Chapter 4 - The Trip to Montana
It was nearly spring, I was eight years old, my Mother was expecting another baby. It was a
bright sunshiny day when the letter came from Uncle Tom. Ile said that he had a good job and
that he could get Paw a real good job, if Paw would come to Wickes, Montana. The letter went
on to say that they were building a new smelter at Wickes, they needed a millwright. Paw could
get the job of millwright at the smelter if he could get there by a certain date. My folks talked
about the letter all night. They finally decided that Paw should go. He would go and take the job
and work about three months and send his money home, so that we could go out when we saved
The new baby was born on the 30th of March 1878. it was a boy, Mother was so happy to have a boy after three girls, She named him Clyde Simpson Frost.
Now everything was hustle and hurry, Mother wanted to make three dresses for each of us girls. I had. to take care of the baby a lot while Mother sewed. I always had to watch the younger children, to see they didn't get into things or get hurt. It was July before we got the sewing done and some new quilts made, and jars of apple-butter made. We were looking for another letter from Paw. The letter came with money and instructions. We were to get off of the train on a certain day, to meet the supply wagon, somewhere in Utah.
At last, we were on the train, everyone was so excited. At first, it was great fun looking out the window seeing houses and trees and herds of cows all go by so fast. We had a big lunch packed and it was like a picnics eating chicken and sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs. By the third day
the lunch things we had brought from home were about gone. The baby was fussing and the little
girls, four year old Edith and three year old May, were tired of the train. The car we were in had
long benches on both sides of the car and a wide aisle in the middle At night the train-man put
down straw. We children slept on the straw between the benches. We were out of bread, so when
the train stopped for the people to go into the eating house for their meal$ my Mother gave me
some money and told me to go and buy bread. We couldn't go into the eating house because
Mother didn't have enough money for that. She was very worried that she would run out of
money before we got to the place where Paw was. I jumped off the train and bought the bread.
Back on the train, we all ate bread and apple-butter. I don't remember how many days we were on
the train, but we were awful tired of bread and apple-butter.
One morning when the train stopped, a fine looking gentleman came on board and spoke to my Mother. He was a big tall man wearing a stove pipe hat, he had a gray vest under his dark coat and a gold chain that went from one vest pocket, across his middle to another pocket, right in the center of the chain hung a gold toothpick. He had fancy black shiny shoes, I thought 'wouldn't Paw look grand dressed like that'. The man said to Mother, "Madam, breakfast for you and your children, is waiting for you. It is all paid for, and I want you to hurry and get the children into the eating house". Mother started to protest and say that she couldn't accept anything. The man said, "Don't be foolish. Jump up and feed these children." He turned to me and said, "Here girl, get these little ones off the train, and hurry or you won't have time to eat." I jumped off the train and the train man lifted Edith down and then May. I took each of the girls by the hand, and went into the eating house. A lady wearing a white cap on her head, helped me get the girls into their chairs. I cut up their food so they could eat faster. We had bacon and eggs and a stack of pancakes with real maple syrup. By the time I had the girls fixed up Mother, Bert and Sade were in the seats across the table from us. My that was a good breakfast. The bell rang for us to get back on the train, before we could finish there was a plate of hot pancakes in the center of the table, and the nice lady who had helped me, took one of the nice white cloth napkins and wrapped the pancakes in it and handed it to me, so that we could eat the pancakes on the train.
In the night Mother woke up Bert, Sade and myself. She wanted us to look out the window at the Great Salt Lake. "We might never see it again." she said "and I want you all to take a good long look." I stayed awake a, long time watching out the window. The moon was full and shining on the lake. It made all the little waves lapping at the bank look all silvery. Those pretty silver waves stretched out as far as I could see. It was beautiful in the moonlight.
The next morning we got off of the train. We were someplace in northern Utah. The supply wagon was there, loaded with boxes and barrens, there was four-horses, ready to pull the big wagon, the boxes were full -of flour, sugar, lard, salt, noodles, most anything that could be shipped in barrens and boxes. These things were piled on top of each other and tied to the front of the wagon and to the high seat where the driver sits. When the driver had our three boxes and our suitcases and bags with one bed-roll loaded, there was about three feet in the end of the wagon for us five kids to ride. I held the baby while Mother opened the other bed-roll and spread the quilts in the bottom where we would sit. Mother sat on the high seat, with the driver, holding baby Clyde. We were off bumping along a rough dirt road. Bumpity, bumpity, bumpity all day long, the wind blew dust, from the horses hooves all over us and the July sun got very hot. We began to get sunburned ' so we had to get under one of the quilts. We pulled the quilt over our heads to protect us from the hot sun. Towards evening we came to a little town, the driver went into the store and got bread and milk. We camped out in the open, sleeping on the ground. We all had a cup of milk for supper along with our bread and apple-butter.
