RIGHTS RESEVED
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Copyright 1975 O'Fallon Historical Society, Baker, Montana. Printed by Western printing & Lithography
from the Snowy Mountains which were 25 miles away and also from the Bull Mountains near Roundup. I had hired men and we hauled using two wagons to haul with. In the winter we split the logs and got enough posts to fence the 320 acres. I'll bet some of those posts are still there. In '16 and '17, we had fair crops and also in '18, but on August 1, 1918, we had a very bad hail storm. It was 15 miles wide and 30 miles long and cleaned everything in its path. That was the first year that the State of Montana wrote State Hail Insurance-$10 per acre for 60 cents per acre. We had a total loss and the state paid 40 percent on the loss. Lowell and Marie were born at Roundup.
In the fall of 1918, 1 shipped a car of locoed cattle to St. Paul where they brought very little, because they were so thin. In Dec. 1918, 1 had a sale and sold some good cattle and got, a good price for them. The first part of Feb. I shipped a car of machinery and horses to Baker and rented one of my brother Henry's farms, the Hosie Cate homestead, for three years. In 1919, we had no rain all summer and no crops, the fall of '2 1, we rented the L. H. Stroman farm where we had a good crop in '22 but not so good in the '20's and '30's. In the spring of '3 1, we moved to the Soper place for two years, then moved to the Jack Johnson place near my sister Hattie. We dried out there, so the fall of '34 we rented the Henry Juve farm and moved onto it. In '35, we had a light crop, '36 we were dried out again, and I worked for the M. D. U. Co. for 30 days to get a grub-steak for the winter, in '37 we had a fair crop coming on when the grasshoppers came by the millions. They came on a Sunday afternoon in big black clouds and ate everything, by Friday they were all gone, '38 and '39 were light crops. In 1940, 1 bought a 1928 International 15-30 Tractor on steel and a 3 bottom plow and a pony drill for $325 - The best investment I ever made. All through the 40's, with the exception of '49, we had wonderful crops and good Democratic times. We got $2.50 for wheat and $1.50 to $1.75 for barley. In 1943, we bought the Henry Juve 1 1/2 section and in 4 or 5 years had it paid for plus most all other long standing debts. Kirk Hills once said, "Don't you know that life starts in the 50's?" In the fall of 1947 1 rented the farm to our son, Lowell. We had a wonderful crop and good prices in '48 ' In 1950 we bought a house in Baker and moved into town where I became an agent for Farmers' Insurance Group. In the spring of 1961 my good wife, Edith, took ill with double pneumonia. She was in the hospital for 5 days and developed acute leukemia and died on Nov. 7, 1961.
My sons, Lowell and Myron, ran the farm until I sold it to Dick O'Conner in 1966. Edith and I had 5 children, 3 girls, and 2 boys, all are living except Dorothy, who passed away in Miles City in 1958. Eileen, Dorothy, and Myron were born in Fallon County.
William and Mamie Bergstrom - 1969
In the fall of 1962, 1 married Mamie Faulk. She and I had grown up together on neighboring farms in Minnesota. In 1966, we bought the Sam Durham house at 505 South 6th Street and Wyoming Ave. where we still live.
Mamie is a sister to Elmer and Fred Anderson who homesteaded at Willard in 1909, and a sister of Estelle Bergstrom (Mrs. Ted Bergstrom).
SIGVARD BERNTSON FAMILY
Sig was born in Langness, Norway on March 26, 1889. He was educated there and was a fisherman until he was nineteen, but disliking the sea and the dangers, and having an uncle, Ludwig Strommen, living in Chicago, came there in 1910. Mr. and Mrs. Strommen were about to move with the homesteading crowd to Montana. He came along and helped them get settled in the Willard Community. Sig, with little money in his pocket, worked for the homesteaders putting in fences and tilling the land. He was a husky man with a very good personality and, with him around, work was considered easy. One fall he worked with the Albert Fost Threshing crew.
Ludwig Strommen home, Mr. and Mrs. Strommen and Mrs. Elmer Anderson in front.
In 1921, he married Mrs. Thea Ohason, a widow with three children, Gladys, Maynard, and Thelma. The children attended Lunder and Willard Schools and Bible school with Mrs. Henry Stenerson conducting the Lutheran Sunday school.
Neighbors of the Berntsons were the T. T. Lunders, Ed Burkes, Fred Andersons, Axel Bergwall, Ted Bergstroms, Albert Fost, Charles Andersons, John Westropes and Alfred Berg.
Because of the many years of dry weather the Berntsons family moved to Guelph, N. Dak. where Mrs Berntson had a farm. Two children joined the family. Royal, who has taken over the family farm since his father's death in 1958, and Bernice, Mrs. Clifford Rollo, of Frederick, S. Dak. She has her masters and is teaching school. There are eight grandchildren, one is studying Pharmacy, and one great grandchild.
Sig played an accordian and mouth organ and often played at family and community gatherings and often dancing was enjoyed.
After their settling at Guelph they made many motor trips back to the Willard community or to Murdock, Minn. to visit Fred Anderson, who had moved back to his family home shortly after the Berntsons left Montana.
Thea Berntson still lives on her home place and since her daughter, Gladys Oliason, has retired from teaching they make their home together.
JOHN BREWER BETHEL
I was born at Newville, North Dakota, on April 26, 1906. When I was 50 years old I came to this area and located at the airport at Baker, Montana.
My parents were not homesteaders nor were they stockmen. Their names were Rob and Autie Bethel. As for my childhood, I had wanted to fly since I was 10 years old. I received my elementary and high school education at Kingston, Missouri, and after that my education and occupation was in the "School of Hard Knocks!"
I became a pilot and followed the business of Aviation in which I am still engaged, and have sprayed many hundreds of acres of crops in this area.
I married Hazel Hufford Plummer on August 22, 1959,and we have one son, Charles Scott Bethel.
The town of Newville, N. D. is no longer in existence and I have now put in over 40 years of flying planes, so have realized my boyhood ambition.
I have a daughter from a former marriage, Phyllis Bethel Ballon, of Grand Junction, Colorado.
HAZEL HUFFORD PLUMMER BETHEL
I was born in Carter County April 1, 1914. Here I lived until I was 12 years old, when the family arrived in Baker in January of 1929. We traveled by truck and located in North Baker.
Pearl and Susan Hufford-Baker 1934.
My parents homesteaded in Carter County in 1917, but "Who Knows Why!" Their names were Susan and Pearl Hufford and they did farming and ranching before coming to Baker.
As for me, during my childhood I did all the usual tasks and play activities that rural youngsters do.
Our neighbors in Baker were John and Maud Cozad, Bill and Mable Seaman, Mrs. Emerson, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wash, Mr. and Mrs. Ostroff, and George and Vic Grainger.
