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This first conversation with Eugene Settle was recorded at his home in Moscowon June 3, 1975.
SAM SCHRAGER: I wanted to know something about your family background and Iwant to know something about your grandparents, where they came from.
EUGENE SETTLE: Well, of course, my grandparents, I never did know my grandfather on my father's side, he passed away before I was born and I don't remember my grandmother on my father's side. She was alive and with us when I was born, but I don't remember her, she passed away. But my mother's parents they lived in Mississippi, right on the Ten nessee border, Mississippi and Tennessee. But my father's parents liv ed in North Caroling that's where he was born in North Carolina.They left North Carolina and came to Mississippi, and that s where my mother and father met. They were in school together— they wasn't in school together— my fath er-went to one district and my mother went to another. Where my dad went to school had a little longer school there and when school was out in my mother's district, her and her— my mother was the oldest one of the children, her and the next sister, they went over in the other district where my dad «was going to school then; that's where my dad and whatever the length of the term was, mother met, just to get in more schooling. I guess in those days they never had school only three or four months out fthe then I when we came here, year. 'Course, here in Idaho, lived on a farm six and seven months was all we went to school, too, when I was a kid here in Idaho, in the country schools. Very seldom— every once in a while we'd have sev en months, but not very often, for a long time. Of course in later years we did, but in my early school years. Till I was in the eighth grade, I guess, or seventh— or six or seventh grade we never went to school but five-six months a year, that was all the school we had in the country schools.
SS: What were your parent's parents doing in Mississippi to get by whenthey were there?
ES: Well, my parents, when they got married, I guess was farmin' thereI don't know. After my sister was born, they went out to Indian Ter ritory. My sister is two years older than I am and she was born in Mis sissippi, don't know— what married life they spent in Mississippi, I don't know just what my father— I know he had a team. I suppose he was farming.
SS: Was it your mother's mother or your father's mother who was Indian?
ES: My father's mother.
SS: And that meant that she had— she got land in Oklahoma?
ES: Yeah, that's right. You see after the Civil War the government decided to move all the Indians off of the East Coast, and they set aside so many acres of land in the Oklahoma Territory. And they was gonna give 'em so much land— I don't remember now whether it was twenty or forty— I don't remember just which it was. And they started to move out there got 'em out resettling -- them^on forty acres. Well, they pretty near all of 'em out til they got dmm to Louisiana, and then course the—
SS: There was the Seminoles.
ES: The Seminoles, they never did make no treaty with the Seminoles. Andgrandfather at that time, my grandmother, she was married to my— and they moved out to Mississippi, when this came up And so, therefore, she didn't have to leave and it didn't interfere with her then after they lived in Mississippi, raised a family, why then she decided to put in for her claim out in Indian territory. And she got it, as I say, I don't remember whether it was forty acres or twenty— seems like it was forty, although I won't say for sure on that. And then when she got this forty acres, her and my grandfather went out there, built them a little home on this forty acres, and then he passed away shortly aft er that, about a year or two after they got there. And by that time my father was married and he went out there with his mother on this forty acres, and that's where I was born. And shortly after I was bornwhy then— it was mostly rock, this forty or twenty, whatever it was, was mostly rock, "shale"" rock, my dad called it. Whatever shale rock is, but I know they talk about making oil or gas out of shale rock. But anyway, there was very little farm land on it, so he had a good team so he took off to find work, to make a living, make a living for his family. So somebody told him about Fort Smith, Arkansas, so it's not too far overland, so he and another fellow got in the wagon and left my mother out there^and^e went to Tort Smith Arkansas and he got a job there. And that's where he worked most of the time when we was in Oklahoma, 'course he left the family in Oklahoma. And then that's where he heard about the Great Northwest. fellow that he worked for, he and his wife ran K big store there in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and the railroad was completed then to the Coast and he and his wife took a trip from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Seattle. And he was so amazed about the open spaces across the state of Washington, the open land . for homesteading, you know. And so he told my dad that being a young man like he was and raising a family he thought that if he was as young as he was, that's where he would go. And so, my dad he liked to hunt, and this fellow told him they'd seen lots of wild game from the train, they didn't say what it was. And my dad he thought, "That's the place for me."
SS: He took your father aside to tell him all about the —
ES: Yeah, my dad was hauling freight for him. Dad was using his teamhauling freight from the depot up to the big store. And he come back my dad in the there whereas unloading freight there, back in the stored and he came back there while dad was working, and he told him says, "When you get through I want to talk to you." So they set there and got through, and that's what he was telling about, about this trip he'd just got through making from Fort Smith to Seattle and what he saw on the trip and what he thought of the country and all that, and what a that out here to make a living great chance he thought it was for a young man there was so much land to be picked up for homesteading.
SS: Did he decide pretty soon after to come?
ES: Yeah, he made up his mind then, as soon as he could get enough moneytogether he was gonna come. He would come West. And then in the mean time there was another family by the name of Hampton, I think that mar ried some relation to this store man. And they decided to come too, they were young fellows. And this man that was running the store he said he was gonna try to induce his son to come out there and pick up some of that land, 'course they had no money. And this other family that was kinda related to this old man by marriage, they had some boys, and they'd got acquainted with my dad. In fact, my dad leased some land down on Arkansas River just out of town down there, just pasture land, and he leased it while he was working for this old feller and he had this team and he could take 'em down there on week ends and turn 'em out in the pasture. And so this party, they had quite a few stock and so when my dad got this land they got him to pasture so some stock for them. And^tnat was just why he got acquainted with 'em. And Dad told 'em what he was figuring on doing, he was coming West and so they got quite excited about itt So they went in and talked to this old man to see what he thought about it. And he told him just what he'd told my dad that he thought it was a great place for a young man. And these were young fellers, they weren't married, just young fellows,they,married at that time. And so they went back their folkses had quite a holding, they were farmers— and they talked their folks into letting them come out West, and pick up some of this open land. And so of course, they had lots of stock, horses and mules and such as that.
And their old dad told 'em— the best way—he just give em some horses I was four head of horses and I be lieve it was a cow. And so they decided to ship out here, and of course, my dad he just had the one team and wagon. So he (sold his sheep andukept the team, kept his horses, he was working them anyway. But when they decided to ship cney told my dad if he wanted — why don't you just go in and we'll ship together?11 And so Dad he had to sell his team, wanted to sell it, he sold it anyway so he'd have more money to get out here, and he sold his outfit. But he did go back up into Indian Territory and he loaded up the whole family and furniture and everything we had and we shipped that out here. Put it in and shipped that out here, up to Bluestem, Washington. And I guess it was pretty nearly a year later, I wasn't here, I really don't know just how long a time it was, but anyway it was quite a little while after that because, we went from there on up to Mississippi to wait for my younger brother to be born, my mother wasy so she could make the trip.we went from Fort up to Mississippi there, I don't know how long we were there, but we was in there quite a little while, sev eral months anyway before we got started out here, before we got to go the rest of our way. And then we came up here, as I was saying before, we got shipped out to Moscow, Washington and when we got off the train we was in Moscow, Idaho. And we stayed here three or four days, and some people tried to get my dad to stay here, they told him that he couldn't make it up— that it would be awful hard for a man that's from the South that's been used to farming they way they do down friere and to come up here and try to make and sagebrush.