On the third day it was terribly hot and we were all so tired of riding in the wagon. We were so cramped that we couldn't stretch our feet out in front of us. Bert and I would hold the little girls, to make more room. About four o'clock in the afternoon we came to a large grove of trees, with a little creek of cold water running down the middle. The driver stopped and helped us out of the wagon. He unhitched the horses and led them to the creek to drink. He said that we had come ninety miles from the railroad and that we were doing fine. He let the horses graze and rest, he was going fishing, he asked Bert if he wanted to go along. As soon as the man and Bert were out of sight, Mother had us girls take our clothes off and have a bath in the creek, she washed our hair, it was so nice to be clean. We lay in the shade on a quilt, it was so good to be out of the wagon and able to move around. Mother bathed the baby and told Sade to watch him, Mother and I had work to do. She got a bag of dirty clothes from the wagon, she and I washed them in the creek and hung them on the bushes to dry.
Bert and the driver, came back with a big mess of fish. The driver said he would fix supper. He could see that we had been washing, I gathered up all the clean clothes and Mother folded theme Soon we gathered around the campfire for supper, fried fish and baked potatoes. Our plates were packed so we ate mostly holding the fish with our fingers. The driver rolled the potatoes in the grass to get the smoke and ashes off of them, then he would cut the end off and we would eat the middle of the spud with a spoon. It was so good to have something hot to eat. After that the driver got us some meat almost every night. He would stop the team and say to Mother, "Ill be back in ten minutes or so", then he would disappear, with his gun. We would hear a shot and a few minutes later he would be back with a rabbit. He always fixed supper and never asked Mother to cook anything that he had shot.
We finally arrived in Wickes, Montana. I think it was seven days after we started from the train station. We had traveled from Northern Utah all the way across Idaho and several miles into Montana.
When we arrived at our new home it looked like the whole town was there to meet us. Someone had said that the supply wagon was coming. All the men from the smelter had come with Paw to our place. Our things were-unloaded first. Then the men started asking the driver, "Did you get this for me? How much do I owe you? Can you bring it by my place?" Soon the wagon was nearly empty, each one taking the things he had ordered.
We were anxious to see our new home. Paw had found a cave with the entrance facing south. He got the land all around the cave. Then he built the house right against the mountain, covering the cave. Paw said that the house was eighteen by twenty-four feet. The north side was a wood wall with a door into the cave. The cave was for storage and to keep things cool. In the center of the east wall was a huge fireplace. Paw said that we would have to cook on the fireplace for awhile but that he would get us a stove as soon as possible. The door to the cave was about the center of the north wall and next to the door was a ladder that went up to the loft. Paw had put a floor over half of the big room, the east end of the loft was open so that the heat could come in from the fireplace. There were shelves on the north wall and two large straw ticks on the floor He had built a railing across the open end, so no one would fall off. We four girls were to sleep in the loft. Paw had found a bed that he put in one corner under the loft, and Bert slept on a smaller straw tick on the floor in front of the fireplace. Our first table was boards on three sawhorses. Paw promised Mother he would make her a nice table and chairs as soon as he could. As time passed Paw made Mother some very nice furniture.
We had hardly seen our new house when Paw said, "You must all get washed up and get your heads brushed. Your Aunt Mollie is expecting you to come to her place." When we got to--Aunt Mollie's there were several men and two women there. One man was playing a fiddle and the two ladies and Aunt Mollie were dancing, first with one man then with the others. They asked Mother to dance but she said that she had never danced. They asked if I could dance, Mother said no, I could tell that she was getting mad. Aunt Mollie had a great big bowl of popcorn and a punch bowl of cider, Mother tasted the cider, then said that someone had spiked the ciders that it was not fit to drink. The man who played the fiddle said, "Oh, that just makes it good. Couldn't drink it otherwise." Mother said, "I suppose, this is a welcoming party. I thank you all for wanting to get acquainted with me, but if you had been through what I have, the past three weeks, you would be too tired to enjoy it, so good night." She picked up her baby and started for the door.
Now we were home, in Montana.
