Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Bemiss/Epps

Howard Lee Epps
1906 - 1977
Luella Mae (Bemiss) (Avery) Epps
1916 - 1988

I lost an old friend today. I am sad, and it made me miss my grandparents, Howard and Lu, Gramp and Gram. 

Gramp (sometimes I called him Grump) was born in Oakley, Logan County, Kansas, on August 18, 1906. His parents were James "Jay" Riley and Sarah "Sallie" Bessie (Jones) Epps. He lived there until he and Gram were married on July 6, 1940, in Golden, Jefferson County, Colorado. They lived in Denver, Colorado, after that, and moved to Seattle, King County, Washington, in 1945, shortly before the end of World War II.

Gram was born in Grinnell, Gove County, Kansas, just a little way from Oakley, on August 28, 1916. Her parents were Fredrick James and Maud May (Morgan) Bemiss. She was raised in the Grinnell area. For just over four years, Gram was married to Carl Avery, with whom she had three children, including my mom. Gram and Gramp had two children together, but he was 'Daddy' to all five of the children.

Gram and Gramp were interred in a mausoleum at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in Seattle, Washington.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part XVII


July 17, 1917

On this date, sister Elizabeth was born. It was a hot miserable day. Doctor Meyer drove his horse out to deliver the baby (Dr. Meyer delivered the baby – not the horse – Sorry about that). On the same day, Dad had made arrangements for a photographer to come out and take pictures of our potato and wheat fields. You’ve probably seen these pictures. I don’t know where Arthur and Colonel were. They probably stayed with Uncle Andy and Aunt Ellen to keep them out of the way. I stayed with Dad and got my picture taken leaning on a hoe or shovel. I don’t look too happy in those pictures. {I was unable to locate any of the pictures Uncle Jack mentioned. I'll be on the lookout for them.}

Of course, the arrival of a girl was good news to our parents, because, I think, they wanted another girl pretty bad. Colonel, however, wasn’t too happy about the whole thing and when asked what he thought about her, he suggested that she should be drowned. That thinking soon passed and we were bragging about her. She was a beautiful baby and Mama made a doll out of her.

I know when we started back to school several weeks later both Colonel and I talked about our new little sister.

We had beautiful crops of potatoes, wheat and corn that year, as they exceeded all expectations. The monetary returns I don’t know about.

I believe now that Dad had a reason to take those pictures. I believe he wanted to either sell or lease the place so he could get Mama into better conditions. Earlier in the year, a man from Sequim, Washington, worked for us for a few days sorting potatoes in our cellars. Mr. Bradshaw talked to the folks about the Sequim area. I don’t know if any decisions were made at this time.

I guess I was lucky to get the school janitor job. It paid $12.50 a month and that was by voucher. This sort of way of paying the help almost got me in trouble later on, but it did provide a valuable lesson. (will explain later) To earn the $12.50 I was to keep the stove going during cold weather, and sweep the floors each afternoon after close of school. I also dusted when needed, which was pretty much all the time, clean black boards and erasers. The floors were oiled, so a sawdust-like preparation was used before each sweeping that had to be cleaned up and placed in an airtight container (a barrel with a lid). I must not forget inkwells – these were filled maybe once a week.

Fall 1917

As stated above, the crops were good, so Colonel and I earned considerable that fall picking potatoes, haying and working some in threshing. For picking potatoes, we earned $5.00 per day, which was an excellent pay for that day and age. The day was usually 12 hours; if we worked less, we got less. I believe Dad traded his time on other places as explained above.

Aunt Gertie in Spokane, WA
We didn’t get paid for work on our place since we eventually shared in all income from the farm through room, board and clothing. Colonel and I normally earned enough each year to buy some clothing and Aunt Gertie, who lived in Spokane, always managed to send us some clothing, especially around Christmastime.

I just don’t know when or what time of year that our parents either leased or sold the farm, but we did move to Caldwell, renting a large house with barn and chicken house on the northeast side of town. I think it must have been in early winter. Dad sold one team and took one or two cows. Mama also had a few chickens. Dad did a lot of odd jobs, but mostly worked at the College of Idaho landscaping the campus.

I was in the 8th grade in 1917-1918 and didn’t want to leave the school in our valley and I also had the job paying $12.50 a month. I continued to go to school out there by riding the trolley from Caldwell to a point about one mile from school. For some reason, I don’t remember what Colonel did to finish the 7th grade. I think he must have finished that school year in Caldwell.

Doctor Meyer, who had been our family doctor for years, had purchased an orchard in the valley and he either hired or leased it to another party to operate. It was in early spring of 1918, and the Dr. planned to spray the orchard, so he hired me to drive the team pulling the spray wagon. I must note here that spraying orchards to kill harmful insects was something new, so very few people in the area had had any experience with this sort of thing. I also must note here that most sprays used for many, many years were a concoction of lime, sulphur and lead. Most surely a lethal dose for horse and man, as well as insects. {There is a picture from 1918 here}

After maybe a dozen trees had been sprayed, I got deathly ill and couldn’t continue with the job. Luckily, Dr. Meyer’s place was across the road from the railroad, so I was able to get back home in a couple of hours.

