Chapter 11 - The Cattle Drive
It was the first of September and the weather was beautiful. Mother was resting in her
rocking chair, she was saying that she was sorry that we hadn't been able to do any
canning this year. She wondered if there were any wild berries farther up the canyon, I
told Mother, With your being so sick and I had the care of the baby and so many things to
look after, I hardly had my head but of the door all summer." She told me to go and look
around and see if I could find anything that we could use to make some jam or jelly.
I took my little sisters, seven year old Edith and six year old May. the girls had a kettle with a handle and I had a water pail, we three started out to hunt for berries. We didn't find any close to home, so we went farther up the canyon. Now the canyon had narrowed, the rock walls seemed to rise from the floor of the canyon straight un to the sky, the floor of the canyon was strewn with boulders of many sizes, we were in deep shade, the sun didn't seem to reach this place. Then I heard the noise! Hooves! The rhythmic rumble of many hooves, racing towards us, what should I do? I was responsible for the safety of my little sisters. I looked around me, but there was no place of safety to run to, no place to get out of the way of the oncoming cattle. There was one rock a little larger than the others, I rushed the girls to this rock. "Sit down on the ground and put your back and heads against the rock, hurry!" I told them, I slouched down beside them throwing my arm across them.
"Now listen to me." I said, "We must sit still and be quiet. The cattle will run all around us, if we are quiet they will run past us and not hurt us." May was next to me, my arm across her pinning her down. My other hand was on Edith's shoulder, clutching her tight, holding her still. The noise was terrible as the thundering herd came upon us, cows were bawling and bellowing and snorting all around us even jumping over our heads. Behind the herd men were yelling and hollering and shooting their guns, causing this stampede of cattle around us, running in a mad frenzy.
I prayed, "Dear Lord, Please protect us. Just then one of the cows jumped right over our heads, her hind foot coming down right between May's legs, tearing a hole in the front of May's dress. Now both girls were screaming in terror. I was powerless to stop them. I pulled the girls over into my lap and held them close against me. they were two very frightened little girls. Most of the herd was now past us. Soon a man rode up on horseback. He jumped down and looked at us, then he demanded, What are you doing here?" I answered him, "Just trying to stay alive!" He said, "You don't belong here. I answered him., "Neither do you or your cattle." He asked, "Well, where did you come from?" I said, '"We have lived in the town of Wickes, for over three years. Our house is the first one you come to down the canyon." He exclaimed, "Town of Wickes? No one told me there was any town! How many people are their down the canyon?" he asked. "My Paw says there are thirty-two men that work at the smelter. Most of them are married and have families." I said.
Now four more riders appeared. The men offered to ride the little girls home on their horses, the girls were to frightened, they didn't want to go with the men, they clung to me and said, "No! No!" I was glad that they did not want to go, because I didn't know any of these men, and I didn't want them to touch any of us. Soon the men rode away after their herd of cows. We three girls walked home, when we got home, Mother was upset, she had seen the cows come racing by and she was worried about us.
We all started talking at once, trying to tell Mother what had happened. Mother threw up her hands "Maud, I am sick, help me get to bed, Paw will be home soon and you can tell him what happened." I helped Mother get to bed, she had a fever again, she said, "All of you wash your hands and faces, you are awfully dirty." When Paw got home he said May could tell him about the cows. Paw was holding May on his lap and Edith was standing beside him. I was holding the baby, feeding him his bottle.
This is the story that May told. "we walked a long ways, looking for berries up in the canyon. We heard a funny noise, Maud said it was cows running. She told us to run to that biggest rock and hide behind it, so that the cows wouldn't see us. We squeezed together and the cows came, running all around us, they were making the most horrible noises, some said moo-moo some said baa-baa, like sheep and some snorted like horses. They were running all around us, running past so very fast, some even jumping over our heads, there were so many, I thought it would never end. Then one cow jumped over the rock and her foot came down right between my legs, she tore a hole in the front of my dress and then that mean old cow slapped me right in the face with her dirty, stinking tail. It hurt and I yelled, then Maud tried to hold both of us on her lap, oh Paw, I was so scared. Then men came on horses. they said we could ride home on the horses but we didn't want to go with a strange man, I wanted to stay with Maud. They asked Maud a lot of questions then they rode away after their cows. Paw, I'm awfully glad to be home with you. I don't ever want to be that scared again. Paw hugged both of his little daughters to him and I saw a big tear on his cheek.