Chapter 5 - Clyde And The Creek
It was late October and very warm for that time of the year. Paw was still working on the house,
all of our family were out in the yard. We had watched the lighting flashes in the sky and had
heard the thunder rumble but so far we had not had any rain. Now there was a rainbow in the
East above the mountain, we noticed that the creek was rising higher and higher. Paw told us all
to stay away from the creek, he didn't trust flash floods.
Baby Clyde was growing fast, he was a big baby and was crawling. Mother had put him down in the center of a quilt, while she was handing things to Paw. He was on a ladder working on the house eaves. All of a sudden I saw Clyde, he had crawled off of the quilt and was crawling straight for the creek bank. The water was way up on the bank and was dirty gray, full of branches and bushes and sticks of all kinds. I let out a cry and started after Clyde, however just as I got near him I tripped on a stick and fell flat on my belly, my arms were out in front of me and I grabbed Clyde. We were real near the creek bank, just then some of the bank began to crumble and cave in. Bert saw the section of creek bank fall into the water, he grabbed my feet, he had a hand around each of my ankles and he was pulling as hard as he could but he wasn't strong enough to pull me back. I was so scared, the water was so near my face I could feel the mud on my lips. Clyde was out over the water, I was holding him as tight as I could. My arms hurt and I was so afraid that I would drop him. Then I heard Paw, he said, "Hold tight to the baby, Maud. Hold tight to the baby!" Then a board was planked down beside me. I wondered what I was to do with a board. I couldn't climb onto it, I needed both hands to hold onto Clyde and I was on my belly so I couldn't move. Paw spoke again, "Hold tight to the baby, Maud, hold tight!" Then I felt his strong hands around my waist, and he was lifting me up. Mother was there and she took Clyde, who was screaming and wriggling. Paw told Bert to pull the board up and put it by the house. I said, "Oh Paw, I was so scared! I was scared I couldn't hold onto Clyde. I was afraid his face would get in the water. I was scared that I would slide down the bank into the creek. I was thinking that more of the bank would wash away. Paw what was I suppose to do with that board?"
Paw said, "Maud, you did just fine, it is over now and everything is going to be all right$ stop crying and stop shaking. About that board, it was for me. I was scared too, I was afraid if I stepped by you, my weight might make the bank to cave in more and all three of us, would have-gone under." So I put the board down to step on, to spread my weight over a larger area, and it worked! I was able to get you. Now I am very glad and thankful that we are all safe and everyone is all right". I said, "But Paw, I think I hurt the baby, I was squeezing him so tight. Maybe I broke some of his ribs." Paw said, "No. he is all right, he was scared just like you and I were scared. Now lets go wash the mud off of your face".
Chapter 6 - "Doctor"Maggie
The little town of Wickes, Montana soon learned about Mother. They said, that Mrs. Frost, she is
the best one we have for a doctor or nurse. She is real good. If any one gets hurt or is sick, get
Mrs. Frost. She says she is not a doctor, but we haven't got a doctor within forty miles. Mrs. Frost
is strict, she won't come to your house unless you promise not to drink or smoke while she is
One cold snowy winter night, there was a knock at the door, there was Uncle Tom and an Indian holding a very sick baby. Uncle Tom said, "Maggie, can you save this child?" Mother took the baby and told me to get her black bag quick. Now this black bag had belonged to her Father, Dr. Nichol. He had given it to her, when he had gotten a new one. The bag had little pockets and a lot of little bags with names on them and several small bottles with pills and things, also little scissors and tweezers and funny looking knives and bandages. one thing about this black bag was that it was never touched by any of us children. If any of us ever bothered or got into it, Mom would spank us something terrible. The only time we were ever to touch it was if she told us to get it and bring it to her.
Now this Indian had a very bad cold or maybe even pneumonia, he was so stuffed up he could hardly speak. Mother was working with the baby, the Indian wanted to taste everything Mother gave the baby. Mother handed me the baby and took a bottle of Oil of Eucalyptus, she got a teaspoon of sugar and carefully dropped four drops of the oil on the sugar. She stepped in front of the Indian and said, "Open." He opened his mouth and in went the spoon, the Indian began to cough and choke, and his eyes began to water. He ran out the door ' spitting phellem. In about five minutes he came back in, "Heap good," he said "Me much better." While he was outside Mother had given the baby a much smaller dose, and was now swabbing the phellem out of the baby's throat. She put a cold compress around the baby's neck, she soon had the baby breathing right again.