One, two, or three months later, I was called into court to testify on the behalf of Dr. Meyer. I don’t know who was suing who, for work performed or work not performed. I was scared out of my wits. Judge, lawyers and a lot of people setting around watching. I was asked over and over how many trees had been sprayed to which I gave the same answer each time. Dr. Meyer told Dad later that I had done real well; so well, in fact, that he had won the suit. So much for court action!! {John G. Meyer was born in March 1856 in Missouri. He was married to Harriet, who was born in August 1859. They had four children, three of whom were: Georgie, born March 1887; Mary E., born September 1883; Elsie E., born November 1898. The children were born in Missouri. The fourth died before 1910. They lived in Owyhee County, Idaho, in 1900, and Caldwell, Idaho, from at least 1910 until 1930.} {NOTE:
1906 - Commercial preparations of lime-sulphur appeared for first time. 1918 - Wettable lime-sulphur introduced as spray}

The Case of the Bouncing Check

Above I mentioned that I was paid by voucher for the janitor work in the school. I believe our teachers had been paid in the same manner. I treated these vouchers as a check not knowing they were used when the payer didn’t have funds to pay in cash or by normal check. A voucher would draw a certain amount of interest so noted on the face. It also contained a discount rate by the banks or other holders of such vouchers to further advance their possibilities of income. I was credited with the amount after the discount had been applied, thereby reducing the amount I thought I had in the bank. I was lucky since only one of my checks came back NSF (non-sufficient funds). The banker saw my dad and told him what had happened. Dad asked me to go see the banker, which I did immediately, and did I get a chewing out. It was a good lesson – one that has stayed with me all my life.

The balance of the school year was pretty much like the fall that preceded it. Colonel and I still read a lot, and as we nearly always received books for birthdays and Christmas, we had a fair supply of material. I believe brother Eugene still has some of these books on hand, that I’m sure you’ve also read. Such things as magazines were expensive and hard to come by.

When I graduated from the eighth grade, it wasn’t a big deal – just picked up my belongings and walked out. I did sweep the floors before leaving – May 1918.

Summer 1918

We were pretty much at loose ends now. We missed the free and comparatively easy life on the farm. As the spring advanced, we were able to find a good swimming hole in the Boise River which was in fairly easy walking distance of our house. We didn’t have bathing suits, so continued to swim in the nude all that summer.

Maxey’s Hardware

In order to earn some money, I got a job in Bill Maxey’s hardware store. I don’t remember how much Mr. Maxey paid me, but I’m sure it wasn’t much over $1.00 per day. I had never been bored before in my life, but this job was terrible. Business wasn’t big enough to keep one busy and after dusting all the shelves, sweeping all the floors each day, there wasn’t much of anything else to do except dream of that river 15 miles away. Up to this point in life, we had a pattern to follow which didn’t vary much each day and which didn’t require too much thinking, so now I had a job that was demanding more than just sitting on one’s two-spot. Maybe it was almost too much to ask a 15-year-old boy to think for himself. We shall see.

Sun eclipse

During the summer, we had a total eclipse of the sun. Since it is not good for your eyes to look at the sun, I smoked some pieces of glass, a lot of which was lying around the back room, and sold them to passersby to look at the sun. I also rigged up a piece of stovepipe with a piece of smoked glass. This thing gave us a real good view of the sun without damage. Many things were done after that to get rid of boredom, but never quite eliminated it. {photos of the 1918 eclipse here}


The war in Europe was really heating up. The big drive through France was on and we were losing a lot of men. A lot of men I knew had gone. I don’t know of any that were killed, but there was fear nevertheless. The big sign showing Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying “I Want You” finally got to me and I applied at both recruiting stations in Caldwell in an attempt to join the army. Although I was big for my age, those guys took a good look at me and said no! I tried several times that summer with the same result. I shudder at what might have happened if they had been foolish enough to take me. (I did go to high school with a fellow three years later who was smaller than I physically who joined at 16 and spent one-and-a-half years in France, but I think he was a bit smarter; John Rule. I shall mention him later.)

The summer continued in this manner until middle August when potato harvest started. That is when I divorce myself from the hardware business and headed for the farms to make some better money.

Picture Shows

I should mention here that during the summer of 1918 we probably saw more moving picture shows than in our entire lives to date. Most of them were 10-25¢; however, “Tarzan of the Apes” was 50¢. There were a number of war pictures: i.e. “The White Feather” and “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

High School

I believe schools started soon after Labor Day, so I was due to start at the Caldwell High School. I was a little bit awed by the procedures since I was used to a small school with few in each class. Giles Bacon had graduated from grade school in the spring of 1917. I can’t recall what he did in school year 1917-1918. Colonel had one more year to go in the eighth grade, so it was decided that he would live with the Bacons and Giles would live with us. This arrangement worked out fine.

Up to this point I had always been called “Jack” (Many years later the “Jackbusiness nearly got me in trouble.) When I registered, I was asked if my given name was “John.” When I said yes, I was told that henceforth I would be called John.

I know that three of my subjects were: algebra, English and history, and I’m pretty sure, a first year science course.


NOT Jack-example of 1918 uniform
Giles Bacon decided to turn out for football and asked me to go with him for practice. We had never really engaged in competitive play, especially contact games such as football. I did turn out and liked it very much, so decided to continue, so purchased a pair of cleated shoes and other items the school didn’t furnish. The football equipment was certainly not up to today’s standards. As a result, there were many injuries. Our coach was a young man and a recent graduate. His name was Frank Nagy.