And so there was a fellow that ran a restaurantdown here, about where the Chinese restaurant is now, there on Main Street, down there, right in there someplace, I believe it's the same place, I won't say for sure, but it was right in there, one of those places. And he told Father that he had a couple of nephews that had a place rented out from town here. He rented the place for them and they lived in Spokane. And he had those nephews up there, big, husky kids, fellows and so to get 'em out of town he rented this place, rented another they'll be of age and it for them to farm. He said in about a year they'd proably place, they didn't like it anyway, and maybe he could get it—may be my dad could rent it if they give it up. Well, my dad he wasn't much interested in that, he wanted to get his own place. But, anyway, after we started to go back up to Moscow, he got this fellow's address so he could write to him if he did decide to get the place. And, of course, this old fellow he wanted to know, he was anxious to know how my dad was getting along, how he was it up here anyway, you know. And so we went up there and Father found us a homestead cabin out on Crab Creek, it was out I don't know how many miles it was from Bluestem or Moscow at that time. But our stuff that was shipped out, our furniture, bedding and everything was there;.oeen there for a long time, it was there. So we got this cabin out on Crab Creek and moved us out there and got all our stuff and unpacked it.
SS: Was it a homestead?
ES: Well, it had been. I think somebody had homesteaded and then abandonedit. It had a nice little house on it. Wasn't very big but we made out in it alright. Had the water running piped down from the side hill, running water went right through the house from the spring. And just about the time we got settled— my dad did a little getting around as much as he could. He didn't have nothing to ride, he had no way of traveling, but he'd inquire around, looking around to find out what there was, And finally in his travels he ran onto a cattleman by the name of Warwick. He gave him a job, in fact it was Warwick that owned— had picked up the option on this house where we lived in. This homestead— He run a bunch of cattle through there, had a lot of land, some of it was his and a lot of it was just open country. And so Dad went to work what he found to homestead for him. And he got a horse, to look around. At that time what somebody hadn't got was far out, and tnere was very few families. No school and my sister was getting about ready for school and I was not too far off, I guess my sister was ready. And so he took that all consideration. And then finally this fellow wrote to him told him about— we got sick with smallpox and we got over that. And of course, my dad he was a little bit disstill couraged over that but we all came through it OK.
SS: Do you remember having the smallpox?
ES: Yeah— I don't remember having it but I remember my little brotherthatwe waited to be born to come out here— I remember his face was all blistered— I remember seeing him. I don't remember how I looked more than anybody, or felt either (Chuckles) But I remember my little brother because he was just a little— six months old, a little nursing baby and he had blisters on his face, I remember that. Anyway, he got to looking around.all the land and no school, and then he got a letter from this fellow down here, this fellow wrote ana1told him that the boys was going to give up the place and if he thought he was interested why'Ke would talk to the fellow that owned it and maybe he could get it. So he did that. Dad wrote back and told him, well if he could lease the place why he thought we'd come back to Moscow. So finally he got a letter from this man— talked to the man, the fellow that owned it and he'd give Dad a chance on
SS: Do you know why your father decided not to stay here in the first place?Why he wanted to push on?
ES: Well, he wanted to homestead, he wanted to get a place of his own.And of course he didn't have no more up there than he did here either, as far as that's concerned, but he'd heard so much about this country up there and he wanted to go back up there and get himself a homestead. And he figured that there'd be some way of making it.
SS: But it turned out to be harder than he thought.
ES: Yes, After he got up there and he went to work for this fellow to seethe country and see what it was— it was exactly like they told him, it was nothing but sagebrush and lots of wild horses and stuff like that there. And it was a rather dry country.
SS: Do you remember how many neighbors you had up there?
ES: Well, where we were at, we didn't have any neighbors. Not until you gotto Moscow, the little village, we wasn't too many miles off in this cabin we were in. It wasn't too many miles out from this little town Bluestem, or Moscow then,but up and down the creek where we lived there wasn't any neighbors around there, that I know of. 'Course there might have been some around that I didn't see, but,"no nouses in sight of where we lived, I know.
SS: Now this was in 1898? Is that right?
ES: Yeah, about 1898 or '99. Well, must have been about '98, 'cause weor come down here in '99, we come down here„ 1900, I'm not sure of the date, but right in there, somewhere.
SS: Can you remember yourself, anything about living there? You must havebeen about five. I'll say I remember it.
ES: Yeah, yeah, I was. Yeah, I remember it, My sister and I we used toget sticks and make fish hooks out of pins and go down on Crab Creek and try to fish. And I remember I caught a crawfish and I got him out of water and he fell off the pin and I was sure glad to see him go! (Chuckles) You know all those big claws they have Then out there on the flat .o the creek there, we had bird nests and we'd watch these bird nests and watch the little ones go and one thing and another. I remember that real well. My sister and I we just had a ball while there was- so-'many cattle, we was there. Running around, 'bourse Mother watched us afraid some wild cattle'd take after us, worried her to death, but we had a lot of fun.
SS: What about getting by? You talk about how hard it is for people pioneering. Was it really hard for your father to keep meat on the table?
ES: Well, I'll tell you, seems like— I don't think we was that hungry—but seemed like we practically lived on codfish. You'd get it in these boxes, you know and Mother'd cook it* .1 know we ate lots of that. That must have been about the cheapest thing you couid buy, I - know we ate a lot of it. Lots of codfish. As I tell you, that spring the water run right through the house, they had kind of a— it wasn't a tub but just kind of a big pan in there, it run into that and then it run under the house and on down to the creek, you see, and you'd put a stopper in this pan and let it get full of water, and I remember that's where we put the codfish, they put it in this pan here and let the water run down on it to keep it cool save it That was our refrigerator!! (Chuckles) I don't remember— L know we had plenty to eat, but I do remember though after we came to Idaho here, I know there was times that there wasn't very much on the table. It was just about as bad as homesteading I imagine.
SS: Was there any water problem? Did that spring provide you with all thewater you needed?
ES: Oh, yeah, it ran all the time we was there. I think one of the fellowsthat my dad worked for down therejhe camfe and did some work on it one time. I don't know what he did, but I don't remember ever stopping us from the water. I we was up to the spring lots of times, my sis ter and I. I don't know how far it was up on the hill from the house a place up there there in some willows, just a thing dug out, kind of rocked up, wasn't cemented, just rocked up. And if I remember right, there wasn't even any fence around it. I guess the cattle could go and drink out of it if they wanted to, if I remember right, but just seemed like it was a basin all rocked up and the water piped out of it.
SS: You said too, that you remembered being at Pendleton, on your way.
ES: Yeah. I remember that better than anything else. It was kind of a division point at Pendleton, and we was over there quite a little while and around the station there, there was lots of Indians and they was in their Indian regalia, you know, feathers and all that.I don't know whether you remember the carts like they have on the platform of the station where they pushed the luggage around with— I remember my dad them we was there quite a was leaning up agin and sitting on them and talking to those Indian boys.
SS: Wonder what your dad was talking about?
ES: I just wonder. I don't know.
SS: Maybe what the country was like?
ES: Yeah, I imagine.
SS: Well, you said the Indians in Oklahoma didn't have any regalia likethese?
ES: I never did see any in Oklahoma. 'Course. I don't remember. But that'sthe first time I can remember that they had all the regalia, feathers and all that on. I don't remember seeing any in Oklahoma, but I sup pose they probably did.
SS: Did they seem like a real different kind of people than the people inOklahoma?