The Indian was very interested in our house, especially the fire place. Paw showed him how the two bent iron rods held a pan or skillet, when we were cooking, and how we hung the kettles on big hooks over the fire. When the Indian was ready to go, Mother didn't think the baby was wrapped warm enough, she took one of Clyde's little quilts and wrapped it around the baby. She told Uncle Tom to tell the Indian to bring back the quilt. The next day there was a knock on the door, there was the Indian, he handed Mother the little baby quilt and then he gave her a lovely Indian basket full of sago- lily bulbs. Mother asked him to come in, she was busy baking bread. We had a small oven that we hung from the hook over the fire, it would bake three loaves of bread at a time, Mother always baked six loaves. She took the first three out of the oven and put the other three loaves into the oven. She cut a slice of hot bread and spread apple-butter on it and gave it to the Indian. He said, "Heap much good." Mother thanked him for the basket with the sago-lily bulbs and gave him a loaf of hot bread. She asked him about the baby, he said, "Heap good, much better"' We sometimes would see Indians when they came into town, but we never had any trouble with any of them. I/,other was very glad to get the sago- lily bulbs, we cooked them and ate them like any vegetable. We were so short of things to eat. We were even running out of apple-butter, it was a bad winter. The snow was deep and the roads were blocked and everybody in town was short of food. As soon as the snow melted, we children hunted all over the canyon for Sago- lily bulbs.
However, I am getting ahead of my story. It was a cold winter night when a man knocked on our door, he said, he thought his six year old boy was dying. He wanted Mother to go with him and see if she could save the child. Mother went with the man, taking her black bag. It wasn't very long after Mother left, that a man came and told Paw there was trouble at the Works, they needed him right away. Paw told Bert and me to take care of things, that he would be back as soon as he could take care of the trouble at the smelter, it wasn't very often that we six children, were left alone. Bert put the bar on the door so the wind couldn't blow it open.
The wind was strong, blowing and howling around the house. I said to Bert, "the wind sounds terrible." Bert said, "Maud listen, it isn't the wind. Listen, there's something out there." Then we both heard the howling. It wasn't one howl, it was several. That howling was awful and it kept coming closer and closer. Wolves$ about ten of them, Sade said, "I'm so scared, what will vie do?" Bert told her to take Edith and May and go up to the loft. Wolves can't climb ladders, you will be safe up there. Sade said, "I want Maud to come with us." I said, "Why I can't go up now, I can't leave Clyde asleep on Mother's bed. I can't carry him up the ladder, and I don't want to leave Bert down here alone. You take the girls up and try to get them to sleep." The three girls climbed to the loft and Bert and I put another log on the fire. The wolves were all around us now, even bumping against the side of the house. Their howling was terrible to hear.
Bert said, "What will we do if they get inside?" I kept saying, "They won't get in, Bert. They won't get in." After awhile we heard a shot and one of the wolves yelped like it was hurt. Then the howling sounded like they were going away. Then there was a knock on the door, I called out, "Who is it?" "Maud, it's Uncle Tom, let me in." Bert took the bar down from the door., and opened the door. Uncle Tom said, "I'm going down to the Works, I want to take your Paw's gun to him!" I looked Uncle Tom right in the eye and said, "Oh no! No one touches Paw's gun. Paw has told me over and over, never let anyone - not anyone touch his gun when he is not here." Uncle Tom said, "But Maud, your Paw needs his gun tonight. What do you want me to do?" I said, "I want you to go down to the Works and get Paw, walk home with him and if the wolves come back, you shoot them with your gun. Then Paw will be home safe." "Maud, would you shoot a wolf with your Paw's gun?" Uncle Tom asked. I Answered, "Oh Uncle Tom, I won't have to worry about that. My Paw built this house strong. You know that, he built it good and strong. No wolf is going to get in here and no one is going to touch Paw's gun." Uncle Tom said, "All right little girl, I'll go get your Paw." After Uncle Tom left, Bert put the bar back on the door and then said, "Oh Maud, you will sure get one awful spanking when Paw gets home. Standing up to Uncle Tom that way. Paw won't like it." I told him, "I don't think Paw will spank me for obeying him, He told us not to let anyone touch his gun!"
After a short time Paw and Uncle Tom came back home. Paw was surprised that Mother wasn't home yet. After Uncle Tom went home, Paw asked me if we could stay alone a little longer. "Maybe Mother was afraid to come home, if she heard the wolves howling." He took his gun and went to get Mother. My Mother, afraid? That was a new thought for me, I didn't think my Mother could be afraid of anything. I thought about that for a long time