Memories of Ida Hansen Eschenbau
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 Memories of Ida Hansen Eschenbaum
Cover of Ida's Autobiography
This is a portion of what Ida wrote in her autobiography.  She began this in 1960 and continued until she was about 88 years of age.  These reflections are how she remembered them.  Some of the facts have been proven to be false, but the overall truth of her stories are real.  I took the liberty of correcting some of the grammar as she wrote as she thought with one long sentence.  Some of her spelling is old English I would say...such as "bye" for by.  For all the negatives, I for one am very grateful for her efforts as she is the only one in the family who wrote it down.  Otherwise, those of us in the "now" generation would have nothing of reference on what our ancestors experienced.  She lived during the time of the "horse and buggy" days and saw mankind land on the moon.  Imagine the jump that took!  It has been said that for all the information known before WWII it has been tripled afterwards. 


                      My Memories   by Ida  C. Eschenbaum

 I was born March 2nd, 1896 in a small one room sod house with a lean to without a floor which was used as a store room, where my parents, two sisters, Anna & Josephine and two brothers Halbert and John, lived on their homestead that they “proved up” the preceding fall, bought a five room house which we moved into the spring of 1897. 


My parents were born near Oslo, Norway shortly after they married they came to U.S. bye emigrant boat which took six weeks to make the journey.  They had packed enough food as meals were not furnished.  They were put in the bottom of the boat with the rest of the emigrants.  They slept on their blankets on the floor side by side with the rest.  With no privacy whatsoever, they were lucky if they slept thru the night without being stepped on. 



They arrived in U.S. but I don’t know the particulars, but they lived approximately three years at Waupache, Wisconsin in a log cabin furnished  bye a lumber company that Father was employed felling trees with an axe tell he was felled bye an axe bye a co-worker, accidentally.  It left a deep scar on his buttocks which he carried thru life. 


Bye then they had two little girls, Annie and Ida.   ( Eda) 


In the meantime they saved enough money which he sent to Norway, to pay passage for his sister Mary and mother’s sister Anna Marie, so they would not be the only ones in a strange land.  


Father’s biggest ambition in life was to own some land, which he’d never be able to have in Norway.  He was an apprentice under a shoemaker there; they went from house to house and made shoes for the entire family while there they received room and board.  The boss got paid and Father was furnished enough clothing to get along.  The shoemaker died before father had finished his apprenticeship, so that finished his career.  From what I faintly remember from there he worked in a lumber camp in the summer and helped make furniture during the long winter months.  He made a trunk to store their belongings for their trip to U.S. which is still upstairs at home, which was also used as a table on their boat trip. 


( Note:  Lester Hansen told me this.  Christ Hansen’s father was a burly red-headed lumberjack in Norway.  He had 8-9 children of which Christ was one of the younger ones.  That would follow what Ida writes about being “one of the unlucky” ones in regard to inheritance.  Christ Hansen worked for a widow while in Norway starting when he was like 13 years old.  His father took the money that the widow paid Christ.  Thus, the widow let Christ utilize a plot of land while he grew a garden.  He would take this produce to town and sell them along with what the widow had.   This is how he was able to save money for his transport to the United States.  He had planned this for a long time.  That was how and why he developed a hunger to own land.  I am not positive, but suggest that one of the Hansen boys told Lester these facts. Christ was 27 years and Ingeborg was 22 years of age when they boarded the White Star Line steamer to the USA 18th September, 1885. The ticket price was $250.00 for both together. )


I also have an oval shape box which dad made for mom as a gift before they were married and I prize it so.  They wanted to come to S.D. for free land which they did in the spring of 1888, where he lived till he was almost 84 years old.  Mother passed away at approximately 83 a long life.  Aunt Mary and husband homesteaded in Hyde Co. where Moses Aesoph now lives.   Her husband died so she gave up from there on.  Her life, I don’t know what she done till she married and lived in Aberdeen. 


Dad built a sod house and barn and dug a well by a lake or “slew”, as it was called and curbed the well with rocks as cement was hard to obtain.  So it must have been quite a job getting those stones to stay put.  He made it round and I remember the well, it never caved in.  I was there watching him fill it with stones.  

