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SAM SCHRAGER: How old are you now?
CHARLES CROW: Ninety five.
SS: You got a right to be having some troubles.
CC: (laughs) I guess so. Yes, the minister was here just this evening. He washere and he's been here since; for several months. He just happened to come along, come in here. And he's a nice fella. Awfully nice man.
SS: Don't pay that no mind. Tell me about the horse ranch. What you rememberabout it.
CC: About what?
SS: The horse ranch.
CC: Horse ranch? Well, oh it was quite a story. was in two places.Out on the Columbia River, one was on a ranch on the Columbia River, dad had a ranch out there, a stock ranch. And I was out on that when I was twelve years old. I rode a pony from here out there when I was twelve years old. And dad drovej cU4 drove the wagon, drove the team on the wagon. And two cowboys they drove 75 head of horses. And we took 'em out there on this Columbia River. He had, dad and this other Pedicord had a} two ranches, two half sections right there and then they nad a big springy And this was in real early day out there too. Bunch grass way up like Beautiful stalks. I enjoyed it awful, most wonderful. And the best of it was:^the family went ahead of us, went out ahead of us and they was down on the river, on the bar .And there was this spring up above there^.Nice water in it, come down. And it went down in the river you know. And that spring, I guess^as probably twenty five acres of level land down there. And this old fella took that.(Quite a big family. He raised sugar cane. You ever seen any sugar cane grow?
SS: I've never seen it grow.
CC: You didn't?
CC: I did. I've seen it grow. Irode through it. Rode along side of it andreach out like that and break off a stalk and stick it in my mouth and go ahead and chew on it. Sweet, nice. And then we'd take that and when it got just ripe, we'd cut it. And.we'd put it through a roller and we'd'squeeze the juice out of it. In a vat. And then when we'd put a fire under this vat, and boil that down. Make sorghttn. We'd make sorghto syrup. And then this one woman was a good cook. Make sorghtfm gravy. They made homemade bread and they milk I think about six or seven cows and they were quite a family of them. And everything worked out nice, you see? And that's where our little girl got bit by arattlesnake. That's right there, in that place. And fourteen miles down to Bridgeport. To adoctor. And the girl rode that fourteen miles, wasn't very long riding it,5he had a good horse. And that it's quite a long story. But she never was right afterwards.
SS: Who, her father?
The girl. The little girl that got bit by the rattlesnake. We had logs,wood, those logs, this big around and she sat on it, sat down there, was aplaying down there and there was arattler up on the side and she if had a doll. And the doll off of that and reached over to get it and the rattler bit her.Struck her. Struck her in the hand. Ididn't see it, but Iseen her afterward. You could just see the poison matter, just see it creeping up her arm. In under the skin. The doctor up there hit her way up here. But he saved her. But she never was just exactly right. It affected her, she never was exactly right. But she was an awful nice kid too. So then, that was there and then I rode, they had a girl just about my age. And she could ride pretty good. And her and Iwould get on the horses and ride out on the prairie. Had about, oh I guess, two miles to go to ride out on this prairie. And then when that was up off of these benches. Off of the river, like Itold you about before. And they was right down on the lower bed. And they had water out of this big spring. There was plenty of water to irrigate with and out and everything. That's where I saved We were sitting on the side of the house and then my dad and me and this don't know, somebody else was going by. And we were sitting there out there and there was a saddle there, see. Of course everybody had a saddle. And right under the horn is open. And they had a kitty. A cat about two thirds grown and it was standing back about that far. Looking right under that saddle. And there was a rattler coiled under there. So I didn't do a doggone thing, just slip right around, back behind where the rattler couldn't hit me and I just grapbed that saddle. And when I grabbed that saddle, this little girl that was right on the saddle, I grabbed it, the saddle and the girl too.(laughs) Well, they all jumped, of course. And she got out of that. They killed the rattler. Alright. He didn't do any damage. But I just was telling you a different story,^that's the way that things happened. Well, lots of interesting things^happened and I probably forgot a lot of 'em. But we all had a lot of fun. More fun than.sometimes I think I ought to stayed there. I think would have been better off if I would have stayed there.There was a big family of us. There was ten children in our family. And I was just, dad had got a call from home, 175 miles where this ranch was from the farm. So dad got a call that his father and mother was keeping him, they were getting really low. There was a grandmother, she was up in her, I don't know how old. Eventually when he was a little older, and he was too and they just lived, he lived just about six weeks I think it was, he lived after she died. And he didn't live long. He couldn't take it. He didn't want to. And he was , it wasn't United Brethren. It was, he was a minister.
SS: This is your grandfather?
This was my grandfather. Yes, he was a minister. And he lived in Oregon.And then he finally sold that and come up there. He didn't have anything then. Land was cheap. And I don't know, I imagine it was about the best he could do. And father told him if they'd sell it and come up there, he'd, dad had a pretty good house, he had a two story house. This is the place on the Palouse?
Right. That's on the farm.
Did your father have to go back from the ranch when he heard the news?Yes. That's how I come to be alone out there, see. This man, Vaughn who was going back down there anyway, he had to go down there, he had some business. He went, took the wagon and team and one of these boys. That would be Ben, they called him, brother. I rode my saddle horse and Iwent with them and then when they went back Istayed dot* there, Imust have stayed acouple of weeks . ..
Did you take care of the place?Yeah.
No. On the homeplace? No. It was my brother, Ihad two brothers there. Theywere there and they took care of the place. And then it was just about running out I think, I can't remember too much.
SS: I'd like to know what the krse ranch looked like?
CC: The horse ranch?
Yeah, what your horse ranch looked like.
Big corral and, you know what a corral is? Alright, it was a big corral andthey built up high, I could stand there and just about reach the top of it when Istand like that.^And they were logs about that big around.They were AaboMt draw, what we called them, up above the river. And up in that draw there was timber, quite a bit of timber. We cut that down, make our corral and everything. That and then we had a dugout.
