Caspar Berray homestead when Helen was a youngster. Courtesy Frank Berray collection.
"The folks had to battle the county commissioners to get any schools there. I was over ten years old before I got any schooling, and then went to school only because friends took me to board with them a few miles north, in Lincoln County," Helen Kirschbaum said.
"I and Clara Collogan boarded with Harry Tallmadge's folks (Mr. and Mrs. Stanley) and went to school in a little old log schoolhouse with home-made desks fashioned out of split cedar. We learned to read, write and do arithmetic."1.
His little sister, Helen, remembered the school, "It was two and a half miles from my parents home. School began in May and went four months. I walked every day, both ways with Josephine Bunn, our first school teacher in the new schoolhouse."
"We used catnip tea for fevers, congested lungs, pneumonia," Helen said. "We'd fry onions soft, to absorb lots of grease, put them into a cloth sack and put that on the chest as warm as could be stood. We also used a poultice out of Denver Mud (that the folks bought through mail-order) for lung troubles.
"And mustard plasters made by mixing a tablespoon of dry powdered mustard with three or four tablespoons of flour and a little warm water to make a paste. Spread it thinly on a soft piece of cloth and apply that to the chest, front and back, for a few minutes. Watch the skin close and let it just barely turn a light, light pinkish color. Then quickly remove the mustard plaster, sponge the skin with warm water and apply a bit of mentholatum ointment, or lard mixed with kerosene."1.
"Christ, that would be a good way to scald the hair off a hog!"2.
Helen said, "I gave mother aconite and belladonna and Gelsemium for her heart after I was ten years old. You could get it from the druggist those days if you let him know you understood their poison qualities and how to properly use them. There were no doctor's prescriptions or the likes of that.
"Mother was sick so I had to learn to give her medicine to her. There were no droppers in the bottles in those days. You had to drip one drop from the bottle into a teaspoon. If I wasn't certain sure I had only one drop I had to dump it out and wash the spoon and start over again. One drop every hour for her heart trouble. I had to give her aconite and gelsemium, alternately three drops ever three hours, for headaches and fevers and such. It was a big responsibility."1.
A Noxon outing with the Bauer families. Tom Moonen is the man on the right in bib overalls. Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
"Well this boy was twenty one years old," Frank said. "So I said, 'Say son, if you want to homestead up here, I'll just take you down and show you a darn good place that you can homestead.'"They spent a couple days in the saddle looking over the old Green property with Frank urging the young fellow to take it back from the forest service. Frank reasoned that the senator would uphold the claim if it was proven the land was agricultural.
"Which it was," Frank said. "But the lad got cold feet."2.
"I worked on that Berray Mountain trail, the one that goes right up out of the North Fork. About 300-400 yards straight up that mountain there's an old mine. You can see the diggins on the side hill there. It [the trail] goes up on above to the peak. Well, I worked on that trail and cleared it out alone within about a mile of the top. Then I come down and started working on the trail that went up the South Fork. I patrolled that whole country in there for the forest service for two summers, 1911 and 1912."
"In an hour, Maynard came from the saloon with a bill for $20 against Erickson's savings," Weare said. "I wouldn't give 'em to him. Maynard left and then returned with Erickson who said to go ahead and pay it. I just gave him the rest of his money and wouldn't have any part of it afterwards."3.
In February Dr. Fester (sic) arrived from the Bitter Root Valley and opened an office in Noxon. During the time Fester had his office at Noxon a fellow by the name of John came to town to get a gallon of whiskey.5. Death in the form of wood alcohol poisoning stalked John and five other men during the holiday season.
"Comstock and Charley Walker had bought a five gallon barrel of liquor and sold it, unaware of what it truly was," Clifford Weare said. John, who lived in the Bull River Valley and was known as "Frenchy" went to Noxon to get a bottle.