I attended grade school and high school in Ekalaka and Baker. My occupation has always been that of housewife and homemaker.
I married Jack G. Plummer in 1934 at Ekalaka, Montana and in 1959 1 was married to John B. Bethel. My children are: Eugene, Robert, Monte, David, and M. Kay Plummer (Widdicombe) and Charles S. Bethel. There are 13 grandchildren at this time (1972). My father, John Pearle Hufford, died in 1938, and my mother, Susan Tuckness Hufford, died in 1960.
Dave and Carrie Bickle at their wedding-1899.
THE BICKLE FAMILY by Mrs. A. W. Bickle, Sr.
There were few family owned ranches in southeastern Montana when David Bickle came here in the early spring of 1881; his destination the Quarter Circle L where brother George Bickle was foreman. This ranch was located on the Sandstone approximately where Baker is now.
Born in Wisconsin in 1858, David Bickle was the son of William Bickle and Maryette Bickle. William Bickle was born in Devonshire, England in 1827. After his father's accidental death, the mother with her three young sons, took passage on a sailing vessel bound for the United States. A storm blew the ship off course and at its conclusion the travelers found themselves near the southern tip of South America at the Falkland Islands. Re-setting their course they came eventually to the United States and, in due time, by overland trip, to their Welsh friends in Wisconsin. At the time of David's birth, William owned a gristmill near Portage, Wisconsin.
David's mother's family, the David Alvards, originally from New York state, where Maryette was born at Oswego in 1839, migrated to Jackson County, Wisconsin in 1856 and established a trading post with the Winnebago Indians. Indians were Dave's playmates as a child; he learned to shoot the bow and arrow and to do many of the Indian dances. He could entertain-or scare-his grandchildren with an authentic war whoop in later years.
In 1870 the William Bickle family and Maryette's parents, the Alvards, moved; their goal, Kansas. Traveling with covered wagon, oxen, mules and cattle, the women rode and the men and older boys walked and herded the stock. Fall found them in Iowa, where they wintered along the Mississippi, continuing to Kansas in the spring and locating in the Solomon Valley near Beloit, Kansas in June of 1871.
Dave Bickle's next move was, as a young man of twenty-one, to Denver, then Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He worked on an irrigation project, later as a cow hand on the Bar T and also on the 777 ranches. The fall of 1880 was wet and cold; the cowboys were never warm and never dry as they trailed the cattle to be sold to Dodge City; possibly a factor that influenced Dave to come north through the Black Hills into Montana when spring came.
Summer roundup found Dave working for the TD ranch on O'Fallon Creek, in present day Fallon County. This became his home for the next seven years, most of them as ranch manager for the owners, Thomas Dewey and Miles W. Marshall, importers from Massachusetts. The TD was a station on the stage route to Ekalaka; their business was cattle; they had some 12,000 head as they went into the winter of 1886. Winter came in October that year, the storms and blizzards continued in force and by the spring of 1887 most of the cattle in Montana were dead. With the spring run off the draws ran full of water and hides and bones floated out of everyone. With only 500 head of cattle left alive, Dewey and Marshall bought 600 mares in Texas, had them shipped to Lusk, Wyoming, where Dave received them bringing them overland to the TD. That same year, 1887, Dave invested his savings in a band of sheep which he ran in partnership with Kenneth McLain whose home ranch was just above the TD on O'Fallon Creek. Dave continued working on the TD until 1889 when, having enough sheep to start his own ranch, he moved to the head of Pine Creek, locating his home ranch here, a former bull camp of the TD. He lived the next seven years here in a small log building, his driving ambition to become a successful rancher.
1896 was an open winter so one of the hands, Billy Whipple (a good man with the broadax) and Dave cut logs and built a large house and bunkhouse, buying the necessary lumber for doors, windows, floors, etc. from the Stith Hardware in Terry, a round trip of over 120 miles.
The flocks continued to increase; all wether lambs were kept and bands of wethers, 4000 to a band, were run for the wool, wool being the chief crop. Ewe bands numbered 2500 to a band. Wethers were shipped on the Northern Pacific Railroad to Chicago to be sold at four or five years of age.
Shortly after 1896-97, settlers began to purchase the land they were using as range, in particular the watered portions. The Northern Pacific Railroad owned every other section for eighty miles along their right of way; and an original purchase of fifty sections of Northern Pacific land became the nucleus of the Bickle holdings including the Pine, Hay, and Sandstone creeks. Since his land had not been surveyed, Mr. Bickle hired a surveyor from Illinois to survey and map his purchase which included one section of dry land for every section on water. This map and accompanying notebook are treasured pieces of family lore with every spring, creek, draw, hill, and tree mapped out and described.
On November first, 1899, Dave Bickle and Carrie Fluss were married in Armington, Illinois. Mrs. Bf6kle (Carrie) was the daughter of Frederick and Melissa Fluss and the grand daughter of the Henline-Hainline family who arrived in America sometime around 1690, settling in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, about 1700. Two sons of this family
migrated to Kentucky with "a hunter and trapper by the name of Daniel Boone" and they and their descendents settled in Kentucky, southern Illinois and Missouri.
Mr. and Mrs. Bickle settled on the home ranch; by 1906 their flocks numbered some 16 bands of sheep and included 800 horses, Standard Bred and Morgan breeding; and three to four hundred cattle.
With the coming of the Milwaukee Railroad and the building of towns along the right of way, Dave invested in several businesses including banks in Terry, Ismay, and Baker. He served as President of all three and was president of the Bank of Baker at the time of his death in 1946.
The Bickles built a home in Ismay in 1907-08 and there raised their four children; Dave junior, Nina Powell, Arthur William and Ora (Mrs. John Weinschrott of Billings).
Two ranches have been carved out of the original Bickle ranch; the "old ranch" which became Dave junior's and is now owned and operated by James David Bickle, grandson of the first Dave. His son John is the fourth generation to be raised here and John's small children are fifth generation Montanans.
The second ranch has its headquarters on the Sandstone and is owned and operated by Arthur William Bickle n~-,d his son, Arthur William junior. Bill's son, Arthur William III is the fourth generation here. Both ranches are presently in the cattle business exclusively.
Editors Note: TD was the brand for the old TD Ranch. When the post office was established the government would not allow just the initials of TD to be used so the post office was called Tee Dee - See map.
LYDIAN HYTHECKER BIFFLE
I was born in the Fertile Prairie Community about 5 miles east of Baker on April 9, 1909. This area was then a part of Custer County. My parents were Anthony and Edna Doughty Hythecker. They left the farm at Claremont, Minnesota and came to the Fertile Prairie homestead location in 1908. We stayed on the land for three years after which we moved into Baker. Our neighbors in Baker were the Hiscocks, Ovens, Kirkpatrick and Owens families.