ES: Well, I'll tell you, I don't know anything about the people in Oklahoma.I don't remember. I don't remember a thing in Oklahoma. I was just too young when I left there interruption by Mrs.Settle coming in— He had a little gray horse that he rode when he went to town. My sister laughed and said,"Oh no." That wasn't in Oklahoma, that was in Ark- that left me out. ansas!!' (Chuckles) I don't remember nothing about Oklahoma!!
SS: Probably not about Mississippi either, that was a short time.
ES: No. A short time. Course I remember a little more about Mississippiwaiting.for ny brother to be born while we was there lived a log house ana did most or the cook ing on the fireplace. And my grandfather had a banjo hanging up on the wall there and I used to beg him to play it but he never would. And after I got any size my mother told me why he didn't play it. He said when he was a young man he used to play the banjo and go to dances and raise cane. Then he got married and accepted Christ and hung the banjo up and asked him never to touch it again and he didn't. As long as she remembered he never did touch it again. Never touched it again, but before that time when he was young he'd go to— he was a musician there to go to places and have dances and raise cane all nightA crat he got married and accepted Christ and hung his banjo up and that was it!! My dad went back down there in 1919, it was the winter of 1919, I guess it was when I got out of the service. I think he and Mother went down there and he got down there and he spent the winter down there an my mother was still living in the old house, and he tore it down, anyway he built another little house down there— I never thought to suppose it's ask him about the banjo I still hanging there. (Chuckles) I know my sister and I we used to see it there and we used to try and get him him to play it for us.
SS: He kept it as a token of his early days?
ES: I guess so.
SS: Whereabouts in Mississippi?
ES: Tt was pretty much on the Tennessee border.
SS: Now then when your father decided to come back to Moscow, Idaho hereonething about that I was wondering— did you ever know why this man was so good to your father? Why he really know?
ES: Well, he was a Negro man, he run a restaurant there and he was the onlyblack businessman in town, There was some Chinese, there was quite a few Chinese at Moscow at that time. But he run a little restaurant down there where I said it was, and that's why this feller took so much interest in my dad, and my dad was young then and he had three or four little kids.
SS: What was his name? Do you remember?
ES: Crissman. His daughter was the first black student that ever graduatedfrom the University of Idaho, she wasn't in the first class, but she must have been in the second class graduated up here on the hill from the University of Idaho.
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He was running from Chicago to Spokane, I don't know whether hewas a sleeping car porter or what, but anyway he was a railroad man. And while he was in Spokane he picked up some mining stock up herethe Coeur d'Alene mines, some of the mining stock and eventually got to be pretty wealthy. Her son, in 1919 when I came back from the army— she had a son that finished high school and she sent him down here to go to the University of Idaho where she went. He come down here and went one first semester and then the second semester started and he got sick and died. That was in 1919. Kinda lost track of 'em after that, so don't know whatever became of 'em. I know they're all dead now. I don't know whether she had any more children or not. was down south. 'course we met her, she came down here=That was the winter my family «o we met her when she come after the body.
SS: What kind of a store did Mr. Chrissman have?
ES: He ran a restaurant.
SS: Do you know when he came?
ES: No, I don't know. He was here when we came, I don't know how long he'dbeen here before we got here.
SS: But he was here for quite a while afterwards?
ES: Yeah, I don't remember that, I was just a little kid, I know he washere when we got here and I remember the boys that farmed the places two big husky lads, but when they-left I don't know long he left— whether he left that next year or not. I don't remember how long it was, but I've heard fellows say that it was years after he'd gone that the old icebox— he had his homemade one in the back of that building and it was in that building for years after he left here. That old ice box was still in there. I guess it's tore out now, but they talk about that. But whether he left right after we got here or not— I think that he was around here a year or two after we got here.
SS: Was his daughter much older than you?
ES: I don't know, I never did see her, the daughter. I never did seeany of 'em. I saw him. I know he drove a nice horse to a single bug gy. I see him, and then his nephews, two big husky lads, they were out on the place when we got here, and after we got here they left and I never did see them any more. And I don't remember, I might have seen Crissman a time or two, but I was little, I don't remember.
SS: Where was that place? The place where you lived and rented?
ES: It was over here on the Little Potlatch, it belonged to the postmaster'sgrandfather Bill Buchanan. That's the first place we rented; he farmed that for two or three years and then he got a chance to buy— there's a young man that was renting quite a bit of land, two different places, and he had about a hundred and some acres of fall wheat— he was a bachelor and he had a housekeeper, someone to keep house for him, aad h"e got her in trouble and so they got to making it hot for him and he wanted to get out of the country and so he finally sold his lease he was a stranger here, to my dad. My dad just went all over the country, he hadn't been here very long, and he wanted to buy this fellow out, you know, he thought it was a good deal. And finally some guy, came to his rescue and let him have the money to buy this fellow out. And so he had a good crop the next year.
SS: Where was this place?
ES: This was out over in the same country, south of Joel. And he made money, paid all of his debts and bought eighty acres of timber, there was about fifteen acres of it farm land. There was no buildings on it though. And then that winter he came down with rheumatism and for two winters after that he was in bed with rheumatism, so that set him back. But he kept agoing. And renting land.
SS: Do you remember about that place or do you know how much it would havecost in those days, the eighty acres?
ES: No, I know it wasn't very much. I don't imagine it was over—'causeit was what they call part of a school section land, I don't imagine it cost over about— I doubt if it cost twenty dollars an acre, maybe, I don't know— maybe twenty, twenty-five dollars an acre probably. I know it wasn't nothing compared to what it is now.(Chuckles) 'Course in those days twenty dollars was money
SS: So your father had to make the money to pay the place off by the moneythat he made by renting other land? Now where did you live then while— there wasn't any place on the eighty?
ES: We still lived on the Buchanan place. He was still farming the Buchananplace when he bought this eighty. And then after he bought this eighty though, then he rented another place that joined this eighty, see, and we moved on that. That was over in the same country but was about four miles from the Buchanan place, and that's where we was there for a long time. We lived there on that place for quite a long time.
SS: What kind of an outfit did he have?
ES: Well, I'll tell you. He didn't have nothing when we came here, we didn'thave livestock at all, but he just— there was a big fellow lived over the Blaine across the mountain in— you know where country over there? A man by the name of Lynn he had quite a bit of land over there and he had a lot of cattle and run that whole country where we were-a lot of it wasn't fenced— and he.more stock than anybody in the country. And he run over there where we lived and he had a lot of horses, cayuses, had a son about the age of my dad. (noisy) he got to be . one of the Lynn boys was a railroad contractor, building railroads. And they had these wild horses, unbroke horses. This fellow that was about the same age as my dad, he ox^med the farm and he kind of liked my dad they both liked this, hunting wild horses,unbroke, I think dad traded him out of five head of those cayuses, they was range horses. And that's where he got his start, he broke those horses and that's where he got his start in the horse business.
SS: He traded your dad.
ES: Yeah, my dad traded. He traded around. Anyway dad got five head ofthose mustangs.
SS: He had to break 'em?
ES: Oh, yes, he had to break 'em. Of course, before he got these mustangsthough he had got a team from this— I guess these Crissmans, they had I'm sure he did. a team, their boys had a team. I think he got their team.A And he got their team, so he had one team. Then he got these five mustangs and got them broke. Yeah, my dad he was quite a trader, he liked to trade around. Wasn t long before he had horses and I don't remember he got aholt of his first cattle. I don't remember he got them. I know that he and I one Sunday got on a horse to go over across the hill over here. Rev. Daniel 'Gamble had a place on this side of the.ttnl over there and we went over to his place looking at cattle. But we never got any from him. And I don't remember where he got his first cows. After we left the Buchanan place it wasn't long before we had he had quite a bunch of cattle.