SS: What was the dugout like?
CC: Lots of water like awatering trough over there. Watering trough was aboutthat wide and about that deep.That was full of water all the time. The horses was coming off of the ranch and drink. Well that spring water was good for them. Better than lake water was. So they had different layouts all around, each one. Every cattle man, stock man. And this man Vaughn, he had a lot of horses. Cattle. And we had a few head of cattle. We got rid of our cattle got horses, see. They're easier to take care of. And then finally the, we went from bad to worse. And they finally lost out all together. And we just let it go. We paid for it alright, but we didn't want it. We couldn't keep it up. Everything kind of went haywire. And so dad sold it. Iforget what he got now. What he got for it. He got enough I guess to pay him. And he sold it and then we went back on the farm. But what was out there we traded our farm for horses and money in the Palouse country, see. And we had moved off of our ranch over about a mile from there onto with a bachelor there. He had abig house. So we moved over on that and til we got things fixed up. Til we got ready to go. And then mother x*as supposed to sign a quick claim deed. And mother got sick and didn't sign the deed, the claim deed when she was s'posed to. And they wouldn't accept the sale. And so dad, he was in pretty hard shape, see? He took quite a few horses in on the deal.So he was in pretty hard shape. So we had to move back on it, and during that time, this was lieu land, land.
What does lieu land mean?
I just can't explain it all.
Is it owned by the railroad?
No. Lieu land is well, Idon't know, Ican't explain that, buAat'it was.Dad bought it, off of this guy. He gave him four hundred dollars for it. It had a house and it had a barn, quite a barn.
And he had four horses and stuff like that.Things was cheap. And he justlouse up the whole thing for four hundred dollars. Dad give him four hundred dollars and took possession.
SS: This place was on the Palouse?
CC: Yeah, that was there. That was five miles south of Palouse. And that's theway we got into that cattle business.And dad and me, we was out in this horse business and stuff. And went out on this range, see. And that happened that he had to go back in to there and I didn't go back with him. Istayed out there for a while. And then my neighbor went back, I went back with him.
SS: I'd like to know what that dugout was like.That was just a slabs, there was a little bit of a mill up in there. And these slabs off of these logs, you know. And they had a pile of them. them to haul them down there and made us ahouse and then dug out back of the hill like that and then started to dig back in this way, like that, see. Then when we put these slabs on that, down on the inside. And it was just a crude building, but then ,we didn't winter there. And the horses, they wintered there too because the grass would be about like that. Down on the railroad, on the bench. And they wouldn't allow them, no horses and cattle on there in the summertime. They made them stay out of there.And for the winter. And then like that, that furnished some feed. Cattle, of course )the cows, to have, to be looked after. Horses, they'd winter right through. And stay fat.
SS: So you and your dad bached it?
CC: Oh yes. We bached there for quite awhile. And then we were going to goout there, see we sold the place then. And then we went out there and we:- were going to build. And make a real stock ranch. And then this happened, that stopped the whole business.And then dad had to take the place back in order to save it. And they wouldn't give it up. They jumped it, the lieu land and they, the possession was nine points of the law. On that So that was the way that was. And we was, dad was this other family.I was only about, oh, Icouldn't have been more than six, seven And dad told mother, said,"Mother you keep awatch out." He said, "You watch out up the creek here."Two roads, one was'a hill. More hill and come down to the town. Was only five miles from town. And he says there was another one come down the valley. Had kind of a valley down side of the creek. "You see anybody and they'll come down the valley, these men when you see 'em,"he says,"they'11 be awhole bunch. And before these valley fellas get down there,"He says, "they'll be some officers come out from Palouse. Four miles." And he said,"They'll arrest them fellas. Take 'em in there. As soon as they do that, why these others will come in and take that house that they built. And they'll throw it out down in the lane there. In the corner." Well it's nine points of the law, see, possession.(laughs) They made'the law themselves .And we had to. And we had quite circus over that.
SS: What happened?
CC: We got our place back, but it throwed us in debt, it throwed us with thesehorses and stuff on our hands.We to make them take it back again. And we couldn't do it. And they tried to make a go of it. And there were two skinners(laughs)They couldn't do it. Put us in abad fix. But we finally come out of it. Soon as boys got big enough to work.
I'd like to know about the time you and your dad got lost.
Well we was out there. We were out hunting, rounding up the horses, come upa rainstorm. And we got lost and we was hunting our way in to get back. And we could hear the roar of the river. And we went by that a good deal. And then we got down there and we strung a trail and the trail, we didn't lose our direction on. And our ponies, we stopped and it was raining like the dickens. And the pony, like the trails here you know, and he turned and wanted to go back this way.And dad's horse that he was riding, he couldn't trust him at all.But you could trust my pony. He was good. And pretty soon I heard some water.I heard it playing. I said,"Dad I hear that spring." "No." "Yeah, listen." My hearing was keener than dad's see. "I believe you're right." I said you follow me and then we'll see. We won't get lost, stay on the trail. I just turned my pony and I started him up and he didn't go any further than from here to that garage. Out there onto it we heard the water running out of the pipe. And into this watering trough and my pony went up and got him a drink of water. And dad's pony followed him.And then he went in. He was soaking wet. It was warm weather, it didn't hurt us any. It got us awful wet. And we wanted rain anyway for the bunch grass. We needed it, see. But^ things like that. And there was, I don't know, that's about the only thing I can remember. This Frank Vaughn, they lived down on the bar. I used to go down there and visit. I went down there, go down and get sugar cane and sorghum and go down, them kids, he had some kids. And play with them, about two miles from them. That wasn't no distance for us. We would saddle up our horses and travel two miles pretty quick. And. but lots of rattlesnakes. I killed, had a hat band clear around with rattles, rattles that I pulled out of the rattlers. And sew 'em together. Made a band. They said if you made a band you'd never have a headache, (laughs) I, kid like, I done that. I don't know how I turned out...
