Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mojo Monday ~ Better Days for Lizzie and Family

Nevada ship log showing Lizzie and family.
Lizzie with her daughters

The story of Elizabeth Talmer Roberts Shepherd continues.... (The beginning of Lizzie's story can be located here.)

It was in 1897 that Lizzie's children got their first chance to go to school.  The people of the community donated logs to build a 16 x 32 feet school house.  Reverend L.D. Thompson donated two acres of ground on which to erect the building.  It was covered with a dirt roof and was used not only for school purposes, but for other purposes by Mormons and gentiles alike.  In the winter of 1896 Elder William Packard called a meeting of the Mormon people to discuss the proposition of building a meeting house. This building was completed by 1897.


In this period when the Mormons were still in very poor circumstances, the chief engineer of the Burlington Railroad came to A.O. Woodruff and told him that he would like to give the people of this area twenty miles of railroad to build.  This section of railroad ran from Pryor Gap on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana to Frannie, Wyoming.  Contracts were signed for twenty miles of grading, the price being 13 1/2 cents for earth, 24 cents for solid rock, and 50 cents per ton-mile for pipe haul.  Charles A. Welch, who wrote a history of the Big Horn Basin, was selected to do the railroad work and look after the commissary.  This was an answer to a prayer as it supplied the settlers with a source of income during the winter.

The next three years were quite good years on the ranch.  They continued to clear more land, to improve the canals and to plant more each year.  The crops of hay and grain were good, the family had a small garden, which Lizzie took care of.  The children picked wild berries along the river.  Some jelly was made and preserved.  The children would collect old beer bottles and such.  The tops were cut off the bottles by dropping a hot harness rind down over the bottle neck.  Then they were filed smooth across the top.  After they were washed and the jelly was poured and set, they were sealed by coating a piece of tablet paper with egg which and sticking it securely over the top.  Lizzie was a thrifty woman and made use of all the items of produce.  She made tomato preserve and a large stone jar was made full of pumpkin butter.  The children love the green tomatoes that Lizzie used to slice and fry.  After their lean years it now seemed that they had a very comfortable life.

Lizzie's daughter Florence gave birth to her second son on July 12, 1898 and named him Earnest John Prettyman, after her brother.  In the winter of the following year on December 18, 1899, Lizzie and her husband Rollins Don Carlos had another son and named him Bartley Roberts Shepherd.   Lizzie's oldest son Earnest Wiggett was now nineteen years old, son Carl Shepherd celebrated his fifteenth birthday on January 1, 1900, and Laffe was fourteen.  

Son Claude wrote in a story, "I was big enough then to go with my brothers to get timber."  The boys cut and hauled many loads of logs and started to build a four room house.  They laid logs up to the square (ready for a roof) at least two different times, the took the logs down to use for fences and corrals.  One day while they were working on the fence, Carl picked up a new hatchet that one of the neighbors had carelessly left.  New tools were rare, and Carl was pleased with his new find.  Lizzie saw him hide it in the sagebrush and knew it did not belong to them and made him return the hatchet to the rightful owner.

In the early spring of 1900 Florence and Burton Prettyman had their third son.  Burton Hazen Prettyman was born in Burlington on March 27, 1900.

In the fall of 1900 there was a lot of illness.  A man by the name of James Aaron Kinnamin came to Burlington.  He had left his wife and small child in Colorado, but had brought his four oldest children with him in a covered wagon.  Lon and Willard were in their early teens, Mary about twelve years old and Howard about ten.  When they arrive Lon was ill with diptheria.  Lizzie took in the washing for this family and although she used carbolic acid as a disinfectant in the wash water and in the dish soap, soon Earnest, Valie and Lizzie each had diptheria.  They were all very sick.  Lizzie sent Carl to buy a bottle of pure grain alcohol at the saloon.  She would pour a few drops of this onto a teaspoon with sugar and have the ill ones take it to cut the phlegm in their throats to keep them from choking.  Addie was then about seven years old and was very afraid of getting the illness.  She told her mother, "If I get it, I'll die."  So she ate sugar and alcohol, and also threw all the used spoons behind a chest of drawers.  Fortunately she did not get sick.

Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd had his seventieth birthday in the winter of 1900.  He continued to work on the ranch with the help of Earnest and Carl.  They were still clearing sage brush and still extending the canal system across their land.  In the year of 1901 they had a good crop of alfalfa that grew as tall as a horse.

In the fall Laffe and Claude walked about three miles to school.  Enda, Addie and Valie also walked to school with them.  Valie can remember taking a short cut through the fields and down along the big canal.  Sometimes they would go over to the Kinnamin house with Mary for lunch. They had rented a small house in Burlington.  Although they had no woman to care for them, the house and the children were neat and clean.  The children enjoyed these growing up years, and many family stories come from this time.

To be continued.....


Do you know any old family stories?  How far back do they go?  

Consider asking grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles about stories they may know.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mojo Monday ~ Tragedy Strikes

Nevada ship log showing Lizzie and family.
Photo of Lizzie and her daughters.
When we last left off with the story of Lizzie an accident had just occurred.

On the family's return trip from Billings, Montana the older children were walking along the roadside picking flowers.  Five year old Electra who was riding in the wagon decided she wanted to pick flowers too and while climbing down, slipped and fell.  Her dress caught in the brake block and threw her under the wagon.  The heavy wagon rolled over her body and her back was broken.  The family went back to Billings for a doctor, but he said he could do nothing for her.  Her father, Rollins Don Carlos, wanted to get back to the ranch, so they made a bed for her in the wagon and started out.  Their travels took them through the Crow Reservation at Pryor, Montana.  The Crow tribe did what they could to ease her suffering, but after a few days she died on June 27, 1894.  She was laid to rest there on the reservation with a service spoken by a Catholic priest.  Lizzie did not feel good about the rosary beads and the cross he put into her little coffin and she removed those before she was buried.

The family finally returned to Burlington in the month of July.  Young Earnest, who at twelve years old, had been left behind to mind the ranch, had almost given up hope of ever seeing them again.  The sad events of the trip and the poor conditions of the family made it hard for them to accomplish much that summer.  Lizzie's husband, Rollins Don Carlos, continued to work for other others.  They moved onto the Thorn Ranch and lived in a small cabin.  It was another hard winter for them.  In the Spring of 1895, Rollins Don Carlos chose his land and began to clear some of the sagebrush.  While they were still living at Thorn's Place another daughter was born.  Valie Shepherd joined the family on June 5, 1895. (Valie in later years would share how her father wanted to name her Roxalana Ray after his mother, but what of the neighbors had a dog named Roxie, and that is why she was not given that name.)

In 1895 Mormon settlers located in the region permanently and named the place Burlington.  They decided to build another ditch to cover the land lying along the river valley and it could be down for much less than the Bench Canal.  Things were looking blue, but the settlers came together and elected Richard L. Proctor as Superintendent and through his untiring effort rallied the people.  That land had to be homesteaded so that every man had to build on the place he had selected for a home.  The ditch was sufficiently finished and some crops were raised the same season that the work began.  The group of families that were among those who built homesteads included the Shepherds, Packards, Bakers, Rigtrup, Corns and Dobson families. 

Young Earnest and Carl hauled logs from the Narby mountains and a one room cabin was built.  A story by Claude states that they moved to the homestead in the Fall of 1895.  They hauled logs to build a fence so cattle could be kept out.  The first year they put in five acres of hay and grain.  They continued to clear more land each season.  The following years they had a good crop of wheat and Lizzie had a large bin built in one corner of the cabin.  She filled it with wheat and a bed was made over it.  She traded three bushels of wheat for a small pig.  The pig had the scurvy and she put it into a wash tub and gave it a good lye soap bath and then fed it well.  She was rewarded with a nice littler of pigs the following spring.  Claude's story tells of pulling salt grass during the winter to feed the pigs.  

The family continued to clear the land.  The earliest memory that Valie recounted was of sitting on a blanket of sagebrush while the older boys, Earnest and Carl, hauled more logs from the mountains.  Times were still very hard for the settlers, but romance entered the picture too when eldest daughter Florence Wiggett, at age seventeen married Burton Jackson Prettyman on August 3, 1896.

