Monday, February 28, 2011


The Shaft to David Evans gold mine near Noxon. David Evans and Frank Berray batched together and built bridges for early Sander County, Montana. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.

Noxon's men who were not off to war preoccupied themselves with the business of survival on the home front. Charles Maynard, who had become a county commissioner, brought home the horses he had wintered in Camas Prairie as soon as May greened his pastures. Frank Parrot began working in a mine near the head of Pilgrim Creek. Granny Gordon went to Thompson River country to do forestry work for the summer.1.

 Strawberry Bartholomew and Ethel Fulks Greer had wed. Both were working hard to get ahead, and to provide for Ethel's three children, Mary, Goldie and Dan Greer. Strawberry continued to work in the woods while Ethel grew increasingly larger gardens.

As spring arrived, mining occupied not a few men along the steep mountainsides of the valley. Slag heaps of fresh earth scarred hillsides greening with young mountain maple, seanosa (favorite habitat of millions of wood ticks), buck brush, and huckleberry bushes, where burned-over snags  stood like sentinels; stark reminders of the 1910 fires.

Sam Holbert, a geologist, stayed at the Cottage Rooms that Mrs. St. Clair ran for owner Jim Finnigan. It was the Pilgrim Prospect that brought them to Noxon to begin with. In 1910 the Princemont Mining Company of Idaho held the property, consisting of six claims.
Every summer Sam Holbert and his crews tramped the mountains searching for country rock - banded grey-blue argillite and grey fine-grained sericitic sandstone and quartzite of the Prichard formation. Among the rocky cliffs they examined rock they unearthed for galena, sphalerite, pyrite, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and arsenopyrite.

(insert photo)
Caption: It was in these rocky cliffs overlooking Rock Lake in western Sanders County, Montana, that Peter Weare and his wife Emma came to prospect, at the turn of the century. Photographed by Wallace 'Wally' Gamble. Courtesy Clifford A. and Dorothy Weare collection.

Books on geology were passed around. The words took on meaning to a few men. Sitting humped on the barstools, when they came to town for supplies, they bandied around geologic 'buzz words'. They talked long about which occurred in a gangue of quartz, calcite, chlorite, amphibole, garnet or biotite. What was the meaning of this or that find? Everything was debated and gradually they grew to a better understanding of minute bits of the earth's contents they found in the surrounding mountains. During World War I (1917-1918) Art Hampton, two Swedes and Kenny Miller also worked with Sam.2. Named 'Pilgrim', the mine lay 10.2 miles southwest of Noxon in sec. 8, T.25 N., R. 33 W. near the head of a small creek named Tobin, a tributary to the South Fork of Pilgrim Creek.3.

Cabinet Range Copper Mining Company incorporate in Montana incorporated in 1919  and was doing development work on 18 claims. The quartz vein, which outcropped on the surface for 2,000 feet, was eventually developed with three tunnels (adits) 200, 700 and 2,000 feet long. Copper, lead and bismuth were present in the vein, which cuts across Newland (Wallace) slates. Traces of sulfide mineral, a few specimens containing felted malachite and azurite with specks of chalcopyrite in white quartz scattered across their dump.

Holbert left his mine for a time to go to Troy. He returned to Noxon with his wife - she of the high-collared gowns - and became good friends of Ann and Bob Larson. Kenny Miller went to work in the Salzbury Mine.

Young Charlie Knutson and his hunting sidekicks looked inside the diggings at Miller's invitation, but had no desire to work in the damp, dark tunnel.
"We'd go hunting or fishing up there and every time, Kenny'd want us to eat dinner with him. He was a good cook. We used to stop up there and he'd have Sourdough biscuits and salt pork. We enjoyed that and always planned on it, too."4.
Whenever he wasn't out developing claims south of Bull River in Copper Gulch Jim Freeman shared his homesteaded cabin, about a half-mile above the mouth of Bull River, with 'stew bums,' those itinerant men who meandered through the mountains, working for whatever bed and board they could find. Having sold one mine to Frank Lyons, Freeman continued searching the peaks surrounding the Bull River valley for the "big" lode.