I must not here that I shaved for the first time in September 1918. I purchased a single blade safety razor for the event. The razor cost $1.00. I can’t recall the name of the razor. Dad, of course, had some comments about my shaving, which were: “spread some cream on your face and let the cat lick it off,” end of quote.

School didn’t last long and after about six weeks, it closed down until further notice because of the influenza epidemic that swept the county, killing many, many people. Our soldiers in training camps had troubles because of wet and cold conditions. All schools in Canyon County closed, so Giles went home and Colonel came home.

Getting ready to move

I don’t know when the folks decided to move to the Pacific coast, but it must have been somewhere between the 15th of October and the first of November 1918. They must have moved pretty fast after making a decision, because there was livestock and some equipment to dispose of as well as the packing of other possessions.

**This is the end of the second phase of our dissertation on memories in the life of John Aitchison**


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Aitchison

M. W. Aitchison
1911 - 1933

Martin Walter Aitchison was the son of William Robert and Caroline (Ulmer) Aitchison. He was born about 1911 in Canada. The family immigrated in 1915 and was enumerated on the 1920 census in Seattle, King County, Washington. Martin died on October 10, 1933. He is buried at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in Seattle.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Little Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Baby Name Wizard

Once again accepting Randy Seaver's challenge for Saturday night, I'm checking out my name, and others at Baby Name Wizard. It's always fun for me to try new things and share them, and I'm glad when it works out that I can participate.

These were the challenges:

1)  Go to the Baby Name Wizard site and see how popular your name was over the 20th century, and how popular a baby name it is today.  Check out your spouse, your children and your grandchildren (if you have some!) also. 

2)  What does your name mean (find out on http://www.babynamewizard.com/baby-name)?

3)  Tell us about it, and show us your graphs, in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, in a Facbook status or a Google+ Stream post.  

Here are my results:

1) I did two spellings of my name, both Joleen and Jolene (which enjoyed more popularity). Here is the graph, also including the name Jolette.

You can see that my spelling had its peak in the 1950s, when it ranked #880. You can probably guess I haven't met many during my lifetime who share this spelling. It's interesting that Jolene was much more widely used, and enjoyed a brief comeback in 2009-2010. 

My husband's name is Robert. His name peaked in popularity in the 1930s. He, however, was born in 1953 when his name was still very popular, ranking at #3. It still ranks #61. The graph includes the names Robin and Roberto.
We have nine children and lots (I mean LOTS) of grandchildren, so I'm not going to try to enumerate all of their names here with their ranking results. I love looking their names up, though.

2) Apparently, according to this particular site, Joleen has no meaning or origin. I think that gives me the liberty to be anything I wish! My mom told me she named me after the young woman who was the girls' club president at her high school. She thought she was a very kind person, so I've always felt some desire to live up to that reputation. ;)  (According to another site, Joleen is a form of Jolene which appears to be the name Jo or Joe with the feminine -lene suffix attached.)

Origin of the name Robert:Introduced to England by the Normans, Robert is derived from the Old High German Hruodperht, a compound name composed of the elements hruod (fame) and perht (bright). The name was borne by Robert I (d. 1035), duke of Normandy and father of William the Conqueror, and by three kings of Scotland.

3) Done!

Thanks, Randy! I enjoy these challenges, and reading others' results, as well.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Washington Family History Expo 2012

The Washington Family History Expo hosted by the LDS Church was held at the Redmond Stake Center in (guess!) Redmond, Washington. This was their tenth, or eleventh, year (the welcoming host wasn't sure). It was well advertised, well organized, very well attended and free. This was my first time there, but I know many of the attendees were repeat customers; and many came relatively far distances. My mom and I went together, and met a cousin and her mom. We all took different classes, but had the chance to visit during the lunch break and at the end.

The keynote address speaker was Norman J. Landerman-Moore. He has an impressive work history, including serving with Gov. Ronald Reagan. He is a compelling speaker and told short stories from his own family history, emphasizing the importance and potential impact of what he called "little stories." Discovering even brief records about our ancestors' lives makes them more real to us and can help us feel more connected to them.

Thereafter, there were eight or nine class offerings for each of the five one-hour periods with a 45-minute break for lunch. Lunch, for many of us, was a pre-ordered sack lunch, the proceeds from which will help young women of the area attend camp in the summertime. Some of those young women were our servers and the clean-up crew. Very pleasant.

My first class was called "Genealogy Gems in U. S. Probate Records" taught by Janice Blackhurst. It was very informative and orderly. A couple of things I learned are: 1. about 10% of the people who died before 1900 left a will; 2. be sure to check anywhere an ancestor owned property for probate records, not just where they lived.

Next, an educator from The National Archives of Seattle, Carol Buswell, discussed the resources in the archives nationwide which are particularly useful to genealogists. She went through a long list with us and answered every question put to her. She illustrated how to search the archives online at www.archives.gov. But, she stressed that if we needed help, "ask an archivist."

After lunch, I attended a presentation made by Jake Gehring of FamilySearch. His was titled "Changes and Development at FamilySearch." I loved it! He explained what FamilySearch is and gave a brief overview of its history. He shared lots of data to illustrate the advances and changes over the last ten years. There are 698.9 million images, 1.99 billion records, 3.07 billion searchable names and 1,311 total collections hosted at FamilySearch. This session was chock-full of information. There may have been a secret or two that slipped out...

My last two classes were Parts 1 and 2 of "England Online" presented by Godfrey and Merry Ellis. This couple makes English research look possible, in a very fun way. (Godfrey started the day by waving an English flag when he was introduced.) They presented real examples from their own families as illustrations of the many, many types of records and resources available. They explained when and why certain types of records were, or weren't, kept. Definitely worth attending. Maybe I can find my grandpa's family, now.

Obviously, I couldn't take every class that was offered. Among those that I had to forego were: Using Newspapers for Family History Research, Reasonably Exhaustive Search Explained, Bagging a Live One: Connecting with Cousins You Never Knew You Had, Researching Your Swedish Ancestors, Who Are the Scots-Irish?, Organizing Your Materials and Stories and Germans from Russia. Just the tip of the presentation iceberg!

To add to all the excellent classes were about two dozen exhibitors, including American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, FamilySearch, Fiske Library, Jewish Genealogy Society of Washington State, Legacy Interest Group, Northwest African American Museum, and Seattle Genealogical Society.

All in all, it was an excellent conference. And, the price was SO right. ;)

A big thank you to the organizers and exhibitors for a wonderful, motivating experience. All the chatter afterward was very positive. This is a local event worth planning to attend - every year. I know I'll be there next year.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part XVI


photo by Gary Hoyle (used with permission)
I’m sure I mentioned somewhere above that the farmers in the area had a hard time getting their produce to market because of long distances and slow transportation. Somewhere along the line, an electrified rail system was run from Caldwell into the dam area. This made it somewhat easier for us to go to town, but to haul produce it was a four to five mile trip to get the stuff to the rail head. When it was our only purpose to go to town, we would take the buckboard or shafted buggy, leave the horses tied to the hitch rail provided, and board the car. I should tell you at this point that the operators of the contraption spent a lot of their time hunting pheasant, rabbits, coyotes, as well as anything else they could eat or draw a bounty on. I know they spent some time removing sheep, cattle and other livestock from the railroad so they could proceed on their appointed rounds. Whenever we left the horses at the rail head, we planned to stay only a few hours, because the sun was hot and the horses needed water every few hours. I don’t recall that any produce was ever shipped from this rail head. It was still too far from our place.

Somewhere along the line, the railroad was changed and run into our valley in about the same area where we first entered the valley around the curve in the road, it then continued east to a point about one-and-a-half or two miles from our place. A grade was cleared through a section diagonally to about one-half mile from our place, but this part was never used. We were now able to ship by the carload without too much trouble providing we had a carload.

One incident, which I shall always remember, related to the railroad, occurred when Dad decided to take a pig to market to get some ready cash. This particular car was a double end arrangement – passengers and motorman on each end with a freight compartment in the center.

via Wikimedia Commons
Dad placed the pig, which weighed 150 to 200 pounds, in a substantial wooden crate built for this purpose. We hauled it to the rail head in a wagon pulled by a team of horses. Dad backed the wagon up to the larger sliding doors to the freight compartment and he and I unloaded the pig crate, placing it near one wall away from the doors of the compartment. And then, the ruckus started.

One of the operators, probably the conductor, approached Dad and informed him that he could not ship a live pig to market in their vehicle. Of course Dad refused this argument because he needed the money and this was the best and easiest way to get the pig to town. The conductor then contacted the motorman to get his help in handling the situation. The motorman didn’t help their cause in anyway and they then proceeded to return the crated pig to our wagon, which was still backed up to the freight doors. I was standing in the wagon close to the seat holding the reins in case the horses spooked at all the yelling going on. Suddenly, one of those guys literally flew out of the door, missed the wagon entirely and landed in the dirt alongside the rear wagon wheel. I jumped into the compartment to see what was going on. The other guy was setting on the floor against the far wall with his hands over the stomach area of his anatomy. Dad took his pig to town. I drove the team home and reported to Mama. I shall mention this railroad in future additions since from now on, it was part of our lives.

Race with the Coyote

I’ve been debating with myself when I should records this story. I promised you on previous pages that I would bring it up at a later date, but I’ve never been sure of the right time since it doesn’t relate to anything much at this point, and much of it is vague. It concerned a baseball game and I’ve wondered why Colonel wasn’t involved because he was quite interested in playing the game.

via Wikimedia Commons
This is the only time I can recall that we went to another school to play. In this case, it was the Deer Flat School about seven or eight miles northwest of our school. We were transported to the school on a wagon furnished by one of our neighbors. We played the game and returned to our valley in early dusk. I was let off the wagon about two to two-and-a-half miles from home. By the time I got to the section where the railroad bed had been cleared, it was dark and the coyotes began to sing. It must be remembered that this was sagebrush country and the coyotes were out in force. At this point, I was about one or one-and-a-half miles from home and was becoming frightened, so I began to run with those guys yapping, first to the right and then to the left 20 to 30 feet from me. When I got out of the sagebrush and onto the main road, they kind of gave up, but I didn’t stop. It was the first time in my life that I got my second wind. I could have run all night, I believe.

I couldn’t say a word for some time after I got home, just too scared I guess. I think I know now why other events seem so vague since they were all secondary to the run with the coyotes.

Things were beginning to change somewhat as we were starting to get a few things that would help ease the hard labor.

