As I have progressed through the years documenting the events of my life, I find that other memories of the past have been stirred and come to mind, so I will reminisce with you as each new memory unfolds. I will tell you of an event that happened in the early days about some people who owned the cattle I told about that the early settlers had to fence out of their crops. Some of their cattle got in the crop of a settler, I will not mention names, who had not yet got his fence completed. The wife and hired man were working the farm, and the husband was away working on the dam. The wife went to drive the cattle out of the crop but a bull chased her to the house. Angry and frightened, the wife got a rifle and shot at the bull but missed and killed a heifer. She called the hired man and they butchered the heifer and cut up the meat. As there was no refrigeration in those days, she divided up the meat with the neighbors so that it could be used before it spoiled. One of the brothers who were owners of the cattle company heard about the killing and came to the settler’s farm. He said, “Mrs. …, I heard you have been eating our beef and we can’t afford to do that ourselves.” The wife said, “I’m sorry Mr. …, if I had known that, I would have saved you some of it, but I’ll show you where we buried the hide.” I know this to be true as the cattlemen started a bank in Burley, Idaho and went broke.
When I was working on the road from Rupert to American Falls, Idaho, one of the brothers was working on the job and told me of the incident. Some of the family are in the cattle business again but there is no open range now. Another incident that happened a good many years back and now comes to mind. There was a man in the neighborhood by the name of Knott and he was very aggressive and rather thought that what he didn’t know was very little.
Another neighbor by the name of Professor Large was a very learned man, although he was not a farmer. The community was planning some Community Farming event. I do not remember what it was, but all the neighbors were holding a meeting to discuss whatever it was they were going to do. Knott and Large were on opposite sides. Knott made a long speech, lasting for a half hour. Finally it was Professor Large’s turn to talk, and he said, “It seems we came to see Knott, hear Knott, and do Knott.”
Going back to when I was in school, a neighbor was a carpenter and be built many houses on the tract. He had a son my age, and he put us to work sanding and doing other work that did not require the skill of a carpenter. After a year or two, we got so he would trust us to do any building under his supervision. Sometimes he would have two to three houses and barns under construction at one time. One house we had under construction belonged to a very religious couple and they said they were warned that the world was coming to an end that day, and they were sitting on the roof of their house and had been there since sunrise and would stay there until sunset. They said that the Bible told them to do this.
In 1919, my father decided to build a new house and he wanted it built out of stone. Since the man I was working for did not build stone houses, I quit working for him so I could help with building the new house. The stone mason my father hired to build the house was a Swede, I believe, and he was an expert at his work. He built his houses with a double stone wall with mud between the walls, the purpose of the mud being to stop frost from coming through the walls. I had no part in the construction on the house, my job was to haul the rock with a team of horses and a wagon. The floor of the wagon was four by four lumber, laid side by side. When the rocks were loaded, I would slide a four by four side ways and the rocks would fall to the ground. This made unloading rather easy but the difficult part of the job was loading the rocks on the wagon.
I had a plank I carried on the wagon and when I found I could not lift a stone on the wagon, I would roll it up the plank. They estimated there was about eleven hundred ton of stone in the house. Father had a hired man and when he wasn’t busy on the farm, he would help me haul rock and this made it much easier when I did not have to roll the rock up the plank. All of the rocks came from within a mile of the farm. The gravel came from the farm. The cement, lumber, plaster, windows, and doors came from Eden. I liked hauling this material as the lumber yard men loaded the wagon for me and all I had to do was drive the team seven miles to Eden and seven miles back which took most all day. It took two years to complete the house.
The basement was started in 1919 and then they started the walls. Cold weather halted the work until the spring of 1920. When the walls were up to floor level, the carpenters came and put the floor in. They were brothers-in-law to the man I had worked for building houses. Their names were Bob and Rudolph Holmes and they were master carpenters. After the floor was in, they had to wait until the stone mason could build the walls high enough so that the ceilings could be built and the roof put on the house. Then the plasterers came and finished the walls and room partitions. The carpenters returned and hung the doors and put in the windows. The next stop was for the plumbers to install the plumbing and the electricians to install the wiring and electrical fixtures. Last of all came the painters. The house was completed in the fall of I920.
About 1910, two old maid school teachers from Chicago came here and each filed on forty acres of land. One of the old maid’s names was Miss Miller and the other’s name was Miss Sawyer. Miss Miller filed on the forty acres just south of Grandma Berry’s place and Miss Sawyer filed on the forty just south of Miss Miller’s place. The two teachers lived in a prove up shack built on Miss Miller’s place and were very nervous with no one living close to them as they were used to living in a large city. There were no storage dams on the Snake River in this area at this time and during flood stage the Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls made a very loud roar which could be heard for miles. One night about two o’clock in the morning the two ladies came to the folks place and woke them up wanting to know if the river might rise and wash their cabin away. What makes this incident funny is that the river here runs in a canyon about 300 feet deep. Miss Miller and Miss Sawyer returned to teach in Chicago that fall.
Miss Miller returned to teach at Russell Lane the next year and lived in the Blood house, which my Uncle Ted had purchased from the Bloods. Miss Miller bought a horse and buggy. She called the horse “Pedro” and kept him at our farm. My father would hitch Pedro to the buggy in the morning and drive him down to pick up Miss Miller and she would take me to school.
Lawrence Jensen was the janitor at the school and he would take Pedro to his place which was just south of the school and known as the “Magnet Place.” At four o’clock Mr. Jensen would hitch Pedro to the buggy and drive him to the school where Miss Miller and I would get in the buggy and return to our place. Father would take Miss Miller home and then bring Pedro back to our place for the night. Pedro had a habit of balking when he was first hitched to the buggy but father would work him over and he would be all right then. In the afternoon Mr. Jensen would have to work Pedro over and get him going so we would return home.
My father said Pedro was more like a mule than a horse. I know Pedro was too much for Miss Miller. Father and Mr. Jensen always drove Pedro with a whip which they carried in the whip socket on the buggy but Miss Miller refused to touch him with the whip when we were in the buggy as she was afraid that if she used the whip, Pedro would run off with us, consequently when Miss Miller and I were in the buggy, Pedro was his own boss. I do not remember how long Miss Miller taught at Russell Lane but the forties were known as the Miller and Sawyer places.
I remember the folks organized a Literary Society and they would meet once a week. We kids were included, but like all meetings, there is always some person in social gatherings who thinks he is Abe Lincoln. The fellow I’m telling you about had to walk about two miles to the meeting through six inches of snow and slush so he wore a pair of irrigation boots and carried his shoes which he put on in the cloak room of the school. He went upstairs to the meeting and recited a poem. As I recall the title was “Lasko Down by the Rio Grande” and it lasted at lest twenty minutes. While he was upstairs holding the crowd spell bound, Lawrence Jensen filled his irrigation boots half full of slush. When the orator came down to put on his boots, he stuck one foot in and let out a loud yell, dumped the boot and damned if he didn’t put his other foot in the other boot without checking it to see if it had been filled with slush and then he really threw a running fit and he was telling Mr. Jensen, the janitor, off for allowing someone to fill his boots with slush. We got a long oration from him but at least he got his feet cooled off. He was the fellow I told about getting his foot caught in the bear trap. I guess he always had trouble with his feet.
An earlier event before the Literary Club, were dances held at the Woodcock Home, now owned by Herb and Jeannie Paul, which had a large attic where the neighbors gathered to dance. Professor Large had the only piano in the community and this was placed in the Woodcock Hall to provide music for the dances. There was a spirit of mutual interest in the community and people loaned, borrowed, and helped each other gladly After Russell Lane School was built, the dances were moved to the large hall in the upper story and it became the center of all the community social activities.
My mother and father were expert dancers and enjoyed teaching others to dance. They rented the hall and hired an orchestra from Twin Falls to play for the dances and admission was charged to cover expenses. Often at a dance when a waltz or schottische was played, the people would clear the floor and watch father and mother dance these dances.
My father was a lifetime Mason and a worthy pioneer. He led the fight twice to restore water rights for the First Segregation to the Idaho Supreme Court restoring the original water rights files on at Milner. He was highly regarded in the community. There was a poll tax the first years my folks were here and father would work his and grandmother Berry’s out by working on the road. He was credited on the tax bill. I cannot remember how much the poll tax was per year, but that tax was later done away with. I don’t know it was because we changed counties or if the state stopped it.
When we first came to the farm, there was no “Vinyard Lake.” There was a small spring and the water only made its way half way to the present lake, and sank in the rocks. My folks drew water from the spring to the top of the canyon wall with a windlass and a half-barrel. The water had not been delivered to the farm and this made it necessary to use the windlass to water the stock. Where Vinyard Lake is now, along the north wall there was a swarm of wild bees back in the rocks in a crevice. My uncle Bill Berry, waited until winter when the weather was cold and drilled some holes in the rocks and blasted the front off. We got several tubs of honey. The place where they blasted is not visible today as it is below water level of the lake, and the water along the north wall is at least forty feet deep. After the lake was formed, the neighbors blasted a trail down to it so they could drive livestock down to the lake to drink when there was no water in the ditches.
In cold winter weather, ditches would freeze and no water would run, but the spring water never froze so we drove animals down to water once a day. When the lake filled enough to overflow and run to the river, fish would come up the creek to the falls where the lake overflows. Two or more neighbors would go down and put a canvas dam across the outlet of the lake and dry up the creek to the river and get fish that were trapped in the creek. It took over an hour for the dam to raise the lake one foot, plenty of time to get a big bunch of fish out of Vinyard Creek. There use to be a water fall where the creek ran into the river, but the power dam raised the river enough that it backs water up the creek now. There was a beautiful sand bar on the north side, half a mile up stream from where the creek joins the river. We boys would climb three hundred feet down ladders to get to the sand bar so we could swim in the river. The sandbar was three hundred feet long and run out into the river as far as you cared to go. We always swam in the nude and got many a sunburn if we weren’t careful.
In the teens, there was a rabies scare here on the north side and during this scare, I remember an event that happened in Eden. A dog ran up the street and was going through all kinds of dados. Someone yelled “Mad Dog,” and everyone ran in the buildings yelling, “Get a gun and kill that dog.” The dog had a muzzle on, due to a city ordinance which required all dogs to be muzzled, and could not have bitten anyone. A fellow by the name of Al Anderson went out and called the dog to him and said, “If you folks would put the muzzle on the other end of this dog and give the end of those damned boys a treatment, this dog will be all right.” The boys had turpentined the dog causing him to act like he had rabies.
When we first got the mail route, the carrier drove a delivery hack. They were made to haul mail and were enclosed. It took all day to cover the mail route. The mail carrier was Joe Metcalf, and I have seen him deliver mail by dog sled in severe stormy winter weather since there was no machinery such as we have today to open the roads. Everything had to be done with horses, and I know that the winters were more severe than now. Joe would use the dog sled for days and was only able to deliver mail every other day since he could not cover the whole route in one day, he would do half of the route one day and complete it the next day.
Another event that comes to mind, though I never saw it happen, but it was told to my father concerning a neighbor by the name of Kelsey I believe he lived close to a man and his wife who were putting in a prove-up crop. They were living in a tent. Kelsey heard the woman yelling and crying, so he ran over to the tent to see what was wrong and found the husband talking to his wife by hand and she seemed in a bad way. Kelsey hit the man a hard blow on the jaw and knocked him out. He was lying on the floor and while Kelsey was picking the man up, his wife got a butcher knife and stabbed Kelsey in the buttock. Kelsey was a very powerful man and when this happened, he grabbed both the wife and the husband by their necks and hit their heads together and left them on the floor. Kelsey had to saddle a horse and ride into town to see the doctor for his trouble. He said if he was ever crazy enough to get into another family fight, he would help the husband.
This event should have been told at the beginning of this epistle but is worthy of mentioning so I will tell you about it now. My mother’s brother, Bill Berry, came home from working in the mines at Jarbridge, Nevada. He met E.B. Have who was courting the cook at the Shoshone Falls Hotel. E.B. had sister working there as a waitress, and Uncle Bill started courting her. One night late, there was a knock on our door and it was E.B. Haye and a person he introduced as his wife. We only had kerosene lights so you could not see too well. The wife had on a long dress that went to the floor, wore a black veil which she never raised. We had never met the cook from the hotel so we did not doubt E.B. when he introduced her as his new wife. My mother was all excited, tried to talk to her but she would only nod her head and sort of whisper. I believe father smelled a rat, but I know I was fooled. Finally she took off the veil and it turned out to be uncle Bill Berry. My mother did not think it was so funny when she did not know her own brother.
A man by the name of Roy Day and his wife Pearl, whose maiden name was “Gould,” moved into a house Uncle Bill Berry had built. Mr. Day was related to E.B. Haye. Mr. Day had a team of horses and they got lose one day and went over to a neighbor’s place. It was spring and the horses could not possibly have damaged anything, but when Roy went over to get the horses, the neighbor had locked them up and wouldn’t let him have them until he paid ten dollars damages. Roy came to see father and told him he did not have ten dollars, so father helped him to make up ten dollars since the neighbor would not take Roy’s check. Father did not like this neighbor so he told Roy, “Give him the money and then hit him on the jaw as hard as you can.” Roy did exactly as father had told him and knocked him down. Roy was waiting for him to get up when out of the house came another fellow with a shotgun and ran Roy and the horses off.
The fellow who came out of the house with the gun had to go by Roy’s place to get his mail and I guess Roy must have told him he would get even because this fellow would cut through grandmother Berry’s place so he would not have to go by Roy’s place but Roy was looking for the fellow and when he saw him in grandma’s field, he was about an eighth of a mile away, Roy got his rifle, I guess a thirty-thirty or some gun about the same size and shot in front of the man and then behind him. The fellow started running and dodging and Roy emptied the gun, not trying to hit the fellow, but by the time the gun was empty, the fellow was out of range. I did not see this happen, but I did see the fellow go out in the field to keep from passing Roy’s place. I think the fellow thought Roy was trying to kill him, but he was not, because if he had wanted to kill him, he could have done so very easily as he was an expert marksman.
Another event that happened in my young days a man gave me a burro and it was the most stubborn animal I ever saw. If you tried to ride him he would just stop and you could not get him to move. One day my brother wanted him to ride him and could not get him to move out of the shed. I know my brother was a young boy, but I always thought he set the straw shed afire to make the burro move. However, he told the folks he was boiling some eggs and guessed he got too close to the shed with his fire. Anyway, the burro came running out of the shed with the long hair on him afire but it did not kill him, he came out of the shed and ran down the road switching his tail and giving the burro call. He came back in the evening and all that happened to him was he lost a few patches of skin. I cannot remember what ever happened to the burro.
When I was twelve years old, I trapped muskrats. There were many small ponds that have since been filled in and are now farmed over. There were many muskrats in these ponds and ditches with water in them as in those days the Canal Company kept water in the ditches all winter. I would sometimes get three or four rats in a night and would ship them to a place in Denver, Colorado where I would receive twenty-five or seventy-five cents apiece. Although this was no fortune, it gave me a few dollars in the winter when the furs were prime.
I tried to trap coyotes but to this day I have never been able to trap one. I have shot coyotes but it was always the wrong time of the year and the fur was not prime. My brother set his dog on a coyote that was in the hog pasture and when the coyote got his leg caught in the fence, my brother got a stick and killed the coyote. My brother was only ten at the time.
Another event that happened to me when I was twelve and was so painful, I can still feel it when I think about it. In the spring of each year, grandmother Berry said all kids should have a dose of molasses and sulfur to cleanse the blood for summer’s heat. I had taken mine but it must not have worked because I had five boils on my stomach and I could cover them with my hand.
Father asked me if I could plow and I knew I could. We had an old walking plow that had two handles and walked behind the plow, so father hitched the team to the plow. The team was very gentle and probably knew more about the job than I did. Anyway, father tied the reins around my shoulders so I would have both hands free to hold the plow and we started out, father walking behind me to see how I would make out. We had been around the patch of ground several times and all was going well, so father left me to go do some other work. I plowed for quite a while before the plow struck a rock and the clevis that held the plow to the team broke and the lines on the horses jerked me against the plow handles and it broke all five boils. I still have the scars from the boils. The team stopped with no trouble but it still hurts when I think of it.
I made prospecting trips before I was married, the first time to Nevada, Utah, and to Arizona. I had fun and it got me away from the farm, but I didn’t know enough about metal at this time so I was not successful at finding ore. I traded my old Maxwell automobile for an Indian Big Chief motorcycle which made many more miles to the gallon of gas than the automobile and gave me greater range to see things. I asked my wife-to-be Alice, to take a ride on the motorcycle with me as it had a side car. The roads were very poor and the cycle had carbide lights which provided very poor light. Of course it was dark and we were going along quite well until we met a car and I had to hold too far to the right to keep from being hit by the car. The motorcycle hit a rock between the side car and the side of the motorcycle. Alice flew over the front of the side car and landed on the ground. The motorcycle stopped against the rock and I had a hold of the handle bars, I did not fall off of the motorcycle. I jumped off to help Alice and she said to me, “Did you bring me out here to get rid of me?” I had quite a time explaining what had happened and it took a lot of talking on my part to get her to go riding with me again, and then only in the daytime. She had skinned her legs in the accident and they were very sore for a few days but she forgave me and later married me.
After Vivian was born, Alice brought her to the mine on Pine Creek where I had built a house. She came in the fall and we got settled nicely and had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving. When Christmas came, I cut a very choice Christmas tree and my wife had gone to Kellogg to purchase ornaments for it. Some these ornaments were small glass balls. When I came home, the first thing the wife said to me was, “Vivian has eaten one of the glass balls.” That sure did scare both of us and as we had no car, I ran and borrowed my cousin’s car and took her to the doctor in Kellogg twenty-six miles away We got the doctor out of bed to examine Vivian and when he was through looking at her he said, “Just take her home and feed her all the bread she will eat, no liquid until tomorrow afternoon, and she will be all right.” Vivian recovered and her swallowing of the glass ball never caused her any trouble, just scared the wife and me.
I worked in many mines through the years. Butte, Montana was too hot and the hot water made sores where ever it contacted the skin. I liked prospecting most, worked a shaft out of Winnemucca, Nevada called “The Lost Frenchman,” all we found were rattlesnakes and no ore to pay. I looked at “Bennet Mountain” but found no ore worth working. I prospected the “Old Noman Mountains” out of Essex, California also the “Bill Williams River” in Arizona.
I found gold on the Bill Williams River but not enough to pay. I tried several places around Contact, Nevada, nearly always found some ore, but seldom enough to pay working contracts, driving drift or running raises. Sometimes did real good but when you make more than the shift boss, they like to terminate the contract. I was working in a gold mine where I knew there were “high graders” working. They were very good at it, as when we went into the mine we had to leave our street clothes in the change room, go through a door in the nude with a guard watching and into the next room where we put on our digging clothes. We had to go by the guard both entering and leaving the mine always naked and he was always watching. We were working old high placer channels that had been covered over when the mountain slid down and covered them. I found a good sized nugget, and showed it to one of the fellows I figured was high-grading. He said, “I’ll give you five dollars for it,” so I gave it to him and he gave me the money, and that is the only high-grading I ever did.
When Idaho Power Company was building the Twin Falls Power Plant in the twenties, they built a hoist way over the cliff where they let the material for the Power Plant down to the bot- tom of the falls. The canyon wall where they built the hoist-way caved off and killed several men. Power to the west end farms came in the twenties, making it possible to have radios which was a big thing. I still remember Amos and Andy, and Madam Queen. The community did not get telephone service until the late thirties but the service sure did help the people.