My sister Sade said she had some soup ready to eat. Paw told her to feed the little ones, as he did not have time to eat now. Pa asked me to go with him, back up the canyon to that rock, I was tired and didn't want to go, but I could see that it was important to Paw, so I said yes. Bert spoke up and wanted to go with us, Paw told him he could come and to bring a lantern, it may be dark before we got back. So we started out, there were hoof prints and broken bushes everywhere. The creek was all muddy because so many of the cows had been in the stream. As we walked along, Paw asked me if I knew any of the men. I told him, "No, I don't think I ever saw any of them before." We found my water pail, it was bent nearly flat, It had been stepped on many times. Then I pointed out the rock and near it was the dented, bent up kettle. Paw then picked up the kettle and the water pail, he said that he wanted to take them back home. Paw stood looking at the rock. He said that the rock wasn't much shelter for three little girls, I said, "Paw., I prayed that the Good Lord would protect us, I am sure that he sent His Angels, to keep those cows from trampling us." Paw put the pail and kettle down and said, "Let us say thank-you." We held each others hands and bowed our heads, then Paw prayed and thanked the Lord that his three daughters were safe. We picked up the pail and kettle, and started home.
When we got home, Uncle Tom was there. He told Paw that the men were upset over the destruction, caused by the cattle when they ran through town. The cattle ran over a pile of new lumber, scattering the lumber and breaking many of the boards. They knocked down two sheds and scattered eight piles of logs. Women and children had to run for their lives, it was a miracle no one was hurt. Paw asked Uncle Tom, "Do you know where the cattlemen are staying?" Uncle Tom answered, "Yes, they had rented the rooms over the Saloon." Uncle Tom was angry, but Paw was furious. Paw took May's little dress with the hole in the front of it, the smashed water pail and kettle, the two men left.
It was Uncle Tom who told us what had happened that night. "I knocked on the door, someone called, "Come in." Your Paw and I went inside, there were three men sitting in chairs, two older men and one younger man. As one of the older men asked us to sit down, your Paw said, III would rather stand. I would like to talk to the man who was in charge of today's cattle drive, or one of the owners of the Company." One of the older men spoke up and said that he was one of the partners. Your Paw asked him if he knew just what had happened today. The man said, III have heard some stories, but I would like to hear what you have to say." I stood back and listened, your Paw did the talking."
"Mr., you have three holding pens, full of cattle out there along the railroad tracks. I would like to know why your cowhands felt it was necessary to shoot off their guns, yell at the top of their lungs and frighten the herd, into a wild stampede, running them down the canyon at top speed. My three little girls were in the canyon looking for wild berries, they heard the cattle coming and crouched down and cringed in fear by the largest rock that they saw, as you thundering herd descended on them. One of them was holding this water pail and another child was holding this kettle, both was kicked from their grasp by your cattle. When I got home from work tonight, my little six year old girl told me that your cows were every where, even jumping over their heads, one cow came down with her foot right between my daughters legs and tore this hole in the front of her dress, then that cow slapped her face with her dirty stinking tail. She was so frightened." Your Paw held up the dress so the men could see the hole, made by the cows hoof.
"Five of your men-on horseback stopped, they asked the girls if they were all right. My oldest daughter said that they weren't hurt but they were very frightened! While your men were talking, your cattle was thundering into town, many of them, splashing down the creek, riling the water, making it muddy. This creek is the only water supply for more than twenty families, when you make the creek muddy. you make everybody in town angry. This town is growing, there are more jobs coming up. Right now, they are building ten new log cabins, they are also building a new school house and a general store. This morning each man had his pile of logs, and a pile of lumber taken off the train, also a stack of shelving for the general store. That was this morning, tonight it is all havoc! Your frenzied cows came bellowing into town, they tried to jump over a pile of logs, the logs began to roll and the pile was scattered every which way, the cows hit a second pile and then a third, on they came, running, scattering logs in every direction, pile after pile of logs was set in motion, logs on the road, logs in the creek, logs crashing into houses."
"One lady had just hung out the family wash, the clothes were swaying on the clothesline, several cows charged the clothesline ripping the clothes to shreds. Another woman and her children had gone to the creek to get water, the creek was muddy. the water couldn't be used and a rolling log narrowly missed them, they ran for their house, your cows chasing them, they got into their house and put the .bar on the door, just as one of your cows rammed the door with such force that her horns penetrated the door and stuck there, the cow couldn't pull her head back, so she kicked at the door splitting it. The woman was so frightened she fainted and the children screamed in terror! Your men finally got your cows into the holding pen. The men came home from work, to shambles. The pile of shelving, now looks like kindling wood. Logs scattered everywhere and no man knew what was his, or his neighbors. Anything and everything that was outside, was smashed to pieces. Downstairs in the Saloon, there are about twenty very angry men, They want to get a hold of your cowhands who drove the cattle into town. They would like to tie them to the big tree and horse whip each one of them. I told them to hold off, until I could talk to you.