After the end of WW I Frank Berray worked for Frank Lyons in his mining property on Squaw Peak. Frank and a Dutchman stayed there all one summer, mining the ore. Frank related the following episode,
"It was all in just big pockets, the hardest quartz you ever tried to hand drill in. But you hit one of these pockets, and it was pretty darned heavy to copper. You saved all the pockets. Near summers end Frank Lyons came up to sack it. Ore sacks weighed about 26 pounds. We had for our summer's work about 20-25 sacks of these copper pockets.
"We sacked it all up and had it ready to go down the mountain. But we couldn't find anybody to haul it out, so it just set there. I went down to Weare's homestead, west of Noxon, and went to work cutting brush and trees.
Although the 1910 fire had cleared whole mountains of trees and vegetation, portions of the lowlands went untouched. Clearing up land to meet homestead requirements still included felling trees, cutting and stacking brush, and dusk-to-dawn fires. Where the miners were engaged in skulduggery in the Bull River claims, the mountains had been scoured to bedrock by the fires, leaving it possible to scan the rocky slopes all the way from the valley to ridgetops, without hindrance of brush or trees.
"Old Culligan, a butcher shop owner from Troy, two other guys from Troy and a man named Williams, from Washington, went up and jumped that claim during the winter. Ellinwood's little homestead cabin was right down at the bottom of Star Gulch," Frank said. "He could see right up to the mine, though it was about three miles straight up the mountain to it. But anyway, Ellinwood was supposed to be a spy for them and get up there as fast as he could if anybody showed up.
"Lyons found it out. So he went up to the peak, but not through Bull River, past Ellinwood's and up the Star Gulch trail. Lyons went up the other side, over Fat Man Mountain and Squaw Peak. Ellinwood found it out someway, so he goes rushing up Star Gulch.
"There were two houses on Squaw Peak (the Forest Service later burned them down.) The snow was so deep it was level with the beam in the peak of the house. They had to climb over that to see down the Squaw Peak trail. When Ellinwood got in sight of the house, he started to hollering. Williams would of shot him if it hadn't been for this Hosea from Troy because he thought it was Frank Lyons! So they all cleared out.
"Well Lyons got up there and he found what was going on. He turned around and came back for the law and had them arrested. But Culligan had furnished old cowhides and they'd fastened them together, put the sacks of ore in, and slid it down on the snow. They got them down to the three forks, right into Star Gulch, and they piled up, broke the sacks open and scattered the ore.
"After the law told them to get out, Frank Lyons goes in from the other side again, arriving first. Then Williams and one other guy goes back up the trail from Star Gulch. Lyons saw them coming on the trail. He hollered, warning them they'd come far enough.
"They wanted to come on. Williams said they'd talk it over and work on the mines and this and that. Lyons told them they'd come far enough. They'd just better turn around while they got a chance and go back. Williams wanted to argue so Frank fired a shot right close to their feet, saying, 'The next one's going to count.' They turned around and left fast.
"Williams come to Weare's. He'd bought a six-shooter and said he was going back up there. We advised him not to. Williams waited four or five days at Ellinwood's to see Lyons, but he never saw him. The ore is still in there. I went back up there the next spring. But the sacks were broke and the ore fallen into the down logs and brush."5.
(insert photo)
Caption: Cabinet Mountains near the Montana - Idaho border. Carpy Mine is at the bottom of the photo, about right of center. Looking north from southside of the Clark's Fork River. Courtesy Mary Easter Younker collection.

In addition to prospecting on Pilgrim Creek, Holbert also prospected on Elk Creek. Other prospectors included Jim Millar, Carlson, who drove a 150-foot tunnel on the east branch of Pilgrim Creek, Jack Ully, Peter Weare and his son, Clifford Weare.

Miners near Noxon, Montana. Circa early 1900s. Identity unknown. Courtesy Earl and Katie Engle collection.
 Mining interests proving unprofitable were changing ownership. In October Jason Edwards was notified of impending forfeiture of his interests, as co-owner with James Freeman, of mining interests in the Noxon mining district.*6.
"You are hereby notified that there has been expended during the years 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, and 1916," $6,000.00 in labor and improvements upon the "Dewey Wellington, Golden Seal, Bonapart and Washington Quartz Lode Mining Claims... the location certificates of which are found... in the office of the County Clerk and Recorder."
The amount claimed was for actual labor required to hold the claims. Edwards had ninety days to contribute his,
"proportion of such expenditure as the Co-Owner, which amounts to 1/5 of said expenditure or the sum of $1,200." Otherwise, his interests in the claims would become the property of James Freeman, "one of your Co-owners."

An unidentified group enjoying an outing at a mine in Rock Creek, located left of the Salisbury Mine. Circa 1900s. Courtesy Agnes and Stewart Hampton collection.
 Next: Chapter 5

  1. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 10, 1917.
  2. Stewart and Agnes Hampton, November 18, 1983.
  3. The Mines Handbook, v.8, 1918, p. 794.
  4. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, November 18, 1983.
  5. Frank Berray, tape-recorded oral history.
  6. Sanders County Independent Ledger, October 4, 1917.



The Chinese men, who were imported from their homeland for the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1870s and '80s, stayed in the Clark's Fork River valley long after completion of the railroad line. All were employed by the railroad in the dirtiest and meanest jobs. Most lived in section houses that were little more than 2x4 shacks, equipped with a water pail and a wood stove.