As a small girl, I recall carrying water from a well in our backyard and helping pick up potatoes when they were being dug in the fall. I went to elementary and high school in Baker. I remember the winter of 1920 when the snow was up to the tops of the buildings.
On January 23, 1927 1 married James Biffle. The depression set in during the early 30's and people really went through it! My folks moved back to Minnesota to try farming again, but one year of it saw them returning to Baker. Jim and I had a family of four children; Richard James, Dixie Lee, Jack Wilson, and Thomas Anthony. Thomas, our youngest son, passed away of cancer in 1970. We have 14 grandchildren ranging from 22 years to 5 years.
We are now retired. We own a ranch which is leased and also some rental property.
During the earlier years, we enjoyed dancing a great deal and used to go as far as Terry or Ekalaka to a dance. We attended many rodoes and picnics at Medicine Rocks and Fourth of July Celebrations at Ollie and other surrounding localities.
MR.AND MRS. ORA BLANCHARD
I, Anna V. Williams, was born in Cleveland, Henry County, Illinois, and came to Baker, Montana, September 14, 1909, to be married to Ora L. Blanchard, who had sold his barber shop in Moline, Illinois, and came west to look for a new location and chose the infant town of Baker. I came out
to Baker on the new Milwaukee railroad which had built through this prairie country the year before. It took me two days and two nights to make the trip as stock trains had priority over the passenger trains at this time of year, September, when the livestock had to be moved to the eastern markets. It was not unusual for a passenger train to be side-tracked and have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for the stock train to pass. There were many small, new towns along the line and all trains stopped for them.
On September 15th, we went to Miles City to be married. At that time Miles City was the county seat of Custer County, which at the time included the whole southeastern corner of Montana. Mr. and Mrs. Granurn went with us. We were married by the Reverend H. A. James, at the Methodist parsonage. It was just two blocks from the hotel, but the taxi driver charged us five dollars because it was a Special Wedding party he said. We had a warm reception when we returned to Baker, such as stuffing the chimney with paper, which just about smoked us out. A gathering of the town folks, about 75, which was close to the total population of the town, put on a grand reception for us at the Lloyd Cafe and Big Foot's Bar. Just about everybody in town turned out to welcome us.
Barber Shop and two room house built by Ora Blanchard on east side of Main Street in Baker-1909.
Ora had put a building on the eastside of Main street for the barbershop, and a little two-room house on the backside of the lot for our home. There were only four buildings on that side of the street. Pearce store and the post office were my neighbors on the south. The Chap Chilton family lived upstairs, so they were my first acquaintances. We attended church the first Sunday in a small schoolhouse on the north lakeshore. George Buergi, who had a store at Plevna, was the speaker. I attended Ladies Aid for the first time at Mrs. Granum's.
In 1910 public land around Baker was opened for homestead filing and the homesteaders moved in. The barbershop was quite the hangout for these new comers. We made life-long friends at that time. We too filed on a homestead about 9 miles northeast of Baker in the Fertile Prairie country. Henry Jensen and the George Jenners were neighbors to the south.
Mr. and Mrs. 'Slim' Niccum were on the north. Slim worked in the barbershop. Minnie and I held down the homesteads. I had a horse and buggy for transportation. Not being a horseman I had some thrilling experiences. Ora rode a bicycle back and forth. We 'proved up' in 1913. In the spring of 1913 we moved our little home to the Morris addition on the south side, where we could get water by digging a well.
Up to this time we had bought water for the shop and our home from Emil Veroy at 35 cents a barrel. Mr. Veroy supplied water to the community.
February 9th, 1912, our daughter, Fern, was born. She graduated from Baker High School in 1930, and worked at the Bank of Baker. She married John Hartnett, of Midwest Wyoming, March 11, 1934. They have four children: one girl three boys, and ten grandchildren. They now live at Rengely, Colorado. Our son, Ora Leroy, was born November 26, 1913. He also graduated from Baker High School, and served in the U. S. Air Force in World War Two. He passed away at Sheridan, Wyoming, February 11, 1951. He was laid to rest beside his father, Ora Lee Blanchard, Sr., in the family plot. in Bonnievale Cemetery at Baker. Ora, Sr. had passed away September 3rd, 194 1. A nephew Gerald B. Cherry. came from Illinois to make his home with us in February of 1934 when his mother passed away in the home state of Illinois. Gerald grew up as a member of our family in Baker, where he graduated from High School, and then served in the U. S. Marine Corps in World War Two. Gerald married Helen Dunbar, of Butte. They have three children: one girl and two boys. Their home is in Miles City.
Fern and Leroy [Budl Blanchard -Picture loaned by Emily Chilton Matthew.
In 1942, Mrs. Hilma Eilek Kuehn and myself bought out Samsel's dress shop, of Baker, and changed the name to the B and E Shop. We later moved into the theatre building. After being in business for 14 years, I now thought it was time for me to retire. Mrs. Kuehn bought my interest in the store, and I bought a home in Billings, to be nearer my family. In April, 1956, 1 made the move. My good friends, Ester LaCross, Ethel Hall, and Lois Holmes went with me from Baker to spend a week helping me get settled and re-adjusted. I had spent 46 wonderful years in Baker, where we grew up with the town. I have many fond memories and friendships which I shall always cherish. I am still a member of Baker Community Church, O'Fallon Historical Society and Fallon County Homesteader's Club.
Now, to bring this little bit of history up to date, I must add another paragraph or two. After living in Billings for another year or two, or three, and making many new friends, which I always like to do, I was invited to a Birthday of Post 4, of the American Legion by an elderly Legionaire and his wife. We were seated at a table for four. A good friend of my hosts' came in and Milton invited him to come over and sit with us and take up the empty chair, which he did. Anyway, from this casual meeting a real friendship developed and grew, over two or three years, into a sincere affection which resulted in my marriage to Mr. R. G. Hibbard, in Miles City , in May, of 1961. My husband. a Montana resident, since 1915, still has a suspicion that the supper-table invitation that Birthday Dinner night at the Legion Club may have been 'rigged' just a little by our two friends. In any case we are both happy and contented and comfortable at our home at 1140 N. 26th St., Billings, Montana.
Full shares of the World's Best to all our good friends everywhere.
MR. AND MRS. ED BLASER
by Mrs. Ed Blaser
Since eastern Montana was opened for filing and settlers several years before I came out here, 1 am not sure that I have all the dates and details correct, but write them as I remember having heard them later.
