Baby Gordon Welke

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Gordon Ferdinand Welke with the family dog. Summer of 1931 in Millet, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

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J. R. Findsen

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 5

 

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My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 5: McPhee Colorado

 

It was in June 1924, that McPhee, Colorado became the next place for me to live in for a short while. It was near Delores but it does not exist anymore. A new sawmill was being built here with a huge logging operation in connection with it. It was here that Charles had come to find work and he was hired to work as a carpenter in the building of the mill. ‘The pay was out of this world!!’ as they say today. It was all of four dollars a day!

To move us, Mother hired a man who had a Model T Ford truck to haul our stuff over to McPhee and he took us along. While I was riding on top of the load and were about half way to Durango, the pin came loose where the steering rod joined in a ball and joint connection to the rods of the front wheels. Suddenly the truck careened off the road onto a slightly slanted shoulder. Luckily, I was holding on to a rope when I was thrown to the other side hurting my back. As the truck righted itself, I was thrown to the other side before he brought the truck to a stop. I wasn’t badly hurt, but, Mother made me ride in the cab the rest of the way. It didn’t take the man long to put in a new pin and we were soon on our way again.

At McPhee, we moved into a three room, board house. The rooms were in a row with no doors, just doorways between them. When the front door was opened, one could see straight through to the back door. Mother put up curtains at the inner doorways for a bit more privacy, and of course, there was the outdoor privy with two holes in the seat. There was water piped behind each row of houses with a faucet in each yard and we had to carry our water into the house for every need.

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I remember that Mother bought two dozen laying hens. She sold eggs at one dollar per dozen all winter. I had to take care of them and deliver the eggs to her customers.

That summer was fun for me, because there were tea parties and sewing clubs for the girls. The boys played ballgames and swam in the Delores River for their entertainment. Then at night, both the boys and girls played games of hide and seek or kick the can and many others that I do not remember the names for them. We were allowed to play outside until nine o’clock which was the curfew hour for all children.

When it was time for school to start, the school was not ready, so we had to have classes in a four room house until it was finished and ready to use.

The only church service was a Sabbath School on a Saturday afternoon sponsored by five ladies who were Seventh-day Adventist. After attending it regularly, it became the only church, of which, I ever wanted to be a member.

In August, I had my first date. It was with an older man. He was nineteen years old and he was working in the mill. He took me to the movies in Delores that night, and his folks went with us; or as I look back, maybe it was they who took us. He had the unbelievable name of Cicero!

I experienced my third introduction to death, here. The Company had given a picnic for all the young people, down by the river. Floyd Bales who was sixteen, drowned August 16th in the Delores River. I think he had cramps. His body was rescued and he was carried back to his home in camp and the doctor was called. Then he was loaded on a truck and his body was taken to Mancos, Colorado, his home, for burial.

That fall, I had my first spell of partial blindness. A traveling eye doctor, as we called him, came to McPhee. On one of my good days, he tested my eyes and then he sent to Denver, Colorado for glasses for me. When I received them, I put them on and I could see clearly again. They were the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I took off at night when I went to bed.

Mr. Austin came home in December. I think he must have had itching feet like a hobo, because we were soon planning a trip to California. Before we could talk Mother into leaving, Bill and Elmer Austin, Mr. Austin’s sons, showed up at our house. Bill was included in our plans for the trip but Elmer went to work in the woods under a Mr. Attie Roberts.

I had received a big, beautiful doll for Christmas. I was kidded about it a lot, I didn’t care as I liked dolls and I spent hours making clothes for it.

The winter months were cold, snowy and muddy under foot. After the holidays were over, I had another attack of not seeing very good and this influenced Mother to agree to the trip to California. She seemed to think that I was suffering from snow blindness, even though the report from Denver stated that I had astigmatism.

February found us packing, storing and getting the old Model T Touring car ready to go. We had to see that the curtains were in good shape so as to keep us comfortable from the wind and cold and possible snow on the way. I seem to remember that we got cold and miserable several times before we finished our trip, which turned out be almost a complete circle back where we had started from.