One of the older men spoke up, "Who are you,?and what authority do you have?" I answered him, "This man is my brother, his name is Simpson Frost, he is the millwright at the smelter. Most of the men in this small town work under his direction, they are used to taking orders from him. They listen to him and respect his judgement, authority, none, but power to control a mob, you bet!"
Now your Paw said, "Next time you intend to bring cattle to the railroad, I want you to send a man down to tell us, the day before. Give the towns people a chance to get their water and to pick up anything that is outside. Let us all know, your cattle are coming, so that the women and children can stay in the houses behind locked doors. I want your solemn word that the next time you ship cattle that you will instruct your men, to leave their guns at the ranch. They don't need guns to drive cattle and they certainly don't need guns in this town. Instruct the men to walk the cattle down the canyon., when they get to the turn in the creek, let the cows stop and get a good drink. Then with men on both sides, herd them down the middle of the road, in an orderly manner to the holding pens. No running of cattle, no trampling of yards, no- terrorizing women and children. Your cattle will be in bettor shape and the towns people will get over their resentment."
The younger man jumped to his feet, "Just who do you 57 think you are?" he yelled. "You can't tell me not to wear my gun! You can't tell me how to run my business. This is a free country! You can't tell me how I..have to act, in this town or any other town, or place. I don It like your tone of voice! You seem to be threatening, as if you could do something about it, if we don't do just as you say!" Your Paw turned to him and said, "I can do something about it, it you don't bring your next cattle herd down my way, I will do something and I can promise you that your Boss won't like it!" The young fellow made a face and said, "Big talk, big talk, just what do you think you can do?" Your Paw said, "If you will give me a chance, I'll tell you. Three and a half years ago, when I took my job at the smelter, I purchased twenty-five acres of ground. I built my home and I planted my large garden, on my land. Later I fenced my garden, I was glad today that my garden was fenced. Now I want you to know that the road and the creek go right through the middle of my land. If you don't conduct your cattle drives, exactly as I tell you, I will fence off the canyon and put up a NO TRESPASSING sign. Then you can find another way to get your cattle to the railroad. Now if that is what you want, so be it" Your Paw turned and started for the door. Both of the older men jumped to their feet, one said to the young man, "You darn fool --- shut up!" The other man said, "Mr. Frost, don't go. Please hear what I have to say." Your Paw turned back to the man who was speaking, the man said, "Please, sit down." Your Paw and I both sat down.
After we sat down, the man who had asked us to sit down introduced himself, "I am A. J. Barker, first I want to tell you how sorry I am that this thing happened. I am like you, I marvel that your little girls were not hurt. I am one of the owners of the ranch and have just recently arrived to take over the management of the ranch. I am shocked to learn that these young whipper-snappers deliberately stampeded the cattle into this little town. I want to pay for the damages. Next, I want to fire this arrogant young fool and I won't even be sorry if the men downstairs catch him and give him a good whipping. Mr Frost, could I ask you to help me? Would you please, go to the house where the door was split and measure the door, make out an order for the right size door, on a Marshall Field's order blank. Tell the lady who's wash was ruined to make out an order for new clothes to replace what was ruined. If you will bring me the orders, I will send them in and pay for them, also tell the store clerk that I will pay for the broken shelving and other lumber. Just get me the bills please. Mr Frost, is there any thing else that I can do, to ease the ill feelings caused by today's tragedy."
Your Paw said, "Mr Barker, Sunday morning we will have a big job getting those logs gathered up and piled back in eight piles. We want to get ten log cabins built before cold weather. If you would send some men down to help, it would do two things. First it would be a big help to the men and second it would go a long way toward creating better feelings between your cattle ranch and our little town." Mr Barker said, "That's a splendid idea. Now Mr Frost, what can I do for you?" Your Paw said, "Mr Barker., I have seven children, ages three months up to eleven years old. We have been here, three and a half years and in all that time, we have had no milk, I need a milk cow. If you could put me in touch with a man I could buy a milk cow from, I would be much obliged."
Your Paw and Mr. Barker shook hands and we said good night and left, your Paw spoke to the men, waiting in the Saloon. He told them that Mr Barker was going to pay for all damages done and some of his ranch hands would come on Sunday to help gather up the logs that had been scattered around, that right now they should all go home and get some rest and comfort their wives and families.