SS: Did he have farming equipment, too?
ES: Oh, yes, he bought— when he bought this other place over there hethought this crop over there then he had to buy machinery— he bought a binder to cut the grain and then that fall he paid up. And then he rented this other place Buchanan was coming back on the place him self, you know. He was a deputy marshall at that time and he got out of job and he was coming back— moving back on his own farm. And then Dad rented this other place over there. But he made pretty good that fall and paid up and he bought a binder and he bought him a plow and other farming equipment. So he was in pretty good shape then, as it wasn't long before far as farming equipment goes, and horses. And, as I say, he'd accumulated quite a herd of cattle.
SS: About how long do you think it took before he had the place paid off?
ES: Well, he never did pay the place off. You see some of the farm landwas on this place that we moved onto, and of course, he had that to farm. He had that to farm; rented it, and that was on this was in that; and when he got rheumatism he had to let the place go back. Yeah, I was about seven years old, and that one winter I didn't go to school all winter. I stayed home and took care of the stock helped mother.
SS: Was that hard for you?
ES: Yes it was hard for me.
SS: You had a man's responsibilities.
ES: pretty young. And then the next year he rented a hundred and sixtyright in there south of— no, east oF Blaine. And then the next wint er he got rheumatism again and when spring come he wasn't able to do no work and he had a lot of that place to put in, spring crop, you know it wasn't even plowed. And then the neighbors all over the country came in with teams and plows and gave him a day's work there and pretty here near put that place in in that one day, so many fellows come over to help him. But after they left, anyway, he got a fellow to drive his team and they finished it. We had a neighbor by the name of Hammond. He went around to all the neighbors all around the country and he got 'em to come over and give my dad a day's work on that place over there to get his crop in, so they. They come overj there was teams from Yeah, I did the^work, did the plowing. I started in the field all over. And that night when they left, there wasn't much left to do with his team, he got somebody to drive his team he got the crop in and did pretty well. And we farmed over there for years. Farmed over on that side of the mountain until 1911. Then he leased a place over here south of the cemetery from a fellow by the name of Besse, owned it out there. And he farmed that two years, then he bought twenty acres out here northeast of Moscow. And owned that until I guess about three years ago I sold it. That's where us kids grew up and went to school.
SS: Northeast of town? Bendel's
ES: Yeah, northeast of town. You know where Hatchery is out there?Well, it's just north of that. You see a house up there in the trees, that's our place up there, our old home place.
SS: Well, when he had rheumatism, was it just in the winter?
ES: It seems like there was two winters that he was flat on his back allwinter with rheumatism, l^hen he bought this land— this crop I was telling you about, where he made his start, he harvested it and he haulby hisself,he was young hauled all the sacks off and worked his head and I think that's what started it. Anyway for two winters he laid flat on his back all winter with rheumatism.
SS: You had a sister and your brother was younger. Were you the oldestboy?
ES: I was the oldest boy, my sister was older and I was next and then there'sthree years difference between me and my next brother.
SS: Your sister was how much older?
ES: Two years older than I.
SS: Did she help in the work that you did?
ES: No she didn't do too much.
SS: So it all fell on you pretty much?
SS: How much seven year old boy do?
ES: Well, I did all the plowing. Tell you what we had, we had five horses—I drove five horses abreast on a gangplow.
SS: I'm surprised that you could even handle them.
ES: Yeah, I handled them.
SS: Had you watched your father work much before.
ES: Oh, yeah, yeah, sure, sure. "'Course he told me what to do and how todo it from his bed. But I didn't do no deeding because I couldn't lift the grain up and put it in the drill sox But plowing and harrowing and such as that, why I could do that.
SS: Well I've heard before about boys starting to do a man's work when theywere about ten. But it sounds like you got started a little young. worst of it
ES: Yeah and the witn me I was always so small for my age. But in thosedays though, kids— it wasn't unusual to see little kids driving the team-and such as that. They grow up on a farm you know and they learn fast. Yes. Just like now-a-days, young kids driving these big tract ors.
SS: Do you remember much about school?
ES: School? Yes I remember quite a little bit about school. First schoolwent to was this Aspendale Schoolhouse, this side of LCnville, down in that country there. There ' about eighty-five kids went to that one room school. One teacher. And about 1934, I guess it waSjmy daughter went to the same school. Started to the same school.
SS: Eighty-five kids and one teacher. How could you learn anything?
ES: Well, as I say, they didn't have too many months of school. And usuallya kid was about seventeen or eighteen before he got through the eighth grade, because those days the boys had to stay home and help farm. That's one reason they had the short year in school because they had to work on the farm in the fall, work on the farm in spring and so therefore way they didn't get in much schooling. When I went to school down there there was fellers going- to school was just as big or bigger were you might say than my father. Well, they -men, seventeen or eighteen years old.
SS: Did you learn much in school? Or was it hard to learn with so manykids?
ES: I don't know, it was just like now, if you want to learn you got whatyou put into it. I can't say that I was such a good student, I guess X was an average, but my sister, she was a good student. And there was a few others in the class, who were as I say, there's good students and there's — I kn@W kids down there who were in my class when I started to school that looked like they were fifteen-sixteen year old kids- big kids, only i in the second and third grade.
SS: What about play? What did you do to have fun? When you were kids.
ES: Oh, they used to play— the play that I remember the most is Crack theWhip. You know a bunch of guys.with all the big guys up on one end and they got to go for this string and then run and then they'd brace theirself and hang on there and if you're on the end, why just bust you wide open. Used to play that and then we used to play Run Sheep Run. ... M4 played baseball and cricket.
ES: Well, we— digga little hole in the ground about half a foot long andabout three or four inches deep, let's see now— then you lay a stick across this hole, about so long, then take another stick and throw it and whoever kid caught the stick, you have to lay your — the big stick you threw that with, lay it across this hole there, and this kid that caught the stick, he'd throw it and if he could hit the stick that you tossed the little stick out with, well then it was his turn to throw the stick, see?
SS: Do you think most of the kids liked the school? Liked school pretty well?
ES: I think they did. I think they liked school pretty well. I think theydid.
SS: Those games were school games? You played them at school?
ES: Yes, they played 'em at school. Yeah, take it down in those days, inthe morning about nine o'clock, you could look up the road or down the road this way; north, south, east, west, you'd see kids coming over the In those days hill with their dinnerbucket, coming to school. Alots of families lived on eighty acres farms, and forty acre farms. A three hundred and twenty acre farm was a big farm in those days. Lots of eighty acre farms. On this Buchanan place I think there was a hundred and sixty, I believe a little over a hundred and sixty of Course it wasn't all in cul tivation. And the place my dad— we lived on a long time after we left the Buchanan place that was a hundred and sixty. And I think there was about eighty acres of that— about eighty acres of farm land, was about all "there was on it, most of it was timber.
SS: Did this schoolhouse get a lot of use for socializing?
ES: Yes, that old Aspendale Schoolhouse, when consolidated, it was thesecond year my daughter went to school. She went to school there her first year. Then the next year they consolidated with Genesee and then she went to Genessee for a year or two,as long as we lived down there. And insteaa of letting the old school- house go to pot like they did in most of the districts— - rural districts. The families they got together and fixed it up, painted it and usi it for kind of a community center, you know. Different socials there and everything. They had a gun club there for quite a while. I don't think they have that any more. We were down there, been about four years ago I guess since we was down there. Went down there to one of the couples in the community was celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary down there. They were young married people the same time we were down there.
SS: Did you tell me they were mostly Irish down there?
ES: Yes, all the fellows down around the Lxnville country, that's Irish settlement. In over there where we were, through there, across the moun tain, that's most ly Scandinavian.
SS: Oh, I see. Now where was Aspendale located now from
ES: Well, this side of It's the first school this side ofwas Aspendale District. There's a schoolhouse right in and you come on this way towards Moscow and then there was Aspendale Dist rict, then you come on up before the mountains to come this way there they formed another district and that was the Ferndale District, fhen you cross the mountain on over here before you get to Moscow, that was the Mt. Tomer District over there, in Moscow.
SS: Well, when you were going to school there in Aspendale did they have alot of community get-to-gathers?
ES: Oh, yeah. We had mostly an the wintertime. In the wintertime we hadLiterary, you know. We'd have programs and every Saturday night, I think it was about every Saturday night we gathered down to the schoolhouse and had Literary, kids'd speak pieces and we had debate teams or debate or something going on, on Saturday nights. 'Course, Christmas was al ways a big deal. In those days everybody knew his neighbor, know there was one vacant house down there in our district and there was quite a and my brother and I few kids eight and nine, ten years old something like that, and so we made a club out of this house. We just used this old house for a club. And, believe it or not, we'd go down there at nights in the wintertime and build a fire and read books. Maybe you remember about the Rover Boys Series, boys' books. We always had a bunch of Rover Boys books, and they took turns about reading.
SS: Did you read a book a night?
ES: A book a night, yeah, we'd just pass it around. I'd read a while andI passed it over to the next one and he'd read a while and then just kept it agoing, you know. And we had one kid there, he was a pretty good tall kid, he was kind of crosseyed- and he was a pretty good cook, and what we'd do— probably tonight— one night we were up to my folks s place and go to the chickenhouse and get a old hen (Laughter) and, of course, those days then everybody had carrots and rutabegas buried for fall. They'd dig them out of the in the fall, they'd just dig a hole and put straw in it and cover 'em up, you know and they'd keep all winter. You'd go out there in the wintertime or early spring and dig a hole in there and reach in there and you'd get a potato, rutabega or to the pits whatever was in there, apple. So we'd go and get carrots and stuff and he'd always make a mulligan,and we'd call it, and we'd eat and go on all . And probably the next time the other guy they d go up to one of the other guys houses and get a chicken-
SS: Did you tell your folks you were taking the chicken?
ES: I think we told 'em after it was all over with. I think it gotout that we was eating down there, and of course they naturally wanted to know—L they knew none of us didn't have no money, so they wanted to know where we got the chicken. I think it probably got out, they found it out.
SS: It sounds like pretty good, clean fun.
ES: Yes, it was, it was for a fact.
SS: Did you call yourselves a club?
ES: No. No we just called it our clubhouse, we didn't have no name forclub or Just gathered down there. And then in the summertime we had our little Aspendale ball team* We played ball against Cornwall, and Lftiville. We had lots of fun when I was a kid, out there in the country. Of course we very seldom came to town. The only time I came to town— we come to town was, a circus come to town, that was usually about once a year, the circus come to town and then we got money enough to come to the circus.
SS: Do you remember what circuses were like here when you were young?
ES: I remember, the biggest one that was ever here was Ringling Brothers.Then there was Barnum and Bailey. But Ringling Brothers was the big circus here. And some times after we got a little older, after us kids were a little older, everybody had a saddle horse, a horse to ride, anyway. Then there was times that we used to ride to Moscow and ride up Main Street and back and then go on back home. we had a lot of fun. Fact of the matter, She did no work outside of taking care of her family. mother hardly ever worked-— she very little work in the garden, my father did that. Her work was— of course she had four boys and my sister carevpfdi She did very little work outside, my mother did. And we always had lots of flowers, and it seems like my dad he had a flower bed. Oh, she appreciated him and would be out there with him a lot of time, but she did very little work outside of in the house.
SS: Did the same go for your sister, too?
ES: Yeah. She didn't do too much outside work. Oh, she'd get out and—pitchhorse us "kids' and everything like that. She rode horseback a little bit, but she was mostly at the house.
SS: Do you think that your father got a hard time very much because he wasblack?
ES: No. I don't hardly think he did. I think that— I really don't thinkmy father did. He wasn't that type of a man, seems like if he— he was a likeable man and he was a jiind man, he was a good man, he was an honest man. His word was good as gold. And so it just seemed like he blended in with the neighbors, the people he traded with. Of course, like I say, when he was trying to raise money to buy rtis tella out,buy from this fellow, why he had a pretty hard time agetting that, because know him, they woiildn't the people they didn't trust him, they didn't know whether he was good or not. But finally somebody took a chance on himrv After they why it seemed like his color didn't hold him back much. got to know my dad 'Course I imagine there was times that it Would have better if he would have been another color, but— For years, after us boys got pretty good size, why he run' a hay baler and he baled hay all over the country, and he always had all he could do.
SS: I ran into Mr. Johnson, who lives down at Juliaetta-
SS: Johnson, I think that's his name. He lived at country. Hetold me that he knew you and that I should say "hello" to you for him.
SS: He said that you and your father baled hay for him.
ES: So many Johnsons in the country I wouldn't know who it was. My fatherbaled hay all over the country from clear up around Palouse up here clear down to the top of the Lewiston grade and back along the-Snake River. fie, was down town and Genesee. I left the baler and went in the ser vice and come back and started in right where we left off, they was baling when I come out. A lot of hard work.
SS: Well, one thing I was thinking was, I don't know if it's true, butseems like in a pioneer setting it's easier maybe for a man to be judged just by for what he was^ what he does, not what his nationality was or his color. And I was wondering if you feel that way, too. Whether this kind of country in the West would be a better place for a man look ing for opportunity than maybe other places.
ES: Well, I'll tell you, that is one reason that brought my father outWest. Cause this old man that he worked for there in Fort Smith, He told my dad in their conversation, he said, "I think that'd be a good place for you. You're a young man, you're raising a family and as far as I could see when I was out there, there s very little prejudice in that part of the country. Racial prejudice." He says to my dad as far as he could see there seemed to be less racial prejudice, not like it prompted him to is down there in the South. And that's one reason that come West another thing, besides that he wanted to get out. And he thought that there's lots of game out here. And I guess that's part of his Indian blood in him*- we were little kids, he liked to hunt. And that's the way he did with us kids, seven or these mountains up here. chased coyotes eight years old, we used to walkr- He got him some hounds and hunt coyaround Every weekend instead of going downltown, why we get our until were grown, guns and go to the hills. That's the way we spent our weekendsK And over the years we never did have no accidents, either, the four of us together. Some times there'd be as high as six of us kids together, us boys and some of the neighbor kids, roving the hills all with guns and we never did have no accidents, either.
SS: Did you your father know of any other black families around anywheresin this inland country?
ES: No. When we come here there was one more black family that was in herewas up here at Deary by the name of Wells. They was in here when we came here. Arid he was the only one. And then after in about 1910-'12 there was another black family that settled in up here at Tensed. Up there they was farmers. They homesteaded up on that reservation up there, and there's some of 'em still up there; some of the boys. The girl and one of the boys jp there— there s two boys and a girl up there yet. The girl lives on the old home place and the two boys have got places of their own up there.
SS: What's their name?
SS: Did you know the Wells?
ES: Yeah, I knew the Wells. I knew 'em. I went up there— when I got outof the army I went up there and worked for Old Man Wells. I know he was gyppo logging up there t Potlatch and I worked for the old fellow up there for about a month, I guess. I went up there in December and worked for him for a month. I worked up there for about a couple of months up there in the winter.
SS: Was his wife, Lou, still alive then?
ES: Yes. She was still alive then.
SS: What do you remember about them? I've heard a lot about them in Deary.
ES: Well, I'll tell you. They were a different type of people than my folks.They were hard workers and they were hard drinkers. And my family wasn't that type. They made good money and they throwed it away. Anyway 'way— he had a chance of being a rich outfit, but they just blew it.
SS: Why was that?
ES: Well, they made good money and they could have bought good land cheapat that time when they was in there, you know, good farm out on the ridge, the best land it ever rained on. But they stayed in the woods. They made good money in the woods if they'd have saved it. But they made it and they spent it.
SS: I've heard that Joe was real close to Frank and Crom Wells.Well, here's the way I heard it— that Frank and Citem Wells owned Joe's parents in slavery, ... I've heard that. And, of course, Frank and Crom and Joe, they knew each other when they was kids you see. And when Frank and Ctom came out here they are the ones that sent for Joe. Got him out here. Now that's the way I heard it, how much truth it is, I can't swear to it. But that's what I've heard.
SS: Do you think that it would have been Frank and Crom's parents that ownedJoe's?
ES: Yeah, yeah, that's what I heard, and 'course— that owned Joe's parents,see? And Joe was born on their place and of course Frank and Crom was kids, too, all kids together there on the same plantation. Frank and and owned the slaves. Crom's parents owned the plantation^ Now, that's what I heard.
SS: I've heard the same thing. I've heard that they were just like brothers.
ES: Yeah, yeah, they were, you bet they were. That's one thing that theyhad the advantage of my dad when he come out here. 'Cause these Wells} they had money, you see. They helped Old Joe. Well, my dad; he came out here, he didn't have no money. I think when he landed here he had about as many kids as he had dollars!! (Chuckles)
SS: You know, funny thing about Joe Wells, is that he's got a heck of areputation in Deary as being a— and Lou too, as being a great family. They have a lot of respect in that area. up there You bet.
ES: Yes, they liked Old Joe^ sure they do. ^Well, I guess he had a heartI liked her, as big as a hotel, as far as that part's concerned. And Old Lou, she was just a good old soul, I liked Old Lou.
SS: Do you remember her pretty well?
ES: Oh, I remember her well. 'Course I boarded with 'em when I worked upI knew her pretty well, there. I liked her. She was the only one I cared for, is Old Lady Wells. I liked Old Lady Wells.
SS: Was she still cooking?
ES: Oh, yeah, ya.
SS: I've heard tell that her cooking was really special.
ES: Yeah, yeah. (Chuckles) Yeah, she was a good cook, alright.
SS: They kept cabin and a lot of people stopped.
ES: Yes, that was kind of a halfway house for homesteaders up in Bovilland up in that country. They called it a halfway house there. They had a big house at that time, and people going up in the white pine diswould trict stay i all night there or stopped there and get a meal, in the early days. Old Wells was known far and wide. He helped build some and when he first come out here, of these brick buildings here in Moscow Colfax, too I don't know when they came here, but I know they were here when we came here. They must have come probably in the early part of the '90's. I don't know.
SS: Do you know if Lou and Joe had been married back East before they came?
ES: Yeah, yeah, they was married before they came out here. Yeah,^he)wasmarried, uh-huh.
SS: 'Cause I didn't know if he met her out here or back there.
ES: No. They was married back there. Old Joe come out here— I heard himtell it himself— he came out here, the Wells boys brought out here. And I don't know how many of Joe's kids was born back there, anyway, he come out here and then he sent the money back to her to come. He sent for her after he came out here.
SS: She died first, didn't she?
ES: Yeah, she was the first one to die.
SS: I remember people have said that she was an especially nice person,really kind.
ES: Yes she was. Yes Mrs. Wells was a pretty nice old lady. I liked her.As I say, I liked her better than I did any of
SS: Were Chuck and Roy older than you?
ES: Yeah, they - older than me. Sure had a lot of fine horses, Old ManWells did. He had some good horses up there in the woods, when was logging up there. Well, Potlatch did, too, but he had horses just as good as the Potlatch. He had four head of nice horses;weig1hedclose to - a ton apiece.
SS: That's saying quite a bit. The Potlatch had good horses.
ES: Yeah, that's when they did all the logging with horses, you know. Didall the skidding with horses.
SS: How did it work when you were working for him? Did he just get contractsto log?
ES: Yeah, he was gyppoing. See the Potlatch would let small tracts of timberberout on a gyppo job. Lots of gyppo loggers up there. Old Joe and Chuck.he stayed up there. Roy he was a sheepman. He used to herd sheep, lie wasn't there in the summertime, he was out with the sheep. But Chuck and his dad, they did the gyppoing for Potlatch. I don't know why the Potlatch did it, but they'd have a patch, whether it was with their outfit too small for them to fool with or what, but they'd let it out to the gyppo loggers. They logged for Potlatch and they did pretty good.
SS: I heard Joe had a pretty big operation, too, I mean for that time.
ES: Yeah, I guess he did. He did. As I say, they made good money. Theykids can made good money. Those Tiremember Old Joe telling it himself that libable to Chuck and Roy'd work and get five hundred dollars apiece and go to Spokane and spend a weekend and Old Joe nave to send em enough money to come home on! (Laughter)
SS: That's the old lumberjack ways is what that is. (Chuckles) I'veheard that story many times.
ES: Old Joe said they'd go to Spokane with five hudnred dollars apiece intheir pocket and, by golly,Then co send money up for a ticket to come home on. They blowed a lot of good money, that outfit did!! But—
SS: He had one daughter, Mary.
ES: Yeah, uh-huh.
SS: I heard that Mary was the valedictorian at Deary. That's what someonesaid; that she was a good student there.
ES: Well, she might have been, I don't know. She had a daughter that waspretty bright. Pretty smart girl. 'Course, when I knew 'em they were all grown. I was grown, too, but— The only time our families was— the two families was together, that's when Lou died. Our whole family went up to the funeral when she passed away. But outside of that we never saw too much of each other. I think Chuck worked for my dad on the hay baler some, when he got to be an old man, .
SS: Did Roy stay in the country here, when he was herding sheep?
ES: No, Roy wasn!t around there very much—only in the wintertime he wasthere quite a little bit, but in the spring, some big sheepman down here riverbed go down there, on the he worked with sheep all the time. I've heard stories about both Roy and Mary had a boy, and he took after his Uncle Roy. He went to sheep, too he's down in Arizona, down there. After Roy had passed away, I heard that's what he was doing in Arizona there, he .s working with sheep.
SS: I've heard stories about what a strong man Joe was.
ES: He was a strong man.
SS: He wasn't very big, though.
ES: No. He was a small man. He was a good man. Chuck was a husky man forhis size, but Old Joe, he was a strong man. He was a good worker, too. If he'd just had a little management he'd a been a rich man.
SS: I heard one story about Chuck, that he was so strong, that he'd justbreak peavy handle after peavy handle on the logs.