I was born near Athol, South Dakota, on December 30th, 1888, and came to Montana in 1916, by train. My father homesteaded in South Dakota, about 30 miles southwest from Aberdeen, to get a start by farming some of Uncle Sam's claims, and help settle that part of the country just opened up for new settlers. His name was Henry Reincke, of Wonewoc, Wisconsin, and my mother's name was Mary Loesch, an immigrant with her parents and family from Germany. My early childhood was spent playing with home made toys, sewing for my doll, and going to school, and later helping with the housework, some field work, and one year of shorthand and bookkeeping, and a few years of office work in a creamery.
Ed Blaser was born May 23rd, 1886, in West Virginia, a son of Swiss immigrant parents. Sometime after the death of his father, his mother remarried and the family lived in Redfield, South Dakota, where Ed attended school and also worked part time in a grocery store, then as a clerk for a number of years.
Old Pat, the bachelor's friend.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the Government decided to offer two quarters of homestead tracts of land for filing in Eastern Montana, and many people of various nationalities and trades came to make their homes and their living here by turning the prairie sod into plow land and farming the soil. In 1909, Ed came and filed on a quarter section of land about eight or nine miles southwest from Willard, Montana, as he found he could prove up on a quarter
of land in less time than if he filed on two quarters, as most of the new comers were doing. He wasn't sure he would like farming for his life's occupation and thought as soon as he proved up on his quarter of land, he would decide on some other trade to follow.
In the spring of 1910, Ed and his step brother, Jack Eichenberger came out to build a shack on the claim, and he too, became a farmer. He used his grocery store savings to buy lumber, some horses, used machinery, and a few chickens and shipped everything out in an emigrant car, and afterward, he liked a farmer's way of life so well, he didn't leave. He rented some school land joining the claim, and the tilling acreage grew larger then.
Earlier, the Government had given the Northern Pacific Railroad Company every other section of land for a certain distance north and also south to get the company to build a railroad line out to and into Montana, and the southern edge of one of those sections joined our claim on the north. We bought the east half of that section in 1917, then we had a man who claimed he could witch for water, witch a well site for us on it, and we never could pump that well dry. Water had been a problem on the homestead, and after digging several places to find dry holes, Ed put a pump near a draw and we used that water for laundry, and cleaning, and hauled water from a neighbor for drinking and cooking.
Ed Blaser's shack on the claim-1915.
In 1915 the weather was favorable for good crops and they were bountiful. It had been a cool summer-folks wore their winter coats to the 4th of July celebration because of a light snowfall early that day, and "that year" and the "Good crops raised in 1915" were conversation pieces one heard in years afterward. That year was the needed boost, and the settlers had a chance to plan ahead. Ed built a granary for the crop, also an addition on the shack and, in March 1916, he and I were married in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and that was the first time I'd been this far west from Aberdeen, and thought the buttes near our claim were so high, they seemed to crowd me, but I got used to them. A great financial help for the homesteaders those first years was a supply of fuel at hand, for the hauling. For many years we burned firewood from the forest and the men dug our supply of lignite coal from mines near by, and it kept our homes comfortably warm. We didn't know the luxury of gas in those days.
Ed Blaser's barn-built in 1918.
In 1918 we built our barn on that N. P. land and the next summer moved our shack, granary and sheds from the homestead to where the barn stood and where we had a well of good, clear water. Then we had years of little rain, poor crops, and many grasshoppers, so we lived in the claim shack for seven more years, -until we could build a house, and in 1926, just a few days before Christmas, we moved into our new home.
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Blaser-1916. The cook arriued.
The Ed Blaser Home-built in 1926.
We had many closeby neighbors and good friends those first years, but, after proving up on their claims, some sold their land and moved away, so in later years we didn't have so many closeby neighbors but heard from some of them a afterward. But it was a good neighborhood to live in, all along. A Wesleyan Methodist Church had been built near the Medicine Rocks and Ed and I attended church there some times, and sometimes we came to Baker to church. In social activities, we took in some rodeos, occasionally a movie, the county fair in the fall, a few dances and neighborhood parties, etc.
In 1928 we took a little 16-month-old boy to care for as his mother was quite ill much of the time, and the next year we adopted him. He brought us happiness, as only little children are able to do, together with making changes in our lives. Herb went to school in our district, to high school here in Baker, and then took a course in the Kinman Business University of Spokane, where he received a degree in business administration and has a position in San Francisco. We had hoped he would be interested in farming and take over our farm some day, but he wasn't a born farmer and it isn't good for anyone to do something they don't enjoy doing for a livelihood. His son and my grandson, Steffan, and family also live in California, near Los Angeles, and I have a little great granddaughter who will be a year old this spring.
The next 28 years were more or less varied, some were good years and some years the crops were poor, some years we had an abundance of grasshoppers, some not enough rain and also we had hail storms occasionally- all a part of a farmer's worries in farming.
Ed Blaser, Roy McClain and Al Sikorski cutting the grain for feed for the cattle before the grasshoppers got it-1936.
Ed Harvesting the tall oats-1939.
And then January 3rd, 1956, that morning my husband was gone, he'd had a heart attack in his sleep. I stayed on the farm until fall, and with my good friends and neighbors to advise and also help, and the young couple, Lyle and Doris Searnan, to work for me, the summer went by until I could dispose of the crop, cattle, and farm, as I felt I couldn't stay there alone. I moved to Baker and have made this my home since.
FRIEDRICH BOHLE FAMILY
I was born in Odessa, South Russia, on Sept. 20, 1890. My parents were Henry and Dorothy Bohle. My father operated a flour mill there.
As a boy, I went to school in Odessa up to the fifth grade and then worked in my father's flourmill until he migrated to America. After reaching the new country the
The Friedrich Bohle family picture loaned by Aluina Morton. Top Row left to right-Rudolph, Ernest, William and Henry. Bottom Row left to right-Dorothy, Annette, mother Barbara, father Fred, Alvina and Ann.
folks came by train to Plevna in 1912. They came to secure a piece of land and make a home when the land here was opened up for homesteading, and settled 6 miles northeast of Plevna where they engaged in farming and stock raising.
I came to the vicinity in 1913 at the age of 23. During the first years there was good moisture and winters were not too bad. We marketed our wheat in Plevna and shipped stock to Chicago.
Then, on March 20th of 1916, I was married to Barbara Schlect at Eureka, South Dakota, and the following year, 1917, we moved to a location 11 miles southwest of Plevna where we continued in the farming and stock raising industry.
As time passed we became parents to a family of 10 children: Henry, Jacob (deceased), Bill, Dorothea Schmidt, Emil (deceased), Ann Bohle Singletary, Rudolph, Alvina Bohle Varner, Annette Bohle Wilkins, and Ernest Ervin. We have 25 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren. We belong to the Peace Lutheran Church of Plevna and are presently (1973) enjoying retirement from the farming occupation. Our neighbors while on the farm were the Livingood, Wenz Seiler and Hager families.