During the “Depression” of the thirties, dances were again held at the Russell Lane School. There was a piano in the hall and neighbors played violins and guitars, and this provided recreation that the people could afford as money was very scarce in the early days so they entertained themselves and visited with their neighbors. I remember wheat was nineteen cents a bushel, beans went down to ninety cents a sack. I cannot remember the price of hay but potatoes were thirty cents la sack. A fellow came to the farm one day and asked Betty if this was where Everett Vinyard lived. She told him it was, and he explained to her he had known me from the mines at Kellogg, Idaho. She told him I would be home later, so he said he would come back the next day. I had known him forty years before. We visited a while and he told me he was on the way to the “Skoro Mine” in Utah. He had run out of money so I loaned him twenty-five dollars. He had a fuss with the management at the mine and quit. He sent me twenty-five shares of “Skoro Stock.” I have never seen him again. He was a good fellow. I do not know where he went, but I know it was to the mines somewhere.
The “Boomer Miners” could always get a job where ever there was mining. In the very early days of hand drilling, the shift boss would line up all the men that were looking for a job and question them. He could tell the old boomer miners and he would say, “Right and Left,” meaning did you strike right handed or left handed. The reason for this was to have a left hander work with a right hander so each could strike alternate blows. This operation was called “Double Jacking.” I have seen this on road work and drilling contests and have also seen “Single Jack Men.” When I started mining they used air hammers but the machines were dry and very dusty. Many miners became ill with silicosis, a lung disease common among miners. Later machines used hollow drill steel and water was forced through the hole making them much easier to use and no dust.
Lester Madden and I bought three burros to pack supplies up to a mining property we leased at Jarbridge, Nevada. Bryson took the burros up to the property with the farm truck. Lester packed two of the burros at the bottom of the mountain to go about one mile up the trail where we were working. Lester started up the trail with the burros but about one third of the way up the burros refused to go on. Deciding to teach the burros a lesson, Lester proceeded to work them over and one of the burros got away and ran back down the trail, bucking and rubbing on everything in sight. The burro ran all the way back to Jarbridge. When Lester caught up with him, the pack saddle was under his belly and tools and supplies were scattered three miles back along the trail. I was not there when this event took place, but if I had been, I would have told Lester to try fire. It brought back memories of the one my brother torched off. He got action. Lester never did get any one of the burros to the top of the mountain. We finally decided the burros were not going to work out so we brought them back to the farm. Lester sold two of the burros and the third one died here on the farm. When the Uranium boom was on, E.B. Have and his wife Mamie came to the farm after being away for many years. They were prospecting for Uranium and E.B. had the City of Rocks on his mind. They visited a few days here. My father had passed away but my mother was still living. E.B. and Mamie left for the City of Rocks and were gone ad few days prospecting and then returned to the farm. They left and it was the last time I ever saw them. In nineteen eighty-eight, their daughter Erma, sons Lester and Stanley came to see us. It was the first time I had seen them since they were babies. Erma lives in Spokane, Washington and the boys Lester and Stanley are retired and live in Twin Falls, Idaho.
I only know of one of the kids I went to school with who is still living. Her name is Margaret Montaque. I hear from her each Christmas. She wrote a letter and asked if I remembered playing “Troll” under the bridge. She said we were both naked. Another time we came home from school and since mother had a big garden, we started eating some of the peas. I got away with eating all I could hold, but Margaret got sick and the last time I saw her she told me she had never eaten another pea.
Betty and I have had a wonderful life. We passed forty-six years together, will be forty-seven in August of this year, Nineteen Eighty-nine. I have written this as best that I can remember of the things that happened, may have dates off a little in the very early years as I was young, and sometimes I wonder, did I see these events happening or just remember people telling about them. I know I have told nothing to hurt anyone and I have enjoyed this country and things as they once were, have met and lived by many fine people, and have married two wonderful women and thank the Lord, the kids have all turned out good, not any of them have ever been in trouble. Both boys have Honorable Discharges from the Armed Forces and daughter Vivian married a fine man and they have a nice family. I cannot ask for more.