He also dug a cave with the intention of ducking into in encase of Indian up-rising.  

Mother and girls arrived during the summer never realizing what a “sod house” was.  She was a very disappointed mom. 

 In August “Ida” (Eda) took sick and passed away.  There was no doctor, minister, church or cemetery.  Dad made the casket and with a neighbor family they buried her near the sod house.  She was moved and placed under our trees near the present house nineteen years later.  (My father, Melvin Eschenbaum, Ida’s oldest told me about this event.  He said when the coffin was cleared of dirt they decided to open it up.  He said when the lid was removed for a few seconds it appeared as if there was no decay, appearing as the day she was buried.  But then, her body caved in.   That was when they returned the coffin’s cover and buried it as Ida mentioned.)

One winter, I don’t know the year; they had so much snow that the sod buildings were covered.   Dad tunneled up thru the snow from the house.  I’ve wondered so often where he put it, finally located the barn where this 3 cows and two claves & a team of precious mules which he had just purchased the fall before;  when he had sold his team of Oxen, was buried under the snow.  He tunneled down thru the door, I remember so well, Dad telling about leading his mules out and turning about leading his mules out and turning them loose and one walked thru the snow over the barn and fell thru the roof. 


I also remember Dad telling about breaking sod with a one bottom sod plow.  A sod plow had a different lay and mole board than an ordinary plow.  The only power he had was his faithful team of oxen, Oscar and Haus.  They took their time going the other way but when headed towards home they speeded up.  The only harness they had was a wooden yoke across their neck and shoulders which extended from one ox to the other.  Rope for tugs, tied to the whiffle-tree on the plow, they didn’t use lines to drive the oxen, one always stayed on the right side, so the oxen close to you was called the “neigh” ox and the other is Called the “off” ox.  When turning to go to the right, the driver hollered “Gee” and to the left I was “Haa.”  When it was hot day, Gee & Haa meant nothing to them.  Especially when they were hot and nothing stopped them as they headed for the lake they never stopped till they were in the middle, no prodding would get them out till they were ready to go bye themselves!


Corn was the first planting on the sod two furrows was plowed, then on the grass edge Dad planted “Squaw Corn” along with a hand corn planter and then plowed it over with the sod, so a fifteen acre field was quiet a field.  As he dug rocks as he plowed, the next year either wheat or barley was sown bye hand with a sack slung over his shoulder and then with a disc loaded down with rocks so it would cut down deeper to cover the grain.  How he harvested it, I don’t know, Dad was very handy with a scythe, maybe he used that,  do know he cut slew grass with it for his few head of stock.  Also used it to help out with his fuel, there is a way to twist an tie it in bundles, which was surprising how long it would burn, some had regular hay burners, but the folks never had none. 


Before Dad got his mules his only transportation was on foot, the oxen were too slow.  He would walk to Faulkton 18-20 miles to purchase groceries which he’d carry home in a sack on his back.  He’d leave early in the morning and arrive at the O’Donnell home in time to eat breakfast with them.  Nobody was turned away at meal times and nobody expected pay for such regardless of how crowded the homes were.  Room overnite was always found many a time I slept at the foot of the bed, or sleep on mother’s feather sacks in the store room on the floor.  I preferred to the foot of a bed if it wasn’t too cold.   My younger brothers face the same problems. 

( Note: I have not run across this story in her book, however I remember Grandma Ida telling me a story about her father walking back from Aberdeen, S.D.  He walked all day into the night.  He stepped forward and fell into a hole.  It was late enough and he tired enough that he slept there.  When he woke up he found out that he had fallen into a newly dug grave!  He climbed out and continued his walk home.  But, as Grandma mentioned, when he got home he told the story and everyone had a good laugh!)


( Sod House.  Ours had a board roof and floor.  Many had only sod roofs and considered one of the poorer sod houses.  Probably they lived so far away from a shipping station that they could not obtain wood even if they could afford it.  Where Dad got his lumber from I don’t know.  I presume he got it from Redfield, as I did hear him talk about hauling products from there quite often.) 


                      “Settlers Saw it Through”  by R.R. Lefthus, McVille,  No. Dak.