HISTORY OF HENRY BOHLE
My father, Heinrich (Henry) Bohle came to Plevna, Montana in April of 1912 in an emigrant car from Artas, South Dakota. He was a widower with seven children, five of whom he brought with him: Fred, Magdalena, William, Waldemar, and Alvina. The other two, Josephine and Theodore remained in South Dakota.
Although Henry was a cabinetmaker by trade, we lived on a farm 6 1/2 miles northeast of Plevna. Some of our close neighbors were the Gevings, Breens, Doering brothers, Frieds, Hubbards, McHoes, and Charlie Clark who lived in a 14-room house, which we all loved to explore.
Henry could not speak the American language at the time so when he needed a brine barrel one day, we told him to call it barrel, and he said "barrel, barrel" all the way to Gevings' and then forgot, so he had to hunt up a barrel and show them what he wanted.
In 1918 he married Barbara Steinback and she brought 3 of her 6 children with her: Martha, Ida, and Jack; the other 3 remained in South Dakota. We all went to the Clark School, which was also used as a community hall. I can remember many picnics, dances, 4-H meetings, church, etc., but one of
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bohle.
the outstanding doings was when the men all banded together and had a rabbit hunt; after the hunt they strung a lot of rabbits on a wire and held each end, then all the men gathered around for a picture. Afterwards, the ladies all got together and served them oyster stew and other goodies.
Henry passed away in July of 1928. Two of his children are still living in this area and as to date of this writing, six are still living.
This was written by his youngest daughter, Alvina Bohle Morton and her children.
Alvina married Seibert W. Howe in 1931. They had five children. (Seibert passed away in 1964). They are Leonard Henry Howe, born in 1932, is an Industrial Arts teacher. He married Jeanette Walter and they have four children, Steven Leonard, Sherry Jeanette, Shawn Elaine, and Shelley Lynn. They live in Tacoma, Washington.
Donald Ralph Howe, born in 1934, is an elementary teacher. He married Ruby Seavy and they have 3 children, Ralph Dean, Clifton Dale, and Mathew Donald. They live in Billings, Montana.
Jerry Robert Howe was born in 1938 and is employed by Kobe, Inc. He married Jean White and they have two children - Mark Robert and Kimberly Christine. They live in Casper, Wyoming.
Audrey Adelia (Howe) Hill was born in 1941 and is a music and mathematics teacher. She married Melvin Hill and they have three children- Kenneth Rodney, Clinton Alan, and Gary Eugene. They farm near Lambert, Montana.
Stanton Seibert Howe, born in 1942 is an elementary teacher and is living in Helena, Montana. Alvina married Robert Morton in 1965.
of Aluina and Seibert Howe. Back row-Donald, Leonard and Jerry. Front row-Stanton and Audrey.
FLORENCE WAGNER BRADBURY
I was born at the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Jake Wagner, Jr. on August 8, 1916. The farm was south of Plevna, Montana. My father was one of seven boys and five girls. My mother was Teresa Angela Rohe, and was one of four girls and three boys of the Rohe family.
My grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jake Wagner, Sr., had migrated from Germany and had settled first near Tempelton, Iowa. My mother's folks, the Rohe's also lived at Templeton, Iowa.
In 1914, Jake Wagner, Sr. came to the Plevna vicinity and purchased a railroad section of land fifteen miles south of the town. The following year he and his wife moved into Plevna and my dad and mother took up residence on the farm. It was here that I was born and was joined later by two brothers, Leon and Raymond. While we lived on the farm we used to go to Plevna to stay with our grandparents and go to school.
In about 1925 we left the farm and came to live on a small farm a short distance west of Baker. From there we could attend the Baker schools. We all three graduated from the Baker High School.
While on the Plevna farm we had as neighbors Ernest Engberg, Bill Thieland, Ed Herbst, Joe Steffes and Joe Schumacher.
I remember the very poor years of 1919, 1922 and the years of the "Great Depression" in the 30's. We used to enjoy visiting with the neighbors, and driving into Plevna and visiting at the John Weinschrott home.
After I graduated from high school, I attended the Christie Beauty College at Bismarck, North Dakota, and also took some nurses aid training. I was employed in a Beauty Salon in Bismarck for two years.
After my brothers graduated from high school they joined the Civilian Construction Corps. Later they both joined the Air Force and have made this their career for 20 years. Ray is a Lieutenant Colonel and Leon is a Master Sergeant. Ray and wife live in retirement at Tampa, Florida and Leon is retired and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and three children.
I was married to Forrest Bradbury in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 27, 1941. We had two children Caroline Florence and Dennis Ray. Our home was at Detroit Lakes, Minnesota where we lived for twelve years. After a separation from my husband, I returned to Baker and lived with my mother, Teresa Wagner.
The Jake Wagners, Sr. had moved from Plevna to Baker and lived on 1st West in a house now owned by Mrs. John Weinschrott. Our family lived in that house until my grandparents passed away and then mother bought a house over on 2nd Street where I am now living. Mother served as Deputy Clerk and Recorder for Fallon County for many years. She died in 1962 and I continue to live in the home on 2nd Street.
My son, Dennis and my daughter, Carolyn both live at Anchorage, Alaska. Dennis is not yet married but Carolyn is and has three children. I made a trip to Alaska to visit them in recent years and this summer (1973) 1 plan to meet Carolyn in Detroit Lakes where we will visit relatives in that area.
I am a member of the St. John's Catholic Church of Baker, and belong to the Catholic Daughters and the Altar Society here. I am a member of the Baker Senior Citizens and enjoy working at the center and participating in the various activities. I belong to a Card Foursome and a Birthday Club. Relatives from Detroit, of the Bradbury family, visit me now and then.
I enjoy living in Baker and glad to be in "Good Old Montana! "
John P Braun
Alice S. Lehman
BRAUN - HASTY
By Viola Braun Stenth
John Peter Braun (John Pierre) my father, was manager for the Laird-Norton Lumber Yard in Eagle Lake, Minnesota and an architect who drew the plans for many buildings. He took part in the town's activities, did some surveying and was Clerk of the School board. He drew pen and ink pictures and made toys.
Mr. and Mrs. John P. Braun Wedding Picture
He married Alice Sophia Lehmen. She and her sister, Clara, helped plan their double wedding to which 300 guests were invited. My mother had taken dressmaking in school so she made the beautiful gowns. She was also active in the town's projects and joined the Royal Neighbors. They had two children; Viola and Victor. Then a ruptured appendix called for surgery on my father. At that time, without the methods and equipment to diagnose and cure such ailments, this condition was serious. Many died. My father survived the surgery but it seemed to affect his vital organs, and he never really seemed to recover.