SS: You don't remember if you ever had headaches?
CC: Oh yes, I never had a headache anywayAs far as that's concerned. I don'tthink. I don't know. I wouldn't tell anybody else that. I wouldn't tell it cured a headache or anything like that.(laughs) But you know, *t looked funny to see that around the hat on the rim about that wide, a rim. And they were, rattlers would be about not as wide as my fingers. About that wide.
SS: About as wide as your last two fingers.
CC: Yeah. And some of it, they vary a little, you know. The size of the rattler.I killed all of them. I killed all ;them rattlers and took the rattles out of 'em.
SS: With a gun?
CC: No, with rocks. Get a rattler, you find some rocks. Boy, I'd pelt him tilI'd stun him and he'd straighten out and when he did, I'd grab him like *v/ +4 stick, itrlttd fr^ofc-like that. I'd jab it right there and his head would stick out like that. And I'd hold it with one hand and I'd reach back and get ahold of his rattler. Pull it and then kill the snake.
SS: You'd pull the rattle off before you killed it?
CC: Yes. Always. I don't know why. And Iwas going along one day and there wasa little trail running along the place, about as high as a car and it was shaped like that and there was a little trail that went around and a little bit of a bench above it. And I started to go along there and I looked down there and there was an old mother rattler. She was about, around three, four feet long. And there was a whole bunch of little ones. And I wanted all of 'em.(laughs) And I knew I couldn't get 'em. There was some sagebrush there. And I took sagebrush and I just cut off all the brushy parts of the sagebrush you know, so it wouldn't catch the wind. And twisted it together like that. And that made me a big club about like that.
CC: About two feet long. feet long. And then I got on my pony, I rode along theretil I could just reach out and I couldAwhack the whole business, see. Well I killed,I think it was five little ones and I finally killed the old mammy rattler. If I stayed with it long enough to kill her I killed these five. Because if you found a rattler and you didn't kill 'em, and the people around there found it out, by they give you, spare you right. They wanted to get rid of em and they didn't want you to let them go at all.I'll tell you something else,If rattler and hogs, you build a house inside of a hog pen, a rattler won't never go in there. If he does he's doomed.Them hogs will kill him, by George, right quick. They'll eat him. They'll kill him and eat him. He won't hurt 'em.
SS: Did people build their houses in hog pens?
CC: No. That I'm telling you, anything with hair on it, rattler won't bother.Like a horse's nose. Or your hand or something like that, he'll hit it. But he wouldn't hit hair. If you had quite a lot of hair on your head, he wouldn't touch that.He wouldn't hit you there if he did. He'd hit you somewhere's in the face.
SS: Would rattlesnakes try to get people or would they rather run away?
CC: Yeah. And we just worked away, well, when I quit, when I left that place outthere and went back home, they wasn't too many rattlers in there. And another incident happened. We went up there and we found a deer. And it was out at the lake, little bit of a lake out above us. And he had his horns. Deer you know, they'll molt their horns. And we had a gun, the big gun, dad did, military 90, an army gun. Dad shot him. He killed him. And then he put him on my pony. And the rest of the horses,there were he four or five of us, the rest of 'em wouldn't carry him. If buck my pony wouldn't pay any attention to it. They strapped him in front. I blood fforget what it was now. Strap him on my saddle. And then we just put him right across the saddle. They tied him on. I rode behind Jim Beam. I was a little boy, on his horse. And he told me that rattler, if he rattles, he'll set you on the ground. He'll jump up^under you. He hates them rattlers. going up along the side of a hill like that.There was a rattler right up here. He rattled. Well he jumped out, but he didn't get me off. In time. I was watching. So I stopped. And you know, that horse wouldn't hardly let me get on again. On him. We killed the rattler alright, we did. But that's how sensitive they are, a horse is. You see 'em on the range,see a horse with a big head. And that's where the rattler the one that the rattler hit. On the nose.
SS: It made his head big?
CC: Yes, oh yes. And that horse was, they'd stick their nose, they'd run andstick their nose in the mud. Try to counteract the poison.I've seen quite a few of 'em.
SS: Were you afraid of rattlers when you were a kid?
CC: No. I was partly afraid, yes. But I wasn't bad. I killed, I wouldn t letone get away if I could help it. I'd get him some way or another.
SS: How did you take the tail off, did you cut it off?
CC: No, you pull it off.
SS: Just pull it off.
CC: You get a hold and give it a little twist. And that rattler was just thatold. As many buttons as there was on that rattle. If he had four buttons there, that rattler, four buttons on him, he was four years old. Every year. I seen a rattlesnake on Wilton Creek down here An the Palouse country down there, pretty close to Wilbur, dad and I did. We saw him going along there when we looked up and we seen a cowboy riding across there, was no ., just range. And he a couple times after, we noticed him. And that rattlesnake had thirteen rattles on him.
SS: No kidding?
CC: That's right. Thirteen rattles.He was almostNbig as my arm. Like that.I seen him at a distance, I couldn't get to him. I seen him on Little cliff where they make their home in the rock, see. And I'd see him, I could see him a laying there. They was watching too. And they'd see me, they'd go in there and get back down in them holes and you couldn't get 'em.Another fella says,"You're making that up." Oh no, oh no boy, no I ain't. I says that's early day. I says I can take you down on Wilson Creek to where that big rattler, to where we saw it. I says if dad was alive, he'd verify it. And we went over there. And he took the rattles. He couldn't twist them off, he had to cut 'em off. He had a knife,^he cut them off. That was the biggest rattlesnake I ever seen out there. But one of them ,said it was a diamond, but it wasn't. There was no diamond rattlers in that country.
SS: What kind was it ?
CC: A northern.
SS: How long was it? In feet?
CC: In feet?
CC: I'd say five feet.About five feet. I seen a lot in my day like that. Myother brothers wouldn't do. They wouldn't venture. And I did. I stayed out on that place for quite a while. And would have married one of the girls if I had stayed there til I was old enough. But I didn't. I was only about fifteen when I left
SS: You told me that one time you shot a snake in your dugout.
CC: Yes. I woke up where dad did. In bed and I woke up 'fore he did. And Ilooked over and great big bull snake. Wherever there rattlers there are bull snakes. And this bullsnake got in during the night. They got cold I guess and crawled in there and he was laying stretched out along that shelf.Shelf about that wide. Ladder was back of it and we had it built so that, we left it on there so it wouldn't eo/«- off. We had a shotgun right up over our heads here. We had the shotgun there. And I reached up right easy and got that. Pulled it down there and I blew that doggone snake's head clear off. I didn't know whether it was a bullsnake or a rattler when I shot. But I seen -that it was a bullsnake. I wouldn t have shot if I known it was a bullsnake. If I'd have known, I would have kicked him out and let him live. But he was . He wouldn t bite you if you wouldn't do nothing. They're just, they feed on mice and stuff like that. They get an awful size. They get that long and big as my arm.
SS: Did that wake your father up?
CC: It woke him up so quick that I could have jumped out of the bed. He jumpedstraight up. And he said,"What in the world is going on here?" I said,"Look right over there."And the snake was there. You know how when you first kill one of them, when you first skin it to kill it it'll wheel? Well that snake was doing quite a bit of that wheeling. Right down on the floor in the cabin. So that was the, that was about the best I've hit. It tickied me to see dad jump when the gun went off. He said,"Why didn't you tell me?" Dad was kind of a sarcastic fella. He said,"Why didn't you tell me?" I said, "I didn't want to disturb you." I says, "I wanted to shoot him."(laughs) He said,"You're going to get into trouble some day." I said, no.
SS: How old were you then?
CC: I was about fourteen.
SS: Will you tell me about the guys that tried to jump the claim on your place?
CC: When I lived down on the home place? Yes. Yes, I know that. Well...
SS: Was this the place on the Palouse? They tried to jump?
CC: They did jump. They built on it. We left, we moved out in the neighborhouse. We had to get possession at a certain time. We moved out and went over in this, in them days they didn't have very much to move. And them going in and out of that house, they couldn't do that. There was a law protecting that on that. So they built just a little bit over on the side there. And they got 'em out. They just forced them out, that's all there was to it. The law arrested 'em and while they were out, the wind blowed their house and everything off. On down on the road. The wind blowed off We were And dad told "You see th at?" You get them kids all in the house. And keep 'em in there. You don't have to keep them in there more thanVjust a little while. It'll all be over, (pause in tape) One of 'em come back after that happened, in a day or two and were going to come mn through the gate. And dad went into town the day before. And the lawyer told him possession is nine of the law, here. So he says, "Keep 'em out and tell him to stay out. Just tell him twice." And then he says, "If he don't stay out,shoot him.There ain't nobody going to come to bother you. And so he come up the gate, rode up to the gate and was going to open it. Dad went out there and dad had him a .45, .44 Colt revolver. He had it in his hand. He says,"You take another step in this way, or put the other foot in that fence and I'll kill you." You stay off'n this place. This is my land not yours." The fella backed up and went away. Dad says, dad was taking pretty big chances, but he said, "You stay away and don't never come back here no more." He says,"I don't want to never see you again. Because if you come back and cause me any trouble, I'll kill you." He never come back. Then the other, there were three of 'em, the other two was up along the fence. And they were going to build up there on the ranch, build another house. And take this lumber. That we'd throwed out to build up there, see. And then fight it out in law, in court. So we just went up there, dad did, and grandfather. And grandfather took a shotgun and dad took a revolver. Grandfather said,"By gad if you throw that plank over that fence,by gad, I'll kill you."
SS: ...as good as their word, is that what you said?
CC: Yeah. He said something else, but I ain't gonna tell ya. (laughs)'Causethis thing will pick it up. But it was pretty warm times there for a while He told us kids, you know, they could have killed some of us kids. Only they took it off and got a ranch from us or something, see? Dad told 'em said,"Don't you cause me any more trouble. You caused me trouble enough now.Because if you do, you won't live to tell the story."Dad was a man of his word, too.He sure tell 'em. And after we was over and I was only about four, five years old, six years old, after it was over we found out who put 'em away, who tol^ 'em to build. And one of our neighbors only lived a mile and a half away, old man Hibbs. He told 'em, he put their minds to it, see. Told them about that claim. And they knew doggone well after it was over with that we'd find out and if they stayed there, that something would happen to them. It would too. He'd have killed them.You doggone right we would. You didn't mess with them in them days. You'd adone the right thing or else you wouldn't live to do anything more. That's what it was too it. And if aman told you he'd do something, he'd do it.That's all there was to it, that's why there was no fooling.And the boys, they did fight like blazes, you're doggone right. Ihad several scraps when Iwas going to school. Ihad ascrap prefnear every night on my way home from school.(laughs)Two boys, three boys there, they'd double team on me. And Iwas pretty skookum. Ihave to run and get out of the road. But if one of them boys didn't come to school and^the other one did, the one that come to school, boy he got it coming tome. Iain't kidding you abit. That's the way, we just worked up and lived for ourselves. You had to. They wasn't no officers and stuff around like they is now. And you couldn't, if they did, he could cause alot of trouble. So people took it in their own handA people knew it and they didn't do them things. Thats all there is to it. They was good.
SS: Did you ever say anything to the Hibbs about what they tried to do?
CC: Sure, we told him, said, "If you ever cross our path again, you won't liveto see your family grow up." That's all there is to it.
SS: Did they stay in the country or did they get out?
CC: He stayed for awhile. Then he got out after abit.After afew years wemade it too hot for him. They couldn't stay-There was Froney Hibbs and Ida Hibbs. Nearly all grown. And there's aHibbs place with that name yet, land.