At one time during the winter we had a three-day storm which completely covered our house.  Father immediately began digging snow back into the house so that he could get to his shovel and spade.  Then he made steps up through a small tunnel.  When he had completed the tunnel, he covered the tunnel with the wagon box to keep further snow from covering our door, and he filled gunny sacks with hay to keep the only exit open.  We children enjoyed going in and out of this opening but it was not fun for mother.  We found that although our home was now warm, thee was precious little light and therefore Father improvised a curbing 3 ft. by 4 ft. and high enough to rise above he roof and fitted a window over it.  This was a great improvement and gave us fairly good light especially in bright sunshine


I would be remiss if I did not include some mention of the kindness of our neighbors and the anxiety they felt for one another.  The morning when Father was digging out the snow after the snow storm, one of our neighbors, Frank Allis, came carrying a shovel, his face all bundled up against the frigid weather.  He was prepared to dig us out and was fearful that we might had smothered.  Mr. Allis was one of many kind neighbors. 


Between the years of 1887 and 1891, the settlers were harassed and discouraged by crop failures and early frosts.   The settlers who originally came from the eastern states often returned to their former homes, but immigrants from Norway and Sweden had no place to go.  So, they remained and were given strength and knowledge thru better experience;  How they survived is indeed a miracle.  In those days there was no aid to be received either from the government o other agencies.  Each family and group of families knew that somehow they must forge ahead on their own initiative, hard work, determination and prayer, and this they did. 


“We have come a long way since that day.  I wonder, do we appreciate it?”



In reading and copying this letter, now I know where my father put the extra snow when he dug his tunnel at our so house.  It was also mentioned how the children enjoyed climbing thru that tunnel.  I do think children enjoy life much more than we older people give them credit, if they can do things they want to do.   Now people push their children to a breaking point, school, games, sports, all they are taught is do your best and beat the other guy regardless how anybody gets hurt.  Either a goal for the big reward and if they aren’t one of the very best, they are out and that’s it.   No fun! 





We drove to our home with a two runner sled with a team.  Dad made that sled, God bless him, Annie, Josephine and the teacher  sat on the spring wagon seat and Halbert, Jack and I and eventually Martin were bedded down in blankets on hay at the bottom of the sled. 


After a blizzard, we never knew when we would be flying thru the air, hay, blankets, scrambled dinner pails, kids and all went sailing thru the air into the snow.  Bye the time we got organized and back into the sled, we were very cold.


When Father finally purchased a bobsled we surely appreciated that, we also stood on the “bob” we called them runners, and we had to run sometimes wish the driver would feel smart and prod the team.  We usually gave the driver some snow down the neck.




Father would arrive back to O’Donnell in time for supper, so he’d reach home very late and I’ll bet very tired.  Although he was a strong rugged man.  It was easier at winter when there was snow on the ground as he was a good skier, but the days were short and money was much shorter. 


There was no such thing as government aide or relief.  We did get a large package of garden seed and sweet corn seed from the government every spring.

Glass jars used for canning was not invented at that time, drying and salt brine or just plain salt was the only way to cure meat and vegetables, besides storing potatoes an root vegetables in a cave or cellar, vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, rutabagas and beets were covered with dry soil or sand to preserve them.  The only fresh meat we had was when we butchered and wild game.  During winter Dad had a couple box traps set bye the corn pile each morning he usually found either a prairie chicken or rabbit and during summer, especially spring and fall wild ducks were abundant.  He was never fortunate enough to bag a goose as his shot gun an old muzzle loader and cap was his only weapon. 


For fuel we twisted long slew grass and continually fed the stove.  Also, corncobs and Buffalo chips, later cow chips picked at summer and stored in a shed was used mostly.  One winter we burned all the corn to keep warm.  I also experienced that in my own home during depression during the “dirty thirties.”


There were times when our flour supply was getting low and couldn’t get to town; we ground corn and wheat in a coffee mild. 


Mother told of roasting barley and then ground it and used it as substitute for coffee.   Boy, I’ll bet that was good!


