Who are your ancestors? Whose DNA did you inherit? Have you done any researching or digging into your family's history? Have you unearthed any interesting stories?
Since February I have been sharing the story of my maternal second great grand aunt Elizabeth Talmer Roberts Shepherd. She was the sister of my maternal great great grandfather Abel Roberts. I chose Elizabeth "Lizzie", because in delving into family geneology I had come across a comprehensive written story of her life. I was impressed by this young woman's courage and strength. If you want to start at the beginning click here. If you have been following her journey scroll down for the next installment of Lizzie and her family's journey.
It was in about December of 1909 that Valie, one of Lizzie's daughters, began to feel ill. Her first symptoms were rheumatic pains in her joints which ached, so that she slept many nights with her feet propped up on the oven door for warmth, as she sat in a larger rocker. Early in April while on an errand for her mother Lizzie, she was caught in the rain and became thoroughly chilled. She spent several days in bed but finally was allowed to go back to school. On the last day of school there was a picnic and they were caught in a heavy rain. She became soaked and for the next few days was very ill. She had improved some when it was time for her mother to go into the mountains to cook for her brother and another man who were building homestead houses. Lizzie took Valie along thinking that the mountain air would do her some good. After a sold week of an earache while in the mountains Valie was returned home to the care of her sister Adaline, who was sixteen. Valie was fourteen at the time. Lizzie then went back to the mountains to cook for the men.
The third day Valie was home she began to feel worse and when her sister brought her lunch, Valie began to hemorrhage from the nose and mouth. Adaline was frightened and sent for the doctor and send Douglas Spencer to the mountains for Lizzie. It was almost dark when he started out and had about fifteen miles to ride on horseback over unfamiliar trails. Adding to his troubles, a blizzard came up and he became lost. Lizzie had already gone to bed in the camp when she heard someone calling out. Claude, nor anyone else could hear the calls, but nevertheless Lizzie had the men get up and light a lantern. They went outside and called out into the darkness. A nearly frozen Douglas Spencer heard the shouts and located the camp.
As soon as it was light enough for them to see they started back to Laurel. The doctor had been to see Valie who was still having violent hemorrhages. When Lizzie arrived he told her that he did not know what the problem was but thought that Valie should be taken to Billings, Montana to a hospital. Lizzie asked him if he thought an operation would be necessary to save her life. He told her he didn’t know since he could not diagnose the problem, but that it might be the means of saving some other life. Valie had lost so much blood that the doctor admitted he had little hope she could withstand the trip to the hospital. Lizzie told the doctor that if it was the Lord’s will that she die, that she wanted her to die at home. Early the following morning Valie had another hemorrhage, this being the eighth one. The doctor returned but said he had done all he could. He told Lizzie that she was dying and pulled the sheet up over Valie’s face as he left. Lizzie stood in the kitchen praying for her daughter, when a knock came on the door. There on the porch were two Mormon missionaries. They came in and talked to Lizzie and held a prayer circle in the kitchen. They then entered Valie’s bedroom. Valie who had been only semi-conscious for three days and unconscious all that day responded when one of the elders took her hand and asked if she would like to be administered to. She was able to respond that she would. In the blessing she was given it was promised that she would recover and become a mother in Zion.
Valie ended up recovering from her unexplained illness. The same missionaries who had visited her on her “death bed” returned one day and marveled at Valie’s recovery. They shared their story of how they had come into town the night before and had planned out their route for the next day. They had planned to go to the opposite end of town, but the next morning one of them had a strong feeling that they should go the other way. They had only gone a short distance when a neighbor told them that there was a Mormon family nearby and how the daughter Valie was very sick. They were the only Latter Day Saints family living there at the time. The doctor who had told several people that Valie would not live through the day later stated that he believed a higher power must have restored her health. Valie had no further symptoms of that mysterious illness. In later years after a few years of marriage and after several doctors told her she would never have a child, she went on to eventually raise a large family.
Edna and George Hanna lived for a while at Red Lodge, Montana, during this time. Addie came up from Laurel and visited with her sister. It was here she became acquainted with Scott Huffman. Later Scott came down to Laurel to visit her. It took them awhile to realize how much they cared for each other, but when they did, they became a very devoted couple. When Valie began to feel better in the fall, the Shepherd family moved to Red Lodge. They were there when Scott and Addie’s first child, a daughter named Thelma Huffman was born on October 11, 1910.
