A story by Otto Ervin Enyart

s/o Walter Raleigh ENYART & Mary Dell GARDNER
b 16 Mar 1893 & d 13 May 1978
Photo courtesy of Andi Merritt

As transcribed and shared by
Andi Merritt
and as found on
Internet, February 2000, ENYART-L Discussion List)

First I am going to give you a bit of history of my granddad Enyart and his family. My Great Granddads name was David and he was born March 6, 1801, and he died on November 4, 1891. His wife was Rizpah Buck [great-grandma] and she was born January 6, 1806, and she died on July 4, 1846.

They had eight children but four died as babies. That left Allen, born April 11, 1829, Amandy, born June 1, 1830, Thomas, born March 10, 1836, and Samual Reed, born Febuary [sic] 23, 1839. Samual was my Grandad.
[NOTE: Andi notes that she is not sure if Samatha was the daughter of Rizpah or his first or second wife. “Grandpa wasn’t sure, but she was born 1828, Dec 9. I think she was Rizpah’s daughter.”]

David took his family to Iowa. Samual was nine years old at the time so that would make it about the year 1848 or 49. How long David was in Iowa I don't know, but he did come back to Indiana. The two older boys, Allen and Thomas stayed out west. Because of this there are Enyarts scattered all over the west.

When [Great Grandpa] David got back to Indiana and the home he left behind, some other people had moved in and taken over. He just let them have it. When we were living in Indiana this place was called the Black and Musselman Settlement.

Although Granddad was a pioneer, he was not a hunter. He has told me about seeing great herds of buffalo, but he never killed one. Allan and Thomas were buffalo hunters in a big way. Granddad [Samual] was a Methodist preacher and a school teacher.

Samual Reed ENYART m 1 Jan 1816 Marion, IN to Millie Ann FIELDS.
Samual b 23 Feb 1839 & d 23 Mar 1918
s/o David ENYART & Rizpah BUCK
dau/o William HILL & Nancy MANIS
Photo courtesy of Andi Merritt

[My grandparents had some tin type pictures of Allan , Thomas, and their father, David, taken with Kit Carson. I wish I knew where they went when Grandma moved after Grandpa's death. Andi Merritt]

Now we get back to Indiana. My dad was the youngest of five boys. There was one girl. To keep things straight, Samual Reed Enyart married Millie Ann Fields. She was born October 17, 1838, and died August 21, 1937. They had six children. Nathan was born January 3, 1862. John, Will, Orange, Walter Raleigh born March 12, 1871, and Alma. Walter Raleigh was my father.

Grandad moved to Kansas when dad was around 16, about 1857-58, but they only stayed two or three years and then came back to Indiana.

Dad married Mary Dell Gardner, born Sept. 29th, 1873. She was related to the Gardners around home here. [Barryton, MI] They were married in Indiana. I was the first born of that union.

Now notice---The family leaves Indiana and moves to Iowa, then back to Indiana, then to Kansas, back to Indiana, Now they are going to Arkansas, only they don't remain there either.

Of the union between my parents were born nine children. I was born Otto Ervin [NOTE: Spelled Irvin in typed story.], March 16, 1893, in Macy, Indiana, Cass Co. Mable [ in ] Arkansas [ in ], Tina [ in ] Michigan, Grace [ in ] Indiana, Roll [Walter Raleigh, Jr.] [ in ] Indiana [September 6th 1905], Kenneth [ in ] Michigan [January 12, 1908], Wilma [ in ] Michigan, Madalynn [ in ] Michigan, [and] Clark [ in ] Michigan [1917].

Now we get to the part where Otto takes part of the story. (thats me) Grandad, Uncle John, and Uncle Orange all went to Arkansas and took up homesteads. They went before dad, but then he went down and took up a claim to. The rest of the family turned out and helped build his log cabin. When this was finished he sent for mother and me. This was the fall of 1894, befor (sic) I turned two in March of 1895. There are two things I [distinctly] remember before we went to Arkansas. We were living across the road from a family named Warner, [and] they had two boys who were big enough to help with the farm work. They had pumpkins planted in the corn and after the corn was in the shock they went out with a wagon to gather the pumpkins. I was over there and the boys put me up on the spring seat. On the rough ground I couldn't stay on the seat so one of the boys held on to me and the other threw on the pumpkins. Mrs. Warner also had a big cookie jar in the pantry that [and it] always had cookies in it and needless to say I had free access to said cookie jar. [NOTE: “Grandpa had free access to any cookie jar he could find. My grandfather loved cookies all his life.” Andi Merritt] This was just before dad sent for mother and me.