We started out for Gallup, New Mexico the latter part of February. It was a real nice day when we left, but it did not stay that way long.
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If you wish to know more about McPhee Colorado the National Parks Service has a webpage detailing the town’s history. It is also the sources of the pictures above.

 

Catch up on Eleanor’s Story: Chapter 4, Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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How To Preserve A Husband Part 2

 

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Yesterday I posted about an unexpected find in a cookbook my late mother-in-law had given me. It was a recipe on how to preserve a husband. It held good advice wither you are a new wife or a veteran.

The Recipe:

How To Preserve A Husband

Be careful in your selection. Do not choose too young. When once selected, give your entire thoughts to preparation for domestic use. Some insist on keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them in hot water. This makes them sour, hard to get along with and sometimes, bitter. Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience, well-sweetened with kisses. Wrap them in a mantle of charity. Keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream. Thus prepared they will keep for years.

Found in an old cook book

Mrs. James A. McNamara

 

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Concerned over the condition of the paper the recipe was printed on I decided to put it under glass with a little flair.

Using scrapbooking paper, bits of sewing odds and ends (also given to me by my late mother-in-law), and a decorative frame purchased from a garage sale, I proceeded to create a family heirloom that could be passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter (hopefully, fingers crossed).

What little bit of unique family history that may seem like nothing can you create into a family heirloom? I would love to hear from you.

 

How To Preserve A Husband Part 1

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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How to Preserve a Husband Part 1

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One of the things I love about my dearly departed mother-in-law is even after two years she is still giving me wonderful little gifts. While looking through a stack of her old cookbooks, I found a golden nugget of wisdom, a recipe for preserving a husband. It is a lovely piece of advice pickled in farmhouse humor.

The recipe for a relationship is timeless. The quote cleverly restates the golden rule. That universal proverb we all learned as children. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The quote is not attributed to an author. It only reveals that it was found in an older cookbook. My mother-in-law’s well-loved cookbook, tattered and worn, appears than dirt. I can only wonder how old the quote is. Finding its origins could take considerable digging. In what time era would you place the farmhouse quote?

It is a recipe for preservation worth preserving.

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Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 4

 

My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 4: Bayfield Colorado

 

Mother bought a herd of twelve Jersey milk cows to take up to the ranch in Colorado. We loaded up the covered wagon to make the move with. She drove the wagon and Charles drove the cattle behind the wagon. We arrived at the Marr’s home, which was a short way north of Bayfield, about three weeks before Christmas. The snow wasn’t so bad yet, but that we could get up to the ranch and get settled in. Mr. Marr assured Mother that there would be enough hay and other feed for the cattle and mules until spring.

Charles made a trip into town on snowshoes to get things for Christmas and to pick up our mail and a package that was from my father. We had a wonderful Christmas. Charles went out and cut a tree as tall as the ceiling in the living room. Harry and I made all of our tree decorations, and decorated the tree ourselves.

On New Year’s morning we awoke to find snow four feet deep against the window and it had blown onto the porch and against the door. Charles had to literally dig his way to the barn that morning, so that he could do the chores.

When we all went ty a party on a ranch, every woman that came brought food and everyone stayed all night eating and dancing until morning. The children were bedded down on pallets and beds. We usually made the trip to the party in a sleigh with hot bricks for our feet and blankets to wrap up in. It was real fun and we looked forward to every party that was given.

Since school would not start until the first of April, we had plenty of time to play in the snow, to snowshoe and ski on the mountain side behind our house. We would walk the trapline that Charles had set out soon after we got settled. We thought that we were helping bring in the furs from the animals that he had caught in the traps. He made quite a bit of money from the sale of the furs.

When school started, Harry and I went to school in a little one room building with two cloakrooms. We always had a hot drink with our lunches. We rode horse back to school each morning. It was about seven miles by the road and five miles by the short cut through the gap. The pony that we rode was mine and her name was Penny, because she had a shiny coppered colored coat of hair. She had a colt that spring and its name was Redwing. Mother gave the colt to Harry for his own pony when it was grown up.