Uncle Andy’s Lamp

First I want to mention Uncle Andy’s lamp. As explained above, all we had was kerosene lanterns and lamps, and at best they gave a very dim light. The lamp that Uncle got was about twice the size of most lamps, and it had a double mantle in it. I have no idea what kind of fuel it burned, but I suspect it was gasoline. Gasoline was being used to some extent, but few people knew what it was and probably didn’t care. This lamp gave a brilliant white light and when placed on a center table, it could light up a room well enough to read almost anywhere. One trouble, the mantles were so delicate that if the lamp was moved or jarred, the mantles would break. Lots of people visited just to see that lamp. {In 1914, William Coleman launched the Coleman Company}

Washing Machine

1911 Maytag

One of the first things Mama got to ease her labors was a washing machine. There was one thing Colonel and I found out real quick was that the contraption certainly wasn’t a labor saving device for us. It was made to run by advancing and withdrawing a wooden lever on the side of the tub. Operating this lever caused the rise and fall of three or four cups in the tub to push and then suck water and soap through clothing thereby eliminating soil, gravy and maybe cow manure from the fabric. The thing worked fine as long as there was just water in the tub, but when clothing was added a lot of opposition was placed on the muscle of young tender boys, but we fought it through and lived to tell about the rough life. The wringer was about as bad, but it sure helped Mama out a lot in her hard and busy life.

Kerosene Stove

As I told you, the summers were extremely hot, so Dad and Mama bought a kerosene burning stove. I believe it had three burners with a round wick. The stove didn’t have an oven, but it did have a warming oven, so any baking was don had to be done with the wood (coal) burning Home Comfort Range. The kerosene stove could be moved outside for better ventilation in the summertime.

Dad also acquired some labor-saving equipment. Some of this material was purchased in partnership with Mack Stocker, Uncle Andy and even Charlie Stephenson, whose place joined ours on the east. The manure spreader was an example of such equipment. Before we acquired this piece of equipment, the stuff had to be loaded onto a wagon by pitchfork. We usually used a four-tined fork for this purpose. When the load had been transported to a field it was again forked over the side and spread upon the ground. The spreader had a movable apron which the driver could operate from his seat at the front end of the load by engaging a number of gears, causing the apron to rotate toward the rear of the spreader. A rotating cylinder was also engaged, causing the material to practically fly out the back and spread evenly on the field. You got rid of the shoveling off but never the shoveling on. The potato planter, digger, sorter, wheat drill, and corn drill were other examples of community properties.

We had a couple of plows: one single bottom and one double bottom, a couple of mowing machines, a hay rake and two or three cultivators – one pulled by one horse and one pulled by two horses. This one could cultivate two or more rows.

from 1937 Plattsburgh, Missouri paper
I think one of the best things we acquired was a cream separator. Before we got it, mild was poured into pans, set on shelving in the milk house. Then, it was allowed to stand until all the cream had risen to the top. Mama then skimmed it off into five or ten gallon milk cans. The skimmed milk was fed to the hogs. The De la Valve {Delaval} separator (trade name) saved a lot of labor and the end product could be kept cleaner and easier to handle. The hogs still got their share, but probably not so much cream in it. I believe the cream was picked up once a week by a butter making outfit in Caldwell.

The derrick was on our property, I believe, but was used by Mack and Uncle Andy because the dragging distance was not over one-half mile and four to six horses could handle it easily.

Besides the above equipment, we had the following rolling stock: the lumber wagon, drawn by two or more horses; buck board, drawn by two horses; two-seated hack with the fringe on top, drawn by two horses and a one-seated buggy with shafts; one horse harness for three teams and harness for buggy horse.


via Wikimedia Commons
We fought these insects about nine months out of the year. There was just no way we could exterminate enough of them to do much good. They would collect on the outside of the screen doors so thick that you couldn’t see through the screen, and at times, the inside of the house looked like the inside of a beehive. Mama got some paper that had a sticky substance on one side. This stuff was placed around. It caught a lot of flies, but didn’t make much of a dent in the population. Then, we had the black poison paper which was placed in a shallow plate or pan with water. The flies were attracted to the plates, drank the stuff and died by the thousands; but usually not before they took off, dropping dead in food and other places not healthy for us. The pans of this poisoned stuff also posed a problem for young children who are bound to eat and/or drink anything not good for them. I’m sure not just a few died from this concoction.

Before meals, especially when she was feeding a crew, Mama would have Colonel and me go to the corn field and pull several suckers from the main corn stocks. With these, we would drive many flies outside, but could not eliminate them entirely; so we continued to get them in our soup, coffee or whatever.

I know the above is a disgusting subject, but they were there. It did happen and I hate the things.


The war in Europe was still in progress and was heating up to some extent. I know that Colonel and I worried some because we thought it possible that Dad may have to go if we became involved. At this point, we didn’t know too much about the situation over there; but some of the young men we had known earlier were prepared and were talking seriously about it.

I think it was about this time that Uncle Jim Youker showed up and stayed a few days. He was my mother’s only brother. We liked him very much because he had a lot of stories and was a sort of worldly individual. Mining had been his principal occupation from about the age of 12. That was the last time we saw him or received a word from him. Although Aunt Maude and Aunt Gertie spend considerable time and money in an endeavor to locate their brother, it has been assumed that he was in the service, but never returned. No Records exist. {I have found a record of James registering for the draft on September 12, 1918. He named his closest relative as being Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson (friend). He married Inez (probably Elizabeth, perhaps abbreviated Eliz and misread by the extractor) Jackson on September 25, 1918, in Payette, Idaho. If he served during the war, he survived because he and Elizabeth were living in Boise at the time the 1920 federal census was taken. Beyond that, I've found nothing.}

[I must explain that these people and perhaps other often changed their name. For what purposes I certainly don’t know. Mother’s name on her marriage certificate was Johnson. When we questioned her about this, she explained that her father changed his name to Johnson when he joined the Union army. Both Aunt Gertie and Aunt Maude had other names they went by at various times. So, it could be that James Youker did the same thing. I’m guessing here, something I vowed not to do in the preparation of this narrative. J.]


