Family History as Remembered by Dr. Francis Haines
Interviewed by his daughter, Margie
Would you tell us your date of birth?
June 3, 1899
Would you start by telling us as much about your
mother's family as you remember having heard about their
orgins and who they were.
Mother's family came from the Rhine Valley of Germany near
the town of Cologne. Her father was a son of a miner and a
school teacher and such like; just a rather ordinary chap
but he married this daughter of a well-to-do landowner of a
family named Yost. After her father and mother were married
, the German Empire was formed and the LeJeune's didn't want
to be conscripted into the Imperial German army under the
Prussians, so they sold out their holding and migrated to
Wisconsin where they took up some land and homesteaded in
the virgin forest about 12 miles east of Rice Lake on the
western side of Wisconsin. They lived there on the farm
the rest of grandfather's life; he died at about the age of
91 and the place then passed to his son Ernest and is still
in the family at the present time. He had a family of thirteen
children and mother, who was called Marie or sometimes Mary,
was the fourth child, the second girl, in the family. She
was born in 1875 in Germany. The family came to the United
States in 1879 when mother was four years old.
They all spoke German, isn't that right, even though
they had a French name?
They had a French name but they came from a German
settlement. The Rhine Valley was solid German although it
was a mixture of of all sorts of racial stocks, and German
was the family language in Europe and after they came to
this country. They didn't speak French at all as far as I
Now you said that when they came to Wisconsin he was
the most well-educated person and became the clerk of the
school board. But he was still speaking German and then
learned English after he was here?
He learned English very rapidly after he came here. He was
reasonably educated for the time. He could read and write
quite well and do arithmetic and such like. About an
ordinary high school education now, I would judge. At any
rate, after he got settled on his homestead and some other
people moved in around him, they soon had enough people for
a small district school. In this district of maybe a dozen
families, he was the best educated - he was the one who knew
the most about running schools and how to keep records, so
he was elected clerk of the school district and he kept that
job for fifty-two years before he finally retired, being a
little bit worn out after that many years work.
Didn't some branch of the family go to Belgium or am I
No, down in that country some of the ancestors were from
over in Belgium and Lejeune is obviously a French name so
it possibly came from the southern part of the Belgium
country There was so much movement of armies back and forth
in there that it is hard to trace people. It is easy to
trace the other branch, that is, mother's mother and her
family, because they were landowners near the town of Cologne
and so of course they were on the tax records and that sort
of thing; well established people.
That was the Yost family?
Yes, that was the Yost family. But the Lejeune family I
don't know a thing about except that mother did say that her
father had one brother who was a priest. That is all I
know about the Lejeune family.
But they were not Catholic in Wisconsin were they?
Yes, all the family were Catholics in Wisconsin, but when
mother and her older sister, Annie, who was two years older
than mother, got to be about 14 or 15, there was some
difficulty because the local priest wanted one or the other of the two girls (maybe they were a little older,
like 16) to come and be his housekeeper. They didn't like
the idea so Annie got real busy and went out and grabbed
herself a non-Catholic by the name of Frank Doolittle and
married him. Mother went over to the neighboring farm and
grabbed herself a Methodist, Howard Haines, and married him. So while the rest of the family,
as far as I know remained Catholic to this day, these two
broke away and were never in the Catholic church again.
I hadn't heard that before. Do you remember the names
of all your mother's brothers and sisters?
Oh, my. I'll try. Mike, Hubbard, Annie, mother, and then I
don't know the exact order of them but there was Joe,
Josephine, John, Olive, Amelia, Ernest, and Julia and
Bertha. I might have left out one or two - there was a
Helen in there.
Then your sister Helen was named after your aunt?
Yes. I think that was the whole family.
Now that we have your mother meeting Howard Haines,
let's go back and start as far back as you know anything
about his family.
This is a little bit vague, but there are Haines' in the
upper Thames Valley and three of them migrated to William
Penn's colony back in 1703, and settled around a little
hamlet, Sample's Manor, which is a few miles from Hagerstown
on one side and Harper's Ferry on the other. The family
stayed there at least until Civil War times, and the story
that the family told was that one of the Haines', back
about 1800, married Betsy, the niece of Davy Crockett,
child of Davy's older sister. So they kept that tradition
in the family but I have no record to prove that. But dad
said that was a good family story. And Granddad Haines, my
Granddad was born at Sample's Manor in 1842 and grew up
there. He was 19 when the Civil War broke out, and he
decided to join up in the big war, and his dad said to him
"What were you thinking of joining?", and he said "Oh I
thought I'd go over to the Shenendoah Valley and join up
with Stonewall Jackson and his army". His dad said it
would be better if he joined on the winning side, so
Granddad took him at his word and signed up with the Army
of the Potomac and served for four years. He was a rather
bright young fellow although he couldn't read or write at
that time, he had just been a farm hand, but his captain
took an interest in him and taught him to read and write.