"When he came across the ferry he opened the bottle, offering a drink to Ed Hampton, the ferryman. Hampton, not being a drinking man, refused. Frenchy took a drink."When Frenchy disappeared for three or four days a search was started."They found his frozen body in a tie hacker cabin not a mile away where he had tried to cover himself with wood chips in the cold.6. The body was laid out in the warehouse at the Noxon Ranger Station and Dr. Fester called. John had long whiskers. Doc lathered him all up and started to shave him. Jim Miller, one of the bystanders, says to the dead body,
'If that razor pulls, just say something."7.An Irishman named Mike Conners died, but the other men remained unnamed. No charges were ever filed in the case. Charley Walker lived in fear of being arrested all the rest of his long life. Dr. Fester (sic?) kept his office in Noxon only three weeks. He left when his dealings for a ranch fell through, moving to Thompson Falls where he opened an office. Noxon residents also bid adieu to John McKay when he moved to Twin Bridges.
School in Noxon closed the first week of April. The teacher, Miss Hattie McDonald, went to Bull River where she taught school for one month and then left for Eureka to teach. A new school was being built a mile south of the Bull River Guard Station on a spot known as Pilick flats. Until it was completed, she held classes in the school building on Algie Berray's place.8.
In August, a fortunate few from Noxon went to Missoula to see the "greatest show on earth," the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Thousands of Montanans lined the parade route to watch the million dollar parade. In glittering costumes, and jeweled harnesses and wagons, the likes of which had never dazzled the eye of most Noxonites, 1,300 people, 700 horses, 40 elephants and 1,200 other animals awed those who saw it. The show cost its owners $3,500,000 and required five long trains to transport. All but twenty of the circus people traveled directly with the show.
The Noxonites succumbed to the allure seeing of man-eating lions, leopards and chimpanzees, and sampling strange food. They went home and told almost unbelievable tales of hawkers urging them to see shows inside the tents of tattooed ladies, fat ladies, sword swallowers, giants and midgets, and half a hundred other amazing games at which you could win prizes, and challenges they'd never dreamed of before.
Each spring settlers met at the cemetery to clean out buck brush and grass, to find graves and tend them. The newest cemetery, on the Pilgrim Creek hill, was leased from the forest service. The old one on the flat by the river wasn't used anymore except for burying Chinese. When Alfred Baxter died in 1913 he was buried on the hill.
"It was claimed he [Dr. Knapp] came across the state line from Idaho to Trout Creek to attend some cases of typhoid fever," the newspaper reported. He was found guilty in Judge W. C. Adam's court and fined $50.00.12.
Religionism, education, and women's voices were taking a toll of the 'good old days' when a man could drink himself into the blind staggers and suffer no disgrace for it.
"forbidding 'ragging' and other objectionable methods of dancing," and added a fine for infractions.15.
"This system of dancing has been in vogue for two years - if parents favor ragging by the young people, let them petition the council to undo their work, and hire an instructor to teach modern dances properly, thereby doing away with such vulgar exhibitions in another manner than by force."16.
"We got stuck there and slept in the house. We had to sleep on the floor. Mrs. Baker charged us $5 a piece. Well, they didn't have a damned thing. In the morning they gave us oatmeal. Didn't even have milk for the oatmeal. Baker had a lot of burned posts there he wanted us to buy, but I couldn't buy them."
Shoveling a path around the post piles after a winter snowstorm so they can be counted. Courtesy Harry and Sarah Tallmadge collection.
"Fill a saucer with a mixture of flour and plaster of Paris. Nearby another saucer containing water and some little pieces of wood floating about. The roaches will eat the plaster and flour; this will make them thirsty, whereupon they will drink the water and the mixture will harden inside, and there you are with all kinds of plaster of Paris cockroaches. P.S. - if you are short of water stale beer will be even better."18.
"The extermination of the winter fly is the duty of the housewife and of everyone. Don't let one escape. Catch and kill them all before spring, for the winter fly is the parent of summer's destructive swarms. Capture every one of the filthy little pests you can." Flies cost the United States annually $350,000,000.19.