I think it was three days later that a man rode up to our door, leading a cow and a calf. The cow had a ribbon tied around her neck with a note tied to it. The note read, THIS IS A PRESENT TO THREE VERY BRAVE LITTLE GIRLS. That is how we got our cow and once again we had butter for our bread
Chapter 12 - A Christmas to Remember
One bright warm fall morning, the supply wagon came to our house, with another delivery
from Marshall Fields. Mother was very surprised because she had not ordered any thing. I
told Mother, Paw ordered when you were so very sick. He said our bedding was in terrible
shape. We all needed new sheets, so he ordered a whole bolt of sheeting. He didn't want you
to make quilts, when you weren't feeling good, so he ordered eight new blankets and six
new feather pillows, he got some white outing flannel and some white and blue striped
flannel, also some diaper flannel. There were three balls of lace and a bundle of remnant.
There were other boxes but I told Mother, Paw didn't want us to open his things now.
Mother said she wanted a slice of bread and butter. Sade said, "I will fix it." All the other
children wanted some too, so they followed Sade. I told Mother, "The other boxes are
Christmas fixings, I'll have to hide them away."
Now Mother was crying again, she said, "All these nice things to sew and a new sewing machine and I can't treadle the machine with my bad leg." I assured her that I could do the sewing. After much discussion. Mother said, "We will start with the diapers." She tore them the right size and I started to hem them. I did much better than she expected and soon we had two dozen new diapers for John Roy. In three weeks, I had hemmed ten sheets and made twelve new pillow cases. Mother said she wasn't expecting any company, but it sure was nice to have our bedding in better shape. We took one of the older sheets and tore it up, to roll into bandage material.
Mother wrote to her Father telling him how all the people in town came to her in times of sickness or accident. She sent a list of supplies that she needed. In about two weeks she received a long letter from her Father and a box of new bottles of medicine for her black bag.
Now we were working on nightgowns, Mother was cutting them out of blue and white flannel and I was doing the sewing. I made some mistakes on the first one, I had to rip a lot of it out and do it over. The second one came out real nice, as each gown was finished, Mother folded them up and put them away.
At this time the three girls and Bert were working on a Christmas present for Mother, up in the loft. They would take Clyde up in the loft with them, Edith would let him play with her rag doll. Nearly every afternoon, Clyde would go to sleep on one of the straw tick beds, holding the rag doll. While the girls worked in the loft, Mother and I sewed on Christmas things. Mother wanted Christmas this year to be special, it was our fourth year in Wickes, but the first year that we could send for the things that we wanted. Mother sent an order for some surprise things for Paw and Bert. Paw ordered a box of yarn, so Mother was very busy crocheting and knitting, she knitted stockings, caps, mittens and sweaters. I was busy sewing pretty aprons for my sisters. There was a lot of giggling and whispering and secret telling going on, Mother seemed to enjoy it all. She said, "It's so nice to have every body busy and happy."
Now that we had milk, Sade and I were trying out many new food dishes, we made pies for Thanksgiving, custard and pumpkin. We were real happy with our pies., Sade took two pies to Aunt Molly for her Thanksgiving dinner.
Uncle Tom, Paw and Bert were working on the winter wood supply, they were a little late this year. We had already had two deep snows there would have to be extra wood this year because we would need wood for the cook stove as well as the fireplace. Paw and Bert made a shed for the cow and calf and they stacked a lot of wood in one end of the shed, along with bales of hay and sacks of grain. Paw said, "We are getting ready for a bad winter."
Now it was three days before Christmas and snowing hard, Bert was filling all the pails with water. We children were trying to trim our Christmas tree, we had some red paper and we were making chains from the paper. We had popped a large pan of popcorn and we were using a needle to string the corn on long strings of thread. Of course, about half of the corn was eaten and we had to pop more popcorn. Paw was late coming home, when he came in, he was very wet, cold and angry, someone had stolen his snowshoes out of his locker at the Works. He said, "There hasn't been any stealing,, until now. Everyone seemed to be honest." Bert had milked the cow and fed her and the calf, before dark. Paw spent the evening making himself another pair of snowshoes.
The day before Christmas, it was still snowing. The boss at the smelter told Paw, "Close everything down and let the men go home at two o'clock." The storm was getting worse and the wind was becoming stronger, so Paw got home early. Paw had gotten some bright shiny, glass ornaments, balls of many colors, little lanterns and birds, when he put all these things on the tree, it was just beautiful. Now everybody was bringing their gifts and Paw was putting all of the packages around our very beautiful tree.