Mrs. Painter was our teacher and she taught eight grades. Many times, Mrs. Painter would have me listen to the first grade children read or maybe it would be giving out the spelling words to the second and third grade children. I often thought how nice it would be to be a teacher, but I never got the chance to go to school to learn to become one because of ill health when I was young.

In September, Harry became ill with appendicitis and died in the Mercy Hospital in Durango, Colorado.

When School was out, Mother and I moved into Bayfield, but Charles remained on the ranch until the cows were sold. Mr. Austin went south to find work. I went to the Bayfield grade school and I had to take the seventh grade over due to some rules they had of children coming in to town from a country school.

Our fun, that winter, was skating on the ice in the river and the ice on the ponds, and sledding down Wheeler’s Hill on the hard packed snow on the road, and roasting marshmallows over a camp fire. We would use the campfire to warm ourselves by between trips down the hill or after skating for a while. At night the stars were clear and bright and when the moon was full, the country side looked like a fairy winter wonderland. The air would be cold and crisp and we see our breath like a fog in the air. At the end of the evening we would walk home where our mothers would have hot chocolate waiting for us to warm our insides, before we had to go to bed.

When school was out for the summer, Mother and I got ready to move to McPhee, Colorado where Charles had already gone to get work, as there was a new sawmill being built there.

 

To be continued…

 

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Catch up on Eleanor’s story: Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 3

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My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 3: Farmington, New Mexico

 

In the spring of 1922, Mother decided to move to Farmington, New Mexico, which is in the northwest part of the state, because Father would not stay away from her and leave her alone. She began to get ready for the move just before school was to be let out for the summer and it became quite a project for her. Mother had to buy and outfit a covered wagon with a stove, supplies, our own personal effects and beds for all of us. She bought a pair of mules to pull the wagon. We took with us two cows who names were Bess and Heart. We made a coop for a half dozen hens which would lay eggs and a white dog of mine, I had named Yep, who had a black spot around one eye.

When we were ready to go, Grandfather insisted on sending along a young cowboy, whose name was Charley Rhodes, for our protection. He rode a horse of his own and carried his bedroll across the back of his saddle, and had a rifle strapped to the side of this saddle. I often wonder what Grandfather thought we might encounter. Was it a bunch of wild Indians or maybe it might be a drunken cowboy or two? Anyway, we got Charley Rhodes for an escort.

We would average anywhere from ten to fifteen miles a day, according to the weather and the terrain of the countryside. At night, we would find a wide place beside the road and camp in it. We did not have to worry about water, since, we carried a barrelful on each side of the wagon. There was always the chores to do night and morning. We had to feed and water the livestock and milk the cows and tend the chickens.

Harry and I walked most of the way to Farmington, either behind or ahead of the wagon and team. One day when we were running ahead of the wagon, Harry and I found a little, lost lamb who was very weak. We took it into the wagon and taught it to suck old Bess to get its milk. It soon learned to tag along behind us in the road, after it became strong enough to run.

Once Harry and I encounter a bear in a roadside cave. Another time, we ventured into what we thought was a haunted house until we discovered that it was bats in the attic, because they flew out of a window while we were there.

One night, we ate what Mother called a two legged, red rabbit. It was really a red chicken that Charley Rhodes had thrown a rock at and killed it.

We were in Bayfield, Colorado on the Fourth of July. It was full of people and the Main Street was crowded with them. I could not see around, between or over the people and I had to ask bow to find our wagon that was parked in front of the Free Methodist Church. It was the first time in my life that I had ever gotten lost, and it had to be in a town of only about five hundred people, at that. There was a rodeo getting ready to start and there were fireworks going off everywhere.

It was a hot day when we arrive in Farmington. Mr. Austin, a friend of Grandfather’s, was in town, waiting, to take us out to his farm. It had taken us about thirty two days to make the trip. Now a days, we can make the same trip in about fifteen hours at the most, in a good car.

