A STORY OF PILGRIMS 15


The roof of the original cabin was a sandwich of boards and earth with the earth in the middle to serve as insulation. On the inside, a ceiling was made by nailing muslin to the underside of the roof logs and then painting the muslin with whitewash. The log walls were also whitewashed on the inside to lighten and brighten the cabin. When the other rooms of the house were added on, the earth insulation was not put in the roof, but the granary part got a muslin ceiling when it became a living room. When the family was all at home there were four stoves in the house to keep it warm during some of the cold winter days and nights.
Wood to fire these stoves had to be hauled by team and wagon or team and sled for a distance of no less than ten miles each round trip and sometimes a round trip was more than twenty miles, depending on where they had to go for it. A man had to leave home early in the morning to drive to the woods, cut the trees down with axe and crosscut saw, load them on the wagon by hand, and drive all the way home again by night. And, it took many of these wagon or sled loads to heat a house of this size all winter. Then, after the wood was home, it had to be sawed into blocks by hand and split with the axe before it could become a cozy or cheerful fire.

Fuller Homestead ca 1917The left wing is the original homestead cabin. The one on the right was Margaret Blackall’s cabin. In between can be seen the roofline of the granary/living room that was added last. The top end of the boom-pole stacker shows over the roof of the original cabin.

With getting firewood, putting up hay, raising a garden, feeding livestock, milking cows, making butter, butchering, canning, fencing, irrigating, making soap, laundering by hand, carrying water, baking, darning socks and a multitude of other jobs and chores, a person could sometimes wonder how these homesteaders ever had time for entertainment. But they did. They would sometimes travel fifteen miles or more by horseback or team to attend a picnic or dance. The whole family would go to a dance and take along food and bedding so they could stay overnight or, perhaps several nights. Some would sleep in the host’s house, some in the barn and some in or under their wagons. There were always some who played musical instruments and they would play for the dances. Dancing would begin in the evening and go until around midnight when a potluck supper would be set out. After supper the dancing would begin again and usually continue until daylight. Then, after breakfast, the ones who didn’t live far away would probably go home but the others would likely stay another night and go home the following day.
The well at the Fuller homestead was outside, about forty feet from the house, with a wooden trough alongside it for watering livestock. The water was pumped by hand and carried to the house in pails. Any hot water that was used had to be heated on the kitchen range. A large teakettle set on the range at all times to provide immediate hot water in small quantities but large amounts were heated in a long, narrow type of tub that was called a wash boiler because it was often used to boil clothing to get it especially clean. Most times it was only the white clothing that was done this way. Baths were taken in a washtub. Shortly after 1930 a well was dug under the house and a hand pump installed so that water no longer had to be carried from outside.
A short distance behind the house stood an outhouse and that completed the bathroom facilities. These facilities were typical for those times although some folks had better while other folks had less. Some were fortunate enough to have a spring to build their house below and then pipe the water into the house for running water. Others, even though they had a spring, had to build on higher ground and carry the water uphill in buckets. A very few had windmills that pumped the water for them.
In 1919 the well went dry and also the creek. Leonard borrowed a tank wagon from Jim Bair and hauled water from the river to keep the garden growing. Jim’s stepson, Frank Greenman, came and helped to dig the well deeper. In 1935 the well dried up again and had to be dug even deeper.
After coming to Montana, Leonard returned to his childhood home only once and Phoebe never saw her homeland again. Early in 1905 Lem’s son, Milan, came down from Calgary to take care of the ranch while Leonard went back to Vermont and Quebec for one last visit with the ones he had left behind. While Milan was at the ranch that winter he carved out pieces for the roller holder for hand towels that is still in use on the back of the kitchen door. He also built two picket gates for the yard fence that are still in use.
Although Phoebe never returned to her homeland some of her cousins did come to Montana to see her. In the summer of 1919 her cousin, William Proctor, and his wife, Evelyn, came to visit her. In 1935 her cousin, George Proctor, and his wife, Josie, came.
In 1921 Leonard’s brother, Lemuel, returned to Montana for a visit. This time, he came with his sons, Herbert and Milan, and Milan’s wife, Bell, and daughter, Marjorie. They came from Calgary in a new Model T Ford and came over King’s Hill between Great Falls and White  Sulphur Springs on the third of July. A snowstorm descended upon them up in the mountains and the wind blew a tree down across the road. The only tool they had for cutting through the tree was a hatchet, so they put in quite a long time in the cold and the wet, hacking through that tree. After finally getting over the mountain and down to the lower elevations, they got stuck in mud somewhere along  Newlan Creek. Needless to say, the roads were not the best in those days.

The Model T Ford on King’s Hill. Lemuel on the left with Marjorie and Milon on the right.

The Model T Ford on King’s Hill. Lemuel on the left with Marjorie and Milon on the right.

Lemuel visited the area several times in the following years, the last being in 1940. He was always good natured and jolly so everyone enjoyed his visits. Wood seemed to be one of his favorite pastimes and he spent many hours sawing, splitting and whittling wood. Often, when he visited one of the families in the valley, he would leave a miniature mountain of  split wood and kindling. He would sometimes take a long, slim stick of wood and carve a chain from it or a cage with a round ball or two inside. Some of these items can still be found in some of the family homes.

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J. L. Fuller

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About authorjim

I grew up in the country near a small Montana town, I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors, working, fishing, hunting and camping but have always been interested in mechanical and electrical things. Most of my life has been spent in the use, care and repair of things mechanical, electrical an electronic. After being retired for several years, I began writing and published my first novel at the age of 79. Now, at the age of 82, I have recently published my fourth noveland it is available from me or from the pulisher or book distributor.
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3 Responses to A STORY OF PILGRIMS 15

  1. bldodson says:

    1940 – I was 2 years old. Wow. Seems so far away . . . those times and cars!

    Like

  2. gpcox says:

    Hope you are having a wonderful Holiday Season and are looking forward to 2015!!

    Like

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