Just how much duties he had around and about I don't know,
but he was wounded four separate times. The first three
times he recovered and went back into duty, but the fourth
time he was wounded rather badly at Cold Harbor in November
1864 and invalided home as permanently disabled and given a
pension of $12 a month for the rest of his life.
Am I mis-remembering or is that when the spelling of the
When Granddad Haines went in the army and couldn't read or
write the clerk wrote his name down as Haines although
Granddad said later it should have been Haynes but he never
tried to change it because he didn't want any difficulty
about his pension, so he kept it Haines; although his
brothers, if he had any, I don't know for sure how many he
had, they kept their name Haynes.
If they got here in 1703, do you know anything about
what they might have been doing during the revolution?
There is a family story that one of them drove a team on a
big supply wagon for Washington's army when they were
around Pennsylvania, especially in 1777 to 1779, through
that winter at valley forge and so forth. But that's all
I have is just that he was a teamster on a supply train.
Do you know the first names of any of these..
No. Oh, I know that Granddads name was Henry, hmm, I'd
have to look that up. His father's name was John and his
grandfather's name was John, and then I think his great-
grandfather's name was John, and that's suppose to be the
John that married Davy Crockett's niece. But this is
rather tenuous, I don't guarantee it.
O.K. Now, do you know anything about any of the people
they married or those families?
No, I don't know anything about granddad's relatives except
that when granddad moved west from Maryland he was already
married. He got married about 1869 to a little Pennsylvania
Dutch girl by the name of Catherine Snow. At any rate, they
were married in time for the first boy, my father, Howard,
to be born on January 4, 1870, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Shortly after that, just how long I don't know, he moved out
to Indiana and his father went along. Just what sort of
place, or two places, I don't know, but it was rather a
sickly place becusse one of the girls and one of the boys
of the family died quickly, one after another from one of
those terrific diseases they had in those days. After that
the family packed up and moved on out to Wisconsin and got
there right out of Rice Lake in 1880, the year after the
Lejeune's had settled in there. They settled on 160 acres
quite near - not adjoining but quite near; the children went
to the same little country school. These were both
O.K., now they moved back to West Virginia, to Buchannan?
Buchannan, and Dad had some money saved up from his work in
the lumber woods (he was a saving sort of chap) and he
bought a place about three miles out of town. He wanted to
go to the seminary there, which gave work equivalent to
about a freshman/sophomore high school work today, in
addition to what we call grade school today, but they
weren't graded in those days. And he wanted to go to school
there, and so he did. He started nights. Mother tells
about how he would walk up and down the kitchen floor
carrying me because I was a baby and fussing a little bit,
while he learned his work for class the next day.
Now, is this suppose to have had an early influence on
you for education?
Not that I know of but Dad was dedicated to people having
education so he wanted all his children to have an
education when they came along and he went out and taught
country school there in West Virginia back in the hills.
Taught for three winters for something like $22 a month;
he worked in a tannery for $1.50 a day; he worked terribly
hard. In West Virginia, during the panic of '93 which was
a depression, he just hit at the bottom of things and it
took him nine years to scrape enough money together and get
enough market built up that he could sell his little farm
and take his family and go west. So in 1902 when he had
six of us, he climbed on the train and went to Wisconsin.
Now that left quite a few Haines' in Buchannan.
He left Granddad, Grandma, Charlie, Sadie, Autella, and
John. None of them went back west. Charlie came much later
but the rest didn't. So, he went back to Wisconsin and
stayed nearly a year.
What did he do?
He was working around on Granddad Lejeune's farm some and
then he got a job cutting timber, poles and railroad ties,
up a little to the north. He cut them at so much a piece,
so if you are a hard worker, you can make some money. That
took us through the winter.
You lived out in the woods with him then?
For a couple of months anyway, because I can remember
Christmas there, and how I broke Bee's (Bernice) doll -
I didn't mean to break it, but I broke it and it was a
brand new doll she had just gotten for Christmas and I was
teasing her. Anyhow, Helen was born that November, just
before we went up into the woods. And we went out then,
the next May, and landed in Helena, Montana about the sixth
Was there any reason for going to Helena?
Dad liked the sound of the name and it was right by the
Rocky Mountains and he wanted a nice place where there was
good hunting - he was quite a hunter - so he picked on
Helena for a place and landed there on a beautiful morning
with the sun shining brightly and a beautiful blue sky
overhead, just the day after a big spring storm (it had
snowed practically all night), so the snow came down on the
hills around the valley only about one hundred feet of
elevation above Helena. There was just glare rock, this
saucer of snow, and down below this beautiful green valley
in the spring sunshine. I remember that.
It must have been quite a sight after what you were used
to seeing all your life.
I don't remember landscapes or anything like that before
that, but this I do remember. I remember the little place
we had; two rooms up in this crummy place, Steamboat Block,
for a few days while Dad was finding us a little house and
getting himself a job, and then we moved into a little house
up at the head of Rodney Street. - it is still there I think
- and we lived there for only a month or two because Dad got
a job at the BN freight depot, moving freight, unloading
cars and the like, and so we moved down into the sixth ward
to be right near his job. And how he managed to get the
school teaching job at Lump I don't know, but in September
we started school at Helena: that is, Harry, Kath, and Bee
did; and Mother wanted them to take me in Kindergarten but
they wouldn't because I was only four years old, but I
could go visit one day. I remember going to visit one day
and we played Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over
the candle stick and there was a candle out there and when
it was your turn, why you jumped over.
That's the summer Teddy Roosevelt came through. He was
President at the time and he drove by up the street in a big
open carriage, tall silk hat and the rest and I was standing
there about 20 feet away and watched him go by.
So then Dad got the school at Lump and we all loaded into a
two-seated surrey-type thing. There was Harry, Kath, Bee,
me, Jess, Helen, and Mother and the driver; whoever drove
it I don't know, maybe Dad drove that one. But we had
another wagon, what we called a lumber wagon back in those
days, just a farm wagon with an open box on it to carry the
household stuff and Paddy Conway owned that, he owned both
rigs. We drove out to Lump, about 12 miles, maybe 13, the
way the road was in those days.
Lump was essentially what kind of community?
A little, decaying mining camp. It was already past it's
peak as a producer. It had started in the 1870's a a placer
gold diggings, fairly rich; when that went out, why they
started finding veins of silver ore, so it developed into a
nice silver producing place, and it had a fairly good
population, little bunkhouses and boarding houses for the
miners and so forth and so on, and little cabins that
individuals built for themselves and their small families.
Probably 100 people lived there when we went there. I know
that the school, the first year, had 42 children in it, one
room, ungraded school, with ages from 6 to 19.
Was there still some mining going on?
Yes, there were still some mines, two or three mines still
working. The Little Nell and the Liverpool for sure, and I
don't remember if there were any other mines, right off hand,
but those two were still working so there was enough to keep
the place going. It kept going until the panic of 1907 when
the bottom dropped out of things, and especially out of
silver. This was the day of William Jennings Bryan and the
free silver and so on and so forth and the mines closed and
stayed closed until World War I and then two of them opened
briefly but they couldn't make a go of it so they collapsed
and Lump became a ghost town and there isn't even a house
left there now.
It hasn't had any build up of vacation homes or that sort
Oh yes, but not where the old place was. On the little hills
nearby, yes, all over the place, yes, people all over the
place, but in what used to be pastureland when I was there,
not even fenced yet.
And your dad was the only teacher, right?
Oh yes, he taught the school.
Did you get a house with it?
Oh no, we moved into one of the houses belonging to the
Little Nell mine that wasn't being used. It was a three
room log house, the three rooms all in a row.
That wasn't much room for a family of seven.
Oh, it wasn't too crowded for the way things were in those
days and it was a mile from the school. We lived there for
a couple of years, maybe three years, and then Dad decided
to buy this old building right next to the school and turn
it into a little general store because the nearest general
store was in Clancy, two miles away. So he did that and got
his little general store going, guess what, just in time for
the panic of 1907. So all the miners moved out owing him
money. He couldn't pay off the wholesalers, it took him
about five years to pay off the wholesalers. So there he
was, not only broke and in debt and the family was bigger
then because we had Merle and Bennie and Florence. So there
we were. So he found a little patch of land on Lump Creek,
a mile up the creek, just down from the Little Nell where
we had lived before. There was a space in there that wasn't
covered by any of the patented mining claims because it was
just bottom land with no mineral lodes on it so he staked it
out as a placer claim which he was entitled to do because
he panned some dirt from it, enough to show color and that
was all you needed, you know, to show color. That was how
we got what we called the Lump Creek place. It had five or
six acres of reasonable good usable land altogether.
When he had the store you lived in that building?
We lived in the store. It was a big building. we had the
back half for cooking and the bedroom, and this and that,
and then we had this full attic for the rest of it.