"Fly Wisdom" became a column devoted to the hazards of flies. Flies follow filth; fever follows flies. A fly in the milk may mean a member of the family in the grave. It is a short haul from the garbage can to the dining table via the fly route. Flies, as well as bad weather, spread typhoid. If at first you don't succeed, swat, swat, swat again. If your aim was poor you could "put two teaspoons of formaldehyde to a pint of water. Place saucers of it around the house."20.
"We shipped our furniture to Noxon and stored some pieces, until spring, with Mrs. Baxter who had a hotel.
"That fall and winter we lived in a tent with all the sides boarded up and covered with tarpaper on the outside. It was nice and warm. We had a double floor and linoleum on it. Eddie worked in a cedar camp making cedar posts," Carrie said.
Noxon pie eating contest: Contestants Solon Ellis and Clayton 'Clate' Bauer. Mac Mathey is pictured on the right, Art Hampton is the lad in the hat, and Pearl Maynard is laughing in the background. Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
"Thrice in one week the Noxonites had the privilege of hearing campaign and socialistic oratory. Monday evening a socialist speaker was with us. Wednesday, the Republicans rallied here and before we thoroughly digested all they told us, along came the democrats, explaining and lauding democracy. Now the voter knows all the several candidates so he should be able to vote wisely."
"one of the best lectures ever heard in Noxon to a good size crowd. She thoroughly explained all the measures to be voted on by the people of Montana. She also gave a pathetic picture of the Ludlow 'Massacre', and promised to stop on her return trip."23.
"Hey, Munson, see you turned your hayburner in for a gasburner! When you gonna give us a ride in it?"
"If you're sick of doing business unassisted,
And getting every lemon that is listed,
If the railroads seem to make a point to loot you,
And their merry ways of dealing do not suit you.
If the trusts and combinations always skin you,
And they rouse the sullen anger that is in you,
Cease to blame it on the Senate or the weather.
'Get Together!' That's the answer. 'Get Together'."
As Cap sat by Frank's bedside during the worst nights, it hardly seemed possible he'd been out here in Montana's wilderness more than 21 years. Newcomers referred to him as "old timer" now. The struggles had been hard, he reflected, but altogether it had been a good life. He thought of the baby daughter buried on the hillside. He couldn't bear to lose his son, too. It was slow going, but Frank did recover.26.
Cutting, hauling and storing ice from the frozen Clark's Fork River, and fine ice skating on Noxon slough were the order of the day in mid-December. The ferry was unable to operate much due to floating ice on the river.30.
Teams used to skid loads of logs out to the banks of the frozen Clark's Fork River, where the log decks awaited springtime high water. Courtesy Don Maynard collection.
"Dr. Fester" might have been referring to Elmer Fessler who first came to Montana about 1902. Dr. Elmer Fessler practiced medicine in all the valley tributaries to Missoula. He moved his family to Thompson Falls about the time that Dr. Peek retired to Missoula.
"As near as I can remember we came to Thompson Falls about 1921 or 22 ... from Polson where he had been the Dr. for the Indians." (from Ermel F. Hanson letter February 5, 1985. Ermel is Dr. Elmer Fessler's daughter.)
"Dr. Fessler had at first a small hospital in Thompson Falls. When he would go to the west end of the county, wherever he stopped those people would tell him if someone else wanted him to stop. The only telephone line ran along the wire fences. Eventually he had his car doors painted a bright yellow and people could see the car as he went by."
Eddie Gore built two more houses. One was located about three miles west of Noxon on a high hill on the south side of the river; very nice 'A' frame house. The other house was in Noxon, just west of the school bus garage. When nuclear fallout bomb shelters became a national concern following World War II, the Gores turned their basement into a completely stocked shelter.
Eddie and Carrie were active church members. They kept their town house grounds a show place of flowers, and they raised prize-winning gardens until age and health forced their retirement. Then they moved out of state to be near their daughter, Cleo.
22. Sanders County Independent Ledger, October 23, 1914.
24. Don Maynard, tape-recorded oral history, circa 1975.