The following year her sister Edna and husband George Hannah had a son named Milburn Minor Hannah on July 21, 1911. Brother Claude and his wife Francetta Kelsey were also living at Basin City and their first child, a daughter named Grace Esther Shepherd was born on August 25, 1911. Francetta was a very young wife and mother, only fifteen years old. Her parents Benjamin Franklin and Bolettie Vance Kelsey encouraged her to remain with them that year while Claude worked at Thermopolis on a sewer line and later at Crosby, Wyoming in the coal mines. It was at Thermopolis that Valie met Jim Peacock. Claude invited him to join the family for Thanksgiving dinner. Jim had been born in England and enjoyed hearing the soft English spoken words of Claude’s family. Jim also found himself attracted to Valie and the whole Shepherd family. He spent the next ten years near and around the family, even as they moved about. While Lizzie was at Thermopolis in 1912 she decided to sell the ranch in Burlington. She sold the 160 acres homestead that the family had worked so hard to pay off for $4,000.00.
Earnest Wiggett, Lizzie’s oldest son, had taken his family to Olathe, Colorado and was farming there. After the ranch sold, Carl and his family also went to Olathe, as did Burton and Florence Prettyman. A man named Bill Tubbs who was an artist, architect, carpenter and wood craftsman also entered the picture about this time. He had many talents, but didn’t always put them to use and too often sought solace in the bottle. There was much good in Bill though and Lizzie could see this in him. She chose to accept him as he was. There was sometimes resentment in the family when it seemed Lizzie put Bill before her own children. Yet they also recognized that he treated all her children with respect. He taught Claude the carpenter trade, and Bart and Gilford also learned craftsmanship from him as they grew into manhood. Lizzie was past fifty years old when Bill came into her life, and they stayed together until her death.
In the spring of 1912 the Shepherd family went north to Lewistown, Montana. Lizzie rented a café on Main Street called the Lewiston Dining Parlor. Lizzie did all the cooking, while Laura Clark and Helen Bolden helped Valie wait on the tables. They ofte had fifty men to serve for meals. Claude was working with his tems for a steam shovel outfit. Bill Tubbs was building some homestead houses. Scott and Addie Huffman were living in Red Lodge, Montana. Scott was doing bookkeeping at the coal mine at Washoe. Their second child, a son named Everett Roland Huffman, was born on August 23, 1912.
In the spring of 1913 the family went up to Denton, Montana. This was a new town about sixty mile northwest of Lewistown. The railroad was just being built into the town and plan were being made to build two large grain elevators. Lizzie felt there would be a lot of work there so she bought a piece of land that had a small old building on it and began to feed boarders.
Claude took a job hauling freight from Stanford where the railroad ended at that point in time. It was a muddy wet spring. The heavy mud on the unimproved roads rolled up around the wagon wheels and made it hard to travel very fast. Claude hauled lumber from Stanford to build the Denton Hotel. Bill Tubbs drew up plans which included a gas lighting system, which he planned, built and kept operating. He and Claude did most of the work. They moved into the hotel just before Thanksgiving, and it became the family’s source of income for the next five years. They had a pump house behind the hotel with a nice well. They had six bedrooms upstairs to rent. There was one bedroom downstairs. The old majestic range stood in the kitchen. Bill built a long convenient counter in the kitchen to serve from and made shelves above it for the dishes. He build a sturdy table on the other side of the room where the pump was located. They were always heating water for some purpose. There was a large reservoir on the old stove. Each room upstairs had a pitcher for water and a basin for washing in, but the wash tub had to be used for a weekly bath. The toilet facility was located on the back of the property, but each bedroom had its own covered convenience tucked under the bed.
While they ran the hotel Lizzie enjoyed the luxury of having someone else do the washing. She sent the sheets out weekly to be done. Lizzie was too busy feeing about a hundred men three meals a day. They served the food family style at five big table. Lizzie cooked big meals of meat, potatoes and gravy, and some kind of vegetable. She always made pie for lunch. In the early afternoon, Valie would bake two great big sheet cakes for supper, one white and one chocolate. Valie and Katie took turns waiting on tables. In 1914 Claude brought his family up to Denton and his wife Francetta also helped with serving. Valie and Francetta became close friends and little Grace, at about 18 months was the darling of the family.
Young Gilford, as a small boy, built a play house and a garage under the back stairway and put a neat fence all around it. These were good settled years for the family. Lizzie bought two other pieces of property here. Bill Tubbs built a five room house on one of these lots which they rented out for income and later sold to the blacksmith. He built a smaller two room house on the other lot where the family lived later for a short time. Edna came down and stayed with the family during the summer and George came down in the fall and worked on the construction of the bank building. Scott and Addie Huffman’s son Wilfred Scott Huffman added to the family when he was born on October 14, 1914.
To be continued....