I don't remember anything about the train trip, but when we got to the end of the line Granddad met us with a team of oxen and a two wheeled cart. The oxen’s names were Buck and Brite. Of course mother had some trunks and boxes and they were all piled in this cart and we climbed on top. This cart was pulled by a hook on the end of the tongue that hooked in a ring of the ox yoke and we were going up hill. Well the boxes slid back and the hook unhooked from the ring, the cart tipped over backward and we were all dumped out on that hill side. I thought the world was coming to an end for sure. Mother had a big round cardboard box of some kind and she was more interested in that than she was in me. My Aunt Alma took me in tow and I pulled through after all.

Dad was the first one to come back to Indiana. We were in Arkansas for three years, from 1894 to 1897. All the rest of the family stayed long enough to prove up their claims. Dad got heat and sun strokes and the doctor told him if he wanted to live "get out of Arkansas," so they moved back to Indiana.

Of Arkansas there are some things that stand out quite plain in my memory. One thing I remember well, dad borrowed a horse and buggy one day to go somewhere. At this time everyone's hogs ran wild, so they became mixed up with the wild hogs. These were called razorbacks. That name fit them real well. We had a black shephard dog that dad took down with him, and that dog was death on snakes and he didn't like hogs either. So when we were on our way to wherever it was we were going, old Shep stirred up a flock of these hogs. The road we were following went around the edge of a deep ravine, or hollow as they were called it down there. I can see Shep yet, he was coming up that steep hill with that flock of hogs behind him, I was sitting on a little box on the floor of the buggy, mother was holding Mable on her lap. When Shep got to about sixteen feet of the buggy he made a flying leap and landed right on top of me. Then he was ready to fight. At once we were closed in with hogs. Dad got the dog to shut up, the hogs didn't bother the horses none, it was the dog they were after. It sure looked bad for a while. There were about 50 hogs in that flock. They finally moved on so we could get going again.

Dad had built a little corn crib and there was some corn in it and mother had a few rock hens. One day she cooked one of those hens. Now our main diet there was corn bread, sorghum molasses, and sow belly, as it was called, so that chicken tasted real good to me. I saw mother chop off that chickens head so I knew how to go about , only trouble was, I was too little to handle the ax. I found an old hatchet so I figured we should have anouther (sic) chicken. I got me an ear of corn and coaxed some of the hens into the corn crib, got one by the leg and took her to the chopping block. All I was able to do though was make her squall, which brought mother out to see what was going on. Well I got the job far enough along that mother had to finish it, so I got to help eat two chickens instead on just one.

Now here is strange story but true. As I stated earlier, I was around eighteen month old when we went to Arkansas and we were there three or four years, so it would make me around three of four and a half when we left. Just what time this happened I don't know. Our house faced the north and there was a trail going east and west in front of the house. A little west of the house there was a bush growing close to the trail on the south side. One day I had been playing in the woods and going back to the house I saw a huge rattle snake coiled up in the shade of that bush. I hunted up a a little stick and went to whipping that snake just to hear him rattle. I can see him yet, stricking (sic) at me. When he would strike his mouth looked as wide as my hand. Well I got tired of playing with him and went toward the house. Before I got there I looked back and Shep was coming down the trail. He came to a stop when he came to the spot where I had been playing with the snake. The snake must have left there as soon as I did, but Shep caught up with him at the wood pile on the lower side of the sweet potato patch. Mother heard the dog barking and took the hoe and went down to see what was going on and finally got a chop at his head. She dragged it up to the house. Dad was sick but he came out and cut off its rattles. I wasn't afraid of him when he was alive, but I was sure afraid of him after his head was cut off. This was a large snake even for those days. This happened around seventy four years ago. The folks had those rattles for years but they are gone now. It was years before they knew what part I played with that boy.