I do not know the years that Dad walked to Aberdeen and stayed with his sister Mary and obtained a job to raise money to purchase his oxen and a few farm machinery.  Mother and children stayed on the homestead.   She told us about picketing the milk cows – two of them.  In the lake bottom near the water hole and during nite they must have had a cloud burst.  As she found her precious cows in the middle of the lake with just their heads sticking out of the water.  She had to wade in and lead them out. 


Tin and aluminum or galvanized pails or tubs were unheard of, even grocery boxes were made of wood. , large and small.  So a barrel was sawed in two, which made two tubs which were used for laundry tubs and a small tank to water the stock.  Wooden pails of all sizes could be gotten at a grocery store just for the asking, as fish, butter etc. was shopped out from the east, so they were easy to get apples and the good old fashioned cracker barrel instead of the usual carton containers we now have every fall dad bought a barrel of apples and was that a treat for us children.  The good old wooden boxes were sure made in good use.  Mother’s big wooden breadbox is still in the home basement.  Dad even made their own washboard from wood. 


Mother drew water from the shallow well, hand over hand with a wooden pail tied to one end of a rope.  Some comparison to our handy, turn a faucet and there it is!  We had very few clothes which mother washed and dried after we were put to bed.    (End of page 10)


Mother bought a fleece very summer from either Christ Mosby who lived where George Roseland lives now, or Bill Schultz which lived where Henry Weiss now lives, and she washed, dried, combed and spun it on her spinning wheel and knitted mittens and stocking for the entire family.  We wore them in their natural “sheep” color and I do so remember how I would itch when I had to put on those long wooly stockings and shoes in the fall after going barefoot all summer.  But, those stockings were very warm.  I even wore Dad’s old socks pulled over my shoes to keep warm on our long rides to school.


Those high button shoes!  A shoe hook came with each pair of shoes purchased.  At that, those button hooks were always where we couldn’t find them, especially the younger children.  So we had to borrow one and woe to the one that forgot to return it. 


One year, Mother raised the most wonderful tomatoes, seeds from the government, she said she had never seen tomatoes before and they looked so pretty on the bushes when ripe.  But she didn’t dare eat them as a neighbor informed her that they were poisonous. 


Season was so short in Norway that the tomatoes were not raised in that country.  I can remember we didn’t dare to eat cucumbers till they were peeled, sliced and soaked in salt water for an hour!!


At the time my folks came out one could get a quarter land called Pre’exemption, a homestead and a tree claim.  They took up a pre-emption and when the time expired he had no money to pay to obtain it.  So he switched it to a homestead quarter so he lived eleven years on it before he cold “prove” it up as they said.  Bye that time every quarter of land had a “claim shack” on, as for a tree claim some got that, but they had to plant certain amount into trees without water.  The trees died as fast as they could plant it.  Some spent more on trees then the land was worth, so that was dis-continued. 


Each homesteader had to put up either a shack or sod house, anything they thought livable.  Dig a well, no well rigs, and break up 15 to 20 acres farm ground and live five years on it to be qualified to prove residence.  They were also allowed to leave the place no longer then six months a year if necessary to find employment; if necessary so one could exist the other six months.  Work and money was scarce, so a family man had quite a problem.


There were so many single men and women that took up homesteads, some stayed with it but many didn’t.  If they didn’t come back within the six months time off, usually they lost their place as somebody would contest the claim and move in. 


At that time the schools consisted of six months, so many “old maids” as they were called taught school the six months and spent the next six months on their “claim shack”  --- what a life!


This “contesting” sure set off lots of hard feelings among the neighbors as the contestee had to obtain a few neighbors, three witnesses to swear that the occupant didn’t live on the land the full six months.  The owner usually got three for witnesses that he had.  I remember one instance my Father was asked bye the contester to be his witness.  Dad knew this party had not fulfilled his rights but being Dad’s friend, he refused to have anything to do about it.  Said there was enough to sign his petition without his signature.  So he had a fight on his hands as the party said he was going to make him sign it.  Dad didn’t come out second best.  The party got the land which Dad knew he would and they lived close neighbors till they died.  But that is not saying they were very good friends. 


As soon as the land was proved up, most of the single people moved out and left their shacks and whoever got there first hauled the shack home.  There was a scramble to get them first.


I remember Dad once bought a shack from Agnes Maloney’s homestead for a machine blacksmith shop north of O’Neil’s pasture for $25.00.  Looked at the wrong shack and hauled it home.  John Conway of Orient could not find his shack, but he did trail the tracks and naturally Dad had to return it to its former location and get his own.  Mr. Conway and Dad had a good laugh over that ordeal.  But, I’ll bet Dad’s laugh wasn’t a happy one as the other shack wasn’t worth the amount he paid for it. 


As for the wells that had to be dug it was quite a deal.  Some were dug bye a slew, so the water could seep in, or dug in the middle of the slew.  Some dug them anywhere and settled a barrel to the bottom after putting a board curb in and hauled water and poured into the barrel at the bottom of the well, so when the inspector came and dropped a pebble into the well so the well had water in  it. 


When so many moved out, my folks were too poor to leave and no other place to go.  This will be explained in a letter later in this book written to the Dakota Farmer a couple years ago which explained it very well. 


Prairie fires were a terrible menace to the Homesteaders for many years.  I can faintly remember a terrible fire which started near Pierre which burned everything in its path.  I don’t know how far it went, but heard it reached North Dakota.  There were no grades to stop it.  The law at the time was to prepare a good fireguard all along the south Faulk Co. line each farmer plowed along their part of the line on each side.  They also plowed five guards around their land and also buildings, but most of them had a wonderful stand of sunflowers and big Russian Thistles.  In the fall when the thistles were dry and the wind broke them loose, they would roll along merrily.  Us young sprouts would have a ball chasing thistles or crouch down and have them bounce over us.  We were not paid to keep up the county line fireguards as they were our only protection.  We weren’t paid for anything we did as the people are now paid for just everything. 


There was no way to fight a “head” fire.  The grass was so abundant at times; land was never mowed so there was heavy mulch that really burned.  So men on foot and horseback would try to put out the side fires with sacks soaked in water or and two men on horseback tied a horse blanket with ropes tied on two corners onto their saddle horns.  Blanket soaked with one rider riding each on either side of the side fire which put it out fairly well if enough water was hauled up to keep the blanket wet.  I had also heart that cowboys would kill and skin a cow or steer and use the hide instead of a horse blanket as that worked pretty well without water.  The side fires had to be put out and watched because if the wind would turn, they would have a very wide head fire.  A good steer wouldn’t bring more than $15.00 at the most, so the hide was put to good use.  It wasn’t so expensive, but at that time that was lots of money.  I do remember when a good cow and calf at side would be worth $25.00, and it had to be good. 


I remember mother telling us that there was an Indian uprise, which we found out much later, was started out as being a prank with a slow thinking youth.  I don’t know what year it happened, but I recently read the particulars.  I also don’t know how many children the folks had at the time, but everybody brought their wives and children.  I think to Zell and the men returned home to care for their stock.  Dad’s intention was duck down the well in case of an Indian raze, which didn’t happen.  Mother said they stayed there a week, but said “never again” she’d as soon run chances with the Indians then go thru that again with the children and worrying about Dad out there all alone. 


Covered wagons, Indians and Gypsies, Syrian Peddlers on foot were frequent visitors at our house during the summer and fall months.  The peddlers were very welcome to us kids, another Christmas, as Dad would buy beads, jack knives and moth harps for us all.  But we were afraid of Gypsies and Indians.  It wasn’t hard to keep us in the house when they were around.  The Gypsies were the biggest nusciance when they stopped.  The whole tribe would pile out of their covered wagon and scatter all over the place and pick up anything they could put their hands on. 


The Indians were different, the children were quieter and they would ask for what they needed.  That would be most anything; potatoes, eggs, grain and what have you.  If there happened to be a dead animal some placed, whether it was dead a couple of days they would skin it, cut it up and take everything with them.  There was always a bunch of dogs following them which, I was told, they would eat on their way.  To them a nice fat dog was delicious.  They usually spent over night or a couple days to rest their horses on the school section adjoining our place to the west. 


Later the peddlers came thru with horse and buggy.  Later a team and spring wagons as they came frequently on the way to Aesophs as they were also Syrians and used to go on the way selling items.  At that time they were all called Peddlers.  Now they have a more dignified name as “Salesman.”  The only difference between them was that the peddlers carried the products they sold and not take orders as the present salesman does now. 


Probably some don’t know what a “spring buggy” is, well, a wagon has no springs under the box to make it easier to ride in.  But the “spring buggy” had, guess there’s where the idea of a truck was derived. 


As for school, they had from three to six months and any girl that passed the eighth grade could teach school which mostly consisted of the three R’s.  The closest school house was the Ruddy school located south of where Laurence Maloney now lives and the Maloney School which still stands where it was built and still in use. 


Kate Harty, who married Patsy O’Neil the next year, was the tech at the Ruddy school when Annie was nine years old and hadn’t attended school.  Folks made arrangements for her to live in with Miss Harty, who was batching in the school house so she could attend school.  It was five miles from home on the other side of the big pasture.  Aunt Mary lived in Aberdeen 

at the time.  She came out on the train and took Josephine home with her to attend school there.  She stayed there ten months but was so homesick she wouldn’t stay longer.  Bye then the Ruddys and Pughs were all thru school.  The school house was moved into the middle of O’Neil’s big pasture.  The only pupils there were the Hansen’s and George Aesoph Jr.


Mrs. Redmond (Bridget) Maloney was my first teacher, her niece Josie Dugan stayed with her thru the school term and attended school.  She told me after I was married that I was quite a problem.  I was only 5 years old, coming 6 in March.  I couldn’t speak or understand anything except Norwegian and very stubborn.  Still am!


It was quite a problem to get to that school in the spring and fall.  Mr. O’Neil had from four to five hundred steers from two to four year olds in that pasture.  Sometimes a small herd would follow our buggy from the time we closed the gate till we got to the school house that had a light stout fence built around it.  Sometimes we had a hard time opening the gates, drive thru and close the gates and get back into the buggy.  Those steers would crowd around the buggy and horse, they’d bellar, stomp and paw the ground, bump the buggy or horse.  Sometimes both.  We were all scared stiff, but Annie was a good horseman and lots of nerve.  She was never without a good stout buggy whip and knew how to use it on horse or cattle.  But when they got in front of the horse, it was hard to get thru the herd.  After we got started once, we kept going.  It’s a wonder they never tipped the buggy, we would all been killed if that ever happened.  That use to scare me I’d cry and Josephine always told me to quit, as it would draw the attention of the cattle.  Then we’d sure have trouble, but that never stopped my tears.


The year that Agnes Vondra taught our school a blizzard hit very suddenly around 1:30 P.M. and we were always told if that would happen to stay at the school house.  This was a Friday so we stayed there till morning.  Martin and I were the two youngest, six of us; George Aesoph and Miss Vondra put in a long hungry, dark night.  We kept warm, as the coal was in the cellar with a tap door in the school house.  So, we didn’t have to go outdoors.  We thawed snow for drinking water and split kindling and made torches which we lit in the stove for lights.  One would hold it so somebody could take turns reading stories from the school library for past time and we were a smoky looking bunch bye morning.  Martin and I tried to sleep on the recitation desk with coats for blankets.  It seemed like a very long night cause those desks were very hard to sleep on.   Early next morning Mr. Aesoph came on horseback looking for his son and our Dad with a team and bobsled.  Returning home, we all washed up, ate a good breakfast and went to bed and had a good sleep.  Our folks all knew we would stay at the schoolhouse, as that was orders if it ever stormed.  We also had orders if it ever stormed, we also were never to go home and leave any of us there.  One teacher was going to make Jack stay after school and demanded the rest of us leave for home.  We went out and hitched up our horse, drove to the door, collected Jack’s coat and cap and Halbert opened the door and Jack made a run for the door.   He didn’t quite make it, but with a scuffle, we won out.   Dad met the teacher the next day on his way to town as it was Saturday and she was on her way to our home to tell our folks.  Dad heard her out and then told her that it really was his fault, because  he gave us orders not to let anybody walk two and half miles in that pasture on foot with all those cattle.


