Monday, March 26, 2012

George Washington Payne and Lucy Ann (Sivils) Payne


Little is known about my maternal great grandfather, George Washington Payne. He was born in Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri on April 28, 1858 when James Buchanan was president. Two years later in 1860 Lincoln was elected president and the Civil War began in 1861, when George Washington Payne was two years old and ended when he was seven in the year 1865. His parents were John P. and Polly Barnet Payne. John was a farmer, horse trainer and blacksmith in Higginsville, Missouri for over 20 years. He ran sulkies (Sulkies are carts having 2 wheels, pulled by horses or dogs). George was one of 8 children and was a hard worker, but was said to be very high tempered. 

A farmer by trade, George married his first wife Mary Elizabeth Collins on March 30, 1879 in the home of her father, Thomas Collins in Saline County, Missouri. Their first son, John Thomas was born February 17, 1880, followed by his younger brother William Joseph, who was born on October 25, 1881. Both boys were born in Warrensburg, Missouri.  Mary died on September 18, 1882 at the age of 22. One can only imagine the cause of death for someone so young. The boys were one year and two years old. There was also an adopted daughter, Rosa May, who was 12 at the time of Mary’s death. I am not sure of the circumstances of the adoption as her birthplace was in New York. It is speculated that she was a child of a family member.

In 1884, two years later after Mary's death George married Lucy Ann Sivils, my great grandmother who was 27 years old. She was born in Valley City, Missouri on January 18, 1857. George and Lucy had four daughters, Anna Belle, (my grandmother), Nellie May, Mary Frances, and Polly Lee. After the family migrated to Oregon on April 1st, 1896, George  ran a ranch with his brother Frank, raising 1,600 head of sheep. He homesteaded on a 160 acre wheat ranch with his family, building a house with 2 rooms on the property. George and Lucy's daughter Nellie said, "We had to haul water in barrels for the families use from the river." They later bought John V. O'Leary's property in Sherman County and built a house on that place. 

George and Lucy both died in Grass Valley, Oregon. George lived a very hard life and died at the age of 46, leaving his wife to care for the children. A death notice in the Sherman County Observer explains the circumstances, "The death of G.W. Payne was not unexpected. He has long been a sufferer. His brother Frank and others of the family and friends, did all that was possible to restore his health."  He was even sent to the State Hospital several times the last year of his life due to memory loss and being unable to attend to his business. 

Lucy was a widow for 13 years and died in July of 1917, after battling cancer for years. Her daughter Mary said that Lucy was asked by her doctor to stop working, due to the aggressive nature of the cancer, but Lucy refused, saying that working on the ranch was her livelihood. In her Will, she left all the proceeds of the wheat ranch to the care of their daughter Polly. Both George and Lucy and buried together in the Grass Valley I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Sherman County, Oregon.

Nellie May, George Washington Payne, Mary Frances Polly Lee, Anna Belle, and Lucy Ann(Sivils) Payne:

The Payne Sisters, left to right
Polly Lee, Mary Frances, Anna Belle, Nellie May

information complied and written by Sharon Ostrow and Dallin Millard

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Treasure Box

By Bob West
May 18, 2000

All the activity in downtown Palouse these days – the demolition of three buildings, the improvement of the railroad crossings and the upcoming Main Street project – is bound to trigger some memories for some of us old-timers .I recently visited with Dwight (Swede) Parrish, and he told me that when the Texaco gas station was built, a tunnel was dug under the street at the intersection between the former Williamson building and the station building site, to accommodate water and sewer lines to the new business. Swede was working on the crew that dug this tunnel, and about halfway across the street they encountered a wooden structure that had to be removed before the job could be completed. This was no doubt the large watering trough that had been built when the city moved to this present location, from the South Hill, and became part of the fill when the street was raised to its present height.
I can remember a tall wooden fence, painted yellow, running the entire length of the alley, along the railroad tracks, which are still behind the buildings, of the Powers block. Four-by-four poles had been set, holes drilled near the top and chains draped between the posts. This was the hitching post for the city. In this time period (the early 30s); many farmers used horses and wagons to haul their seed, feed and other supplies to and from town. In the winter, wheels of the wagons were replaced with sled runners for travel over snow and ice. The fence had been built to protect the horses from the sight of a large steam engine bearing down on them on the nearly railroad tracks.
When I was in the second grade an older boy told me and a friend that if we floated hairs from a horse’s tail in the water of a horse trough, the hairs would turn into snakes. We then pulled several hairs from the tail of a horse tied there (with some objections from the horse) and trudged up the steep hill and to the far end of Mill Row, to the only watering trough we knew of. We checked every day for several days. No snakes. Perhaps it was the wrong kind of horse.
When I was a kid the finding and selling of pop and beer bottles was a good source of my income. All but two of the buildings in the Powers block had apartments on the second floor, and also the Congress Hotel had several apartments to rent. The druggist in Mecklem’s Pharmacy learned that I was hunting bottles and agreed to save bottles for me and also talked most of the tenants in the apartments into saving me theirs. This was by far the most moneymaking area of all my routes. This same pharmacist had nicknamed me “The Colonel” as at that age I couldn’t pronounce my “R’s” and they came out “ows”. That title remained with me for several years.
I have always liked to read, and this same alley supplied me with a small portion of my reading material. The Oasis, then owned by Marion and Jenny Sligar, did a large magazine business from a rack in front of the building. When a new shipment arrived, the old magazines were replaced and the covers torn off. The coverless ones were taken to the back alley to be burned. Everyone knows how difficult it is to completely burn a magazine, and many times I could recover some of these publications that were singed but readable. Of course they had that burned paper smell. One day I found the magazine of all magazines, in mint condition with no burned or singed pages. It was the summer edition of “Sunshine and Health”, a nudist periodical. Page after page of people of all ages doing various outdoor activities in the nude. I knew I would be in deep trouble if my parents found this in my possession, but I had a perfect hiding spot. At this time there was a large wooden building north of our house. It was built as a barn but had been remodeled for a garage and woodshed. Dad had let me build a “clubhouse” in the rafters in one corner of the building. While putting down the floor of my corner, I built a secret compartment. On one of my many trips to the city’s dump ground, in search of possible treasures, I found a metal safety box. The lock had been broken, but a band cut from a rubber inner tube kept the lid closed. I added this precious magazine to my other treasures, and hid the box in the secret compartment.
For a few weeks that summer I was the most popular kid in town. I made many trips to the “clubhouse” to dig out the magazine to show the boys (and a few girls). If I had been smart I would have charged 5 cents a showing, making a small fortune. After a few weeks though, interest waned and the magazine was almost forgotten, although I did take a peek once in awhile. (This was no doubt a very moderate magazine compared to today’s standards).
        By the time I was in high school I had forgotten about the clubhouse and the treasure box. In 1950 Dad told me he had hired a man to tear down the building. That night I woke up and began reminiscing about this old structure. Like a bolt of lightning the thought of the metal box appeared. Was it still there? At my lunch break the next day I climbed the ladder to the hiding place, uncovered the secret compartment, reached in and removed the almost forgotten box. Opening it I found the magazine was in the same shape it was when I put it there many years before, but the pictures had lost their glamour and appeal. There were other items, other forbidden pictures, Indianhead pennies, half a package of Camel cigarettes, a plug of Star chewing tobacco and other items. On the bottom was a note from a girl reading, “Hi handsome. I want to meet you at the tree house after school this afternoon. We can hug and kiss, and maybe I have a surprise. Don’t be late. Carla” (Name has been changed because I can’t remember what it was).
The note was from a girl that had been living in town for a short time, was very attractive and was in my class. All the boys in the freshman class and 8th grade had tried to make points with her, and now she was asking me to meet her. The best part was the fact that the tree house was in an empty lot about a block away from my house. As important as this was to me, I knew if I didn’t change my clothes after school I would be in trouble with my mother, so I lost precious time while I changed. I ran out the back door, across the street, up the alley only to see her climbing the ladder to the tree house with someone else! I couldn’t believe it. I was crushed, and quickly left the area broken-hearted. Over the next few weeks many of my classmates bragged about being asked to the tree house. I was never asked again. No doubt for the best.
About the only thing left of this tale are my memories. The hitching post, the building and the wooden fence were torn down many years ago. Three of the buildings have been demolished. The cafĂ© is no longer in business and the hotel building is falling down. The lot where the tree house was located sold many years ago, the tree cut down and a house erected. It is now the home of Loren and Mary Estes. Sometimes when I pass this house I can’t help but ask myself, “I wonder what Carla meant when she said, ‘And maybe a surprise?’”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

