Monday, January 15, 2018

The Ancestors, Part 12 & 13

The year of 1915 turned out to be a very cool wet year.  But it was good for the grass and the garden. We had beautiful lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, onions and lots of potatoes. Potatoes and all root vegetables all came out of that sandy so so clean; no muddy washing after they were gathered. We had a very bad wind storm one night, probably a small tornado that took the roof off the nice big living room.  Clyde was watching the storm and opened the outside door just as the wind hit.  He had Richard in his arms and I was in bed with Mildred.  Clyde got the door shut and I grabbed my baby and with Ruth in tow we went into the little sod kitchen.  We opened out the table.  I had brought the bedding off my bed with the baby, so we made the children comfortable on the table and the next day we carried the we furniture out in the warm sunshine and Clyde put a new roof on the living room.  It was two or three layers of tar-paper over wide boards held in place with strips of sod. We had plenty of that, thank goodness.

Clyde had an opportunity to pasture a small herd of steers for a small rancher and we had plenty of razing land for both our little herd of forty cows, because we had Jim's section fenced, too, now.  They did cause us some trouble with our garden.  One night just before dark, Don began to bark and found one of the steers had leaned so hard on the wire fence, trying to get at the cabbage, that he pushed it down and was in our precious garden.  Clyde put extra pots and wire on that side.
Grandma Tilley had sent us seeds of the wild cucumber that grows abundantly in Kansas. I planted it all along the east side of the sod kitchen.  It grew fast with the plentiful rain and soon covered the outside to the roof.  It was a pretty vine that had small white flowers in the fall.  It really looked beautiful, but coming home from Sunday school on day, Clyde notice that the whole wall was leaning outward.  Then we knew that it wasn't going to last very long.

Mr. and Mrs. Haines had decided to move back to Omaha in the fall and offered to sell us their little two room frame house, so we were looking forward to having to move it over a long stretch of quite rough land.  Clyde did tackle the most complicated jobs out there with the most confidence.  I don't think I appreciated his abilities then.  He got competent neighbors to help him and used the tools that he was able t assemble in the area.  Somewhere he found sound old telephone poles and with those for rollers and with the equipment and six teems of horses, he planned to move the Haines house.

Then the first tragedy that had come our way happened.

Our Barn Burns
As Clyde was harnessing the mules, Gene Wilson rode up and stood in the barn door talking to him.  Then we loaded into the wagon and started out, around the west hills.  We noticed a group of hunters stop at our windmill to water their horses, we thought, but that was customary out there.  After we had gone about a mile, Clyde turned to look back and saw smoke rising over the hill from our buildings.  He turned the mules around and used the ends of the long lines to put them into a little run.  The children were in the back of the wagon and I raced out and put my arm around Richard, but Ruth was straddling a short extension of the center beam of the wagon in the back.  All I could do was say, "Hang on tight!" and she did.  The ground was so bumpy that most youngsters would have fallen off, but not Ruth.  When we got in sight of the buildings, the barn was a mass of flames.  Our dear Molly horse and her 6 month old colt were in it and our valuable young Hereford bull also.  Neighbors had seen the smoke and were there in no time to help us carry water to protect the house and the grass around the house.  Prairie fires were so easily started in the dry grass and could run for miles.

I will never forget the shock of that fire -- the loss of Molly and her cute colt, and also the very valuable head of our herd.  Clyde had tied him up for a few days.  His stall had a strong post in the center and he was tied to it, that way he got some exercise going around it.  When Grandpa had been there a few weeks before, he had hung an old vest on a harness hook in that stall.  We thought it possible that the bull had knocked it to the floor and trampled on it.  Grandpa smoke a pipe and always carried matches, the big wooden kind.  The restless animal could have stepped on a match and set fire to the straw on the floor.  The only other possibilities were careless smokers.  Clyde also smoked at that time and Gene Wilson had stood in the doorway talking to Clyde as he harnessed the mules.  Neither thought they were smoking at the time.  There was the possibility also that one of the hunters who we had seen stopping at the windmill had gone into the barn, but there was no way of knowing how it started.  I have always been thankful that it didn't happen when I was alone with the children.  I think that I would have tried to save the animals and the little barn went up in flames like a cardboard box.

The plans were all set for that big job of moving the house the next day and Clyde decided to go ahead with it.  The neighbors all came with their teams and by noon they had it as far as our valley.  I had dinner ready for them, then they back for the last mile.  It was easier than the morning pull for there were smalls hills to get over, but the valley was comparatively smooth.  It was slow work moving those poles that the house was rolling on.  Finally they got it in our yard and leveled on some railroad ties that Clyde has for that purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Our ancestors were hardy people. We are hardy in our own way as we live with the present tragedies. There is still joy in the simple things of life. Fresh food, for instance.


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