SS: Who were some other of your neighbors?
CC: Our neighbors? The Dickens'?
SS: Around the Palouse?
CC: Oh, we had neighbors there. There were some of them there lived close togetherThere was Bob Stone,Grandfather McQueen and Bill Robinson and any amount of 'em, see. Lived around there, a mile or so of one another. About a mile apart.
SS: Was Grandfather McQueen an old man when you were a boy?
CC: Yeah. He was quite an old man. He was about, he was a skookum old fella.He just about my height, but boy, he was tough.(laughs)That was my mother's father, he was a tough old bird.And he'd haul logs, they'd haul wood down, log wood down from the timber. And he'd take and he'd get ahold of a butt end of a log tell the others to get the other.(laughs) He was a skookum old boy. So ...
What do you mean by skookum?
Did they try to jump other claims around the Palouse?
No. Uh uh. They got out, . They mistake. Everybody liked us. 'Cause we was good neighbors by the by then. And if they'd a stayed there, there would have been trouble. Somebody would have killed them. Yeah. When I was about ten years old, I had a two year old heifer. Nice two year old heifer. Right in broad day light, went in and got her. In a pasture. Took her out of there and drove her off. And made a getaway drove with it. And they never got him. They " off and I seen the heifer afterwards, the cow. And we got her back, but we never got him. He was riding a good horse and got out of there. And that, was pretty tough. You got used to it, you didn't notice it.(laughs) We had to get used to it, that's all there was to it.And our land was good. We raised good crops. We raised wheat there and made thirty bushels to the acre and forty.A bushel. And had to haul that wheat. I think it was about thirty miles that we had to haul it. We haul^ it one day and took the wheat and went back home the next day. And then took it down to the Snake River. Hauled it down there to the boat.We put wood for the boat.
SS: Was that Wawawi you took it too?
CC: Wawawi? Yeah. The Wawawi grade. You been around there.
SS: I know a little bit of it.
SS: How far from Palouse was your place?
CC : About five miles.
SS: That was right on the Washington-Idaho border?
CC: No. Well, pretty much so, yes. But I'd say three miles.straight line. Fromthe Idaho line. About three miles. I wisht I'd astayed there. I wisht I'd astayed there. I got married down there, you know. I was married in Colfax. I could have stayed down there. I would have been better off if I'd stayed down there. I'd afarmed.I'd amade money. But I wanted a place of my own and I didn't have no horses or nothing. All I had was a driving team and so I didn't... I come up here. But I've had a good life. I been in Canada,I been in Canada 26 years. We had a farm up there. Dry weather drove us out. We get no , we get no crops. And one year, twelve months there we never got but an inch of rain in the twelve months, is all the moisture we got . Outside of the little snow. That don't raise crops.
SS: Whereabouts did you homestead in Canada?
CC: Saskatchewan.That was on the Great Northern. Not the Great Northern, thatwas on the Canadian Northern Railroad. And that was a big scope of land. Biggar.here, and we went down here about 9-10 miles was where our ranch was And then the other railroad was up here. About mile and a half. And that road run pret'near parallel for a ways
SS: What was the name of the town?
SS: Did you take those horses all the way from the Palouse out to the big Bendand back again? Did you take them all the way to the Columbia from Palouse?
CC: We drove 'em 175 miles and we drove in the spring. Early we could drivethem out there and we did in the fall when we brught 'em back. Winter, it was the straw pile. See? And then we found out that didn't work good.So we quit that.
SS: Why didn't it work?
CC: Well it wasn't enough feed. Feed wasn't substantial. That out there, we tooka chance. If they didn't get a northern storm up there, why, you couldn't beat that for winter. They wintered out on the river. See? Down on the low parts where they kept them out of there in the summertime. In the grass, stuff like that. Had to be a lot of snow to fill that up. But they did one winter. It filled up, fifty miles there , well, I'll say fotty miles. Fifty miles from where the Coulee Dam is. On down the river. Wait a minute. Yeah, to where this place was. And Foster Creek. And there's a dam there now, Foster Creek Dam. See? On the Columbia.
SS: What's the town that's near that?
CC: That was Palouse.
SS: I mean the town near the horseranch. Down twelve miles from there.
CC: About fourteen
SS: What was the name of that?
SS: One winter you got a bad storm there?
CC: Got a bad storm. We wasn't there that winter. It was just the winter beforewe went out. And we drove that fifty miles there, took thof bunch, 75 head of horses about 70 miles. And all we seen was one iron gray mare foal and she looked more like a reindeer than anything else. She pulled through the winter, but she foaled and she pretty near reeled when she walked. That's the only horse, living beast that we seen that wintered through. I could show you where there was 150-200 head of horses.Dead horses. And rocks, them big lon^. rocks, Haystack Rock, Pilot Rock, all them big rocks over the prairie, see. That's why rocks. That was real range. Best horse range I ever seen. But now, I went over that I don't know how many years ago, I guess it must have been about fifteen years ago. Me and another fella went. We went across from here in a car. And they got a road right through there now. On that land there. They got up. Ain't no cattle in that country either. That is ranches, it's all owned, people own it. They fixed it up.
Did you just rent it?
Out there? No, we didn't have to.
You didn't have to rent it?
CC: No. Just, it was about 75 miles east and west and about fifty-sixty milesnorth and south. That was all that bunch land. Just bunchgrass and stuff you know. Some rock onto it. desert. There's one butte there. And that butte, it' s there yet. And it had rocks built around rocks on it, on the side of it.(pause in tape)That picks up anything.
SS: Pretty good. Sometimes it picks up too m uch. I want to ask you more aboutthe horses and the ranch. Where did those horses go? Who did you sell 'em to?