I'm interested in the housekeeping that you mother had
to do. What did she have to work with in any of these
places. Do you remember any of that?
Well, she had a cook stove. Not a range, a cook stove. It
had four lids on the top, a firebox and an oven. Not the
nice big ones with six lids and a water reservoir and a
warming oven up above, no that comes later. I remember that
washing was quite a chore with that many children and Dad
bought her a washing machine about 1905. It was a wooden tub
with a wringer and dasher attachment on the top. The dasher
thing had five wooden fingers about 8 or 10 inches long,
they went down into the water. Then there was a wheel with
a handle, gear, and a shaft through to turn it. And Harry
had to turn this wheel to make it run and he had to turn the
wheel for wringing out the water. She had that for a couple
of years anyway, but she didn't have too much. Short on
cupboard space, storage space. Down at Lump we had more
room, not too much more, and then we built our house up on
our placer claim place, cut our own logs off our own place
and built a three room house there. That one was still
going strong - I don't remember when they tore it down,
probably around 1930-35.
How long did you own the property?
He never had a title to it because it was a mining claim and
you have to do a certain amount of work before you can prove
up and get a title on a mining claim and he never did that.
All he had to do was what they call representing work, $100
each year, and hold it indefintitely as a mining claim so
he held it until World War I. They passed a new law on
homesteads, put 320 acres for dry land homesteads and he
found the 320 acres up there in a nice place, the present
homestead, and he filed on that in 1913 I think. At any
rate he had it firmly with a building on it in 1914, and of
course he got title to that, and it is still in the family.
Now, the Lump place, after he moved off, just sat there and
they then had a new law that a person could take up land
and use the surface land for grazing and so forth even
though there was mineral under there that might develop
into mines. But the law was that anybody who came along
and struck ore on there, it was theirs and the poor guy who
had the surface claim just got paid for a road across his
We were in the Lump house until 1914 when we had the house
up on the homestead finished, and we moved over the summer
of 1914. So we still held the Lump Creek place, without
any legal title, just squatters, and there were four more
40s of land back toward sheep mountain, rough stuff that
could be taken under this homestead dry land act. And Dad
thought "Oh wouldn't that be great if I (Fran) could just
take up that land". But I was only 17 years old. He said,
"Well, if you were married why you could have it as the
head of a family". He said, "Why don't you talk to one of
these younger teachers down at Wesleyan", that was where I
was going then, "and see if she shouldn't want to marry you
just so you could have the homestead". Well, I never got
around to doing that, but when I came back from the war in
1919, the place was still open, and so I went down since I
was older then and I could file on the land. So I filed on
this scrub stuff and all and then there was a flurry of
activity, I was off to college, a little flurry of mining
activity,and one of the miners who was hired in this mine
just up the hill wanted to rent the from me for he and his
family so I said OK, he could rent it for $10 a month. He
moved in then wouldn't pay any rent, he said no he was
going to own the house so he staked out a mining claim, not
a placer claim, but a mineral claim, that took the house in
as part of the surface country and claimed the house was
his. So I had to go to the federal land office and get them
to swear or decide that this wasn't valuable mineral land
and so it was open to filing as a homestead, and then I had
to go to the county court and establish that the house was
Who put the house on there?
That's the house Dad built in 1909 when he moved from Lump
up there, but now it is my house because it is my land.
There is a stable there and a hen house. So all of this
cost me $300 - $400 and since I was going to school I had
$100 a month coming to me from Uncle Sam and I saved up
some and paid off my bills over a year or a year and one-
half and so then I had clear title to the place. And all
I had to do was live on it for six months, because my time
in the army would count, instead of being three years like
an ordinary person. Six months and I could get title to it
. So I took your mama up there and we discussed and we
decided that if we stayed there six months we would have a
piece of property that wouldn't be worth as much as I could
earn in six months and it would be pretty tough sledding
besides. So my brother Jess wanted the place so I sold him
all my surface buildings, improvements, and fence and so
forth, and he took it over and proved up on it. Then
younger sister Florence gypped him out of it with a lot of
sweet talk and this and that and as soon as she got her
hands on it she sold it out to Merle Marks down the river,
down the creek, for about half what it was worth. Quite
the family deal.
We skipped ahead there. I would like to know something
about your schooling. We didn't really talk about that.
My schooling. O.K. When I was four I learned my letters
off Quaker Oats boxes and such playing on the floor while
Mother was busy working; she'd tell me a letter when I got
stuck. When I was five, cuz' Dad was teaching the school,
I was allowed to go to school. I could read better than
the six and seven year-old first graders in just a couple
of months. At any rate, I don't remember anything special
about the school. I went three years while Dad was the
teacher. Then he put in the store so we got another teacher,
a Miss Haynes, but no relation, from a family down in Clancy.
And she was a good teacher and after her we had a poor
teacher and she lasted a year and never taught us anything.
After her we got another pretty good teacher. She was a
young lady just out of Normal school, 19 years old, but she
didn't have any big boys in school then; I was the biggest
and I was 11 years old and weighed 75 pounds so you can see
she had no problem with the boys.
What was the average education that most of these
You had to have eighth grade state examination plus two
courses that I don't remember exactly what they were. One
was something about school management, and the other
probably something about the method of teaching. But not
very much, you see, and they didn't upgrade this third
grade certificate for around four more years, so after this
good teacher for two years then we had a very poor one.
She was a local girl who had taken two years to get through
her eighth grade exams and got through them only because
her dad had some political influence and got the county
sup (superintendent) to upgrade her test papers and give
her a passing grade. She went down to Helena to go to high
school and flunked out absolutely flat in all four courses
in six weeks. So she went back home and wanted a teaching
job and so she took the little bitty exam they had for
third grade certificate and flunked it. And so her dad
went to the county........
When you say a third grade certificate, you are talking
about a level of certificate?
A third ranking, it was called a third grade certificate.
And when you get a little better you go up to second grade
and a little better you are up to first grade. And when
you are up to first grade you are eligible for a job in a
fairly good graded school, like Townsend or something like
that. So then her dad went back to the county sup and says
"That little school up there on Big Buffalo Creek has only
three students in it, a second grader and two third graders,
and she can teach them just beautifully, you, know, that
wouldn't be any trouble, so you give her a temporary
certificate so she can have that school and teach those
little ones". So the county sup gave her the certificate
and immediately her daddy got her hired as teacher at Lump
Creek where there were four of us in the eighth grade. My
older sister Katherine and her friend; older sister Bee,
How did all three of you happen to be in the eighth
grade at the same time?
Well, Kath was there because there was no way for her to go
on to school because we didn't have any extra money; this
was about 1911 and times are real tight in the Haines house.
And Bee and I were together from about the third grade on
because I caught up with her. Kath is four years older
than me and Bee is two years older than me. So we decided,
the four of us, we would walk down to Clancy every day and
go to school where they had a two-room school and they had
a new teacher in the upper grades who was the local
Methodist minister, who got the job as an emergency because
the teacher they had hired went off his rocker at the big
Christmas tree celebration and tried to carry the red-hot
stove outside - I never saw the thing, but this is the story -
anyway they took him off and put him "Over There" and hired
this man, Putnam, to be the teacher and so we all trotted
How far is this now?
This is over three miles from our place and two miles from
Lump and that is where this other girl lived, but Kath and
Bee and I walked from our place down to Clancy and back, not
too regular because there was this big rancher, Marks, and
Mrs. Marks was a very kindhearted woman and she had Kath or
Bee, maybe both of them at the same time, one or two nights
every week and I could stay at her house one night every
week. She had a boy two just years younger than me, about
my size, but younger. Anyway, I could stay there one night
a week; I think just in the bad weather because when it got
to be good weather I can remember hiking across the hills
for home all the time.
How big a town was Clancy?
Clancy at that time had about a couple of hundred people.
The school, in two rooms, had about 50 children in eight
Now is this a mining community too?
This is a railroad town. It is a division pont on the Great
Northern from Havre to Butte. And so there is some
railroading there. There is a little mining around, but
not much. There is some ranching, a sawmill or two, that
sort of thing so there is enough to go along with about 200
So you went there a half a year?
Half a year. Passed the eighth grade exams and was ready
to go to Helena High the next year, but Bee didn't quite
make it - she had to go to eighth grade in Helena half a
year before she could go to high school, so she was always
a half a year behind me in high school and it just burnt her
up. Kath went to Montana Wesleyan which was a little church
Why did she go there instead of the high school?
I'm not sure but the Montana Wesleyan people came out and
talked to Dad and it sounded like a good deal, the way they
told it, and she went there. Oh, Harry went to the Clancy
school too. Anyway, he went to high school with us.
Because he's six years older than me he should have been
all through. That was the year that I was in the seventh
grade, when I was eleven years old, that I was the school
janitor and swept the place, and wiped off the blackboards
and dusted, and cleaned the erasers. The essential one was
to have the fire going by 8:00 in the morning so the little
children would be warm; it was one of those great wood
heaters with the extra jacket around it to make the air
circulate nicely, quite a nice one for the time. And I did
that for six months and never missed a day.