Well the folks came back to Indiana in about 1897, and we stayed with Uncle Nathan for a while. It must have been in the fall for soon after we got to Uncle Nathans he butchered some pigs.

Dad got a job in Michigan, near St. Joe, or Benton Harbor, on a dairy farm. It wasn't long after that when Uncle Will, Uncle John, and Granddad were all back in Indiana. One by one they sold their claims in Arkansas. My granddad came to Michigan while we were at the dairy farm. I don't know for sure what dad got a month on this farm, but I think it was around $12.00, and a house to live in. It was not very far from the lake and it was real cold in the winter along the Lake Michigan shore. We were at St. Joe to a street carnival the day President McKinley was shot. When the news boys came out on the street, everyone wanted a paper.

Now I was born in Indiana, sister Mable was born in Arkansas, and sister Tina was born in this house in Michigan I mentioned above. There is one thing that sticks out real clear in my mind that took place in that house. I became sick and they had to get a doctor, a lady doctor. The house sat north and south, facing the road to the west. The big room was the kitchen, sitting room and parlor, with a little lean-to shed on the back. My bed was in the north west room. Dad and mother were in the main room talking. There was a coal oil lamp lit. It was on a table. There was no light in my room. All at once my room was real light and Christ came and sat of the edge of my bed and talked to me. The only thing I remember that he said was "Don't eat green apples, they will always make you sick" What he said makes me think it was green apple time. I have never eaten green apples again and it was not a dream.

Just how long we were in Michigan this time I don't know, must have been about 1899 or 1900. I was going to school. The first teacher I had always wanted a kiss every day. I must have gotten tired of this because one morning I told her I didn't bring it with along this morning, and she wanted to know to know what I did with it? I told her I laid it up on a shelf. Then she wanted to know what it looked like. I told her it looked like a bubble.

Well dad always seemed to have work, but when I was about eight (1901) we went back to Indiana. He got a job on a railroad as a section hand He was there about two years. In 1903 he bought a horse and moved out on Grandmother Gardners place and started farming. One horse, a one horse wagon, a one horse plow, a double shovel cultivator, and a boy about my size, ten years old, to do the hoeing, ME. It wasn't hard to get a little corn in Indiana to make corn meal with, and I sure ate a lot of corn bread and sorghum molasses. I was ten years old when we moved on to Grandma Gardners place, so we were skipping around for four years--all rough going, but we were on this forty acre farm, still with no steady income, but dad raised garden stuff in summer, radishes, corn, pickles, and even millions of early potatoes. He dug ditches in the winter time. The country we lived in , in Indiana was about half cattail swamp and they had to dig dredge ditches through them and laid tile ditches through to the open dredges, and dad had a lot of that work. But even so, getting ahead was slow. Dad was a hard worker, but he didn't like to do chores and mom wanted more hens and cows but dad wouldn't have it that way.

In Indiana share renting was two-thirds or one-half, and if there was any pasture you paid cash for that. The last year we were in Indiana dad had fifty acres of corn, three acres of pickles and seven acres of tomatoes and two acres of early potatoes. We hauled the pickles and tomatoes both seven miles on a gravel road to market. We put about half the corn in shocks, the rest we picked off the stalk. We had it all harvested and sold before Christmas at 37 cents a hundred weight shelled. I think this was the year 1905, the family had increased to five children, Otto-1893, Mable-1895, Tina-1898-99, Grace-1901-02 and Roll [Walter Raleigh Jr.] 1905.

At this time we had two horses, two cows, one yearling steer, a big wagon, a two horse walking plow, and two double shovel cultivators (sic). Now the folks are going back to Michigan. Dad chartered a boxcar and shipped the tools and our furniture to Big Rapids Michigan. Then he fixed up the wagon like an old praire (sic) schooner. After this is all paid for dad had somewhere between four and five hundred dollars in cash. Mother had a half sister and brother in Big Rapids. A Mrs. Torrance and a Mr. John Crane.