ES: He probably could. I know there's a certain way youhandle 'em —they break pretty easy. I know that's why they had a hard time with me. They was always hollerin' at me the way I handled peavy.
SS: Is that what you did when you were working for 'em?
ES: Swamping was my job. Swamping, but I got a chance to handle a peavysome too. Swamping was my job.
SS: How big was the crew when you were there?
ES: Oh, there wasn't much of a crew. I think there was two fellows doingthe sawing, and I think there was myself and another guy most of the time was doing the swamping. I swamped steady, and there was another feller that swamped part of the time, they got in where the timber— when they did lots of falling.And old Chuck and Joe they did the skid ding. There was about six of us together, worked together all time of two sawyers, and two on the swamping. Part time-Chuck and Joe, they did the skidding. And then the one guy worked out on the landing there quite a little bit id when he wasn't helping me swamp, he worked down there. There was a crew of about six.
SS: Were they using horses?
ES: Oh, yeah, they used horses.
SS: How far would they have to go with their timber? Just get on the landing?
ES: Yes, just on the landing. I imagine some or had to skid a quarter of amile. Maybe longer than that.
SS: You didn't stay at that work too long?
ES: No. No, I stayed at it 'til, oh, about the latter part of December, Ithink, and then that's when my mother and dad went South-My dad built the house for my grandmother my dad said for me to come home.
SS: Your dad went back South to live?
ES: No, he went back down there to spend the winter. Hhe built the homefor my grandmother and helped his sis^ and one thing and another. They spent most of the winter down there. About two months or better, any way.
SS: You said that your father sold vegetables in Moscow?
ES: Yeah. Out here— they bought twenty acres out here'and he had lots ofberries and he always had a big garden and different kinds of berries; raspberries and strawberries. And that's what he sold mostly around town, to different stores around here, strawberries and raspberries. at home out here. And, of course, after people knew he had em, tney d call up and or- And that's one time when my mother worked outside, more than anything else, was at the berry timesi She worked out in the berries, getting the berries ready. The kids picked 'em and she'd get the crates ready, stuffiug like that.
SS: Did you stay in school until you got through the eighth grade?
SS: How long did you stay in school?
ES: 'Til my junior year. The first year I went to— I graduated from thebusiness department of the Moscow High School in 1914. And then I de cided to go on. I went through my junior year. I figured rant to go on after I finished the first year from business— business course— then I decided to go on to high school long enough to pick up enough credits so I could get in college Most likely I could have twenty-eight credits and I could have got in college. I got started in high school kind of late because I lived out in the country when I finished the eighth grade... It was two years after I finished the eighth grade before I got to come in to high, school so I was getting pretty-well up in age myself. And the war broke out, so that kind of ended it. When I got out of the armyl could have finished,but instead of that I took a correspondence course and decided to go into civil service. Railway clerk is what I had in mind. And when I got-my call took the examination- and I got my call, why, my wife and I were going to get married and she didn't like the idea. You go into a mail clerk, I'd be gone away from home all-time, and she thought it would be better if we just went to farming, so that's what we did.(end cassette) Cornwall was quite a little place 'til when I was a There was two stores there and a blacksmith shop and a flourmill.
SS: What were the Fourth of Julys like over there?
ES: Oh, had horseraces and naturally a baseball game and footraces forthe kids and stuff like that, you know, it was fun.
SS: Did they have speeches?
ES: I don't remember 'em— too many speeches. Seems like the last one theyhad out there, I think it was about the time World War I broke out— there was somebody give a big speech that time, I don't remember who it was now. That just slipped my mind. We had somebody give a talk.
SS: This baseball— was it a league, or just informal?
ES: Just the kids from different localities get together. There was a lotof kids around Aspendale, in that district. Same way with Cornwall course Cornwall, they had a little bit more drawing power than most of them, but they didn't have any better team than we did, I don't be lieve.
SS: And there'd be really quite a few people come watch the games?
ES: Oh, yes, I'll say so. You bet— just like I say— just like it was abig league game. Some of those old farmer boys played pretty good ball Thorn Creek too. 'Course, you take over here like at Blaine and in there. They had baseball teams too, but they were men, grownups, they had some good teams. But Cornwall and Len^iHe and Aspendale, we were just teenager kids had some pretty good players on both teams,
SS: What position did you play?
ES: I played a little bit at first base, but I was pretty short for firstbase. I liked first base the best, I liked to play first base. Short stop is where I played most of the time.
SS: Were the rules pretty much the same wa; as they are now?the umpire
ES: Oh yes,'course we didn't have no bat zone— (laughter) If it wasas high as your head and it went across the plate, why he called it a strike! (Laughter) If it was right on the ground and didn't hit on the ground and bounce over the catcher's head, why, and he caught it, that was a strike, too!! But as long as you got 'em over the plate high or low, it didn't matter too" much, that was a strike! But it worked the same with both sides, guess we can't kick.
SS: Were games pretty wild and woolly, were they high scoring games? Doyou remember?
ES: Oh, no, they wasn't too high a scoring games. Very seldom we got ahomerun. Sometimes a kid'd get up there and knock a homerun. Most of the time get out there in the weeds and lose the ball!! (Laughter) 'Course we had some of 'em pretty good.
SS: What kind of a ball would you use? You didn't have hard balls, did you?
ES: Yeah, yeah. That was before softball came into the picture. No we wasn'tplaying with a soft ball. I've played some softball, but that was after I came to town here. But those days, we played hardball.
SS: What about gloves?
ES: Well, we had all kinds of gloves. We had gloves, some of 'em wasn'tvery good. And we had a hard time akeepin' a mask. We had a mask.but I don't think so much of the time I don't think we had a chest protector. And we played some games I remember when we didn't have a mask, and nobody seemed to got hurt.
SS: So you figured you had good crowds, 'cause there wasn't anyplace elseto go.
ES: No place to go, you know, they just— the farmers they'd hook ip theold hack and team and come over and watched the kids play ball. And they'd get a chance to visit with all the neighbors, too. They had about as much fun out of it as we did.
SS: Would it be mostly during summer?
ES: Yeah. During the summer after school was out. Between school time andharvest.
SS: How about betting? Did you bet on the games?
ES: No, I don't remember doing much betting on the games.
SS: Well, not you guys that played— I was thinking-farmers-
ES: No, we didn't. We didn't do much gambling on the games.
SS: They didn't fight over— when one side lost?
ES: No. No. No. No.
SS: Up in Princeton and Harvard— they used to come to blows.
ES: Get up there and those wood rats, you know, and they'd get up there andthey'd get their baseball and moonshine mixed together there and they'd get in some pretty wild times sometimes!
SS: In the fall did they have a lot of auctions?to have
ES: Yeah. We used lots of auction sales in the fall.
SS: I was wondering if that wasn't the same kind of thing— it'd b- a placewhere people'd get together.
ES: Yeah, they did. You take after harvest time, seemed like every weekendthere was an auction sale on some farm around somewhere in the country. And there were billboards you'd see that would have auction sale on it, they'd have an auction sale. Some farmer had lost his lease or something and was selling out.
SS: Maybe retiring?
ES: And then after the tractors started coming in, some farmer'd get atractor. Then everybody in the neighborhood that owned land had a renter on it farming with horses, why then he'd want the tractor to the fella with farm his place and then horses'd have to get off that's all there That's the big farmg got started. And that was the end of the old farmer, when the tractors started coming in.