When you were going to school in Lump what sort of books
and supplies did they have for the children?
They had text books furnished by the district, approved by
the state. All the paper and pencils and that sort of
thing, you furnished your own. In the poor districts you
had to buy your own books, but Lump, because of the mines,
was a fairly rich district. We paid better wages to
teachers than the others did. We had books and they even
bought $50 worth of new library books every year.
That sounds pretty good. So you did have a lot of other
things to read then?
Had some other things to read, yep.
O>K>, now high school in Helena, your folks aren't there, you're on your own?
We had a little house, a little three room house, furnished
for $10 a month, that is on the back of a big lot where the
main house is, where the woners of the two places live, and
four of us, Harry, Kath, Bee and I, stay there and "bach".
I'm assuming there other children doing this too?
There were some other children doing the same kind of thing.
Then the next year we got another house, same size, but it
had a little yard and on the back of this lot was a shed
and a place to keep a horse. Outdoor toilet of course, and
no running water. I had to carry water for the house and
for the horse from the neighbors who rented this house to
us. This is the fall of 1913 that we rented this house.
So you never really lived on the homestead on any kind
of permanent basis?
Did he build that house himself?
Yes, he built everything out there. He was pretty handy
that way. He cut all the stuff there on the place and we
had nice fir poles like that for rafters and joists,
squared a little bit for the joists and so forth, quite neat.
That's quite a roomy house.
Well, it is now but when we first built it, it was two
rooms. Just the downstairs and the upstairs of the cabin
part and all that other part was built while I was away to
war, or most of it anyway.
Now when you were in school in Helena where was the money coming from?
Dad had to pony up the $10 a month rent for the house. We
didn't have to pay tuition but we had to buy our books. We
got pretty smart after the first time when we registered as
freshman; after that we bought secondhand books. Some of
them were pretty tacky but they didn't cost much, maybe 40
or 50 cents. then the spring of my sophomore year, in
February, I got a job carrying papers and used this little
horse for it and got $16 a month for that.
Which newspaper was that?
That was the evening paper, The Montana Record which
was later combined with the Morning Independent,
years later. Anyway, I had to pay for the horse's feed out
of that $16 and what ever was left over was mine.
Whose horse was it?
It was one of the family horses, that little Prince horse.
Oh, the one that was born when you were down at lump?
Yup. We had two and that was Prince's mother, Bess. We
kept Bess until the end of World War I. She was getting
old and a tough winter was coming up on so I took the 30-30
and shot her and skinned her and took the hide down and
sold it that fall. But Prince was still around into the 3
0s. Anyhow I rode Prince about three weeks and then I'd
put him out in the pasture and I'd ride Bess. We'd give
Prince a little time to rest up and this way I didn't have
to feed him quite so much. They would lose weight while I
had them in town but they could go back out there and they
would eat plenty of free grass. So then I carried papers
for 22 months. All through one summer I rode in from the
homestead to town. Eight miles around the paper route,
eight miles each way in and back, a total of 24-25 miles
every day six days a week, carrying the papers.
That must have taken quite a little while.
Yeah, I'd leave around three in the afternoon, or two-thirty,
and get back around dark. But I made my clothes and books
and all my necessities.
What about the other's, were they working? Did you pool your money?
Bee had a little bit of work once in a while.
What about Harry?
Harry quit school. He wasn't ready to go to school. Harry
was rather an odd person and I don't know to this day just
how to evaluate him, but I am very thoroughly convinced that
most of Harry's troubles were directly Dad's fault. Dad
didn't like Harry at all. Harry wasn't his kind of person;
he didn't want to admit that Harry was his child. Harry
couldn't do this and that and that and that, you know. That
sort of thing. He was a little slow in his movements; he
wasn't stupid, but he was a little slow. And, of course
with no encouragement from Dad he couldn't feel very well.
So, Harry had gone to high school about a year and a quarter.
He finished the freshman year and started the sophomore year
but a couple of months into the sophomore year he quit.
How old was he at that time?
Oh, me. This would be about 1913 so he was 20 years old.
He was born in '93 so he was 20 tears old, but he was not
getting a thing out of school, not passing. He did a lot
of reading at the library but that was all. And he didn't
have the knack of picking up odd jobs for a little spending
money around and about. But the first year, we would walk
out home every Friday afternoon, ten miles across the hills,
and then on Sunday evening we would go back in and Mother
would give us four loaves of bread and we would have some
potatoes, a few eggs, some butter, and not too much else.
No wonder you were small.