West history part 3
Article #76
June 22, 1973
By JB West

                When Grandfather McConnell began making preparations to migrate with his family to Oregon, he profited by the experience gained by the emigrants of the previous 25 years. The routes were well defined, but the roads or trails were still very primitive.  The earlier emigrants usually loaded their wagons too heavy.  The result was that the wagons would break down, or the teams could not pull them.  Part of the carefully plannned cargo would have to be unloaded.  Farm equipment, household wares, treasured articles of furniture, and lastly, provisions would have to be left behind.
                If they were lucky, some of it could be sold to those who had turned back and were returning to their former homes.  Otherwise it was left alongside the trail for anyone who cared to pick it up.  Some made a small fortune by picking up discarded goods and hauling it back to civilization where it was sold.
                It was established that 2,500 pounds of cargo was about the limit for the average team and wagon.  Horses and mules were both used as draft animals.  The mules were fast and tough and did not require much grain, but they did not do well in sand or mud.  Their hooves were small and they would mire down and would have to be unhooked.  Sometimes the wagon would have to be partially unloaded before it could be moved to firm ground. In some respects, horses were preferred to mules but both mules and horses were hard to herd.  When turned out to grass, after eating their fill, they both tended to roam.  Horses were known to take off for their old home, and had to be chased for miles before being turned back to camp.
                Experience proved that oxen were the most practical draft animals.  They moved along at about two miles per hour and covered 12 to 15 miles per day, about half the speed of mules and horses, but with their huge cleft hooves they could walk through mud and sand without difficulty.  They thrived on nothing but grass.  When turned out to graze they could be kept together and would lie down when they had their fill.
                All of the stock had to be shod.  Horses and mules submitted to being shot, but not so the oxen.  The blacksmith, in order to shoe an ox, had to use a canvas sling built for the purpose.  The canvas would be placed under the ox’s belly; he would then be raised off his feet.  Each leg had to be tied fast while his shoes were being nailed on.  Because of his cleft hooves, two shoes were required for each foot, one for each half.
                The driver walked alongside the oxen with his bullwhip.  It had a stock several feet long with a braided lash of four or five feet.  The driver became clever at snapping the lash to sting any oxen that lagged and was not pulling his share of the burden.  The train would halt for two hours at noon to eat and rest.  The oxen would be unhooked and allowed to graze.
                The train moved on, week after week, month after month though good weather and bad.  When not soaking wet and plowing through mud, the train had to endure clouds of dust.  At times swarms of mosquitoes and flies made life miserable for both humans and beasts.
                It was one long picnic for the children. In good weather they romped and played games alongside the slow moving train.  In bad weather or when tired, they rode in the covered wagon.  The older ones spent their days on horseback, scouting the trail ahead and the countryside, always looking for signs of Indians.
                In the long evenings, banjos and violins were brought out and there was music for singing and dancing by the campfires or in the moonlight. Boys courted girls.  Crocket, the son of Captain Kirk, fell in love with 15 year old Aunt Molly.  They were married two years after arriving in Oregon.
                After crossing the plains, some of the emigrants left the train to follow trails in different directions.  Grandfather continued on toward Oregon.  There remained deserts, mountains and rivers to cross and they suffered incredible hardships.  The weather was hot and dry, except for an occasional violent thunderstorm.  Tempers grew short as food ran low and equipment needed constant repair.  The oxen, with insufficient water and grass, grew worn and weary, and needed continual goading to keep them moving.
                At last, the end of the Oregon Trail was reached at The Dalles.  The family had come through without any casualties or serious accidents.  Here, Grandfather sold the oxen and purchased horses.  He took passage to Portland on a river steamer for his family, the wagons, and the horses.  They stayed all night in Portland and the next morning the horses were hooked to the wagons and they began the trip to Corvallis.
                Now, driving down good wagon roads instead of trails and twice the speed the oxen had traveled, along farms where crops were being harvested, past orchards full of ripe fruit, the McConnells felt they had arrived in Paradise.
                When they camped at night farmers cam bearing bread, eggs, milk, butter, newly dug potatoes and other vegetables and fresh fruit, things the travelers had not eating for months.  No one would accept any pay.
                When they arrived at the home of my grandmother’s family, the Hurlberts, the reunion was both joyous and sad.  Ellen, Grandmother’s youngest sister, now a young……………………………….lad she had never seen. Three years had passed without any communication. During that time, her sister Emily and her mother had died. Her father had remarried. But there was no time for grieving. Grandfather rented a farm nearby. They lived there through two winters, then he purchased a permanent home.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