The young couple went to live with his family at their place across the Greybull River.  They built a small house on his parents property and lived there for about ten years.  Burton Prettyman had been married before and had one son, Charles Prettyman.  
The Shepherd family was able to get a cow and some chickens the next year.  This added milk, butter and eggs to their diet.  The children picked berries down along the Greybull River in the summer for fruit. Sometime during the year of 1897 Lizzie suffered a late term miscarriage.  That same year she also became a grandmother.  Lizzie was thirty-six years old the year her daughter, Florence Wigget Prettyman had her first child on May 12, 1897, a son named Josephus Prettyman.

To be continued....

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mojo Monday ~ Hardships for Lizzie and Family

Nevada ship log showing Lizzie and family.
Lizzie is featured in the center of this photo.

The continuing story of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Talmer Roberts Shepherd.   The first installment began here.

In the spring of 1893 Lizzie's husband Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd decided to move the family into the Big Horn Basin area of Wyoming.  The Church of Latter Day Saints had encourage the settlement of this area and Rollins Don Carlos has heard that there were good opportunities to be found in the area. The family, which included 7 small children, loaded their belongings and supplies into a covered wagon and set out on a journey of about 550 miles to the north.  

One of the family stories mentions that a small pony was purchased for Earnest Wiggett, who at twelve years old, helped to drive their cattle.  The family started off with 75 head of white face cattle, which would have given them a good start on a herd, but due to feuds between cattle and sheep men of the west, a significant number of their cattle were killed during the journey.  

Lizzie, expecting again during the trip, cared for the small children, including six month old Edna, who was ill almost the whole trip.  Their son Laffe (Marcus de Lafayette) had trouble with an injured eye all the way and for years following.  

The area that the settlers moved into was a large fertile valley abut 25 miles east from either Basin or Greybull, Wyoming.  Earlier settlers had been trying to establish an irrigation system, but the undertaking had proven too great for their small numbers.  Many of those settlers grew discouraged and sold their interests to a man by the name of Wiley.  He enlarged the irrigation ditch and settled the area with German settlers and in turn became know as Germania Bench.

Lizzie and Rollins Don Carlos located their wagons, when they arrived, along a bend in the Greybull River and it became known as Mormon Bend.  Others in the group were the Bill Clark family, Tom Jones and William Packard.  The Shepherd family had arrived too late into the summer of 1893 to begin clearing land.  That year Rollins Don Carlos worked for other farmers in the area.  They moved their wagon from Mormon Bend on to the small ranch owned by Jim Goodrich.  It was here that their third daughter, Adeline Shepherd was born on September 7, 1893.  

It was a very hard winter for Lizzie.  She had a newborn baby and little Edna, who was not yet a year old, was ill a great deal of the time.  After the new baby was born both of the babies were breastfed.  The entire family lived in, around and under the covered wagon.  It provided little shelter and food was very scarce.  Rabbits and other wild game was used as meat when they were available.  Wheat was ground in a small hand coffee mill.  The wheat was used as cereal, toasted and brewed as a warming drink, and twice ground for bread.  An old man living alone in a wagon down near the river starved to death that winter.

In the spring someone sent word that they had one of the whiteface cows with the family brand. Rollins Don Carlos went to get it, but the man insisted that he could not take it home alive, so the cow was killed and taken home as much needed beef.  

It was a very hard and discouraging year.  By spring all the supplies had been exhausted.  Rollins Don Carlos decided to make a trip to Billings, Montana, a journey of about 200 miles.  Young Earnest Wiggett (12 years old) was left to take care of the camp.  Many years later daughter Edna Hanna wrote a story about this journey titled "Never Marry An Old Man"  It was on the return trip from Billings that an accident occurred.

To be continued.... 

What are your thoughts about the challenges and hardship this family faced? 

I know it gives me pause and perspective regarding what I might consider challenging and difficult in my own life today.

Have you come across any daunting stories in your own family history?