That was part of it. You know, until I got in the army I
actually never had enough to eat. I mean, I would have
enough for this day or these two or three days or something
like that, but I mean over like a period of a month. Well,
anyway that was the way we went to school.
And Katherine was still with you then?
Katherine was still with us but then very soon she was
going to Wesleyan, she got work with a nice family on the
west side, housework, but she stayed at our little place on
through when I left for the war in 1917, she and Bee were
still staying in the place. And she was still working for
these people, she had quit school. And part of the large
family she worked for, some of them had a ranch down at
Cascade and so they had Kath go down there to help them on
the ranch in the summertime. She liked that very much and
on the next ranch was this young Irish fella named Johnny
Kelly who actually seemed like a worthless person. All the
things were against him. But he and Kath fell for each
other very strongly. He was just my age, I believe, four
years younger than Kath. And Johnny became a very good
husband, a very good father, a very hard working person.
He gave up all his wild ways. He was a poolroom bum, you
know, that kind. I was very perturbed when Kath decided to
marry Johnny and I was totally wrong, because Johnny turned
out to be a very good man. He was a little rough, his
language was a little rough, but he was a very good hearted
man and he was honest and he was sharp, he was a hard worker
and he worked intelligently. So Kath stayed there and Bee
had some part time work but I don't know how much. She had
little odd jobs a time or two. Harry went back out to the
ranch and stayed there.
You wouldn't think he'd go out there if he wasn't getting along.
There was no place else for him to go. He doesn't leave
home until the spring, january of 1920, after I came back
from the war. See, I had some money saved up, Jesse had
some money saved up, we decided we would go to Kansas City
and take that auto mechanics course and come back and set
up a little Ford garage repair place in one of the smaller
places in Montana and amount to something. Well, then the
State of Montana appropriated $200,000 to help G.I.'s learn
trades, especially disabled ones. So I went trotting down
there to the office in Helena abd said "This is what I'm
planning to do - would I rate a small help from this fund"?
And the woman, who was also in charge of the federal
education for vets from Montana, said "No, but if you want
to sign up with the federal I can give you a four year
course in mechanical engineering". Because, see, I am
interested in auto mechanics, she doesn't suggest there is
anything else I can get, and yet now I know that I could
have taken any standard college course there was, but here
it was all clear. You go down to the doctor and have him
check out how my leg was coming along and in about three
weeks I was all set up to go to Bozeman and start a four-
year engineering course. And Jess was all set up to go to
Kansas City for the auto mechanics course, so I said to
Harry, "Here's this $200 of mine, I can get along so go
ahead and take it and go to Kansas City with Jess and learn
to be a mechanic, and you can pay me back after you get to
be a mechanic". So that is the way Harry got to leave home.
So did he go?
He went to Kansas City, but it didn't work out to well,
because Jess thought it was going to be too much of a load
on him, so while Harry was out rustling a job in Kansas
City, Jess went down, without telling Harry and bought a
railroad ticket home for him, put him on the train and sent
That's very strange. Harry was eight years older than Jess.
I know. But anyway he went back home, and stayed there I
don't know exactly how long. Then he went off on his own
and we didn't hear from him for 20 years.
More than that, I think.
Maybe 30 years. anyway he went out to the state of
Washington worked on a ranch there for at least 20 years
and never wrote home.
We didn't finish, really, about the high school. You went through the four years?
I went through four years and graduated in June, 1916,
eleventh in a class of 60.
And you were still pretty small?
I was five feet and three inches tall in my school shoes.
I weighed 103 pounds in my school clothes.
What was the story about when you went to get your hair
cut for graduation?
The barber said "Hey, you are pretty young to be finishing
the eighth grade!". I told him I was finishing high school
and he didn't believe me. I was 17 years old.
What did you do the summer after graduation?
Oh dear. That was the summer that Dad was going to make a
first class salesman out of me. He got a sales kit for me
and sent me to all the ranches and farm to sell a general
line of things, odds and ends. I worked all summer, riding
a little horse uo and down those places and I came out with
about $10.50 for 40 days work. So I went over to Schuele's
and got a job splitting wood for a day and they were real
happy to have me and I got $10 and went off and started at
Montana Wesleyan down in Helena.
You said that when Katherine went to Montana Wesleyan
it was a high school and supposedly something higher than
When she went I don't think it was higher than that, but
when I went they had one class they called college
sophomores, three or four young fellas studying to be
ministers, they said, because they got half price tuition
that way, and then there were twin girls and me in the
freshman class. There were four grades in what they
called the academy, it was really high school, and then
there was a room full, about 10 or 12, in the seventh and
eighth grade trying to get coached through for the eighth
grade exams. A student body of 55 altogether, and five or
six of them were out of high school.