On March 14, 1906 we headed for Big Rapids. We were thirteen days on the road. We pulled an open buggy behind the wagon. Now an open buggy is one without a top. We expected to lead our cow behind the buggy and we did ok on the first day out. At this time Indiana's main roads were graveled and the roads were all thawed out, settled and dusty. And we had roads like that till we got to Decatour (sic) Michigan. But back to the first day . As I said befoure (sic) the cow led ok the first day but the gravel made her feet sore, so there was no more leading her behind the buggy. Beginning the second day I led that cow all the way to Big Rapids along the side of the road, in the ditches, along the fences, anywhere I could find something soft for her to walk on. She flately (sic) refused to be led behind the buggy. I was thirteen years old. We came through South Bend IN, Niles, Michigan, Decatour (sic), Decatur, Dowagiac, Paw Paw, Allegan, and on into Grand Rapids.

It was Saturday night when we went through Decatour (sic) and dad pulled off the road in a lane on the north side of town. We didn't travel that Sunday.

Sunday morning dad went back in the woods looking for a piece of timber to fix the buggy fills with. The cow had broken it the second morning out. This lane we were camped in had not been pastured down the fall before and where the snow had gone off there was some good grass there. Dad told me to let the horses eat some of the grass. I told Mable and Tina I would go down and shut the road gate, but they turned the horses loose too soon. The horses saw the open gate and they took off. They beat me to the gate and took off back home. They didn't take the road but headed across country. I had left the halters on and tied the halter ropes around their necks. They went through a fruit and berry farm, jumped over a hedge fence, and finally came to the outer parts of Decatur and took off down a street. Dad had said when he got back from the woods we would find a place to water them, so they hadn't had any water yet. The horses saw a watering trough and they headed for it. I wasn't very far behind them. There was a man on the street who saw them coming and went over and grabbed hold of them till I got there. I was about all out of wind. I think I had run about two miles, and it wasn't jogging either. I didn't know how to get to where we were camped by the road so I took the horses back the same way they came. Some how I made them jump that hedge fence. When I got back to camp dad had returned and when they told him what happened he took out after us. This incident could have been very embarrassing (sic) for us.

After we got through Allegan we got into the mud. We had overtaken the frost and from there on the roads were terrible, except when we came to some sand.

I have to go back to Niles for a brief second. When we were in the north part of town, going by a house that set quite close to the road, there was a woman on the porch dusting rugs. When she saw us she says "I'll bet that cow don't give much milk! Dad says, "I'll bet she gives more than you do, ha ha!" We didn't hear anymore from that house.

The night before we went through Grand Rapids we stayed in a little town, Jamestown by name. A farmer let dad put the team and cow in his barn that was empty. We were having an awfull (sic) storm that day, rain, sleet, and snow. The horses were all in and so was Otto and the cow. That was a pretty rough day, rain, sleet, snow and clay mud, and leading that cow all the way. Sometimes the wind would blow the smoke back into the wagon and it was hard to keep warm even in the wagon. Roll was a baby then and he spoke his first words that day. He didn't have any shoes and he said,"feet freeze". The first chanch (sic) dad had after that he got him some shoes. He was from September till March past a year old. Well I don't know what was more tireing (sic), walking and leading that cow or sitting in the wagon day after day just going at that slow walk. But we had plenty to eat and most of the time a warm place to sleep.

When we came through South Bend dad took a side street and we got away from the street cars and heavy traffic, but when we got to Grand Rapids things were different. There were no cars to speak of but the street cars and their bells, and all kinds of freight-delivery wagons. I think that cow would liked to have been run over. This part of the trip seems like a half forgotten dream than anything else. It was miles through Grand Rapids on the old Plainfield route.

The roads were better after we left the city. There was more sand, but at Stanwood dad took the east road and we had awful roads again. It was dark when we got to Big Rapids, but dad knew the road so we kept on going. One place I waded water to my belt line for about a hundred feet. About ten oclock we came to our landing place---thirteen days!

