Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More of the Wasden-Penrose Story

Mother (Minnie Arrilla Wasden Blood) also wrote one more brief history. It is a little long, but hopefully everyone will feel it is worthwhile to put with this collection.

I was born at -----

It seems desirable to preface that sentence with some of the circumstances preceding it.

My father, James Brooks Wasden, had brought my mother, Tilda, and their three children to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming, seeking a place to establish a home that would have some sense of permanency and security, something he had missed in his earlier life. He had traveled by horseback across the Basin from Sheridan, Wyoming to Cook City, Montana, in 1892, and could see possibilities in the land if water for irrigation were made available.

Father had worked in the summer, beginning in 1901, as road foreman in Yellowstone National Park to get the where-with to sustain his family who were living in Gunnison, Utah. When work in the Park shut down in the fall of 1904, he drove his team to the Big Horn Basin where some communities had started, to see about the possibility of locating there.

A colonization movement to the Basin by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of which my family were members, in the early 1900s helped make up Fathers mind.

He returned to Gunnison by train, disposed of his house there, and loaded an immigrant car for Wyoming. There were the household goods, a cow, some chickens, some farm machinery that had belonged to his father-in-law, and the iron pot that now is beside my fireplace and serves a useful purpose still. Mother followed by train with David, Sofe, and Brooks, and arrived at Garland, Wyoming, on the 6th of December, 1904.

That winter they lived at Byron. Father obtained some land a few miles up the Shoshone River (called Stinking Water by the Indians), one hundred and sixty acres, for which he agreed to pay a wagon and harness valued at $60.00, a saddle, riding bridle, and saddle blanket valued at $35.00, and $100.00 cash, and a promise to pay $277.00 on October First of 1905.

He used his team and wagon to haul logs from the mountains about fifty miles away and built a two-room house on his land. To this he moved his family the First of May, 1905, although the chinking or daubing between the logs was not yet done or the dirt put on the roof. The weather responded with a blizzard. Canvass was stretched over parts of the roof to try to keeps parts of the house dry, and Mother held an umbrella over the baby as she rocked him to sleep in his cradle.

In order to meet his October obligation, Father again had to leave home. He got a small patch of alfalfa and a garden started, and went back to Yellowstone National Park, about one hundred miles away, for the summer, leaving Mother to hold things together at home until fall.

The year following that, I arrived, on the Fourth of October, 1906. Two more children were born in that house, Elna and Orvil. Lucinda arrived in the new house, rounding out the family.

I am sure it must not have been easy to take care of all our wants, but I never remember any of us feeling deprived, but were secure and happy. All shared in whatever was to be done, and we learned to work and to be self-reliant.

Some memories of this period are concerned with dipping water into barrels from irrigation ditches or the river which was half a mile away so the water would settle and be usable; cutting blocks of ice in the winter to be melted for water; in the summer, the ice which had been stored in the ice house under sawdust, was used to cool drinking water, or, sometimes, to freeze ice cream; going buffalo berrying that there might be jelly for the winter, of the diptheria scare and of my embarrassment the time I was given protection against the disease.

I was almost seven when I started grade school at our three-room school at Penrose, and almost thirteen when I began high school. (She then retells the whistling story that is in the other brief piece already posted).

High school was at Cowley, about eighteen miles away by team and white-top buggy. This was a school established by the Church when no other high school was available in that part of the Basin. Father bought a lot there and built a small two-room house. The mattress on the boys bed was a tick filled with straw. To go to High School meant going to Cowley on Sunday afternoon and batching till Friday after school, and each child in the family had his turn as long as the school was a church school. To do this was not easy. The farm was not productive, the land was rough and required much work before it could be planted, and when the water was applied other problems arose. This made it necessary many times for Father to work away from home on road construction jobs. Attendance at high school made much added expense. Mother had what was considered an Eighth Grade education and had taught school one term at Mayfield, Utah; Father had attended school only a few months and did the rest of his learning by himself. He was determined that his children should have the opportunity to learn.

I graduated from High School in May, 1923. The next year was to be the last year the Big Horn Academy would function as a Church school as other high schools had been established by the State of Wyoming. It was also the year that Elna would begin High School. Elna and I batched that year that she might attend the Academy.

The school year of 1924-25, Elna and I rode the school bus from home at Penrose to Powell, about thirteen miles away, she to enter Second year of high school and I to enroll in the High School Normal Training class, which started me teaching school in 1925-26. I ended my teaching in public school in June of 1972 after twenty-one years of teaching. Twelve of the twenty-one were at Powell, Wyoming, and the last four were at Littlerock, Washington.

I attended the University of Wyoming at Laramie 1926-27, and 1928-29, then between the years of 1955-59, accumulated enough more credits through summer school, extension, correspondence, and examination to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Since 1959, I accumulated other credits at Eastern Montana College of Education, Billings, Montana, The University of Utah, University of Wyoming, and Central Washington State College, Ellensburg, Washington.

Besides the public school teaching, I taught many, many years in different organizations of the Church. I also served in other ways as secretaries, and pianist, and as Relief Society President, just to name a few.

At the close of school, June 1929, I went to Sunlight Basin, about forty-five miles northwest of Cody, Wyoming, to work as cabin girl on the Dewey S. Riddle dude ranch. There I met Russell Marion Blood and were married a year and a half later, and found out what the depression was all about - no work and no money. The year our son Dwight was born, Russell shoveled sugar beets from the topped row to a high beet wagon for $1.00 a day for a month----and we were glad to get it.

We did survive the Depression and it was not all that bad. Russell acquired a two-room house on two and a half acres, we grew most of our food, and we learned to use what we had. Our family grew and we had what was most important to us. We had six children, Louise, Dwight, Elizabeth, Judith, Kathryn Ann and Stephen, who have all married and have children of their own, thirty four grandchildren.

In 1968, Russell's wandering feet brought us to Olympia, where we were near Judy, and Stephen joined us here in 1969. Ann and Elizabeth followed in 1980 and 1981. It would be good if the distance to the others could be shortened.

1 comment:

Judy said...

The last three paragraphs are a show stopper. I cannot read them without shedding a tear or two. The words are so appropriate as a reflection of her life.