Viola Braun - Baby Picture
They sold their house (it is still there) and moved to Pasadena, Cal. to get away from the cold winters. There he managed The Beck Lumber Company. They lived on Colorado Boulevard (Which is now one of Pasadena's busiest streets.) and had to walk across Poppy fields to catch a streetcar for Los Angeles. On the land they bought, they raised chickens and fruit trees, with all the fruit they could use and some to sell.
At that time the railroads were putting on a huge campaign advertising the plan to "almost give away" land in Montana. Pamphlets, cards, songs and poems were sent to all parts of the U.S., painting a glowing picture of Montana's advantages and benefits. As the hot California weather seemed to be weakening my father, they decided to sell their property and go to Montana. While still in California Dad bought an Eastman Kodak. He had his own dark room and was able to capture many happy moments. The San Francisco Earthquake rattled the dishes in the neighbors cupboard and I was asked to ride on a float in the New Year's Day Parade.
A stop in Minnesota was made to sell their furnishings and purchase sturdy farm equipment. He bought a team of horses, two cows, chickens, a dog, machinery and only the furniture they actually needed. Among the important items were a Monarch Range, a New Home Sewing Machine, a roll top desk, typewriter, surveying instruments, wedding presents and good books. The books included the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Redforth Library, Famous Authors and Their Stories, a cookbook and a big Doctor Book.
They also took lumber for a house, seed for the first crop, enough food and materials for men and animals to survive until they could buy more. All this and much more they loaded on an emigrant car and headed for Montana.
My father had intended to have a house built before my mother arrived, so he left Minnesota before the snow melted. The first Milwaukee Passenger train began to service Lorraine (Baker) in February 1908.
My folks applied and received tickets as soon as possible for Mother, my brother and me. It was a sad farewell for Mother as every one was crying because they thought she was leaving for an "Indian and Robber Infested Country," and they might never see her again. She was only 24 years old with two children, 4 and years old and a sick husband.
We carried large suitcases of clothing and large containers of food on the train. By giving the railroad porter a tip, he would provide a pillow and a table so we could sleep and eat whenever we cared to. When we reached Kingmont (east of Baker) where my father was supposed to meet us, the conductor could see only section hands and suggested that Mother go on to Lorraine where there were some buildings. When we got to Lorraine, they unloaded our suitcases and trunk in the ditch and told us to go to the buildings and ask for help.
Pearce's store was just being built. Mrs. Pearce had arrived not long before. They welcomed us and asked us to stay with them while Father was being located. Beds were made on the unfinished upstairs floor. Mother had to watch us children so that we wouldn't roll out of bed and fall to the floor below. Mother was so grateful to Mrs. Pearce and they were good friends the rest of their lives. The next day some cowboys came to town and word was sent out to Father that we were there. In a couple of days a rancher gave us a ride for $15. in a lumber wagon. We had to sit on our baggage but we didn't mind it because we were so relieved to be together again.
The team had run away so the men had been unable to haul the lumber to build the house. My Father had rented a saddle horse so that my uncle could go looking for the errant horses. He found them at a ranch where they had been the entire time. With the team home they could haul lumber and build on the house. It was a "car roof" shack as it was referred to. It had three rooms; one large room which served as the living room, dining room and kitchen and there were two bedrooms.
On May 20, 1908 an unusually late snowstorm hit and caused some damage and delay in the building of the house. The two bedrooms were nearly finished but blankets and other materials were nailed over the openings to keep out the wind and the snow. The stove was kept burning and we all wore our coats to keep warm. A rancher came by and told us that was nothing because it would get to 50 degrees below in the winter. Some of the chickens froze but the other animals had been tied in the shelter of the house and were safe. When the snow melted, it was beautiful. There had been recent prairie fires and there was no dry grass. The prairie was nice and green and full of wild flowers. There was a creek running across our place and ponds 1/2 miles east and west of the house where water was obtained both for animals and man until a well could be dug.
This was such a happy time for my brother and me, but not our parents. There were no Indians or robbers but the early farmers had other problems. The ranchers had used all the land to graze stock on and now it was being taken away from them by these unwelcome farmers, whom they were sure wouldn't stay long. There was a hostility there which took time and patience to overcome. The life of the "Honyocker", as the squatters were called, was not easy and some of the ranchers tried to discourage them.
The soil was fertile and crops, though small that first year, were beautiful beyond expectations. Some farmers didn't get their fields fenced and herds of cattle ran over the crops. Some people felt that the cattle were driven over or at least headed in the right direction. Wood and lignite coal was plentiful but directions for finding them were withheld or not given correctly. When ranchers lost some stock a group of cowboys would stop at the farms at mealtime to see if there was fresh meat on the table. The farmers couldn't be stopped. They just kept coming.
The cowboys liked to have their fun by frightening people altho' there was no real danger and no real harm done. They would ride up and sharpen their knives on the grindstone and shoot their pistols at targets in the yard. One cowboy did not see the barbed wire fence around our garden and rode his beautiful horse swiftly into it and the wire laid the breast of the horse open. The owner of the horse removed his saddle intending to shoot the horse but Mother stopped him. She washed and disinfected the wound with home remedies, sewed it with sewing thread and covered the wound with flour and bandages to stop the bleeding. It took daily care to save the horse but he recovered and several months later the owner came back for him.
Late in the year after the fall work was done we had to get wood from the badlands. The ground was often covered with snow and it was cold. We had to leave at sunrise and come home after dark by kerosene lantern light. We went to Cedar Butte whose north side was covered with trees. The men dragged the dry cedar wood to the wagon on which they had fastened 3 or 4 foot stakes to the wagon box so the wood could be packed between them as high as possible and still not have it top heavy or too heavy for the horses to pull. The more wood on a load meant fewer trips. The wood was tied securely so that all could sit on top and ride part way. We children only walked to keep warm but Mother and Father walked to help the horses. There were two bad places on the road that we all dreaded; one was a set of two soap holes one on each side of the road with just enough room between them for the wagon to go through if the horses kept the wheels in the ruts. If the wheels got too near the edge the earth could
cave away and perhaps both wagon and horses would be lost. The other place was a gulch which was very steep and dangerous. Dad would brake the wagon at the start of the descent trying to hold back the horses, but with a heavy load, the horses would start to run about half way down the incline and across the flat bottom and after the brakes were released, part way up the other side. From there the horses pulled with all their might until the crest of the hill was reached. When they got to the top they rested until Mother and we children caught up. If the horses hadn't pulled evenly together the whole thing could have turned over.
