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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: June 18, 1975 Interviewer: Rachel Foxman

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0:00No transcript available.

1:00 - Forms of entertainment then and now, how people socialized

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Segment Synopsis: Forms of entertainment then and now, how people socialized; television, phonograph, fiddle playing for neighbors

3:00 - Why her parents moved to Latah County

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Segment Synopsis: Her parents moved to Latah County because her uncle moved him previously; her mother was very close to her brother; father was previously a farmer in Oregon, continued his work in Idaho. Bought 160 acres of land in Idaho since all the homestead land had been taken years before. Farmed with horses.

6:00 - Lumber camp established in Potlatch, developed this area

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Segment Synopsis: Warehouses built, bypassed their family neighborhood. Farmers petitioned together to get warehouse since had to move crops to Palouse. They built one and named it Wellesley (location of their family farm, about 9 miles from Potlatch). It allowed them to make more trips per day and have grain in storage.

8:00 - Attended school in Palouse, Washington by train

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Segment Synopsis: Fabric sold by the bolt. Electricity beginning then, only in town then. Had to carry water uphill. Train from Wellesley to Palouse (Washington); Jennie would catch it to go to school in Palouse, graduated from high school in 1916, other students followed. The country school closed due to not enough students, then everyone went to Palouse. Because out of state, Idaho students were charged a small tuition.

13:00 - Entertainment mostly in individual homes, attended church in Palouse

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Segment Synopsis: Attended church in Palouse. Grade school was quite social, since it was eight classes in one room. Literaries held in Palouse. Potlatch was a lumber town, and not very social for others. Entertainment mostly held in private homes. Played with the dog as an only child. Wished she would have had siblings, although she played with cousins.

19:00 - Family farmed wheat, oats, alfalfa; her mother's background

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Segment Synopsis: Family farmed 160 acres of wheat and oats. Very little barley raised. Planted alfalfa when it was becoming popular. They bought the land in 1910. She was born in 1900 in Eugene, Oregon, where her father was a farmer. Her grandparents came across the plains in 1849. Her mother was the first white child born in Hepner, Oregon. They were true pioneers. The Spencer family (her uncle) moved to Latah County and lived to an old age. His son, Robert, is still alive in Palouse.

25:00 - Father's background

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Segment Synopsis: Parents met in Oregon. Father was born in Montreal, Canada, one of eleven children, parents originally came from Ireland. Took two months to cross the ocean. Her great-grandfather went to California for the gold rush, then moved to Oregon to homestead. Her grandfather was the first white man to be killed by lightning in Oregon. Parents met through a social and married in Oregon. Family recognized for still having a 400 acre homestead in their original family in Lane County, Oregon recently.

31:00 - No index available

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Segment Synopsis: Family came to homestead in 1878, by 1900 the homestead land was all gone. Native Americans were mostly near Lapwai and north when her family moved to Idaho.

35:00 - Visiting Troy, canning fruit

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Segment Synopsis: Jennie visited Troy to have batteries tuned up, speciality electrical. Would visit a farmer's orchard to get cherries to can. Scared to use tin cans for canning, used glass jars and rubber lids. Would drive to Lewiston to buy fruit to can. Canning process for fruits such as peaches. Jars verses tins.

42:00 - Hired help on the farm, then verses now

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Segment Synopsis: Hired men to help run the farm. Jennie had two sons, her husband and father, plus another ten men. Two year-round, extras in the summertime to shock and thresh the grain and hay. Also a hired girl to help Jennie. Had 20 men to cook for when using thrashing machine, cost a lot to feed everyone plus their wages and boarding. Compared to father's farm, only had hired men for a few days. Her father borrowed a threshing machine and cook house travelled with it.Everyone has their own equipment now (combines, baylors, etc.).

46:00 - Chores on the farm, experience in school

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Segment Synopsis: Jobs Jennie had on the farm growing up. Jennie milked cows growing up, and the housework. Girls carried their own water; in Oregon they had a pipe in the ground and pump it. In Idaho they depended on spring water. Jennie weeded the garden in summer. She did have some idle time though, enjoyed making mud pies. Loved to pick flowers in the wild. Spent a lot of time alone. She was even alone in her class in school until she went to high school in Palouse, class still wasn't that big.