We continued to do about the same things I’ve been telling you about. We ate, slept, worked and went to school in season. If I recall, the war in Europe didn’t seem to have much effect on the farmer. I know Dad raised lots of potatoes and wheat, but I can’t recall the dividends he may have received from this produce. Much of our produce was shipped to eastern markets and a lot of bad things happened on its way back there.

I believe it was May 1917 that the U S of A entered the war. {President Woodrow Wilson requested a declaration of war from Congress on April 2, 1917. On April 4th, Congress granted his request.}

I don’t know if Colonel or I noticed or knew that Mama was going to have a baby. I know mama didn’t feel well most of the time. The weather was extremely hot and she continued to do her usual chores. I don’t know if it was about this time or later that our doctor told us that Mama needed some rest.
to be continued ...

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A Little Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, on Sunday

Chicago, Illinois (1893)
Over at Genea-musings, Randy Seaver gave the challenge to play a form of ancestor name roulette. It sounded fun to me, and I have a few minutes to enjoy. Here are the results of my 'spin.'

  1. My great-grandmother, Maud May (Morgan) Bemiss, was born in 1884. Divide 1884 by 90 and get 20.93333..., rounded up to 21.
  2. Person number 21 on my ahnentafel is my third great-grandmother Grace Eliza Coryell.
    1. born on September 12, 1838, in Nichols, Tioga County, New York to Charles Patterson and Harriet Nancy (Field) Coryell. Charles was a physician.
    2. married on October 10, 1860, to Eugene Marguerat, probably in New York. Eugene was also a physician.
    3. died on March 6, 1915, in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.
    4. buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago
  3. Three facts about Grace:
    1. She attended the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1852.
    2.  Eugene and Grace moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1862, where they were very active in civic and social activities. They had seven children:
    3. Grace was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, being a descendant of both Emanuel and John Coryell. John Coryell served with the Associators and when the British evacuated Philadelphia he supplied Washington with boats to cross the Delaware at Coryell's Ferry. Emanuel Coryell, while serving in the army, was wounded and received a pension of the rank of captain.
Very fun exercise!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Arms

Phinehas Arms
October 26, 1793 - June 11, 1872

Phinehas Arms was the son of Phinehas and Lydia (Root)* Arms. He was born in Wilmington Township, Windham County, Vermont. Phinehas was a soldier in the War of 1812.
On April 4, 1822, he married Maria Bolles in Bridgewater, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. They lived in Rock County, Wisconsin, in 1850 and 1855. They were living in Winnesheik County,​ Iowa, in 1860.
Phinehas died in Nettleton, Caldwell County, Missouri. He is buried in the Rohrbaugh Cemetery in Hamilton, Caldwell County, Missouri. His widow, Maria, died on September 9, 1880, also in Nettleton, and buried in the Rohrbaugh Cemetery.

* There is a record of Phinehas' birth in Vermont stating his mother's name is Abigail. However, a christening record in Massachusetts names Lydia Root his mother, as well as numerous user-submitted family trees at ancestry.com. This would take some research to straighten out, which I will leave to the family members, at this time. JA

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part XV

In the stretch of river one and a half miles east to about six to eight miles northwest of our place, there were numerous islands, and for most of them we had names. The one running opposite and east we called Long Island. It was about a mile long, so it extended beyond the boundaries of our place. Opposite Mack’s place there was a small, I believe formed, island on which we spent most of our time. We called this Little Island. Downstream and nearly connected to Little was Middle Island, and then there was Froman’s, Fry’s, etc. Ed and Giles Bacon, Colonel and I roamed these islands at every opportunity. In doing so, we could not use the old boat since, as explained above, it was too heavy to either row upstream or to carry since horses were not always available to us; but, we could handle the currents in the canoes and also carry them if necessary, two or three miles. (We did a lot of walking.)

Island Hide-away

On most of the islands, we had built some kind of shelters and also had odds and ends of food and utensils cached on most of them, especially Little Island. Two pennies was a lot of money to us, but we figured we’d never be broke if we could come back and dig them up if needed. –Dreamers- I suppose those pennies are still there, but surely the tobacco can must be rusted away as it’s been close to 70 years {about 1915} since we buried them. We didn’t do much on Long Island. I’m sure there was a lot there and it could be reached rather easily with the boat, but there were no beaches to speak of as water had cut away the banks so they were quite sharp. The island was also quite brushy. There were a lot of wild gooseberries and wild current that Colonel and I picked for Mama to make jelly, jam or whatever.

Ernie Bedford used to pasture his horses on Long Island quite a bit and it was quite a sight to see Ernie get the horses over to the island because they had to swim.

I suppose there were a lot of artifacts on these islands because the Indians had lived along the rivers hundreds of years and, perhaps thousands, so they had to leave something; but, we didn’t seem to be too interested and came by materials mostly by accidental means. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the opportunities I had missed of being a budding anthropologist.

