Autobiography of Ralph John Wesley Howard


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coarse hay for fuel required bare hands and a temperature that did not make them numb and useless.

Consequently, the hay to be prepared must be brought inside and twisted, we called it skeins, similar to the skeins of yarn. This made quite a mess in a one-room house. This snow came so early, there was little hay brought in from the sloughs for winter, use and it was soon used up.

At that time, I was too young, about four years old, to realize the seriousness of the situation my only concern was a warm place to sleep and plenty of food. Not just johnnycake and fish, all but the fish! Johnnycake included any thing that was made from corn meal and water as a base.

This hay twisting was a very definite must! No hay, no fire, no johnnycake! The hay twisting was a regular occurrence. When father brought a bundle of hay, bound by a long strap (that served other purposes, as well). As soon as the bundle was argued through the door and the strap removed, it remained within his reached, until the hay was twisted and stacked neatly by the stove, like we pile wood, if we use wood. The twisting was everybodyís job myself included. At that time, I had two older brothers to help bring me up, a duty they did not enforce if either of my parents were present. I had one younger brother, and what they forced on me, I passed on to him with my own ideas included.

When the coal supply at Parker, South Dakota, was exhausted, the railroad had some new ties on hand to replace the old ones, these, they sold for fuel at the lowest price above their actual cost. They hadnít many as fuel goes and they were gone by the middle of winter, or the people that bought them had no money. Prospects did not look good for these early settlers.

How those survived that was distant from the railroad, I do not know. I know what my parents and our nearest neighbor, Mr. J.M. Roper did. There was a long snow fence that paralleled and was built and owned by the railroad that crossed our homestead. Shortly after, we ate our last johnnycake. Dad and mom talked it over and decided to use some of that fence for fuel. "We will keep record of every board, and when we can, we will pay for it." When the snow went away in the spring, there was no sign of that fence left; and every bridge and culvert had been trimmed of any wood that reached beyond its useful length. The railroad never did mention, or ask for pay for their property. Many of the settlers burned their furniture. To my

The Howard Clan webpages were submitted by Patrick K. Best The Howard Clan were some of the original homesteaders of the North Bend District. It is hoped that you and many more people enjoy this history that this clan went through everyday to strive to live and provide a great part in making the history of Saskatchewan come alive.

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