Caspar Berray and family. Standing, Frank
and Algie; seated, Caspar and Julia; Helen
in front. Circa 1910. Courtesy Maxine
Higgins Laughlin collection.
Frank said, "Heron had no water supply so Algie and I used to haul water from Elk Creek using a wagon and barrels," Frank said. "People got water from trains, off the eaves, and melted snow and ice. Most of the washing was done with water from the eaves."
Heron school class, circa 1908-09; Louise Haug, Hazel Riley (Boehler), Miss Lois LaFey, teacher,
Leda Jenkins, Georgia Knott. Courtesy Georgia Knott MacSpadden collection.
Miss McHugh, Miss Riley, Mr. Reese Price and Carolyn Larson, Heron teachers prior to1910. Courtesy Georgia Knott MacSpadden collection.
Heron Brewery. Courtesy Elizabeth Larson Weber collection.
Mr. and Mrs. Schwint, a German couple, owned what had once been the brewery at Heron and had made it into a store. There was a bowling alley behind it. Frank said,
"Schwint ran a bar at the same time. No license, just a blind pig. He had a big fifty gallon barrel and then he'd cut it down before he sold it."
Mr. and Mrs. Bauer (kneeling), Granville Bauer, Chess Greer, Harry Wilson, Mrs. Alzire Greer, Mrs. Lilly Cotton, Marion Cotton, George Gardiner, Mrs. Irene Wilson, Mrs. Lockman. Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
Irvin Hurst and Granville 'Granny' Gordon.
Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
"I'll tell you what they did," Frank Berray said. "They decided they was going to butcher a cow at four o'clock and take it down to Trout Creek so they'd have it ready to put on the market in the morning.
"Granny Gordon and Jim, my uncle, and Cotton was going to do the butchering. The damned cow was wilder than a hog. I think Granny Gordon had a .30-40 and Jim had a .30-30 and I don't know what kind of a cannon Cotton had.
"Granny takes a whack at the cow with the rifle and he missed her. He says to Jim, 'Here, take the next shot and finish her'. That missed. And away she took down the road. She galloped down around Rocky Point and them right after her. When she got onto the level and started running on that flat at the Pilick house dodging around through the timber, Jim takes some shots at her. Cotton, he takes some shots at her and he can't down her. Then Granny opens up.
"By the time she got up to Cotton's she couldn't run anymore. She was all het up from running, besides shooting her through the paunch and everyplace else. I never saw a cow punctured anymore than that one was! She looked more like a sieve than she did anything else! But Cotton butchered that animal and took her to Trout Creek and tried to sell her in the butcher shop. That ended their business."
Tongues wagged and created no small problems for Cotton.2 Also that summer, more future grazing land resulted from carelessness when a fellow set a pitch stump on fire in Dry Creek. The blaze quickly leaped into a forest fire roaring up the canyon towards the upper Bull River valley. Since the meadows in the fire's path also were burned hay crops were wiped out.
On the Bull River homestead of their parents, the young Berray boys were adding 'facts of life' to their store of book learning gained during the school sessions, Frank said,
"It was dryer than a woodpeckers nest when me and my brother went out and lit Dad's hayfield afire behind the barn in August. By Jesus that field went faster than a racehorse could run a mile! The next morning when we looked out we had more smokes than the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
"Dad told us to get the stonebolt and a couple of barrels and hook up the team and start haulin' water on those blazes. After a couple of days of that we decided it wasn't going to do any good at all. That peat meadow kept right on burning up until it was all covered with snow that winter!"
"Farming had been our chief occupation in Kansas and we knew nothing of the mountains and the hardships we were facing. Most of the homestead claims had not been filed on and no one seemed to know at that time that the Cabinet National Forest had been created. But this we were to find out shortly.