Between Little Island and Middle Island the water ran quite swift and deep, so it had cut into the east end of Middle Island, causing erosion. In shooting this gap in the canoes one day, some of us noticed some bones sticking out of the bank about six to eight feet above the water. We did not investigate at the time, but did tell the Hammer’s boys about it. They dug it up and found part of a skeleton as well as many stone points and other prehistory artifacts. Dad plowed up an ivory tusk about 18 to 20 inches long. We kept it around the house for some time and eventually he gave it to the college in Caldwell. During a trip through the area several years ago, Buddie {Florence Totten, Jack’s wife} visited the college, contacted the department head and asked to see the tusk; but, the pieces were not marked by the donator’s name. I did pick out one I believed was plowed up by my father.

A little explanation

For the past seven to eight sheets, I’ve been dealing pretty much with “fun and games,” but there is much serious information to follow; but, I think I shall continue with the “fun and games” until they are somewhat played out and hope they are not too boring to you.

In view of the above, I shall therefore, continue with the case of the mid-winter swim.

If I can recall, it was about 4:00 a.m. when Colonel and I got up to tend our traps set in the river along Mack Stocker’s place about one-half mile northwest of our house. It was extremely cold with a huge full moon so bright that I believe you could read a newspaper. Hoarfrost was clinging to everything and the air was extremely clear and clean. Huge chunks of ice were moving slowly downstream, some of the chunks were twelve to fifteen feet square. The traps were located in such a place that we had to use the double ended boat to get to them. After clearing our traps, it was so cold we decided to moor the boat at this point, crawl through the willows and go home. I was in the front end of the boat, ready to step out onto the shore, and Colonel, always in a hurry, tried to get ashore ahead of me. Since we were both on the same side of the boat, it tilted. I was going and grabbed Colonel, so both of us landed in the water. It wasn’t too deep, three to four feet, but we were loaded down with heavy clothing and five to six dead muskrats. We got home okay, took off our clothes, which were frozen solid, and got in bed. However, before getting into bed, I put my shoes, the button variety, into the oven of the kitchen range. This was a mistake because Dad got up sometime later and built a roaring fire in the stove. I don’t know if it was the odor or smoke from the burning shoes that caused Mama to open the oven door. The shoes were ruined. They were the only pair I had. But for my thoughtless act, I was told I had to wear those shoes. I did. But, after they were baked, they didn’t last long, maybe two to three days. The worst part: Dad had to get another pair for me. We were fortunate that Colonel didn’t put his shoes in the oven, too.


I’ve mentioned fishing a few times somewhere above, but never got around to describing some of the fish we caught.

There was a lot of what we called scrap fish in the river; namely, carp, suckers, squaw fish, chisel mouth, white fish and sturgeon. (Not scrap. Read on.) All but the sturgeon were full of very small bones. If you could get a carp large enough, they weren’t too bad to fight the bones; but, they tasted muddy. We ate some of all the fish, but never made a practice of it. It was too bad, since the river was full of the things and it was no trouble catching them.


The sturgeon, however, was different, as their skeleton is made of cartilage, which I believe is similar to the shark; no small bones, the meat slightly oily, but delicious. Nearly every year we caught at least one of these fish, usually two to three feet long and up to about 12 pounds; and then, we caught one that really paid off. I think sometimes it must have been an accident, since neither the place nor time was right. The water was high up past the fence Dad had built along the shore. One of us tied about eight feet of line on the corner fence post with a single hook. Fairly large. The line must have been weighted, but I don’t remember how. We baited with angle worms and left it there all night. We got down to the river fairly early to check our lines, never dreaming that we’d have more than a carp or sucker. We took one look and started to yell and holler. It was a whale! Nothing could be that big! I just can’t remember how we got him out of the river.

I do know that he was too big for Colonel and me to handle. Mack Stocker, Dad and Mama arrived on the scene. The hook was straightened out, so it wouldn’t have taken much action on the sturgeon’s part to free himself. He was just under six feet and weighed 75 pounds. Now, that’s a real fish story.

Sturgeon got quite large in the river. Dad saw one at Nampa’s ferry, about one-and-a-half to two miles southeast of our place. They claimed it weighed 300 pounds. It was longer than a wagon box. Check your encyclopedia on this fish.

We were never able to catch a salmon. They did get up that far to spawn, as we found many dead ones on the beach. They had to come up the Columbia and then the Snake, so that was several hundred miles travel.

Edgar and Clarence

We spent quite a bit of time with our cousins Edgar and Clarence, fishing, swimming, etc., in the summer times. Many of the pictures we now have, both of those boys were in them. However, there is one thing that bothers me: I do not remember either one of them going to our school and they don’t show up in any of the school pictures. Why? Edgar was one grade ahead of me and Colonel was one grade ahead of Clarence.

One day, Edgar and I decided to go duck hunting on Little Island. Of course, we used the double-ended boat and muffled the oars so the band of ducks on the upstream point of the island wouldn’t spook. It was a fairly dark morning, so we made the crossing without trouble and tied the boat up on the lower part of the island. We sneaked up through the willows, but by the time we’d gotten in shooting range, the ducks had moved upstream and were slowly floating back down. We sat down in the willows to wait for them. We sat there for some time in semi-darkness, and as it grew lighter, I saw that Edgar had his gun across his lap with the business end pointed right at me, not four feet away. I asked him to point it the other way. No sooner did he get it pointed in the other direction than it went off. Of course, it scared all the ducks in a half-mile radius and it ended the duck hunting for that day. I was scared and, as I recall, I never went hunting with Cousin Edgar again.