West History continued

Article #75
June 15, 1973
By J.B. West

            The first month was a stormy one and the new travelers suffered in the cold, damp weather, but they did not mind. They had been eager to make the start.  Spring was coming and they would be at their destination in time to be settled before winter.
            The distance traveled each day was governed by the need to make camp near water. At night the wagons would be driven into a circle for protection and to form a corral for the stock. The stock had to live off the land, so at day’s end it would be turned out to grass and herded by horseback rider for several hours, then be driven inside the circle for the night. Guards were posted outside as the Indians were not far away and were always a menace.
            A Mr. Kirk was elected as Captain, a title he bore the rest of his life. Rules were made and strictly enforced. Wagon trains of this size drew emigrants from far and wide. Among them were emigrants from Europe, who could not speak English. They could not understand the necessity to stay inside the circle and had to be ordered in for their own protection.
            During the first part of the journey, water was plentiful, and there was always wood for their campfires.  At their homes in Missouri, cooking was done at the fireplace. Their big cast iron kettle, with its heavy lid, was brought along.  It had four in c legs, and it would be set in the hot coals to head for cooking. When cooking bread or biscuits, soda or cream of tartar would be added to the flour. The loaves or biscuits would be dropped into the hot kettle, the heavy lid placed on top and the kettle buried in the hot coals.  The bread or biscuits would come out light and fluffy, and with hone was a real treat to anyone who had always eaten cornbread.
            After the wagon train entered the open prairie there was no wood for the campfires but there were plenty of buffalo chips so these were used. they made a good fire but left no coals so there was no way to bake bread. The flour had to go into hotcakes which probably was not so bad three times a day with honey, bacon, and stewed dried fruit.  They did go over big with the people who had never eaten them before.
            Grandmother made it a point to gather buffalo chips along the way to make sure there were plenty for the campfire when they stopped at night. She and the children would fill a basket and set it on the rear of the implement wagon.  This wagon was driven by a young English emigrant who had worked briefly for the McConnell’s in Missouri and had decided to go along as a driver.
            One day he discovered the basket on his wagon and for some reason it insulted his dignity and he kicked it off with the remark he was not going to haul manure. He probably changed his mind when Grandfather heard about it.
            The stock thrived in that buffalo country, but the water became a problem.  One day the wagon train drove far into the night and then had to make a dry camp. The next morning an early start was made hoping to reach water before the day became warm. The oxen, which were becoming thirsty, sensed that there was water ahead, and became unmanageable. AS they neared the stream they stampeded.
             No one was hurt but many of the wagons were damaged. It was a good stopping pace with water, wood and grass, so they stayed there nearly a week while repairs were made. Everyone had a god rest and the animals grew fat.
            The woman fretted and fumed at the delay. They were becoming tire of this kind of living and wanted to get on to Oregon.
            Some streams were easy to cross, but other presented problems. When a river was deep but not too wide for the oxen to swim and tow the wagons, logs would be bound to the wheels so they would float. Horseback riders swam their horses alongside to guide the oxen.  When they came to the Platte River, which was both wide and deep, there was a ferry in operation. A charge of $3.00 per wagon was made and an additional charge for the stock.  It took three days to ferry the whole train across.
            Grandfather and Perry, who was 12, boarded the ferry with the stock. Partway across the ferry capsized and dumped the stock and the men into the water.  Perry swam out but knowing his father could not swim, fear he had drowned. Walking along the shore he saw that his father was safe. He told Perry that he had come up between to o oxen yoked together and he came ashore with them. He though Perry could not swim and asked him no he had got across. Perry told him he had swim out. Then he had to confess that he had disobeyed his father’s orders to never go near the old millpond at home, but had gone anyway, and the mill hands had taught him to swim.