CC: They sold 'em to different ones. People bought, took 'em. And father sold'em. He didn't get enough for 'em, but he got rid of 'em. And then we jus t farmed. Come back on the ranch and farmed. And we rented 80, we rented 120 acres down there. And we had about 100 acres of our own. . So it made over 200 acres that we farmed. You wouldn't know that there were ever any buildings there, though, now. They tore 'em down. Done away with them. Had as good an orchard as there was in the country down there. And we had all kinds of apples and we had pears and had plums,prunes and cherries. We had pie cherries, I don't never see any more. And we had an orchard, a dandy orchard. But when they, when we left the ranch we left it and the parties that got it didn't have no use for it. My mother's sister, her,, bought the place. And they had quite a few buildings. They just tore these down, grubbed out the orchard and run 'em all to wheat, all this ground. Well I guess maybe they the right thing.Because wheat's been a pretty good price ever since, I guess. Decent. Now it's better than four dollars a bushel. And don't take many bushels. Now you take an acre of ground. A good yie-ld that's farmed right now. It'll yield 80 to the .. And now you figure that out and four dollars a bushel. That's money, ain't it? Well, that's what they're doing now.
SS: Did your father take that place as a homestead?
SS: And he planted all them trees himself?CC: Yeah, we planted everything. Yep. There wasn't nothing there. All there was was a house and a small barn when we got it. I don't remember that very much because I was too young. See, I was born in we come up there in , the folks come up there in 1860 something. I forget what the date was. But they come up there and grandfather had come up ahead of 'em. And he told 'em about it. They come up and they bought this for four hundred dollars, and they got that place.They bought a nice place, one of the nicest ones around there. So that's how we got there. And there was no rock, there wasn't a rock that big on the place. All black soil. Wheat land. Farm.
SS: Had it ever been turned before?
CC: No, it had never had been. It was all part of it, I helped to break out 40acres there. After I got, I don't know just how old I was. But I couldn't have been more than 18, 19 years old. And when we broke up the last 40, see.
SS: Was it easy to break?
CC: No, it was pretty tough. Planted in sunflowers.You know what they are.They'rehard to bust. And they plowed that up and break it up pretty early in the spring. And went over a little knoll about that high and about big. And what do you think we done? We just skipped. The plow just cut off the ground4this back. And this forty acres belonged to my grandfather, And he was too old to break it up, see. We were breaking it up for him. So I took the ' and took those out. And he had a fireplace. And we laid it down there on the fireplace and watched. And watched it come to life. And you'd be astonished to see the way they come out in the spring. And of course, we killed it, there were lots of squirrels. But that squirrel, he hibernated, see, in there, he went to sleep in that He had a place built, nest in there. And the shears on the plow just took off the top there and I happened to be right there. And I told the crew.Dad and dad said,"By gosh, that's right."
CC: ...The squirrel was dead. Froze, see." I don't believe he is. I'm going totake him over to the house and thaw him out and see.(laughs) I took him over there to grandfather's house, was just a little ways. Laid him on this hearth. He come alive. And would have run off if I hadn't a stopped him.
SS: You were born on that place?
CC: I was born there in grandfather's house.And that was just about a quarterof a mile from dad's house. That house, grandfather went down the lane little ways here. Here was the road. And then grandfather's was just a little ways, a creek run dxawn through here and there was a bridge. And grandfather lived there and we lived over here, see. And we had a nice place in there. All that land in there was wonderful land. There ain't no rocks on it. It's just nice. Some of it was a little rough. Some of it was a little hilly. But not bad. Dad's place didn't have a hill on it hardly. All north slopes. Boy, you, it was good farmland. 160 acres.
SS: Was there any bad years in the early years when they had bad weather, badharvests?
CC: Yeah, in '93. You had really, yeah. I was there in '93. Yeah. We sold ourwheat, what little we got thrashed. We sold it to the coast, sold it by the carload, hauled it into town and shipped it to the coast to them for chicken breeders. And then take it in groceries. In '94, that we got that. In '93 nobody harvested hardly/anything there. My wife's father, he had a header, or a binder. And he got his grain cut ahead of the others, see. And it turned out nice for a while. Dried up and they thrashed it. And he got that, he saved his crop. He didn't lose it. Well, we bought seed wheat next spring from him.That's the way we got by. But we didn't, I think we thrashed 200 sacks in the sacks. Held two bushels in each sack. They held two bushels. So that'd be four hundred bushels was all there and we cut it with a header, headed it and stacked it.
SS: How many acres were you farming in '93.
CC: We were farming about^lOO acres or a little better. We didn't have all theplace kept quite, see. And so everybody had lots of 'em, all of 'em had all the feed they wanted. Because there was a lot of 'em didn't get thrashed at all. That stock would eat that headed wheat. And it was good feed, pretty good feed. And they got by if they had any cattle, why they got by and stuff like that. But if it was trying times, I ain't kidding you a bit. whole year's work all just went to pieces. Just rained and rained and rained and kept raining. And my father's thrashed out, he hadA engine and thrasher. AndNthrashed that much and started raining that night and never quit. And by gosh, rfc quit raining and he thought it would dry out. And dad told him, says,"It ain't no use." So he says,Joe Humphry was quite a name that had the hay. And he started to pull out, he bogged right down. Then he, when we had to take horses and pull the machine out of the orchard. I remember that.
SS: That was tough.
CC: Boy, I'll say it was tough.
SS: Did many families leave then?
CC: Yeah. No, they couldn't. They couldn't leave. They didn't have nothing toleave with. They had to stay. They had this headed wheat and stuff. And it. when they thrashed it they couldn't sell it. And they did thrash it, why it just made chicken feed and stuff. And we shipped -ftiat, we sold a bunch of ours, we didn't need it and we sold it, hauled it in and shipped it and they got chicken feed. Got a little money otit of It and then they got groceries. That's the way we got through that time. And we had a hard time of it, now there ain't no fooling. And all your work was gone. And that's the only year of failure that I know of. Of the Palouse country.And then there was one year that the crops only made about twelve bushels per acre. I forget what happened that year. But they got enough to live. By the time that happened they had quite a few acres. And broke out and they got by. Then after that, they watched it careful. And that land grew up, price grew up on it and you could buy, for 25 dollars an acre, you could buy that good wheatland. I could have bought 80 acres there in one spot, right close for 17 dollars an acre.