This first year in Montana was rough. They had to dig their lignite coal with pick-crowbars and shovels and hauled in the wagon several miles, dig a well, make shelter for the stock and chickens. The next year brought more neighbors and a school became a priority issue. There were firey arguments as to where it would be located as there were children scattered over several square miles. It was finally built on the southwest corner of the Wm. Young land. The school was about a mile from home. When the weather was nice and warm we walked but when blizzards swept the prairie or when it was very cold, Mother would take us in a stoneboat. This stoneboat had a big box on it and was pulled by one horse. Mother would put us in with blankets over us and turn the horse toward home. Altho' Mother never could trust "Old Jim" completely, she could shield her face and hands in the blizzard when she couldn't see the road or fence so she gave him his head and let him get us home. Those who had gone to school before brought all the textbooks they had. I took my arithmetic and readers. When I left I didn't take them and now they have become rare books. I wish that whom ever has them would give them to me now. Mrs. Olive Lucier was our first teacher.
A Sunday School was organized and met in the school. Mrs. William Young led the singing and she taught us many new songs. Missionaries traveled over the county holding services and bringing literature.
Mother took care of the sick whenever called. She helped bring new babies into the world and helped friends prepare loved ones for leaving it. She also helped friends with their sewing problems.
Of concern to both the farmer and rancher was the coming of the sheepman. It was believed that cattle and horses would not graze where sheep had been, and sheep could ruin crops.
Large orders of groceries were purchased; such as soda crackers in large boxes the size of an apple box, dried fruit, rice, salt, sugar, flour and navy beans. The arrival of a large order of groceries and provisions, needed for survival for many months, was exciting and just like Christmas. Sometimes a pair of mittens, a jack knife or material for a dress brought shouts of joy.
Christmas meant a tree decorated with strings of popcorn, cranberries, colored paper chains, tinsel and candles in snap on candle holders which we had brought with us. We always had candy, nuts and apples and we hung our stockings so that Santa could fill them while we slept. The presents were usually practical clothing but there were always homemade toys and once in a while a beautiful doll.
Playmates were "few and far between" so my brother and I created our games. We pretended that we were pioneers. We made harnesses and hitched the yearling calves to a stone boat (covered wagon style), dressed the cats in doll clothes and would travel miles around the yard being pioneers. When I was ten years old I ran into a barbed wire fence and slashed my lips. While the horses were being caught and hitched up mother tried to stop the bleeding. By the time we got to the Doctor 5 1/2 miles away I had lost so much blood that he couldn't give much anesthetic so he had
to call some men in off the street to hold me down while he took 19 stitches while I kicked and screamed.
Other flash backs of those years are; Birthdays were wonderful with parties, guests, presents and I was "It" for that day, my hair which was always worn in braids was let down and even curled a little at the ends and a new dress --going to the ranchers' parties and having the cowboys teach me to dance - - Cowboys saying to mother, "When are you going to put long skirts on that girl?" Little girls wore short skirts and girls of dating age wore longer ones. Some of the girls not much older than I wore longer skirts and preferred talking to mother who was still young. - - Getting caught reading the "Family Doctor Book," which was full of very interesting pictures --- rattlesnakes everywhere - under the steps, under the leaves of the turnip I wanted - in the path when I was running - near a pretty flower or under a piece of material I had laid out to dry - - - terrible thunder and lightning storms - - - most beautiful sunsets and northern lights --- on my brother's birthday in May when the snow was almost gone and water standing everywhere --- a terrible blizzard with wind so strong it almost took my breath away -- - Dad's blacksmith shop of sod. He cut even sized blocks and laid them like bricks. There were windows and a door. This was a very good place to keep all the tools which he had brought with him. Because my father was ill, Mother worked right along with him outside besides taking care of her household duties.
I didn't like the heavy old shoes we had to wear but Dad would resole them and we had to wear them until they became too small.
Every Monday was wash day. Early in the morning a copper bottomed wash boiler was placed on the front of the range, filled with water, covered and brought to a boil. Some of this water was put in a wash tub and the clothes washed in it on a rub board. The clothes were then put through two rinses one with bluing to get the soap out, and some people boiled their clothes before rinsing. In the winter time lines were strung in the house to hang the clothes on to dry. As soon as some got dry others were hung up. The stove was kept hot and the steam filled the house. We got an unappreciated Sauna bath. Many people left their clothes outside to freeze dry but this was hard on fingers and on the material. Of course all the clothes had to be ironed with "sad irons" heated on the range which required another hot fire. The cook range was in continual use. A reservoir was attached to the side and provided hot water, with the oven door open it provided heat, on Saturday night it became an important part of the bath, and one of those large wash tubs became a bath tub. A good dependable range made the cooking and baking easier. Bread when rising had to be kept warm. It was often set in a big dish pan, wrapped in a blanket and put somewhere near the stove. Large loaves were made and Mother's sweet rolls were as large as our hamburger rolls are today. Those were the days-fresh hot bread, freshly churned butter - oh so very good but oh so much work.
One other thing that was always found in the kitchen was the wash stand, holding a pail of water, a wash pan and a soap dish. The pail always seemed to be empty.
My folks brought lots of bedding which included large tickings filled with real goose down feathers. (I believe they were a gift from my grandmother) and pillows twice the size of ordinary sized pillows. We did not suffer from cold at nights, it was the getting up in the morning that was rough. Mother was the one who got up, took out the ashes, put more coal on the fire, opened up the drafts to get a good fire going before we got up. When people needed more mattresses for bunkhouses, they would fill ticking with straw or corn husks then burn them when they were through with them.
After four or five years all animosity between farmers, ranchers and sheepmen seemed to have ended and they became trusted neighbors and friends.
My father died Jan. 5, 1912 of a kidney ailment and was buried on his 40th birthday. Mother remained on the farm for a while but hired all the work done. The next year she had an auction sale and rented the farm to Fred Hasty, after which she went back to Minnesota intending never to return but she was back in time for me to go to High School in 1914. She bought a lot and built a house in Baker (still standing) across the street from Prices.
She married Fred Hasty and two sons were born to them
Alvin Fred and Glen Leslie. Fred was a businessman, a rancher and an early day freighter. He knew all the "Old Timers" in the area surrounding Glendive, Wibaux, Marmarth, Belle Fourche, Alzada, Miles City and Baker. Relatives were a sister, Mrs. Damon (they had sheep and later a hotel in Baker), another sister, Mrs. Houston Murphy (owned a dairy near Baker and later moved to a farm east of Baker), and a brother Frank Hasty (owned a way station near Glendive, later moved to Glendive).
Fred raised horses. He had a purebred black Percheron Stallion and three special saddle horses, an Appaloosa, one with Arabian blood and a pretty bay of Racing Stock all of which he prized highly. In the herd was a beautiful dapple-gray, an outlaw mare. No one could tame her or keep her in an ordinary corral. She would just jump over and out. He raised horses until 1921 when there was a big drought and there wasn't enough water and feed for the horses. Some were sold for $1 a head, some died and some had to be shot.
