to celebrate 150th year in 2012, area history included
(History continued from last week)
More on some things that have and do contribute to our stories collected throughout these many years. Everything that comes up has a connection to the people and the life they choose when they settle in this area of many blessings.
As most of you know up to the time of the area settlement there were a number of things that made up different from one another and, at the same time, more and more things we shared and had in common. The way we worshipped God was one of these things. I believe that we, back then, had a tendency to believe that or way was the only way to Heaven. Over the past 150 years most of us accept that each, in his own right, has adopted which path to follow. I don’t want to argue with anyone about religion but I’m glad that we have learned to love and respect each other and leave room for everyone to maintain their own relationship with God. Having this mutual respect has allowed us to unite under one flag to defend these rights. A lot of us remember that this dispute over religious freedom was a big factor in our forefathers coming to this country in the first place.
As time went on many things have changed and quite a few of us married people of different beliefs. Leaning to handle things like this has certainly been part of our story. As we each do many things the same way, we also do many things that make contrast. Each farmer does his chores according to family tradition and yet they all work toward success in their own way.
Another way of alike, but different, is our family life. How many times have you heard “I want something different for my kids?” In the end we all want our kids to be a success and the best they can be. As we think back over the years, we remember when she or he was a real hell-raiser but, look at them now running a big outfit which employs many people – a smile on every face! I think being happy and content with who you are is the thing we are all looking for. Come on now, have you ever gone anywhere else and found more friendly people? This comes with people who are satisfied to be one of those who “live and love in my hometown!”
I’ve seen many people come and also many who leave after a short try at our country life. Those that stay don’t try to make it change. Not that there isn’t always room to improve. Our swimming hole is a little short of concrete and chain link fence but we are long on good clean mountain fresh water that won’t kill you if you swallow a mouthful! Our opera has home-grown music and lots of smiling faces and we know the names of all those on the stage!
Another thing we are short on is the long waiting line to go or do most anything. When we go to the park for a picnic, we almost always get a view to go with it. When we find ourselves needing a few more screws to do a project we run down to the store and back in 10-15 minutes, not 3 or 4 hours. When we want to go for a drive it doesn’t take and hour and twenty minutes to find “the open road.” When we want to “throw the ball” or “shoot some hoops” we go out back and not down to the recreation center and wait for an open court. When we feel like singing, we have a few friends over and have at it.
Most of the time, when needed, we have friends and family ready to help. Any of us, having a bad time, realize how important this type of support really is. It takes awhile to learn to live with other people involved in our personal lives, but the love, this special caring, is long remembered and soon passed along to others.
This knowledge of mutual support from friends and neighbors makes the area we live in real special to all of us and many who have moved from here often remark at lucky we are to have lived in such an area.
Several old friends have called when one of these stories stirred up some long forgotten tale of the past. It really does seem like as we age these “walks down memory lane” become more special. I remember digging in a ditch as a young boy and ole Louis Klapprich and brother Joe were the town’s main work force. Anyway Louis was quite a story teller and he read quite a big for pastime pleasure. Most every day he would have a different story or poem to recite down in the ditch. I don’t remember from whence this poem came but I do know that Louis took time to teach it to me and whenever we would see each other after that he would ask how my love life was. This went on for many years after. The poem’s title was “Love.”
“The tender love of a maiden
The staunch true love of a man
The love of a baby unafraid
Has existed since life began.
But even greater than this
The love of loves – even greater
Than that of a mother
Is the tender, infinite, passionate love
Of one drunken bum for another!”
(Author really unknown) but thanks to Louis and Joe for all the hard work they did in and around the town. These men and others like them were our forerunners of the modern backhoe.
This little story doesn’t begin to fill the gaps that have been filled by all kinds of new inventions. When the railroad came through in 1908 they had steam shovels hooked in the train. Many locals had jobs for themselves and their horses as they cut through all these rocky hills and built the many trestles along their path. The actual work site stretched out over miles as one special work crew took over for another when and as the job picture changed. The railroad set the pattern for the many roadways that followed. The railroad was made up of many men who had worked for the same outfit when they crossed all these mountain ranges. Talk about stories of blood, sweat and tears!
Remember the song “I’ve been working on the railroad?” Dinah blow your horn.
Anyway let’s get back to some local talent we had in our local blacksmith shops. It didn’t take long for the early day smithy to copy some of the earth moving tools we saw on the railroad and we made and remade those for many years to dig basements, make roads and build Soldier’s Meadow (which was named for the Vets who built it post-WWI).
When we talk about the early day businesses in the area there were 50 or more going on about 1900 in Cottonwood alone. Keuterville had about seven sawmills and six to ten store, shops and even the Maag Hotel. Ferdinand had seven or eight saloons and stores, even three grocery stores so I’m told. All these people to support and run their stores had to live in and work in the area. And they did – from here to Buffalo Hump. Mining and freighting and building roads and trails across the area. The stories we have talk about four livery barns in the downtown Cottonwood area. Two hotels and many homes turned into rooming houses. When I was growing up here we had the Crystal Bar, The Twins Bar, Pastime Bar, Radar Bar, Jimmys Bar, Hotel Bar, Stockman’s Bar and the Rooke Hotel and later Jenny’s Bowling all entertainment centers. Some lasted only a few years but others for many years. Most of the bars had heavy drinkers but also card games, light lunch and snacks. For awhile even slot machines. These businesses were hit hard by the modern DWI laws and TV helped to curb the excessive drinking – thank Heavens!
This is about the 35th newspaper story since last September and meant to be part of the 150 year celebration. There are many tales to be added by your own memory. We want to thank you for your many favorable comments. Greg Wherry is working on possibly putting these and a few other tid-bits into a small book. When he can he will publish and estimated price and ask you to subscribe.
We have some other articles to come with more pictures and a little different layout. Thanks again for all of your support.
Haying on the Rehder Ranch in the early 1900’s
An old picture postcard of the Railroad only about a year after it was opened to the Prairie.
An early 1900’s house that has since fallen into disrepair out on Moughmer Point out of Keuterville.
The same house as above with the outbuildings.