SS: That was when you were grown up?
CC: No. I was only about 16.
SS: What was that drive like from the Palouse over to your horse pasture country?How long did it
CC: Wait a minute and I'll tell you. We make about 25 to 30 miles a day. Andit was 175 miles from and back. Now figure how long it would take us.
SS: Be about 7 days.
CC: Take a whole week or a little better. Took more than that cause we'd stopand let the stock feed. There was some good grass and stuff. And we'd stop and we had about 75 head of horses. And we had to have a night herd. Two of, dad and me took one part of the night , the after part. And these other boys took the other part.And they come in about 11 o'clock. And they saidNthere was two fellas trying to steal the horses. And got out there just in time.Dad had one of these 50-90's. Did you ever see one of them? Army gun. He had one of them. Got out there and it was a ridge off in the distance. Must have been pretty well onto a half a mile. And dad, he pulled down with that big army gun and he let right em. Boy, of course whiter we didn't see any more. Now I don't know he killed one of 'em or not. But we never seen any more riders. And that was down by, well, you wouldn't know.Sprangs. What they call Sprangs.
CC: Sprangs. Yeah. A lot of Sprangs here together. In this country. We got inthere. And they said there had never been in a hurry, went through there when they lost pret'near half of their herd. And what fella he steal 'em. Steal 'em, run 'em off at night and then ride 'em up there and hide 'em. And the next day they monkey around there and they had lined up several places like that. And up here and they run 'em across the border. Shout. We didn't get very much for 'em, but that's it. But I'm telling you, when that old gun roared, there was somebody amoving. And we had an old mare, she had a colt there. We had two or three mares with colts. This one and she had a bell on. You ought to have heard that bell ring when they got out there. And the horse run back, she was bell mare of the herd. And we kept her there too.We watched for her. And whenever we found we could hear the bell, and knew where they was.
SS: Did you have any trouble keeping track of the herd at all?
CC: Oh yes, every once in a while we'd have to, they'd steal 'em. So theygot down around seven, what they call the Seven Devils country I think, go through there. And that was a tough place. Pretty tough for a layout. We got another place, dad and me, we in the wagon. And then when we left, the two boys,.they took our bed and we got on the horses and went out and put in the rest of the night. Keeping watch. And that old bell _. mare just about done the work. IF she just done it a little^we probably would have found out who it was.They started to go on this ridge. They spied us, see. And heard her. And they were making a getaway. And one of them got over the top here and we were almost here.And we seen'em going. And dad pulled down on him and he let loose. Now I don't know he killed him or what or that we didn't or anything about it. We never wait to see. So the next morning we got out just as quick as it got daylight, we pulled out and got the herd straightened up and pulled out. And dad and me took the wagon, and I was twelve years old. And we took the wagon. I had a pony part of the time. And we, that bell mare, we kept her. We never broke* her or never done that. We didn't want to feed her. She'd leave with this bell on and she had to make her own living.The grass was up like this.AIn March and one place, then after that we went in the next year, so dad and I went out to get 'em, bring 'em in, we wanted to bring 'em in. We had to, I think it was about twenty five or thirty head. And hy that, them horses was raring to go. They was all fat. This was in the fall of the year. One nice mare, four year old, went right by our school. And the kids run out at recess, see. Kids run out and scared the horse over the barbed wire fence there. This mare got scared and run into this barbed wire fence. And cut her all up and we had to leave her. And we told the fella,"You take care of her and we'll pay you for it.If she dies, that'll iust be it."She did, she died. She was an awful nice animal, too.
SS: Was she the bell mare?
SS: Another one.
SS: Was there twice the guys tried to rustle your horses?
SS: Two times you told me about.
CC: They'd steal 'em.
SS: You said two different times? Your father fired at 'em.
CC: Yeah. Pretty rough going, I'll tell you,
SS: Did you just camp where you found a nice place to camp?
CC: It was pretty well near qui+ting time, yes. It was about noon, the horseswere hungry. We'd stop and let 'em graze, maybe two o'clock. And then we'd start 'em agoing again. And 75 head of horses ain't no easy job. And so then of a night they had, two of us had to herd. And had to night herd. You couldn't touch that.
SS: Was it hard going for the wagon? Over that land, was there a trail for thewagon?
CC: Oh yes. Just a trail, and that's all. Lots of places was just trail. We hada good team and a light load, was loaded light. You could go anyplace. And so we got the herd, went on there, I know we stopped and got our break fast. Find some good grass and stopped the horses and went out and got, let the whole herd have a rest and have something to eat. And the fella that lived there, he said,"How in the hell did you get all them horses tfar ough that place without losing some of 'em?" Well we told him, we night watched. WE11 he said,"They been nightwatching lots of times there's horse thieves vail the time." Dad said,"We never lost a one. Not a one. We herded of a night too.
SS: Was much of the country under fence or was most of it open when you came?
CC: All open. All open when we went out there. Clear from Harrington clearout by , that would be about close to a hundred miles,
SS: Was, I know there was a Palmer that had horses out there too. Did you knowthem? Was it the same time they had horses?
CC: That was after we moved out there. I remember seeing them too.
SS: Did anybody else run horses the same time you did?
CC: Oh yes. That was the reason horses was cheap. They had so many of them.After we got out there and got settled, got 'em out on the prairie, out to the ranch, didn't take long for them to settle down because they was after the feed, they wanted feed, see. And water, little lakes and stuff. And everything was good. We just made a camp out of it when we first went out there. And then, til we could do better, Just like a homesteader, That's what we was a doing. That was about the way they done the whole thing up and down that river. You couldn't, that land was land would be, a river aways maybe from here to off the road, I think twice that far. There be level. Pretty near level. And bunch grass there. That was our winter feed. It never, they said it never snowed down there hardly ever,it never got cold. The horses wintered down there.