The place where mothers sister lived was about five miles east of Big Rapids. I don't know how long we were there. It might have been two weeks. Dad rented a little place just one block south of the old Ferris Institute building. This was 27 acres. Then he got 80 acres from the man who owned the Western Hotel at that time. This land laid just out of the city limits to the north east of town. Dads main crop that summer was white beans, some oats, corn, and two acres of pickles, seven acres of potatoes, and around thirty acres of beans. The beans were a good crop but there were no bean thrashers in the country. Finally we got a grain thrasher to run them and they split over half of them. That summer wasn't much. I worked out some and gave the folks the money, but just about time to pick the pickles I got my left hand crushed. I was just getting to where I could do a little work again and I got a boil on my right foot, so I didn't get to help much with the harvest. For weeks I didn't ware (sic) a shoe on my foot.

The fall of 1906 dad rented eighty acres just north of Twin Lakes and we moved out there early in the fall. As soon as he got the crops taken care of he and anouther (sic) man took a job cutting four hundred cords of sixteen inch stove wood.

Now we had 2 horses and 3 cows. I went to school, did the chores, and on Saturdays got up wood for the stoves. One Saturday we were getting a real old fashioned blizzard. I took the team and sleigh in the morning and went after wood. This time I went in the slashings and was knocking the sides off of pine stumps. Scaleing (sic) stumps as we called it. I didn't know the whose place I was on but that didn't make much difference then. I didn't know the country and I drove the horses over a deep pot hole that was covered with snow. Well the storm was bad enough that dad and the other man quit work and came home shortly after noon. Mother told dad I was out someplace getting some wood, so he started out looking for me. Well he found me, we got the team out, got a chain on the tongue of the sleigh and pulled it out and got to the house just at dark. I don't know what I would have done if dad hadn't found me.

This is the place where Kenneth was born. About 1908 I think. I don't know the date but it was in January. Now we have a family of six children.

The following March dad rented the place across the road from where I live now (Barryton, on the Chipawa (sic) Lake road, 3 miles out of Barryton). We left the place on Twin Lakes and moved across the road from here. [Andi’s note: “When I lived with my grandparents the place across the road was owned by Harry ROOT.) I think I was 15 that spring. We were on that place four years. Willma was born there. About 1910 I think. We were doing a little better now but even with good crops prices were cheap. A good pair of horses brought a good price. Eggs, butter, cattle, hogs, and everything else were (sic) cheap. When we left this place we moved on to Hazels father's [Andrew Hill] place. We now had 13 milk cows, two pair of horses, and horse tools to work with. I stayed with dad till I was 23 years old. We had good crops on the Hill place. Oh, I forgot to tell you the day we moved across the road from here, we came by the Hill place and I saw my future wife out in the yard raking. This just proves we don't know what lies ahead of us.

Well, after two years on the Hill place, dad bought the place one mile north of the log church, and we moved. We built on to the house a kitchen. I stayed with dad that summer. We cleared and broke up about twenty acres of new land that spring and here is where Clark and Madalyn were born. Dad was getting along good now. Roll was big enough to help, so I rented this place where I am living now, and went out on my own.

My uncle Orange moved up here and dad helped him get set up on that place where the pine trees are. Uncle Orange took sick and he was unable to work. He finally died there. Well that left dad in bad shape. That pine place was no good to start with. Dad got tired of paying the intrest (sic) and threw up his hands. He quit at the wrong time. Roll and Kenneth didn't stay with dad as long as I did, so he didn't have the help to keep going. During W. W. 1 dad went down to Indiana to his father's funeral. [Samual]

At this time Hazel and I were living on the Traphagen place. While dad was gone mother, Roll,, Willma, Madalyn, and Clark all came down with the flu at once. Kenneth never did get sick. Mother and Clark got pneumonia and mother couldn't eat anything. After a few days the doctor told me,"If we can't get your mother to eat something she is going to die." We had been there all night and in the morning when we were going I ask mother if she could think of anything she thought she could eat, and she said of all things, she thought she could eat the broth of a quail. No one had seen a quail for five years. When we got home I took my single barrel 12 gauge and some shells and started out. The snow was a good 20 inches deep and believe it or not I found a quail track in the snow. I went to tracking quail and as careful as I was a covey flew up before I saw them. But I shot and I got one. I threw that shell out and put another (sic) one in and got one more quail before they flew out of range. I gathered up my game, went home, hitched up the team to the cutter and Hazel went back over there. Hazel cooked the birds and mother ate both of them before morning. Of course I went back over there to (sic). Well the folks began to get better and finally were all well. Dad came home as soon as he could.