"First off I got into the woods with a seasoned Lumberjack and finished my education from March 2 to September 20 with an ax and saw. I made posts, poles, fished, drove team and what not, learning how to handle a team and wagon without fighting them. A temperate man taught me that excessive use of Liquor was Bad Business and somehow that stuck with me. He also warned me against buying stock in coming mines and playing other men's Games of Chance so I sidestepped a lot of Pitfalls.
"The main means of livelihood was stealing Uncle Sam's timber and selling it for what could be obtained, which was very reasonable in price."
The settlers were fun loving people, many of them scarcely more than teenagers in 1908. Dances, cards, socials celebrating almost anything that provided an opportunity, brought them together as often as possible. They congregated in houses, stores, and schools. Anyone with a musical skill was glad to have the opportunity to share his or her talent.
"About eleven o'clock when I heard them coming in I just slipped out of bed. They heard me and they both went through the window at the same time. They were getting out fast! When I heard them getting out, I jumped out and run to the front door and opened the door. I could hear them running down where the section house used to be. It was raining out.
"I thought, 'Now I'll just fire a shot over their heads, not hit them, but get them a boost along a little bit.' Then I changed my mind and didn't shoot. The next morning I thought I'd clean up Dan's gun before I returned it on account of it got wet. I looked in and I couldn't see into the barrel. I felt in there and it was solid!
"Dan was sleeping in my warehouse so I went back there and I said, 'What the hell you got in the barrel of that gun?'
While children in the small hamlets had friends to play with, life on Bull River for a little girl was a lonely affair, according to Helen (Berray) Kirschbaum, whose two brothers were sent to school to Heron."'Oh,' he says, 'I never thought to tell you. I put resin in there so it wouldn't rust.' "Good thing I didn't shoot it! I sent right off and got me a little .32 Colt automatic. If you shoot a gun that has any obstruction in the barrel it'll blow up," Weare said.
"There were no other children in the valley until I was around six or seven years old. Collogans moved in from Helena. They had a little girl named Clara. In the spring of 1907 The Granville Gordon's moved in to build the first government forest service ranger station. They had two girls so we finally had some women folks and I had some kids to play with." Helen clearly recalled some of her early childhood memories .
"I loved horses and my dogs and I played in mud pies a lot. When I was about five years old I was playing behind a stump in the dirt one day. I got a can of water and was mixing mud pies in it. Then I slapped the mud pies on my face," she laughed, recalling her childhood glee.
"Mother came out looking for me and she found me with my face all muddied up. 'Helen! I told you not to make yourself up with mud', she scolded me. 'You can play in mud, but don't make yourself up', and she took me off to clean me up. I used to play in mud all day long. And I had a little cart and I'd play with it and my dog. And my big rag doll."Occasionally a neighbor of theirs, Mr. Shiller, rode over to ask if he could bring them anything from town, when he was delivering beef to the local merchants
Girl and her dog on a stump near river. Courtesy Maxine Higgins Laughlin collection.
Emmett E. Thompson homestead on Bull River. Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
Annie and Emmette E. Thompson at their homestead on Bull River, September 2, 1915.
Cap Berray and Mrs. Lockman (wearing apron.) Courtesy Clayton Bauers collection.
Bauer family outing, climbing the rocky mountain hillside back of their homestead on
Bull River. Courtesy Clayton Bauer Collection.
Florence 'Fanny' Hampton with daughter Margery (3 years old) and son Stewart. 1911. Courtesy
Stewart and Agnes Hampton collection.
Ice skaters on Noxon slough. Circa 1911. Ben Saint and Fern Fulks in the middle. Courtesy Ben. F. Saint collection.
Fern Fulks and Ben Saint, ice skaters on Noxon slough. Courtesy Ben F. Saint collection.
New Heron Schoolhouse. Heron, Montana. Courtesy Georgia Knott MacSpadden collection.
- Frank Berray tape-recorded oral history March 6, 1970.
- Sanders County Ledger, June 7, 1907
- Lucy Allen Jenkins tape-recorded oral history.
- Sanders County Ledger, March 1910.