51:00 - Dating, marriage, careers and education available to women

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Segment Synopsis: Jennie did not date much in high school. Her husband worked for her uncle, and she was second-choice, he wanted to date her cousin. They were married soon before he went to World War I, went to France and dug trenches. He returned and started farming on a shoestring at first. Their son took over when he died. They had to get married before he left for war, no different than today. Stigma then for not being married, different than women's liberation now. Marriage was necessary then. Always assumed she would get married, that's what a woman's career was back then, or teach school or be a nurse. Her mother wanted her to further her education after high school, but she was in love. Jennie's mother was paid as an untrained nurse, believed women should be trained so they can make their own money and be independent. Now all women prepares for things other than marriage.

62:00 - Retelling of Ramstead family's stories of Native Americans

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Segment Synopsis: Ramstead family came to Moscow in 1883, very poor, but began to prosper right away. House was on fire, explosives inside began going off, people thought it was the Native Americans coming. But Native Americans were friendly and came to town often. If people left their doors unlocked, Native Americans would come inside and sleep in the middle of the night. Other stories told of Creighton's store, he would put things out for them to take.

68:00 - Stories of Chinese mining gold near family farm

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Segment Synopsis: Chinese slaves came over to Gold Hill to mine for gold; they all settled nearby in terrible surroundings. They mined thousands of dollars of gold. Creek runs through their family farm. Lots of Chinese worked for Potlatch when it started in 1906. Many Chinese buried in Potlatch cemetery.

73:00 - What happened to Wellesley

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Segment Synopsis: Potlatch Forest took control of area. It was one of their stations, named after universities. Potlatch did so much for development of this area. First prairie land was all taken, timberland (white pine and tamarack) cleared up land to make it rich farm land now.

78:00 - Farming then and now

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Segment Synopsis: Family cleared some land, planted hay for the horses around 1910. Her and her husband started farming between Potlatch and Palouse; didn't come to this current spot until 1937. All manpower used to farm in earlier days. Farming used to be done just to exist, feed your family, now its about making money, big business.

82:00 - Princeton saloons

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Segment Synopsis: Log drives in early 1900s would come down Palouse River, lumberjacks would drive logs to Princeton. They would celebrate in Princeton at 13 saloons and take the money they earned over the winter. Would haul logs by train to Potlatch from Camp 1 Weyerhaeuser. When Potlatch began, they predicted it wouldn't last more than 5 years, timber would be gone. But they are still going today.

85:00 - Potlatch Forests did a lot for the community

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Segment Synopsis: Potlatch Forests did so much for this area. Outstanding farms have been developed, great people. Potlatch provided school scholarships over the years and good jobs. Jennie doesn't feel Potlatch did any damage to the community.

88:00 - Camp cook for Forest Service starting in 1952

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Segment Synopsis: Forest Service furnished with sleeping bags, etc. the second year. Jennie went past Elk River, and enjoyed working in their camps. Most people working in camps were not from Idaho, lots of university students from other states. Jennie began cooking for Forest Service in 1952, used wood stoves because no electricity. Butane gas stoves were very nice, would take all night to cool off. Cooked for 50 men. Ordered the food, came in twice a week, no refrigeration then. Became interested in cooking for large groups of people because used to doing it on the farm.

93:00 - Began cooking as a child; Potlatch and area hospitals

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Segment Synopsis: Started helping out in the kitchen at age 7, no siblings so played with mother, cooking games. First time cooked for baling crew, she was 14, without her mother. Mother was a practical nurse (midwife), Jennie did not go with her on outings. People believed "If you want to die, go to a hospital." People who went to the hospital were probably on their death bed. Potlatch had two outstanding doctors available. Her son had a severe case of blood poisoning, and they helped him even though they weren't a mill worker. Very small hospital in Moscow at that time. Bovill used the Potlatch hospital, as did other communities. Her sons were both born there, and went there when she had rheumatic fever. They were all registered, trained nurses.

103:00 - Her family utilized Palouse a lot of the time, a dying town now

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Segment Synopsis: "Washington and Idaho was an imaginary line." Palouse had most of the warehouses, and the town is dying.


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