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Latah County Oral History Collection

Remembering Latah County and Idaho Life at the turn of the 20th century

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Date: August 15, 1953 Interviewer: Sam Schrager

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1:00 - Why the family moved to Bear Creek; home being burned down by thieves

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Segment Synopsis: Father came to Idaho because there was timber and water, unlike Minnesota. He preferred moving up to Bear Creek than taking land around Genesee for those reasons. Thieves burned down the home place.

7:00 - Building and inner workings of the flour mill; production of sawmill and prices of timber

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Segment Synopsis: The water powered mill of his father and his partners (1904-1917). Initial ditch survey abandoned. Ole Bohman helped build it, being familiar with watermills in Sweden; they also looked at one in Canada. There was a 37 foot drop down the flume to the turbine, providing 35 horsepower. Five foot diameter grinding stones made Graham flour. The mill sawed about half a million board feet a year. Production of power. Since the timber was cut off the hills, the creeks have dried up. Timber bought for $1.50 a thousand; good ship sold for $10 or $12 a thousand. Yellow pine and shop lumber were preferred. No upkeep required. There were ten men in the sawmill crew. Use of flour mill by people all the way to Bovill.

19:00 - Life in the country; what the boys did for work in the area

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Segment Synopsis: Country was all timber with trails. The boys fought to see who could stay home from school. Work for boys on the place, cutting brush, clearing land, caring for the livestock, working in the mill.

25:00 - Discussion of towns of Culver and Anderson; laying supplies in Moscow for the winter

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Segment Synopsis: Town of Anderson. Laying in supplies for the winter in Moscow in the fall. Snow was six or seven feet deep. Town of Culver.

28:00 - The beginnings of Deary, its first homes, and why it was built; Fighting fires in Deary

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Segment Synopsis: Beginnings of Deary. First homes. The town a natural point for commerce and log shipping in the early days. Now it is an agricultural center. Bucket brigades fought the Deary fires but there wasn't enough water; both burned most of main street.

34:00 - Knott girls drowning in Deary; Crime in Deary

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Segment Synopsis: Two Knott girls drowned in the big pond near Deary, though Mr. Burkland fished them out with a rake. No serious crime around Deary.

37:00 - Native Americans picking huckleberries and digging camas

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Segment Synopsis: Indians used to come through the country to pick huckleberries and camas, especially around Bovill and other meadows. Now they have to go much farther back.

40:00 - Hunting game and fish in the early days and the prices for fish

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Segment Synopsis: Game in the early days. Paying to ship elk into the country, who have since mixed with elk from other areas. Catching fish in Bear Creek. Dr. Gritman gave Mr. Burkland $2.50 for his string of fish from Bear Creek. Making a falls to catch fish for the whole family for school lunch. Catching two foot long salmon in Potlatch Creek, (continued)

46:00 - Local men trying to create a way for fish to get through Bear Creek

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Segment Synopsis: Local men thought of blasting out the falls on Bear Creek so fish could get through, but gave up the idea because it was too big a job.

48:00 - Impressions of the IWW on camp conditions and people blaming them for sabotage

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Segment Synopsis: The IWW did a great deal to improve conditions in the camps, and didn't do sabotage around here, although they were blamed for it.

51:00 - Problems with lumberjacks throwing money around; lumberjacks getting drunk and casuing problems

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Segment Synopsis: When he was marshal, he found lumberjacks had more respect for law than local people. Lumberjacks made six or seven hundred and then went to town and blew it all in three or four days, buying drinks for everybody and throwing money around. He threatens one recalcitrant lumberjack with a billy club. After a night in jail, he buys them coffee and sends them on their way. Two jacks walk into a teacher's house to get warm on their way back to camp.

59:00 - Working as the Deary marshal; jobs as a city clerk; operating a Deary garage and service stage; services offered at service station

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Segment Synopsis: As Deary marshal he also changed the leathers on five well pumps every week, and was City Clerk, for $50 a month. He ran the Deary garage at the same time, converted from a blacksmith shop. He bought out the creamery and made it a service station. They hauled gas in a barrel from Rosalia once a week in 1920. Rebuilding batteries was a big business. Cars were put on blocks over winter.

64:00 - Work as the Secretary-treasurer for Highway District; years in public service

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Segment Synopsis: Secretary-treasurer for highway district, 37 years. He had over a hundred years of public service, when the state figured it up.

66:00 - Money problems when the Depression hit; Mercantile Company losing money; surviving the Depression

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Segment Synopsis: When the Depression hit, he deposited $275 the night before the bank closed. He had about $50 in hand. Debts had to be given up, couldn't be collected. The Mercantile Company lost about $20,000. Getting through the Depression.

71:00 - People in Deary working in logging; town decline; ease of getting to Moscow; not knowing everybody in town

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Segment Synopsis: Most Deary townspeople did and still do work at logging. The town has declined since the twenties, with far fewer businesses. Ease of getting to Moscow compared to old days. Lots of new people - in the old days he knew everybody.

76:00 - Working for blacksmiths; working on early cars; and selling cars for cash

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Segment Synopsis: Work for blacksmiths. Work fixing connecting rods and brakes in early Fords. Selling cars for cash, no trades.

80:00 - Early farming machines and practices

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Segment Synopsis: Early thrashing machines. Using a long belt to protect the wheat from fires.

85:00 - Spending hours calming down a woman with a butcher knife; Life as town marshals.

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Segment Synopsis: Spending hours calming down a woman with a butcher knife, as town marshal.


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