SS: I thought sometimes you drove them back to Palouse.
CC: We did. When we first went out there we had to do something with them.Wecouldn't provide for 'em. We had to drive 'em back.I think, if I remember right, we drove 'em back twice. And old man Pedicord. Wilson, they was his boy, old Wilson Pedicord. He was one of 'em, Wilson Pedicord and doggone it, I can't recall the other fella's name now. I forget that other one. But I can't think of 'em, dad had so many men working for him. But you had four guys on the drive when you drove, right?
After a couple of years you left the horses there over winter?
And who took care of 'em over winter?do They sometimes he let the neighbors. And they all get together, the horses would, lot of 'em. And they'd winter through. And sometimes we'd get somebody there. As time went on, they would be more, more men, more settlers in there. But there was always range, lots of range. That was awful big country. That's right there on the Coulee Dam.
SS: When you drove the horses, did you ever see. people on the trail?
CC: I hardly ever seen anybody. Drive them 75 head of horses there and just dadand me and the two riders. And that was it. And lots and lots of days we wouldn't see anybody. At all. Well there wasn't no people. There just wasn't any. They, if there were, they couldn't get out there, They didn't have any money and that. But as time went on, they did. We went across that Coulee Dam, the wife and I went out there on that Grand Coulee.,,
CC: That's when I was first married. We went out there when we were firstmarried we went out to this place. Drove out there. That was our honeymoon.
SS: To the Grand Coulee.
CC: Right out across the Coulee and on out. Went out Id cattle ranch, thefirst ranch out there.
SS: Was most of that country sagebrush or was most of it bunch grass?
X: All buchgrass. No sagebrush where we was. All bunchgrass. It was a beautiful,,,Boy, it was just lots of feed. And there was I think only three fellas that had any stock. And they'd been in there about four or five years. And they had stuff built up, their pastures. The L hey boys and twcr more of 'em I know. And boys and I knew all of 'em. I was about, I don't know. I tried to remember all their names, but there were too many, I couldn't do it.
SS: Were the McGregors around there then?
CC: No. They throwed it open for farmland. And they let 'em have a homestead.That just raised thunder with us.
CC: That just raised thunder with us then. People went in there figured theycould homestead and plow that up. Make a living. They went in there and plowed it up alright. Broke it up, they got out of there too. They couldn't do it. They it was no grazing country for the stock. It was, they thought they could farm it up.
SS: Not enough moisture?
CC: That's right. There wouldn't be no moisture there in the summertime. Andthere's what's called a shell rock. Shell rock under the ground. On the top, big bunchgrass. Take a team and take a mower and go^there and you cut your winter's hay, they figured, for the stock. That's the way they got their hay.
What happened whenothey farmed it? Did it go into sagebrush?
No. It wasn't a sagebrush country.
I mean after they farmed it, it didn't grow crops, right?
They it for the whole thing. The bunchgrass never come back, itnever done any good. And there was ,I could name, that wouldn't do no good But that's what become of it. And Idon't know what it is today. Idon't know what it is now.
SS: How did you and your dad eat when you were living on the dugout?What kindof food did you have?
CC: Just the same as they had here. We had a store fourteen miles down theriver, little town, Bridgeport. We'd go down there and get our stuff.
(End of tape)
1:00 - Working on the stock ranch near Bridgeport Washington; Neighbors having 25 acres irrigated; and harvesting sugar cane to make sorghum for bread
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Segment Synopsis: The Crow stock ranch above the Columbia River, 12 miles from Bridgeport, Wash, Father drove the wagon from the Palouse, and Charles at 12 was a cowboy for 75 head of horses, The neighbor family on the bar had 25 acres irrigated; harvesting their sugar cane to make sorghum for use in bread,
6:00 - Dealing with rattlesnakes and the affects of their bites; thinking he should have stayed on the Columbia
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Segment Synopsis: One of their girls was bit by a rattlesnake and they could see the poison travelling up her arm^ she was never quite right afterwards. He saves another girl from being bitten by grabbing her and the saddle she is sitting on. Sometimes he thinks he should have stayed on the Columbia,
14:00 - Father dealing with sick grandparents; giving up ranching; building a dugout canoe; and wintering horses on the river
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Segment Synopsis: Rattlesnakes. He made a hatband out of rattles frpm dead snakes and they said you'd never get headaches with one,He killed them with rocks and a forked stick, always pulled the rattles off first. He kills mama snake and children with a sagebrush club. You were expected to kill every rattlesnake you saw. Pigs are protected against rattlers. A rattler spooks a horse while they are packing out a deer. A 13 year old rattlesnake,
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66:00 - Discussion of neighbors; grandfather McQueen carrying logs by himself; getting rid of claim jumpers; seeing cows stolen
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84:00 - Having an orchard on their homestead after the home was torn down; Charles breaking the last forty acres and finding a squirrel
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Segment Synopsis: Charles remembers the wet harvest of 1893, His wife% father got a crop because he had a binder and cut early; and the Crows bought seed from him the next spring. Host peopled yearns work was, ruined, but the grain in the fields provided feed for stock, A man who tried to harvest when the rain stopped got his machinery bogged down right away, People couldnM: afford to leave, The Crows sold a little wheat for chicken feed and bought groceries, That was the only year of total failure, though yields were low one other year.
101:00 - The long drive from the Palouse to horse country; trying to keep rustlers away; camping and driving the wagon on the trail
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Segment Synopsis: The drive from the Palouse to the horse country made about 25-30 miles a day with 75 head. Riding night watch, his father shoots at rustlers; and they later find they are one of the few herds to get by without losing horses to them. Listening for the bell mare. Kids frightened a horse into a barbed wire fence, and it died. Camping and driving the wagon on the trail.
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