Crockett Kirk(son of Captain Kirk the wagon master) and his family:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Way West Part 1

West Family history part 1
My dad gave me some family history from his side of the family. These are taken from compilation of articles written my grandfather, John Burnace West that were published in Palouse’s hometown newspaper, the Boomerang.  I have revised them somewhat but for the most part they are in his words.

Article 74
By J.B. West
June 8, 1973

 My grandfather, William McConnell was born in Virginia on July 12, 1819, the youngest of four children. He did not remember his mother at all because she died when he was very small. He only had a faint remembrance of his father, his three older brothers, and an older sister. At the age of four he was adopted by another family and never heard from his own folks again. His foster parents raised him as one of their own, but could provide him with but one year of schooling. As was the custom in those days when he became 21 they gave him a wagon and a team of horses and set out to make his way. He went to Missouri and by the time he was 30 had acquired a farm and married Mariah Hurlbert.
After Mariah’s marriage her parents, with their six young children began their journey to Oregon. On the way, they had another daughter born on the banks of the Blue River. They named her Ellen Blue. The family settled near Corvallis.  Ellen died in her teens.
Meanwhile back in Missouri, the McConnells, William and Mariah, prospered until the Civil War began. Missouri was a slave state. Grandfather used slaves on the farm and in the house but he hired them and paid wages to their owners. Missouri did not secede from  the Union, but was a buffer state between the North and the South. Raiding parties from both sides often came through and helped themselves to anything they wanted. It was hard to tell the friends from the enemies so Grandfather spent many a night in hiding. The Civil War took its toll and the country became impoverished, the living conditions intolerable. By this time there were six children in the family, all under the age of 15. None of them went to school because there were no schools.
The exchange of letters between the two families was infrequent but Hurlberts wrote from Oregon describing the mild climate, the plentiful water, wood, and land that was available and cheap. There was a school for the children as well. Grandfather, at the age of 46 decided to pull up roots and to go west to Oregon. There was no market for the Missouri farm, but an adjoining neighbor agreed to rent it and then buy it as soon as possible, which he did several years later for about half its worth.
The preparations began for the journey west. Grandfather bought three wagons; one for the family, the second for farm equipment, and the third for food provisions for the trip which was to take more than six months. He cured quantities of bacon and prepared dried fruits and honey. He sold corn and purchased wheat flour and sold all his mules and all his horses except for two which he kept for riding. He purchased six oxen, a team of two for each of the wagons. He also bought a milk cow which provided milk for the long journey.
            These preparations took months, and then there was yet another delay because a wagon train had to be organized for safety. After the war the Indians had become hostile and would attack small wagon trains. A wagon train of 300 was considered a sufficient number to discourage an attack.
            Tragedy struck during the winter when a cholera epidemic swept the area. Six year old Johnny recovered fully but three year old Wallace died and was buried in the family orchard. Finally, in February, 1865, the trip west began.

