Family history of pioneers in Genesee and Lewiston, Idaho.
How my father’s side of the family headed west to Idaho. There my grandfather met his bride to be and pioneered several business’ and established the family ranch for raising livestock, horses and grain. This was in the Palouse Hills whose deep wind deposited soils created excellent conditions for growing grain and other ranch/farm goods.
The family legend goes that Great Granda Pa William had headed west to find gold before the start of the Civil War. He left his home in North Carolina but only made it to Arkansas when the War of Northern Aggression broke out and he did the patriotic thing and volunteered for the Rebel Army. His H company of the Arkansas unit of the Confederate Army fought their way along the Big River and became POW’s in Louisiana. After several terms at 3 Yankee Prison Camps, Great Granpa was released at the end of the conflict and headed home to North Carolina.
His son Robert headed west to Idaho with the railroad some years later. The railroad ended at Genesee in those days but Grandpa ran a ferry crossing the Clearwater River for a couple years in Lewiston. When he had enough funding he began a livery stable in Genesee and operated a couple different business locations in that community. He met the love of his life in Genesee. Susie was of a pioneer family that had moved to Genesee from Wisconsin through the Dakotas. Her family was in the cattle business and then went into running a grain storage facility about the time Susie and Robert married. Granpa Robert kept running a livery stable first offering wagon or buggy access to “drummers” headed for the Camass Prairie near Cottonwood and Grangeville, Idaho. Then when motorchoaches became more reliable he offered access to areas not served by railroad coach to other areas of North Central Idaho. But the automobile was the end of the livery stable and Grandpa Robert acquired the family ranch just about one mile southeast of the townsite of Genesee.
The land had been in the family by way of our in-laws before the relatives gave it up near the end of World War I and moved to homestead on the Salmon River near Deer Creek. This is down in the River of No Return canyon west of Cottonwood and Grangeville, Idaho.
So, Granpa Robert ran the ranching operation successfully until after World War II and then my father took it over and ran the place on shares with Grandpa until his death in 1957.
Long story short, the ranch was an interesting place for me to grow up. In the old days the harvest was with teams of horses, to get the hay in the barn or harvest the wheat and sack it for storage. When I was living on the ranch Dad had a Harvester tractor and a green John Deere combine to harvest the crop. The crops were wheat plus oats and barley and even fora couple years we grew potatoes. And there was always the hay/alfalfa fields to feed the cows and not enough left over for sale. We cut the hay with a mower attached to the tractor, then racked it into rows to dry. When it was time to get the hay to the barn we bucked the hay into piles with the old Ford truck with a buckrake on the front and then the truck carried a load of hay to the hayblower at the barn. The loose hay was stored to feed the animals in one of two barns on the ranch.
When I was old enough, Dad drove the tractor pulling the combine, I operated the combine (it was called punching header) and Mom drove the truck to haul the grain to the storage elevator in town. I spent a lot of my free time chasing the cows into the barn for milking. We only had 4 milk cows but had a milking machine. After filling the buckets with milk it was taken to the porch at the ranch house where we had a machine for separating the milk from the cream. We had a root cellar to keep the milk cool until it was used or sold. Mom raised chicken for meat, and eggs and for sale. She was always busy with everything she had to handle. Dad not only worked the ranch but also, drove school bus and often delivered rural mail to help finance the ranch/farm operation.
Please come back to check out future blogs about the Genesee Pioneers and more stories about our family ranch.