Dad farmed alone for a few years, but had to give it up and moved down town to Barryton where both he and mother lived till they died. [Grace Street, it is now part of the school property.] This covers the high places to the best of my memory. Mother died in 1941 and dad lived alone till his death in August of 1955.

I am going to give you a brief sketch of the first year of my marriage. Hazel Hill and I were married on June 10th 1916. We went to Big Rapids with a horse and buggy and were married there. I was farming on my own but we had no rain that summer, so we ended up in the fall with a big 0. We moved into a little house on Hazel's fathers place down by the creek. This house has been gone for sometime. Well this was during W.W.1. I tried to enlist in the army but they said if they wanted me they would call.

Otto Ervin ENYART m 10 Jun 1916 to Hazel HILL.
Photo courtesy of Andi Merritt

Well when winter came on we had no money and no job. At that time coal and wood were the only fuel for heat. The government had the coal mostly tied up and Barryton was in real rough shape for fuel. It turned out that Barryton had only two trains all winter and no coal either. There were just a few cars and no trucks at all in those days. I knew where there were forty acres of timber that had been cut over back near Evans Lake. I wrote the owner and asked if he would sell. We got a letter back that he would take $75.oo for it and give me two years to take it off. Yess (sic)---but we had no money! So I took my letter down to the bank and showed it to O. S. Woods and told him what we wanted to do. I had taken a partner in with me. O. S. Woods made out a note for the $75.00 and we signed it and he sent this man a check. So my partner and I went to cutting wood to build bridges. Some of the places were soft and we had to build our own road, so we had to wait for snow and freezing weather. In the mean time we got some wood cut ahead. We got our snow and cold weather right after Thanksgiving. We hired some cutters to cut our wood now and we started hauling. We made two trips a day each.(2 1/2 cords), six days a week. We made our last trip on the 6th day of April, on sleighs. There were some bare spots that we had to shovel snow on to from the ditches, but we made it. I would get up at 3:00 in the morning, go up to the barn, feed, groom and harness the horses, eat my breakfast, milk the cow, see that Hazel had wood for the day and by the time I had my horses hitched Henry would be there. We always loaded our first load with a lantern for light. That was a rough winter and we had lots of snow, but we never laid up for a storm. I don't believe I had a cold all that winter. Well, we will never see times like that again, but the time may come when we wish we could go back to those days again.

[“My grandfather and his partner kept Barryton warm that winter and were more than happy to be able to do it." Andi Merritt]

Their first child was born February 1917, Ardis Elaine. She married Kenneth McCALLUM. They had no children.

Second child was born January 29, 1921. Walter Andrew died December 10, 1963. He was my father. He married Myrnia Mae McLachlan. They had two children…Andria Joyce, 11-23-1942 and Marshall Lee, 9-9-1944. His second marriage resulted in no children and his third to Retta Iola CADY gave them three children: Walter Kimberley ENYART 6-24-1957; Kell Ann ENYART 9-19-1960; and Kevyn ENYART 8-24-1962.

Their third child was Dale Otto ENYART born 9-6-1927. He married Florance HERFENDOL b 5-11-???? and died 1-23-1999. They had four children: Gale Loraine 7-30-1950, Sheryl Lynn B 1-12-1952, Gerry Dean 2-14-1954, David Brian 10-22-1961. All these children were born in California.

One thing I got from this story was Grandfather’s love for his father and mother and his strong family ties. He was willing to take his two oldest grandchildren (myself and brother) and give us a home we very much needed. That home was filled with love. Hope the lessons we are learning from looking back help us look forward.”

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Created: 08 September 2000
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