We lived in town in 1914. Mother and Fred commuted back and forth to the farm. Summers were spent on the farm. One spring a gasoline stove on which they were heating cleaning water, exploded and the old house burned down. Mother then took an inheritance from her mother and built a two story, L shaped house. My brother, Victor, stayed on the farm. To finish High School, I rode horseback for a while and cared for the horse at our town house but it was too cold at times. The last two years I worked part time helping Dad and Mom Seeley serve hot school lunches. Mother argued against my working, somehow she felt it was degrading, but I was stubborn (women's lib, I guess). I won an honor scholarship and was allowed to leave school in April to teach a Summer School south of Ismay on a Temporary Certificate. In those days we went to Summer Institutes and completed correspondence courses to earn credits. We were issued 2nd, 1st, and Life Certificates according to the number and value of credits received and the number of years of experience in teaching. All these credits were recorded and later accepted toward graduation at Dillon Normal School.
In most of these rural schools you built your own fires, did the janitor work, carried water and sometimes prepared something hot for lunch. After school you helped the slow students and prepared the schedule for the next day for all grades. At one of these schools I rode 7 1/2 miles on horseback each day. I was up early, home late and came near freezing several times.
After finishing high school I wasn't home much excepting in the summer and vacations when I came home to help. I didn't like to do ordinary housework and was always happy when they let me drive a header box, mow and rake hay.
1912 - 1914 1 remember that our community was named Fertile Prairie and a Ladie's Club, the S.L.C. was organized. My brother and I learned to ride horses bareback before we were given saddles. Our group went on Horseback Riding trips to the Badlands and to Marmarth and other places. There were many plays put on and the practicing was the most fun. The 4th of July Celebrations with their foot races, nail driving and wood sawing contests were fun. Mother won many prizes for these. I was too slow. She and Fred also went skating on the Baker Lake.
A Community Hall (Fertile Prairie Hall) was built 1 1/2 miles from us. We went to dances there and didn't get home till daybreak. Local people, the Evers furnished the music. Bunks were built in the corner of the hall and as the children became sleepy they were put to bed. Children went every where with their parents. Mother loved to dance, especially the Schottische and was dancing long after others her age had stopped. To earn money they gave box suppers. The ladies of the community would fix and decorate boxes of lunch to be auctioned off to the men, who paid money to get the box of the lady he thought owned it. Some would pay huge prices to get the one he wanted. Sometimes the box didn't belong to the lady he thought it did. Masquerades were fun, especially if two dressed alike to cause confusion.
Company I left for War I and some of the students played "hookey" to see them off. We lost some of our teachers. We did our bit by wearing Red Cross Headdress, making bandages, and knitting for the soldiers. Then later we
Viola Braun - When she started to teach school - 1918
Roy Lee Stith
welcomed them home with a parade, and a tank which was used overseas was demonstrated, awesome then but dwarfed by modern tanks.
I taught 2nd grade in Terry for three years and while there I met Roy Lee Stith and married him June 14, 1925. Roy's great-grandfather, on his mother's side, was Duke of Hamilton from 1820 to 1849 and one of his ancestors, on his father's side was the 2nd Gov. of Virginia. Roy was a Civil Engineer but was in the Hardware Business with his family until 1930. Two sons were born to us; Harvard Clay and Bartell Roy. In 1952 my husband and I bought a home in Tacoma, Wash. where I now live.
Mayme and David Briggs In Front of Their Home in Baker
DAVID B. AND MAYME BRIGGS.
Because David and Mayme are both deceased this history was compiled and submitted by Mrs. Curtis 0. Briggs.
David Braniel Briggs was born in Umphry, Barber County, Kansas on October 1, 1885. He married Mayme Wilkerson on August 3,1905 in El Reno, Oklahoma.
David's parents were Casius and Della (Sherman) Briggs. They homesteaded in Oklahoma during the Oklahoma landrush around 1885. His father was a butcher for a time, traveling around. Later he was a farmer and a rancher. During David's childhood he lived in a rural area north of El Reno, Oklahoma. There was an army post at El Reno then. He attended elementary schools near El Reno.
David came to Carter County, in the vicinity of Belltower, Catamount Creek, and Sykes Post Office, in 1916 when he was 31 years of age. He traveled by train to Baker and by wagon to his destination. His wife and three older children stayed in Omaha, Nebraska until he sent for them.
There were many problems in getting established. Lack of rain was often a problem, they needed to conserve hay from year to year for the livestock. A drought that destroyed all feed changed them to town dwellers in 1930 when they moved to Baker. The weather could always be depended upon to give them two weeks of below zero weather. During the depression they lived in Baker and got by on what work they could find. When they lived on the farm the closest shopping center was Ekalaka, about 27 miles distant. Baker was about 70 miles distant. In spite of poverty there was happiness, peace and neighborliness.
Their home in Carter County was a homestead, the first house was a " dug-out. " The second was a log house.
David and Mayme had five children -Beatrice E., Curtis 0. and his twin Clarence 0., who died at birth, David LeVon, and Kenneth D. They moved to Baker in 1930. They rented a house for a couple of years and finally bought a home from Paines, this included quite a few lots. They remodeled this house into a modern home, slowly and painstakingly. They always raised a good garden and Mayme had many beautiful flowers around the house. This home is now owned by Demos Paulos. Their neighbors in Baker were the J.R. Smolas, the Sid Jergensons, the T.V. Crichfields, Dr. and Mrs. Denman, and Rev. and Mrs. J.A. Berge.
The first years in Baker were difficult since it was during the depression. David and older sons mowed many lawns and spaded gardens to earn money. Finally he returned to masonry work. Even in "hard times" people had to have home repairs done and he finally became established in a good trade in construction work, doing brick and block laying and cement work. He stayed with this work until his death. His sons joined him in this type of work, doing business as Dave Briggs and Sons. They helped rebuild the Paul Hubbard building after it had burned down.
Dave Briggs and Sons at Baker
David Le Von, Dave, Kenneth and Curtis
All of the family eventually left Baker. David and Mayme moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in 1947. David died in February, 1951 and Mayme died in January, 1962.
Their daughter, Beatrice married Ezekiel (Ezek) Wells and they moved to Ontario, Canada where they lived on a farm. They moved to Coeur d'Alene in 1946. They have two sons and five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Curtis married Signe E. Westman, she taught a rural school near Ekalaka before their marriage. They now live in the country between Kellogg and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. They have two sons and six grand-children. David L. is married and lives in Lewiston, Idaho. He works at the Potlatch Paper Mill there. He has two children and three grandchildren. Kenneth D. married Elphie Tunby in Baker. They moved to Coeur d'Alene in 1947 where he was a masonry contractor until June 1967, when he and his family moved to Miles City, Montana where he was employed at Pine Hills School until his death in October 1971. There are two daughters, one son and one grandchild.