Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Pioneer of South Dakota part three

Box Elder trail


In 1886 the first railroad train came to Rapid City and everyone went to town to celebrate.  My future husband came in on the train but I didn't know that until several years later.  He had come to the Black Hills from Nebraska in 1885 with a man from Chadron, Nebr., who was hauling freight by ox team into the Hills and needed a helper.  He had never driven oxen but gave what help he could for his transportation to Buffalo Gap.  He spent his first winter at Hot Springs.

With the arrival of the railroad some entertainment was imported which we had never seen before.  I went with my stepmother to see "Uncle Tom's Cabin" played.  This was a wonderful treat for me which I have never forgotten.

Since the boom days at Rapid City were over the lumber business began to slacken so my Father sold his interest in the saw mill to his partner.  He then ran a boarding house at a mining camp near old Greenwood which at that time was running a stamp mill; the company was also putting down a shaft, but I guess it didn't pay as it was soon abandoned and Greenwood was forgotten.  This was the only contact we had with the mining industry of the Hills.

On one of his regular trips to Greenwood one day, Father ran across some big bear tracks which made him uneasy because of the supply of fresh meat he was carrying.  The miners, when off shift, went bear hunting, but they didn't find him.

Father went back to the saw mill and bought some cattle and moved to his pre-emption on the prairie, northeast of Rapid City on Box Elder Valley in 1889.  My sister Emma McGee died in 1889.

After moving here I was a long distance from school.  During the school term I lived with my sister Ida Singleton and went with her daughter who was too young to go so far alone to school.  It was quite a distance and during the short winter day it would be dark when we got home.  We had to come along a ridge between the heads of two canyons where there was heavy timber.  We had heard the cry of the wild cats in that vicinity and we were afraid.  In bad weather we would miss school.

Later on my brother-in-law, Lox Singleton, rented a room in a home near the school house where we could keep house.  He would take us down Monday morning and come for us Friday evening.  My sister would bake bread, cookies and cake for us to eat during the week.

When their little boy, John Theron Singleton, was old enough to start to school, they rented rooms in Rapid City where we could keep house and go to school.  One day my nephew warned me he was going home.  He got out of school a little earlier than his sister and myself and that evening when we got home from school he was gone.  I found a place for my niece to stay and borrowed a horse and buggy and started after him, for it was about six miles.  I caught up with him just as he went in the door at home.  It was the last month of school so they kept him home the rest of the term.

My sister Ida died in 1893.  Her husband, Lox Singleton, and the two children, age 12 and 8 years, moved to my father's home on Box Elder.  They lived and worked together part of the time trying to farm and care for a little herd of cattle.  Most of the years of the 1890's were very dry causing poor crops which made it difficult to have pasture and feed.

When we lived on Box Elder there was not much entertainment or social life but sometimes we would gather at the home of a neighbor who had an organ.  There was a girl who could play, and we would gather around the organ and sing -- probably not very good singing but we did enjoy it.

Once I was telling a neighbor about some nice gooseberries we had and he said jokingly he would come down and get them some night.  Theron, who was about 10 years old said he had better not because we had a gun.  When the neighbor asked to see it, Theron brought it out and just as he entered the room it went off and shot about a 3" hole in the floor.  Theron's father, Lox, heard the shot and when he came in and found what had happened, he took the gun out and threw it in the creek.

I liked school very much and tried to make the most of the opportunities I had.  I passed the written examination for teacher's certificate in 1893. 

I taught four terms in South Dakota and one short term in Nebraska; one term in Mead County, three terms in Pennington County and one in Nebraska.  My brother-in-law, Lox Singleton, rented a place to farm near these schools where I taught so his children could go to school.

In 1896 Hallie was old enough to keep house alone.  I wanted to go to school for more education and training to teach.  I started to school at Spearfish Normal.  Spearfish had an epidemic of typhoid fever.  I took the fever which brought an end to my schooling and my savings, so I went back to teaching the next year.

to be continued...

18 comments:

  1. I sent you a map via email of where I think the mill was located. It's approximately 9 miles northwest of old town Rapid City. Every time she mentions a new town I type it into google maps. I have it open in another tab right now. I'm really enjoying this. Thank You.

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    1. Woodsterman,
      Thank you so much. Have no idea why it didn't dawn on me to do that.
      I'm glad you are enjoying following her journey.

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  2. Wonderful memoir Brig, I'm just catching up.

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    1. Celia,
      Glad to have you following along. I'm enjoying sharing her story.

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  3. I'll bet somebody slinked off to the creek and recovered the gun.

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    1. LL,
      lol, I thought the same thing.

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    2. That's very typical White Wolf behaviour.

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  4. Replies
    1. Well Seasoned Fool,
      Then it's all good.

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  5. Sad to read of such early deaths of her sisters. Life span wasn't near what it is today and health care was probably minimal. How different life was in those days. I am really enjoying these stories.

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    1. Arkansas Patti,
      I know, I have wondered what the cause of death was. If I do a little digging in the family I will probably be able to find out.
      Thanks for following along.

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    2. Arkansas Patti,
      LOL I just realized my choice of words might not have been the best when I wrote: "do a little digging"

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  6. Like I said, one tough lady! Wow!

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    1. Old NFO,
      Kids today have no idea do they? As a little kid I walked or rode my bike 3.5 miles each way to school, with other farm kids, but sometimes alone. No one would think to do that today.

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  7. Replies
    1. LSP,
      I'm glad you are enjoying it. Thanks for commenting.

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  8. Fascinating. My Mom once pointed out that a man 80 years old is an Old Coot, and this country is only 3 Coots old.

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    1. SCOTTtheBADGER,
      Though I read this several times as a young adult, I didn't really appreciate it til the last ten years or so, and more so now that I'm transcribing it.
      LOL, your mom has a way with words!

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