Cottonwood to celebrate 150th year in 2012, area history included
(History continued from last week)
Some 150 years after the first scouts and would be settlers first looked across this area from what was later named Craig Mountain and later the Cottonwood Butte, we seem to share unusual weather from time to time brought on by the ever changing wind patterns in the easterly flow of what is known as the “jet stream.” My experience tells me that most of the time, because of the speed of the jet stream, it usually doesn’t take long for our weather to change. The old saying “don’t change your plans because of the weather-just wait and the weather will change.” Testifies to the speed of the pattern. The “damn fool” that tries to predict our weather has sure gotten better at it through the years. I think we all admit that. When we plant, trim or hang out the wash it still serves for good conversation and many “I told you so’s.” Although the few times we’re right keeps up guessing at it.
It’s really part of who and what we are to check and see if the pipes are sweating or if Grandma is dragging her right leg before we decide what to do today. By and large, the people of this area count on the experience of several generations to make them as successful as they are. Sure the Good Lord has been good to them but, remember, God helps those who help themselves and we are proud to say that most here are good hard workers. We all share in the good accomplishments of the whole area.
As we are kind of in limbo now, working and setting and typing stories, we intend to share with you some of the family info we have been compiling. As these folks have been dropping off their stories we usually take a minute to stop and go over some of the memories and in some cases, we can share in solving why this or that happened.
As the railroad moved closer and closer to this area not everyone was following. Some led, and were here to watch the tracks get closer. A lot of the people who came to mine later stayed to attract their friends to come and farm. Many of the early  comers came in through the northern route (Glacier Park-Spokane, Seattle, Portland) and these main routes had spur routes develop off into the more remote areas. This then is what happened when the railroad came down from Spokane into the Palouse country and eventually down through Kendrick down along the Clearwater to Lewiston. And of course up along the river to Orofino, Kamiah, Kooskia and Stites. 
It was then, during the years between, we hear of some of the early settlers who came here walked down from Colton and Uniontown, took a ferry across the Clearwater and continued their hike to the Prairie. For them this was something that just had to be done. Considering the events of the time and the very limited amount of money, they understood the meaning of “just you and me Lord!”
How different the time and therefore how different circumstances had a direct connection to the way things get done. The roads or trailers were filled with all kinds of problems. Wild men and wild animals or just the threat of such caused many a sleepless night along the way. How great it was to meet up with your own kind and exchange news and your own stories!
When we talk to our children about our own early days and our “growing up” we see that look of disbelief and with each generation it’s harder to make the link. Maybe if they see it in writing it will be more believable. “Sleep with the hose? Please get real!”
Another meaning for the word “bonding” was truly developed in the lives of these early day settlers and it meant a lot to have a neighbor friend to compare your life with. The minute a new way of doing things came up it was quickly pass on to family, neighbors or other friends. There was no radio or daily newspaper, but there was always the neighbors to share with.
All through these years people worked and helped one another. We had quite a few cases where both mom and dad died leaving, in some cases, quite small children. Usually other members of the extended family took and raised these children as their own. There were very few cases where the kids went to the children’s home. 
In one of our stories, a mom fell sick with the flu so her sister came to help and she also contracted the flu along with one of the younger girls. All three died within hours of each other and were quickly buried in one grave to keep the flu from spreading.
Along with the sad times we have many pictures of weddings, birthdays and anniversary celebrations involving big families as well as neighbors and friends.

The above 3 photos are ones we’ve had for awhile that were submitted by Louis Schmidt. The top photo shows Henry Schmidt leading the stock show parade in the late 1930’s. In the middle photo Louis Schmidt is driving 8 head of horses on the plow in about 1930. In the bottom photo Henry is driving 4 head of horses pulling 100 sacks of grain up elevator hill in the late 1920’s.

Another story page from the upcoming book.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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503 King St.
P.O. Box 157
Cottonwood, ID 83522-0157
Fax 208-962-7131
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