Fourteen Chinese were living at Noxon when the 1920 census was taken. Their names were Lea Iuone, Frank Bou, Chou Hong, Jong Chong, Chow Ling, Li Fonja, Gee Long, Ling Sil, Wong Fon, Sag Ding, Lake N U, Son Ku, Li Fon, Wong Lonie.

The children of Noxon's NPRR sectionman, Andrew Knutson, Charlie, Rhoda and Johnny, grew up in Noxon, along with Carmen Moore, and had fond memories of the Chinese who'd stayed there.
Carmen said, "They lived in two housing units below the hill where Mary Miller lives," Carmen Moore said. "One was an old boxcar fixed over into a place to sleep in, the Chinese bunkhouse. Also they had a small house built next to that with a small kitchen and bunks in it."*1.
"They had three tiered bunks and were short on space, but what space they had they kept neat and clean utilizing every bit of it," Rhoda Knutson said.*2. "They always called me 'Loda'. If I was out, they would ask me to eat with them. They had rice dishes."
"The Chinamen stayed there [in the bunkhouse] most of the time except when they'd go over town to the store to get groceries. I don't know if they got their mail there or not. I don't remember seeing any of them go in the post office," Charles Knutson said.*3.
They grew wonderful big beautiful gardens, which surrounded their house. Johnny Knutson used to eat more with the Chinese than at home, he said.
"I could work those chop sticks like nobody's business.*4. I used to eat with them once in a while."
They dried fish on top of their roof, and used every bit of their garden.
Charles explained, "They had a process of drying, and they had a way of curing their cabbage and everything, dry it, and used it through the winter. One of them had been a cook before. And he worked for the railroad. And he did all the cooking for them.
"They were very thrifty and didn't spend their money for anything foolish, only buying groceries, clothes and shoes."*5.
"All of them were real nice fellows. They never gave any trouble. They had a man who was head of them at Hope. And they called it Twin Lo and Company. They were the head of the Chinese who came to America and worked. And later, Twin Lo and Company were the ones that the railroad paid the money to. Money was paid to the workers through this Twin Lo Company.
"When they'd get their money, a lot of them would go down to Hope [Idaho] and have him send it to China," Charles recalled. "That's right. And he got all of their food from China. Oh, rice and things like that. And pork. He ordered it. And then he'd send it out to all these crews along the line. There were Chinese crews at pret' near all of the sections.
"The men paid him, each one of them, out of their checks, for doing that. None were married at Noxon but some were married and had families in China and had Andrew Knutson help them send money home to China.*6.
Louie, a Chinese man at Hope, Idaho, controlled the laborers money there, giving them $10 of their wages and supposedly sending the rest of it to China to support their families. But no one knew how much money actually went back to the laborer's families. Louie built himself quite an empire. With headquarters in Hope, Idaho, he ran an opium den where Chinamen went for recreation.*7.

They were employees of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Charlie Knutson said.
"I had a Chinese crew at Noxon when I run the section towards Trout Creek. I had seven and my Dad [Andrew Knutson] had five. Lum Chum and Gee were on Dad's crew. He had some whites too.*8. Every day the crews went over the track with picks and shovels, riding along it on a hand-pumped "speeder", looking for wear and tear to be mended. Constantly they had to shovel in ballast under the ties, tighten or replace faulty spikes holding the railroad ties in place."
Carmen Moore said, "The Chinamen were very skilled at the work they did, because they'd worked at it for years and years and knew how to dress up the track and smooth up the bed. And they were so short that it was easy for them to do the shoveling and the work where a taller person would have to stoop over. It didn't seem to tire them so much."*9.
Clifford Weare said opium was among the supplies they received from China, and all of the Chinese at Noxon smoked opium.
"Mrs. Knutson came running over to the store one day,  'Mr. Weare, come quick,' she says, 'Johnny's dying!' I couldn't think what was the matter. I'd seen him in the morning and he was all right. So I went over and he was laying on the floor and frothing at the mouth.
"The best thing I could do was call a doctor. There was a doctor then at Thompson Falls. Doc Leger. NPRR had a telephone in then, so I told Matheney, the agent, what was happening.
"'I'll get Thompson Falls and see if I can get the doctor.' So he rang him up and told him, 'There's a kid here frothing at the mouth, and I think he's poisoned. Could you come right down?' "'I'll come down on the first train.' "So he caught a freight train and come down.
"He went in and looked at Johnny. "'He'll be all right.'
"'Would you do something for him?'
"He said, 'Yeah, we'll put him in the bed and I'll give him a sedative and he'll be all right after a while.'
"'What's the matter with him?'
"'Oh, he's been over there with them Chinamen smoking opium.'
Weare always laughed when telling the story.
"That was what was the matter with him. He couldn't take it, hahaha. He was out you know. Oh, he'd know he was sick, all right!
"Old Andrew [Johnny's dad], he was pretty mad about it. He went over and told them Chinamen, 'Never give him any opium again! Don't you ever give that boy of mine any opium!'"*10.
The English language occasionally presented problems for the Chinese. Once, in the Posts and Poles Store owned by Clifford Weare, the man knicknamed Chinese Lee wanted to buy Epsom salts. When he couldn't make Weare understand what he wanted by repeating "Salt, salt", he finally said,
"Salt, big shits salt!" he finally said.
This Weare understood, knowing Epsom salts to be a laxative.

