We lived in this lovely valley about five years. When we arrived there was only a cook-house, a bunk-house, and a big barn. we lived in our tents until our little company could build houses to live in. This meant three small houses. Later on three more were built by private families who worked at the mill. Most of these families were temporary until they pre-empted or homesteaded. This made a little village. We did not have a post office but we had a telephone. People who owned this saw mill in an earlier time had a post office called "Bluevale" but it was discontinued.
In February 1885, my sister Ida gave birth to a baby boy, John Theron. Later in the spring the Singletons moved to their pre-emption located on a park. A park, in those days, was an open place on a ridge between two streams.
In the fall of 1885 my father married Mary Chilcote, who came from Bedford, Iowa to Chadron, Nebraska by railroad and then to Rapid City by stage coach, where my father met her. She had known our family for sometime and knew my mother. We had some good times together going fishing up the canyon on the creek where there were deep holes. Trout were not planted at that time but we caught bullheads. My father often made trips to Rapid City selling lumber and buying supplies for the cook-house and for the families living there and working at the mill. We would sometimes go with him as far as South Canyon and stay there and pick wild raspberries, gooseberries, chokecherries and sometimes plums, when each was in season, until he came from town; we took our lunch and we knew the location of a spring where we could get water.
We made a trip to Sturgis and Fort Mead that took a whole day's travel by wagon and horse. We knew people from Iowa that lived in Sturgis.
There was not much for amusement and entertainment for anyone. On Sundays the young fellows would get out on an open place and practice cracking the big bull whip to see who could crack it the loudest and handle it the best.
There were some girls my age at the mill camp and we played in the creek and explored the scenery around the mill site. We were not allowed near the mill or lumber yard when they were running but when closed on Sundays we would go through the mill sight-seeing and slide down the skids where they slid the lumber down to the ground level to the lumber yard. One time they let us ride on the carrier that run the logs to the big saw. This was not a safe place for us.
They had two or three yoke of oxen at the mill to haul logs and skid logs in the timber to the platform where they loaded the logs on the wagons. They claimed a yoke of oxen was better for this than horses; they used them also to haul logs to the log yard. A middle-aged man handled the oxen, everyone could not do it. I remember the names of some the oxen: Dodge, Logan, Bill, Red, and Lep.
I did not go to school the first year we were in the Hills. The next year, 1885, my father made arrangements for me to go to school in Rapid City. I was curious about a large new lonesome looking building set off by itself about one mile east of Rapid City, and learned it was the first building of the S.D. School of Mines. Two sons of mine were to graduate from this school; Donald, in 1930, and Dean, in 1934.
The boom days of Rapid City were over by this time.
That fall a log school house was built about one-half mile from the mill on a ranch, at that time called the Julia Heath Ranch. The desks, tables and benches were made by some carpenters that worked at the saw mill. The blackboard was made of surfaced boards and painted black.
My father was married now and we had a school near the saw mill, so I went back to the mill to school. I went to school here the next three years. At that time we had only six months of school during the year. My last term there was taught by Orpha (Le Graw) Haxby who is still living in Rapid City and is in her nineties. She was one of the first settlers there.
to be continued...