We heard a horse and buggy go by on the road. Paw ran to the door to see who it was. The buggy was already past, so Paw couldn't see who it was. Paw said, "They will never make it, the canyon is full of drifts." Paw put on his coat and snowshoes and took our sled and started out after the buggy, in just a little while he was back with Mr. Barker. Mr. Barker had a box, he said, "Just put the box by the tree." This was the first time that Mr. Barker had met any of Pawls family. He was very pleasant and polite, but also very worried, Mr. Barker told us that he drove into town early in the morning, to meet the train. His sister, Florence, was supposed to come to the ranch to spend Christmas with him, the train was late, so he went to the saloon to get out of the cold and snow. After about four hours, they heard the train, it only stopped for two or three minutes, he hurried up to the tracks, but the only thing he could see was a pile of freight. No one had seen a woman get off of the train, he asked everyone he saw out in the cold, no one had seen her. The supply wagon came and loaded all the freight on the wagon. The driver said that he would ask about the lady, every place that he stopped to deliver a box or package, that Mr Barker was to wait at the saloon and he would come by and tell him if there was any news. The driver said it wouldn't be long because all of the packages were for folks who lived nearby. After the driver came back and told him that no one had seen his sister, he had asked if there was any mail and there was no letter, he had started home alone.
Now the wind was blowing stronger, blowing snow into deep drifts. As the two men talked, there was a knock at the door, when Paw opened the door, there stood an Indian with a woman in his arms, the woman had blood all over one foot and she held a baby in her arms. The baby was about to die with the croup. The minute our family saw all this, we went to work. Bert ran to get his straw tick, he spread it out in front of the fireplace. The Indian woman was laid ,down on the mat, I took the Indian baby, Paw brought a foot stool and Mother's black bag. Bert got a wash basin of warm water. Mother sat on the foot stool and washed away the blood from the woman's foot, she found a deep gash just above the ankle. Mother carefully bandaged the cut, she then told Sade to bring her the new pair of slippers, Mother had just finished knitting these slippers, she carefully slipped them on the Indian girl's feet. I had undressed the baby and had bathed him in warm water, I had rubbed his chest with olive oil and put warm clothes on him, then our baby started to cry. Mother got up from the foot stool and sat in her rocking chair, I gave her the Indian-baby, she gave the baby something from her black bag. Very soon after that she had him breathing properly again, I fixed two bottles of warm formula for the two babies. Mother held the Indian baby and fed him his bottle and I fed baby John.
Mr Barker was telling Paw, that these Indians had been in the saloon when he was there, they had some very nice Indian jewelry they were trying to sell. The men in the saloon were rude and tried to get the jewelry away from the Indians without paying for it. Mr. Barker asked Paw., "How did the Indian get his wife up here?" Paw answered, "He carried her from the saloon to here, he had on snowshoes so he didn't sink down in the drifts."
Baby John was now asleep so I put him down in his cradle. I took an outing flannel blanket and wrapped the Indian baby in it, now soft, dry warm and well fed, I laid the baby gently beside his Mother. Paw took the Indian by the hand and led him over to where Mr. Barker was sitting, Paw said, "My friend, Big Chief, meet my friend, Mr. Barker." The Indian said, "Him heap good friend, my friend, too." He then pointed to Paw and said, "Him heap good people, my friend, proud friend, Lady make papoose well long time, now Lady help little one." Mr Barker looked a little puzzled, but he said,"Good friend, help friend." This seemed to please the Indian, he went over and sat down on the foot stool by the fire.
Sade said, "I think we all should have something to eat, she started dishing up bowls of piping hot soup. I tried to help the Indian woman sit up, so she could eat. I pulled her dress to one side and a knife fell out of the fold in her skirt. Paw asked them if it was their knife? They both said no. The knife had blood on it, we all knew it was the knife that had cut her leg.
Sade had a big squash baking in the oven, she took it out and put a little honey on each piece and served it very hot, it was real good. We were still eating when there was a knock on the door. When Paw opened the door, a man came in carrying a ten year old boy, with a broken arm. The man put the boy down on his feet, the boy walked over toward the fireplace, he said, "Kick this dirty squaw out of my way, I want to get warm." My Mother grabbed his good arm, jerking him back and whirled him around, looking right at him, she said, "If you were my boy, I would spank you so hard you wouldn't sit down for a week. Such terrible manners, coming in someone's house and insulting their guests. It is just as warm here by the stove as it is by the fireplace."