John McConnell, son of William and Mariah:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Waiting at Home
My Teen Years During World War II
By Frances West

On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked America at Pearl Harbor. Four years later Japan committed “hari’ kari” (surrendered). I remember hearing of the attack at school over our loud speaker system.  There was no television or other forms of communication as we have now. I don’t think as 13 year old 8th graders we really grasped what this would mean in our lives, although we were shocked, and later when we began to hear of the deaths of the people we knew and some relatives the reality came to us.
            America was united in the cause and every activity became something to do with the war effort.  It was our main focus for the next four years. Uncle Sam called up all the 18 year olds to serve by way of the draft. They received a letter saying “Uncle Sam wants you”. Your friends and neighbors have chosen you, etc, etc. Many of the boys enlisted, though. So during my teen age years there were not many fellows around to go out with. But that was OK. I don’t recall anyone complaining about the so called sacrifices.  We were all busy collecting things to be recycled and used for the war effort. Things like aluminum gum wrappers, used cooking fat, and old newspapers. I never really knew what these things were used for, only that they were somehow needed by Uncle Sam.
            Some of the things that were rationed that I remember were gasoline, sugar, soap, tires, shoes, nylon hose, coffee, and other things I can’t recall now.  I don’t think anyone was really deprived of anything necessary. In fact we were allowed 2 pair of shoes per year, which was more than I would have anyway.  My dad had an old truck and so he was eligible for gasoline rations stamps, which was more than he needed.  Farmers were allowed gas for their farm machines and also the sons of farmers and lot of farmer themselves did not have to serve in the armed forces.  They were needed to run the farms.
            One of the things I remember being very scarce was anything made of rubber.  This resulted in some embarrassing moments for some ladies as their underwear, usually held up by elastic, was not dependent on buttons and button hole on the side.  There were quite a few stories of the ladies losing their panties when the button came undone, including Mom, who as very modest and indeed humiliated by this. But it also happened to the president’s wife herself, so that made it a little more tolerable.
            Our school activities were cut short of course, as the busses did not make many trips for school functions. But nobody seemed to mind.  There were very few “dateable” boys in school as most were in the armed services.  I wasn’t much on dating anyway. It would not have been allowed by my parents to go out with boys the way the girls do now, but it was all for the best. I went to school activities: ball games, band concerts, and girls athletic events (I loved sports, especially basketball) and I could walk t here as we lived quite close to the school and the athletic field. Anyway the school days flew by. We were kept very busy.
            One of the things we did was to write letters to the service men.  The teachers would get a list of addresses and we would write whether we knew them personally or not. I still have a letter written back to me from a fellow stationed in Japan.  Letters were so welcome by them.  The mail would come in bunches to them. Sometimes they would not get mail for long time and then get a lot at once.
            When the war finally ended with the surrender of Japan and German the men began to come home.  Not all of them, of course, as there were many casualties.   One of our friends received her son’s clothes in the mail before she was notified he had been killed.  It was very sad for lots of families.
With the return of our military men there was a great rush of weddings, including Bob’s and mine.  It seemed everyone wanted to settle in and make a home.  I was still a senior in high school when we began to date.  Our first date was arranged by Bob’s cousin, Don Batten, who was a classmate of mine.  We were a foursome and went to a basketball game.  After that, since Bob didn’t have his own car he would walk to see me in the evenings.  We went to movies in those days, as Palouse had a theatre, and we could walk there.  Sometimes he would borrow his Dad’s car and we would go to a dance.  Bob later was able to buy his own car (cars were still hard to get) He bought a Chevrolet convertible and we thought we were pretty “classy” riding around with the top down.
During the summer months in 1945-46 I went to work in a pea cannery in Walla Walla, Washington. I stayed with my married sister who lived there. There was a shortage of man power for workers so we were allowed to work there if we were 16.  We worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with ½ hour for lunch.  I took a bus from my sister’s house to the cannery about 6 a.m. I didn’t mind the work at all. Of course I was young and it was quite the adventure for me.
There was a German prisoner of war camp there in Walla Walla. They also worked in the cannery.  They would come to work in a bus accompanied by a guard.  The guard paid little attention to them because as he said, they didn’t want to leave. They had good accommodations, food, cigarettes, clothes and a nice barracks.  Why would they want to return to Germany and fight in the war?
Anyway, they were very good looking young fellows and seemed very pleasant too.  We were not allowed to speak with them (we couldn’t speak German anyway). I had a hard time thinking of them as the “enemy” As I am older now and look back I realize they were young boys away from their homes and families and were probably frightened, too.
I graduated from High School in 1946 and Bob and I were married September 21, 1947. They war was over and we were ready to settle down.  As horrific as the war was it did unite the American people. The emperor of Japan was quoted as saying “We awakened a sleeping giant.”
We had a chance to visit the war memorial in Hawaii and see where the Arizona was sunk on that December 7th attack.  The oil from the ship can still be seen rising to the surface of the ocean. This is a very sobering memorial, which is what is needed so that the world can’t forget and pray it never happens again.
Bob participated in the most famous (infamous?)Battle in history to date. He was a part of the invasion of the Normandy Beaches in France which resulted in the fall of Hitler’s Germany.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