SS: Why? Just because the tractors'd do so much more?
ES: Yeah, Faster
SS: Was there lots of turnover of renters then?
ES: Yeah, there was. Lots of turn over. As I said while ago, t tractorscame in there was lots of hundred and sixty and eighty and forty acre the families lived on. But treactors come infarmsa. They're all gone now. This kid that I went to school with, his older sister s down at the Aspendale school, that Bertyl Spence, you might know 'em, lived down at the Aspendale District.He istarted on a hundred and sixty and now he's got, right there in that neighborhood, there was two of 'em had tractors, but they got old and they— now he's got fourteen hudjired acres down there. 'Course there was two of the fellows, they got old and they retired, and they let him have their farm Ray Campbell and Ben Johan.
SS: Did most people go to tractors really quick, or did the horses hold outfor very long?
ES: Well, they didn't hold out too long. See I started farming in '24, andthe tractors were just coming in, just coming in then. And I quit farm ing in, I believe it was '35, and about ten years from that time, there farmers out there. was just very few horsey. Very few horse farmers. The farms were get then ting bigger all the time, Now I farmed with horses. I had two hundred I rented place of course there was and forty in one place and then ^n another a nudnred and sixty, only about seventy of it in cultivation. I farmed with horses, and I was a pretty good sized farmer. I couldn't keep it though. The fell with tractors got it. And then I some of I was- farming with got a traco^r. Before I got a tractor then I didn't have too much. And then another thing these" farmers, they started buying land, too. You take my neighbor down there close to the farm we had,Westberg Brothers, there was four boys of them, they lost their father. They had a good stand in with the First Bank of Troy down there, and he — Old Brocke backed they had tractors and they started buying land. And I don't know how much land they have got down there now. The Westberg brothers. Big farmers.
SS: Well, having the tractors, that just gave 'em a real jump on farming withhorses?
ES: Oh, yes, it did, just give 'em all kinds of jump on the fellow that hadhorses, because if you had a tractor it was no trouble for you to rent land. And first thing you know, you had a big spread. And the little guy— you got lttle guy, as I say, if a fellow was rentfarming ing a hundred and sixty, and he's with horses and you come in there with a big tractor and doing r work. A. third of the time horses. Why naturally you;d want to that the fellow was putting in with i'd lease your place to the fellow with the tractor. And then it seems like in later years, the seasons started getting shorter, too. We used to farm with horses you know, we used to get out there in the spring and we'd start in March and itd be way up to the first of May before we'd get the crop in. hundred and sixty, fiut you take now with a tracwhy shoot, these farmers tor,'don't make no difference how much thet're farming, give 'em about They've got the big equipment ten days and they're T - through. Just like Bertyl Spence, he'd got say a farm of about fourteen hundred acres, but he's got two of those wheel he told me great big uractors, you know, I think he pulls forty foot of springtooth harrow behind one of 'em. You know if he goes taking forty foot swaths around a hundred and sixty acres, you don't make many swaths!(Laughs) The same way with your drills. I imagine he pulls four drills. Well that's another forty foot swath. And I guess he can just pull all he you put in your can hook together in harrowing spring crop, you don t sit out there summer.
SS: What kind of an investment was it for a guy to go to a tractor from ahorse team?
ES: Well, to start with, now most of the fellows that went to tractors verybig, why the tractor company — lots of times they bought a lot of their horses. Took the horses in on 'em. There was one outfit in Genesee- Lewiston down there— they'd take your horses in on a tractor. Now what they did with 'em from there, I don't know. And lots of times a fellow'd go buy him a tractor and then he'd have an auction sale and sell off his horses. You buy good horses for little or nothing.
SS: How much would tractors run in those days? Do you remember?
ES: Yes,my neighbor down there, one of my neighbors bought a diesel, firstdiesel that I know of, in there, and he gave about forty-five hundred for it. And another neighbor bought a caterpillar, and he gave about three thousand for it. And these.like Spender's got, they run about forty-five thousand. He was telling me, '"Gene," he says, — how much money he had invested in machinery, says, "'Gene, if I had 'em paid for and could get the money I got into them," he says, "I could retire." I don't know how many hundreds of thousands he figured he had in them— just in machinery alone. And now this fellow bought this first diesel down there, he give close to five thousand dol lars for it— forty some hundred dollars for it, And at that time he could have bought — the hundred and sixty that my wife and I had there, he give five— I think it was forty-five hundred, I think he give for his tractor, and we bought this hundred and sixty for five thousand. There's about a hundred acres of it in cultivation. About thirty-five or forty acres in timber, scab timber.
SS: I've heard that some of the old timers, guys that had been at it for along time, just didn't want to go to tractors from horses.
ES: Oh, there's lots of 'em, just the same way about combines. There's alot of these when combines that came out, "Oh, no, they'll just scatter seeds all over and I don't want nothing to do with 'em." But it wasn't long before they had 'em. They come out when they pulled 'em by horses. Tliey wouldn't have a combine on their place. The same way with tractors, they didn't like the way they turned the dirt, too fast or something. They was kicking agin it, but they all come around to it.
SS: I'm sure you've heard the story about the guy that was on a tractor andthe first time he tried tC stop it, he hollered, "Whoa! Whoa."
ES: Yeah. (Laughter) Yeah, the small farmer don't have a chance now-a-days,Well, in fact, that's about the only : that's making any money, is the big farmer. Now this Burdell down there, he's got all that land and he bought these steel tanks and he's got his own farm storage here and he's getting hisself in pretty good shape.
SS: But you think the beginning of the end of the small farming was when thewheel tractors came in?
ES: Yeah, when the tractors started coming in. It was along about the firstpart of the '20's.
1:00 - Where his parents met; grandmother having a claim to Oklahoma Indian territory; what his father did while they lived in Oklahoma
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Segment Synopsis: Father's employer persuaded him to come West after seeing the open land in Washington on a trip to Seattle. Other young men with stock came too. Bound for Moscow, Washington, father stops at Moscow, Idaho, where people told him he was going to hard country. A man (Crissman) offered to rent him a farm, but he decided to go on.
15:00 - His father tried to live on Crab Creek but decided to move back to Moscow; kept codfish in a pan
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25:00 - Father talking to Native Americans in Pendleton; grandfather’s cabin in Mississippi with a banjo on the wall
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29:00 - Crissman was the man who rented to father; his daughter was the first black student to graduate from U of I
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33:00 - Where father rented and bought land; having to stay home from school to help with work; neighbors helping plow the field
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Segment Synopsis: Father rented and bought land near Joel. Getting horses and equipment. Father got a bad case of rheumatism for two winters; one winter Eugene Settle had to stay home from school to do the work. In spring all the neighbors came and donated a day's work to plow his field. Farming different places.
50:00 - Going to the Aspendale school; games that they played; school was a sort of community center; discussion of Christmas
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65:00 - Father was a good man and didn't have problems because he was African-American; less racial prejudice is part of why his father came west; farm family activities
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Segment Synopsis: The Wells family were hard workers and could have been prosperous, but they drank and threw their money away. Lou was very nice, and Joe had a big heart; they were married in the South. Mr. Settle swamped for Joe when he gyppoed; he had a big operation, with horses as good as Potlatch's. Joe sent money to Spokane for Chuck and Roy, after they blew $500 apiece over the weekend. Roy herded sheep.
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97:00 - Weekly auctions after harvest; tractor farmers pushing out horse farmers; switching to tractor farming and the investment it took
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