It wasn't a very high level of academic load?
No, but the credits I got there counted. I was able to
transfer them went I went to Bozeman, they accepted them.
I took college algebra and trig which were good standard
courses and since I was the only one in the class in each
of them I got quite a lot done and had a pretty good deal
there. Then I took freshman English.
I would like to ask you about some of the childhood
work experience you had. We mentioned some of them earlier,
like carrying newspapers, but I know there were other
things you did to earn money as you were growing up and
still going to school.
The first regular job I had was school janitor ub the one-
room rural school at Lump when I was 11 years old. My
job was to keep the floor swept, to clean the blackboards
each day, dust the erasers outside, carry out the ashes
from the stove, the firewood carried in, have the fire
built by 8:00 each school morning, and see to the fire all
day. The wood was furnished by the school board and came
in 16" blocks; all I had to do was split enough off these
blocks to make kindling for the stove. For all this I got
five cents a day and it counted up as long as I let it sit
and didn't draw it out. I know that when Christmas came I
had $2 and that went quite a long ways. When spring came
and school was out I had $4.10 more coming which was a
pretty good chunk of money, although I think I earned it.
Now when I had a little bit of work Saturdays, two
saturdays one fall, I worked for a rancher named Marks.
He had a big horse drawn potato digger and several acres
of potatoes and he had some men, two or three men, hired
to pick and sack the potatoes as they were dug and he took
me and my younger brother Jess to help and so we picked
and sacked potatoes all day long, about a ten hour day.
It was cold, a frosty October and quite chilly. You had
to sort the potatoes, the commercial grade into one bucket
to go into a sack and the poorer grade into another sack
and you had to do this very rapidly and keep it up all day
How old were you?
I was about 12. It was very hard work. I think that was
the hardest work I have ever done for that amount of money
- 50 cents for the day, 5 cents an hour for that work.
Then for two summers I helped a grazing herd, Mark's ranch,
out on the open range on Uncle Sam's free grass. Had to
take the horses, about eighty of them, mares and colts and
a few yearlings and such like, but mostly mares being
brought in for breeding by the big Percheron stallion.
Had to take these out to be up toward the pasture by 8:00
in the morning and were not allowed to come back to the
corral gate before 5 in the evening. Usually we got there
five or ten minutes after 5. So that was a nine-hour day
because you don't get a lunch break on that. The horses
are there all the time, so you are there all the time, so
you usually ate luncH while you were sitting on the saddle
and rounding up a few horses in between. This is fairly
rough country with copses of trees here and there and
little gullys around so you have to watch them that they
don't get away.
APPARENTLY ONE TAPE IS MISSING AS THE NEXT INFORMATION WE
HAVE IS FRAN TALKING ABOUT BEING IN THE ARMY IN WORLD WAR I
Were you and wen the only ones in the family who fought in World War I?
No, Lou was in the army too, he was in the air force. A
mechanic, ground crewman, in the air force. And that was
the only ones of us that were around there that were the
right age. Harry tried to get in, but he had frozen the
toes on one foot very badly and they wouldn't take him.
How did he do that?
Oh, out working on a very cold day and not realizing they
were frozen. They told him to come down and sign up for
the draft and he wouldn't. So they got ahold of him and
made him sign up for the draft. And then they told him to
report and he wouldn't. So then they came and got him and
took him down to the draft board and put him before the
doctor. See, he had it figured this way: If he went down
there willingly they would take one look at his feet and
say no, but if he made them drag him in they would be ready
to take him if he was a tall possum. But he got an awful
blow when the doctor took one look at his feet and threw
him out, 4F. It was really rough on him because he tried
so hard and he was just a good age for that, age 24, and
in good health except for that.
So you got your severance pay and ended up in Cheyenne?
Then got on the Burlington train and went back home.
Did they have the bands out?
No, I got off the train at Clancy and Dad was there with
Prince hitched to a little old buggy, and he says "hello",
and I says "hello" and he says "glad your back", and I
says "I'm glad to be back, and climbed in the buggy and we
went off to the homestead and after a little while he says
"I hope you didn't pick up one of those filthy diseases
while you were over there" and I say "no". Before I left
he never mentioned that I should be careful about filthy
diseases, but the first thing he wanted to know when I got
back is if I picked up one. Well, if I hadn't done that,
well o.k., no more interest, no more questions. Very odd.
THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW DEALS MAINLY WITH FRAN AND
PLESAH AND THEIR CHILDREN