Along the old trail three to four miles northwest of our place (about where the hounds chased the coyote) and about 300 to 400 yards north of the river were a number of natural ponds, heavy with alkali. The ducks used these ponds as a way-station quite often. We’d never been able to shoot ducks in these ponds because the country was open and we couldn’t get in shooting distance. This particular day, we were in the area fairly early, maybe nine or ten a.m. We saw the ducks in the ponds and as we walked toward them, they stayed. It was a cool morning and had been cold all night. As we got closer, the ducks still didn’t move and that was when we discovered that there were 10-15 frozen in the ice. Duck dinners were in order and we saved a lot of ammunition.

I believe it was the same day, or at least the same area, when Eddie Bacon lost two inches of his gun barrel. There were about three to four inches of snow on the ground. Somehow, Eddie had poked the muzzle of his gun into the snow. When he took the next shot at a rabbit, about two inches of the barrel went right along with the shot. The recoil knocked Ed down and from there on out, the gun was about as useless as a pilgrim's blunderbuss.

I must tell you this story now since it was on the same trail and in the same general area as the preceding stories. Giles and I had one of the Bacon horses, bareback, with halter and lead rope to guide the horse in the general direction we wanted to go. We were loaded down with guns and maybe other trappings. We were headed toward our place at a very gentle gallop or lope. The horse had been running in that manner for some time, but for some reason, he decided to go home. He didn’t stop. He didn’t even slow up, just made a 90-degree left turn. What a pile up, and it hurt; but we managed in due course to get home. I don’t think that horse ever broke his stride until he got into the barn at his home.


[I] drew a rather crude drawing of a ferry, powered, or rather, pushed along by the flowing water, i.e., current.

I don’t know how big these ferries were, but they did transport a freight wagon and six to eight horses at a time. They may have unhitched some of the horses and stowed them alongside the wagon.

The position of the rudder was all important since the angle determined the speed of crossing. As you can see, the rudder was fastened near center of hull so it could swing in either direction.

This was Froman’s ferry, which I shall note in the following pages. [JA 11/5/1986]
Jump Creek fish

Mack Stocker and, I believe his uncle, took a fishing trip over to Jump Creek. According to the map I now have, it is probably about eight miles from ours or Mack’s place. They went down river one-and-a-half to two miles south to the main Oregon Trail, thence northwest about six miles. Mack and his pardner were gone three to four days and when they got home, they gave us a dozen or so fish. The fish were not too large, six to eight inches long, but we had never eaten anything like them. The main thing, of course, was that there were no bones; and, of course, Colonel and I were all gung-ho to go over there.

Mack told us about the campgrounds where some of the immigrants had camped and the number of graves where some were buried. Mama knew the story and told us about these people and how they tried to survive starvation. It seems that some soldiers out of Fort Boise found them in time to save most. It was a horror story and would serve no purpose to enter it here.

Of course, Colonel and I lost no time in telling our friends the Bacons about those good fish. We all wanted to go over there, but we got opposition from all the parents. We were too young to make such a trip by ourselves. I don’t know how much time passed before our parents agreed to let us go, but we had to take Robin, the Bacon’s  elder son, to see that we got there and back, as well as take care of horses, etc. As it turned out, Robin wasn’t too smart after all. Read on.

We collected all of our stuff at the Bacon place; food, bedding, guns and ammunition, and some feed for the horses (oats). I believe we had a couple of water bags hanging under the wagon where they would stay cool. All this stuff was stacked in the yard, and Colonel and Eddie were elected to stow the stuff in the wagon. We stayed in the Bacon bunkhouse that night so we could get an early start. There was much horseplay during the night. Eddie got his .22 rifle, and while lying in bed, began shooting the nail heads that held the ceiling lumber up. We found out that if you hit enough nail heads, the lumber would fall down. How many holes we put in the roof I’ll never know. I do know one thing; our dad would never have stood for such shenanigans.

I’m sure we got a fairly early start the next morning. I don’t remember crossing the river, but the slow trip up to Jump Creek was fun. I don’t recall that we had anything to eat after breakfast.

It was late afternoon when we arrived at Jump Creek, and of course, being very hungry, we started to unload the wagon. But, there was no food, a tin camp stove, yes, no food, no fishing tackle. Those two characters left everything for survival back in the Bacon’s yard. How we had gone off and left the stuff, I’ll never know; but since Robin was responsible for our welfare, we laid part of the blame on him. We didn’t want him to go along in the first place.

We managed. We’d shot a couple of rabbits earlier along with two mallard ducks upon arrival at the junction. We had the stove, but no utensils. Scattered around through the brush we found two to three items we could use: a wash basin, an old rusty iron fry pan, and what looked like a battered tin dish pan. We got the utensils all straightened out, built a fire in the stove and roasted our meat. It was OK, but the lack of salt made it rather flat. At least we didn’t starve.

That night was wonderful. The gurgle of the waters and howling coyotes lulled us to sleep. I don’t remember a thing about the trip home, but the one thing that I shall always remember is seeing that stack of groceries as we pulled into Bacon’s yard.
to be continued...

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