By Frances West

         I was raised during the Great Depression and although my family was very poor I was a happy child. My first memories emerge from life on the farm which was about three miles from the town of Palouse. There was a magnificent barn on the property. People may not think of a barn as being something to remember, but this one was formerly a dairy barn and it was huge, almost scary, to me. In the evenings I would walk with my dad from the house to the barn, the kerosene lantern Dad carried casting spooky shadows as we walked along. The chicken house was close by the barn and sometimes I would carry an egg or two back to the house.  Once I broke the egg and carried it anyway, gooey and dripping in my hand.  My mom and the other adults laughed and teased me about this and I went to my bedroom and cried.  I had done my best. Children are very sensitive and I think adults forget that sometimes.
My baby sister Annabelle was born on this farm, helped into the world by a country doctor. My mother was very busy as farm wives were in those days and to give her a little freedom to do her many chores one of my favorite jobs was to hold and rock the baby and give her a bottle. I was very proud to be helping out.  Not only was this an exciting time but also this experience bonded me and my sister as she and I have remained close though the years.
We had a big collie dog that we called Old Red. I don’t know where the Old came from because he wasn’t old but he was my faithful friend. There was a great stand of evergreen trees around the house and I thought it was a forest.  I would take Old Red and we would have great adventures in those trees. Sometimes I would use him for a pillow and take a good nap.  Once my family thought I was lost because I didn’t answer when called. As it turned out I was having a good sleep. I got a few swats on my bottom for scaring everyone.  Old Red died when I was around 11 or so and I was very sad to lose my devoted friend.

Old Red and I
Myself, Old Red, and Annabelle:

               My father farmed, mostly for other farmers until the depression. After that he did whatever work he could find. He always worked hard.  We had all the regular farm animals: pigs, cows, chickens and horses. I only milked a cow for fun. (On a few occasions). My mother would not allow her girls to milk our two cows.  It was OK for the boys.  Perhaps it was because she had much of the responsibility of milking the cows herself and taking care of the milk was a whole story in itself.
            There were times in the winter when Dad worked in the woods away from the farm that milking was then left to her, along with gardening and caring for the chickens and the children. My mother worked constantly. She had no modern conveniences. She made all of our clothes on an old treadle sewing machine, raised a huge garden which kept us in food over the winter, as she canned everything. For many years she washed our clothes on a washboard. In later years she did have a washing machine. We always knew our mother was home. That was where we wanted her. It was a good feeling of security.
My youngest sister and I did a lot of playing “let’s pretend”. We would dress up in old clothes and pretend all kinds of situations. One of the favorite things to do was to look over the mail order catalogs and pretend to order whatever we wanted.  Of course we never ordered anything.  After we had nearly worn the pages out we would cut out the pictures and make paper dolls.  It was very exciting when the mail man brought a new catalog. What was left of the old ones was then sent to the outhouse and used for toilet tissue.  Nothing was ever wasted. Do kids ever play “let’s pretend” anymore?
We lived in a number of houses, so I had lots of different views. Usually it was of a field or pasture, probably with grazing cows or other farm animals.  We always lived where we could have animals and a place for a large vegetable garden.  We were surrounded by rolling farmland hills of the Palouse Country. When I got older I finally decided that we moved so much probably because we were unable to pay the rent, although no one ever said as much. My dad loved to move around anyway, for whatever the reason.
The living room I remember the most was very sparse. It had a wood stove, a radio on a small table, a couple of straight backed chairs, a “library” table on top of which sat a quiet, pretty clock. There was also a rocking chair. No floor covering, just the wooden flooring. There was in an adjoining room a pump organ and an old phonograph and a sort of a couch which we called a lounge.
Our bedroom furnishings were basic; a bed and perhaps a dresser.  The walls were papered with newspapers. I would lie in bed and read them over and over.  At one point we lived in town and the house I remember the most was old and shabby and I didn’t like it. I was embarrassed to live there. It later burned to the ground with all the contents and our small dog. It burned on a Saturday evening and school was starting on Monday morning. I was entering the 8th grade. Our mother had all of our school clothes made so they burned. We had to start school with clothes given to us which were ugly and did not fit. It was a hard time for us children, a bad memory.
Some of the more pleasant memories are the smell of a wood fire, a kerosene lamp and bread baking in the oven. (My mother baked 7 loaves of bread twice a week) These memories evoke a feeling of worry free days, days of contentment and security, things we lose with our childhood when we become adults.
We children played outside nearly all summer. We played “made up” games and generally entertained ourselves.  In the evenings we had neighborhood games like run Sheep run, Kick the Can, and ball games. We were allowed, in those days to have big bonfires which served as our home base.  We would sometimes roast potatoes, or if we were lucky, wieners, over these fires. No one ever complained about the pollution of the fires, nor did we ever cause a problem from having them.
My parents had no time for summer games. They were busy raising a big garden, canning, caring for the animals.  Summer was a time to prepare for winter .A hayride was no big deal for me. My father had a beautiful team of white horses, Charlie and Jock, and a big wagon which was his main mode of transportation. Anything that needed to be hauled was hauled in that wagon. Of course when I was in junior high this was embarrassing for me because it was the only team and wagon in the area.  Everyone else it seemed had cars or trucks. So when I would hear those big horses clip clopping down the street I was shame faced, as someone teased me about it. At that age everything different was an embarrassment, and children can be very cruel. I would love to hear that clip clop again.

One day as a special treat I was allowed to ride to town in our old truck with my brother and Dad. My brother brought me an unheard of treat…an ice cream cone.  I relished it all the way home, hoping to share it with baby Annabelle but, alas, it melted before we got back but I had saved her the cone itself, a littlesoggy but she didn’t mind, so I was glad to be able to share my treat.
      I was happiest on the farm, as I had not yet realized we were poor.  By the time I could attend school we had moved from this farm (one of many moves during my childhood).  At that time we began to attend town school and things were so much different in my childish thoughts.  I think that is when I first lost the magic of childhood.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

McConnell, West, Simon, Payne - Family Tree

Here's a link to a website that contains information about the McConnell/West/Simon/Payne clan. Please contact me if you have any questions, corrections or family stories that you would like to contribute. This is a work in progress.

McConnell, West, Simon, Payne - Family Tree