On July 22, 1922, Mother married Mr. James H. Austin which came as a big surprise to me. I think that my father coming to Farmington was partly the cause of her marrying again so soon.

Mr. Austin went to Bayfield, Colorado in November where he rented the Mars Ranch which was twelve miles north of town.

 

 

To be continued…

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Curiosity got the better of me. I did a quick check into Charley Rhodes, Eleanor’s grandfather, George Barrett’s ranch hand. He was born 1903 in Oklahoma to James King Rhodes and Laura May. His family was in the 1920 Elizabethton, Colfax County, New Mexico US Federal Census. Charley is listed among four other siblings; Elmer Thomas, Let a Rosetta, Era Mural and Floyd James.

 

Catch up on Eleanor’s story: Chapter 2  Chapter 1

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 2

 

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My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 2: French, New Mexico

 

French, New Mexico [near Cimarron] was in the northeast part of the State. It is not on the maps anymore. The only buildings still there are the old livery stable and the store building. Everything else is gone as though it never existed. This in about 1978.

When we arrived in French, it was very cold and snow lay on the ground. Grandfather met us with a horse and buggy, hot bricks for our feet and plenty of blankets. We learned that Grandfather’s farm was several miles west of French on what was called the French Tract. When we arrived at the house, my Grandmother had the most enormous amount of food on the table and lots of fresh, cold milk for us to drink.

Mother soon started to get better. When spring came, Grandfather put her into the fields to plow and drive other farm machinery. It wasn’t long until she was well and had begun to gain a little weight.

I remember that the biggest events of the year were to me, hog killing time and Christmas. Thanksgiving came next in pure pleasure and fun. On the holidays, the table was always loaded with lots of good food, and Grandfather would tell us ghost stories and tales of his life as a young boy in England.

The next year, my Father came west and we moved onto the huge Taylor Ranch not far from Grandfather’s farm. Mr. Taylor had herds of cattle and be did a lot of farming. Father worked here for the next few years. Charles and I went to Andrews School. The first year we drove a horse and buggy, but the next year there was a bus to pick up the children and take them to school.

We lived in Springer during the winter of 1920 and 1921. Harry and I went to the grade school and Charles attended the Junior High School.

In the spring of 1921, Mother divorced Father and we moved back to Grandfather’s farm on the French Tract. There is a separate story about the French Tract and my life there.

To be continued…

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Catch up on Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen’s story: Chapter 1

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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The Death of a Kitten

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While reading a book of memories written by Agnes Ellen Gurney Pinkerton (my 2nd great grandmother) I came across a little poem written by her mother’s sister (Mary Williams Orcutt), Aunt Fanny (Francis Ellen Orcutt), as a child.

Fanny had a way with words; one always find her scribbling little sayings or poems.

Apparently, Fanny and her sister Mary (Agnes’s mother) had quite the little pet cemetery.

With each death of a pet or expired animal found, they went through great pomp and circumstance in an attempt at providing a “proper” burial.

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In the pet cemetery, there was an old roof shingle standing up on end marking the grave of a kitten who came to his demise early in life. Attached to the shingle was a piece of paper with a poem written in a child’s hand that acted as the eulogy to the deceased feline.

 

“Cassibianca, here he lies,
With stiffened legs and shut-up eyes.
Ma stepped on him and stopped his breath,
An that is the way he came to his death.”

 

After reading that little poem, I laughed so hard. It is horrible what happened to the little kitten. I could picture in my mind’s eye, two little girls in dressed in outfits typical to the era (abt 1850) standing over a fresh little grave, with serious expressions reading the poem out loud.

This find is a sweet little treasure!

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J. R. Lowe

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Jesse Edwin Bowen Birth Record

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Jesse Edwin Bowen was my great paternal grandfather. Born on 25 December 1903 in Decatur, Wise County, Texas, he was the son of William Booker Bowen and Ada Evaline Smith. Although my memories of Great-grandpa Bowen are few, I remember him to be a quiet and gentle man who loved walnuts. In my memory walnuts and him go together. Here is his birth record.

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe