MR. AND MRS. C. W. PARKER by Dorothy Parker
spring of 1898, Clyde Wilson Parker left Omaha, Nebraska, and his lovely
bride of a few days, Isabella, with a stout heart, full of courage and
energy to try his future luck in a new and almost unknown land. Being courageous
and adventurous, he decided to pioneer - in the farming business, and so
took up a homestead in the then sparsely settled, later named Ardrossan,
Alberta, and with the many hardships to face, went bravely on.
landed in Edmonton in the spring of 1898 with only a few dollars in his
pocket. His first impressions were so severe, had he had more resources,
he would have gladly returned to Omaha, to civilization and his friends.
However, he had gone too far for this, so bravely decided to keep his face
to the sun and let the shadows fall behind him. Clyde worked hard wherever
he could manage to pick up the odd job and finally after a short period,
a job opened up for him with a survey party. The survey party was going
farther North, and they worked on the now known Athabasca Trail. Thus,
saving money every possible way he could, he was finally able to send for
Bella (pet name).
Bella arrived in the fall of 1898. It was great to be out in this lovely open country, and even though Clyde and Bella knew they would be facing many hard times, they were together and that gave them new strength and happiness. This was not Bella's first trip to Canada. Peterborough, Ontario, was her birthplace and home until she was 18, at which time the whole Widdis family moved to Omaha.
There was no place for them to live on their newly acquired homestead land, but they were very fortunate in being able to live in a small house, their first home, in the Agricola district on the farm of Mr. and Mrs. William Walker. Both Clyde and Bella worked at anything they could find available. Bella did a lot of sewing and in return received chickens, little pigs and calves, etc., to help them get started in their farming career. Clyde was doing farm work wherever he could, taking goods in return. They bought a small Indian pony for ten dollars to carry them back and forth and also to haul the logs from the woods for their new home. Clyde chopped down the trees and Bella hitched them to the pony and hauled them to the spot where they were to be made into their wonderful new home. It was to be a log cabin with sod roof and earth for a floor. They lived in this home for a short time while gathering lumber and materials for a new home.
The first church service was held in the Parker home - the log home with sod roof and earth floor - but the church was being established and was also one of their dreams.
In the very early nineteen hundreds a school was built - after struggling to gather enough children together to get the Government Grant. Clyde became very involved and acted as trustee with other members in the district.
this time their new home was being erected with the very appreciated help
of the neighbours - all working very hard to get the lumber out, etc. Finally
it was completed with a shingled roof and a real wooden floor - and even
a lean-to kitchen. Life was indeed beginning to look great, but there were
many more years of hard work ahead.
| In the
meantime the family began to arrive. Widdis in 1900, Sarah in 1902, Wilson
in 1904, Roger in 1906 and Isabel in 1912. Bella had a full blooded Indian
midwife by the name of Mrs. Longmore who was very kind to her.
Mearl Parker, brother of Clyde, came to Alberta to live with Clyde and Bella in 1903. Mearl rode horseback up and drove a number of horses with him. Horses were very scarce and high priced here and these horses gave Clyde and Mearl a great start in raising horses. These horses remained and produced and had the same blood line that was used until horses were no longer used for farming. Some of these animals were traded in for farm machinery.
The railway came through Ardrossan in the early nineteen hundreds (Grand Trunk) - it was a great event and many of the people in the district turned out to witness it. There were many memories - later told to the children about pioneer days. After the Parkers had acquired a cow - it had to be brought in from the pasture at milking time. Bella did the milking while Clyde did the much more strenuous work. While Bella went for the cow, she would leave her two little ones - Widdis and Sarah - shut in the house for safety from the prowling bears, and she was in constant fear for the children's safety. Bears were a common sight.
In 1912, a very cold winter, the year the Parker's fifth child was born - Bella became very ill and the doctor had to be called. Dr. Edgar Allan had been at Camrose and just drove to see Bella.
Dr. Allan had to stay all night, and children being curious as children are, were very interested in this man. They decided to take a peek while he was preparing for bed, and opened the door just in time to see Dr. Allan jump into bed, fur coat and all ... it was indeed a very cold night.
Clyde and Bella were extremely interested in the church of the new district and worked very hard, Clyde being a steward on the church board and Bella an Elder. After church union in 1925, there was a need for a society to help on the home field, to keep the home church going. Bella and many others saw this need and with Bella as instigator, a church society was born - "The United Workers" of the Ardrossan United Church. Bella was the first president. The United Workers proved very popular and were a great help to the church board, helping pay the ministers' salaries, keeping the church in repair and many other good deeds.
Bella had a lovely soprano voice, and together with her sister, Mary, contributed much to the community by singing in the church and at various other functions and contests held within 20 miles around.
About 1918 Mrs. Mary Jane Widdis and Miss Martha Widdis came to Alberta to stay with Clyde and Bella. Mary Jane was Bella's mother and Martha, Bella's sister. Martha was a teacher in Omaha, Nebraska, and had taught 17 years in one room, in the junior grades. Martha also taught for a short time in Alberta.
Time marched on to the. war years - 1914-1918. Many sad things took shape, boys going to war and not returning, or returning sadly maimed. Finally, in 1918, there was a terrible flu epidemic. Clyde contracted the flu and simply couldn't throw' it off. As a result, he developed rheumatoid arthritis, and as time went by his condition became progressively worse, until he was finally confined to bed where he remained for many years. Through all this he kept his keen sense of humour, his very warm personality and his great faith in God and man.
Life was truly a challenge to the Parkers who struggled to educate their children and keep things together. Widdis became an accountant, Wilson a teacher and later Principal, Sarah a teacher, Roger left school to help on the farm and keep the home fires burning. Isabel also became a teacher. Later Roger ran for council and was elected. He has served on the County Council for 24 years, the past 14 of which he has acted as Reeve.
Clyde and Bella Parker are laid to rest in the Fairmount Cemetery, Ardrossan.
has changed a lot since 1898, but today the house with the shingled roof
and the real wood floors still stands, and another Clyde Wilson, Grandson
of Clyde, is now running the farm.
|Go to the Web Family Card of Clyde and Bella Parker.|
|Created 30 January 2000 by Don Smith||
Last Updated 30 January 2000