Dad tried so hard to get that school house moved closer and out of that pasture, but never made it.  Till one summer we had a terrific thunder storm and the lightning struck it and burned it to the ground.  They decide to buy another school house and Dad offered to have it placed on his land as there were no prospects at the time for any more pupils for a long time coming from the east side of the pasture.  So, why should his children battle cattle all the ways to school?  If it ever should be, it could then be moved as it could be placed on rocks.  Well, nothing more was said, for or against.  The three on the school board, Dad, Tom O’Donnell and Pat Maloney assisted with Nick Maloney and bro. Halbert, four wagons and teams, loaded it and late in the evening they arrived north of that pasture and the rest of the crew.  Except Dad said it was going to be put on the same location and Dad rebelled.  So they told him to unhitch his team, but he also took his wagon from under so that stopped them.   Dad came home, mounted his horse and rode south and got George Aesoph Sr. and Bill Schultz to help him.  They spent all night and got the school house where Dad wanted it and unloaded it.  They had just put their horse in the barn and were on their way to the house to eat breakfast and here to the north came a bunch with four teams and an extra wagon.   They never went further than to the school house, got their three wagons and left. 


The school house stayed there till 1914 when that burned to the ground.  Bye then my folks had built onto the house, had a nine room house, so we had school in one room for a number of years with quite a few more pupils from No. 13.  I was thru the 8th grade before this occurred.  They finally built a very nice school northwest of us in district No. 13.  A few years there weren’t enough pupils to keep it going, only Sis & Ted.  So it was closed and finally a big prairie fire went thru there and burned that to the ground.  So almost every school that my brother, sisters and I attended burned.  By then only my youngest sister and brother were still attending school.


I was married by then and had two little boys and one girl.  Melvin, Kenneth and Evelyn.  Heaven knows we didn’t have room but they stayed with us and attended the Taylor school.  Sis finished her eight grades that year and Ted stayed with us a month the previous year.   We all thought best that he should be transferred to Orient where he stayed with our cousin Signe and Matt Kelly where he finished his school. 


This country might have been all prairie, but at times it was beautiful, water in every lake and slew hole which are now dry, all drained to produce grain or grass.  The prairie with all that tall grass and every nook and corner wild flowers of every shape and color, bye the prairie roads.  Now, one can’t imagine the beautiful sight.   Every night a deafening chorus of frogs and toads would surely keep on e awake unless you were a very good sleeper.  


Early in the morning the prairie chickens which were quite numberous, a continual “du-du-du,” the first “da-low” and each quite a bit louder.  Each du is the only way I know how to describe it.  But when a whole covey joins in, makes quite a chorus. 


They usually lived in groups which was called “covey” the meat was delicious if one liked the wild taste.  The meat on the breast was the  main piece and they were quite long and very thick.  They would take off with great flutter of wings but not too fast but could surely change course very fast, but would much sooner hide.  They were easy to hunt but when the hunters with dogs locate a covey they would usually shoot every one, so it wasn’t long before there weren’t many left.  Approximately thirteen, fourteen years ago there were  a small covey north of our farm home, but the first hunting season eliminated all.  Besides the chickens, the meadow larks, blackbirds and also coyotes, and fox would join .  When the geese, ducks and cranes would migrate spring and fall, children nowday just can’t imagine how many flocks one would see in one day.  The ducks would make nests and raise their little ducks which couldn’t fly till they are almost full grown.  My brothers and I would corner and catch enough for a meal.  But we sure would catch it from Mother if we caught them too small.  To her that was a waste of good meat and if we robbed a birdnest of their eggs, would sure upset Mother so.  No scolding, but what she told us about the poor mother bird we would never try it again. 


The coyotes were numerous, it was almost impossible to raise sheep.  I’ll never forget when Martin called me early in the morning to come out and see the sheep that a bunch of coyotes had chased into our yard.  They were so scared that they took off northeast, the next day their owner from near Highmore trace them to our home bye the dead sheep  along the way.  When he caught up with them there were very few left.  I never did hear how many he lost.  There wasn’t much fencing in those days so many farmers drove to the river and cut down trees for fence posts, so the fences weren’t pretty.