The Chinese still remaining at Noxon were very honest. One day in 1920, one of them who had owed a bill for more than six years, since the Post and Poles Store closed, saw Mrs. Clifford Weare getting on the train to go to Thompson Falls. He stopped her and paid her the $6.45 he still owed.

Lee, a Chinese laborer at Cabinet, Idaho, made friends with Millard Easter's young daughters, Bernice and Katie. Lee, who didn't wear his hair in the Chinese traditional queue, liked kids. One day he gave Bernice and her girl friend, Margaret Shields, a box of chocolate candy and Chinese fruit that had come from China.

A picture on the front of the box showed fruit that looked like peaches, but inside they found the fruit more resembled figs and they were fearful of eating it.*11.

But Chinese grew produce gardens both at Hope and at Cabinet, peddling the vegetables from door to door, carrying them in baskets slung from a pole across their shoulders.

Katie and Bernice Easter, who lived just west of the Montana border near Cabinet, Idaho, tried to satisfy their curiosity about the opium dens in Hope, where the Chinese would lie down to smoke their pipes.

One day when the sisters had gone to Hope, Idaho, where Katie taught piano lessons, the young ladies sneaked down the hill behind the opium den to peek inside. Instead of seeing the opium den through the curtain, they saw Louie's new bride from China. She was pouring tea from a beautiful tea set. As far as Katie and Bernice know, since the lovely Chinese lady was not allowed to go out anywhere, that was the only time she was seen. Later on, the opium den burned. It was then learned that the shelves of the den, where the Chinese reclined to smoke, were three deep.*12.

Elmer Easter witnessed the NPRR Section Foreman, who was Japanese, rescuing a Chinese laborer in 1917. Crossing the track between the NPRR maintainer's house and the Shamrock Hotel, he came upon a group of Chinese members going after another Chinese man with a pick or pick handle. The man had broken his leg in an accident on the job. Unable to work, he was of no use to his brethren, so they were going to kill him. The section foreman stopped them.

Soon after that the Japanese foreman, who was about 40 years old, sent to Japan to get a 16 or 17 year-old bride he'd selected from a picture book. When she arrived in Cabinet, she spoke no English. The foreman asked Bernice and her friend, Margaret Shields, to help teach her to read. Ten-year-old Bernice took the Primer from school. A couple of times a week they walked over to spend the evening helping the eager girl to learn. The girl, whose name is not remembered, was a lovely creature with a large number of boxes filled with beautiful clothes. Her wedding dress of beautiful red satin particularly fascinated them.

In Japan the bride had been trained in making flowers. In America she sold long strings of graduated pearls, imported from Japan, for $10 a string. After living two years with the Japanese Foreman, she took off for New York, where she opened a flower shop and put her talents to work.

A Buddhist Temple and a cemetery at Hope served their religious community, but most of the Chinese who died at Heron, Montana were buried in the Dingley's orchard.*13. Those who died at Noxon were buried nearby the river.

While Phil Hull was digging gravel by the railroad tracks in the early 1920s, he found Chinese graves. The gravel was being hauled, in lumber wagons converted to dump wagons by nailing 2x8 and 2x6 planks on the sides. The remains of several Chinese were unearthed from between the railroad tracks and the bridge, where a gravel bar formed a slight rise on the north side of the railroad tracks. The bodies were recovered and moved.*14. Rhoda Knutson described the Chinese funerals that took place at Noxon,
"Mourners put food out for them. Quite often on top so they'd have food. They didn't just sprinkle the food when they buried them. They put it there at different periods. They burnt rice paper that was all full of holes. And if they could burn that up before the devil got through it, their body would go...
"Lum Chum told me they put these papers around the house. They had the holes in it. If the devil could get through those holes he could get to the person, that would be bad. But if he couldn't get through, why he was all right. They were superstitious. And they had ideas that after they died, they had to have food."*15.
Chinese mourners sprinkled coins from the funeral to the burial to keep evil spirits away. They also left dishes of foods to help the soul along its way. Callous local Noxon "sports" often followed this ancient procession, which they considered to be pagan anyway, only to steal the roast chicken and food from the grave.*16.

The Chinese were very good to the people. They didn't bother anyone, but kept by themselves and didn't associate with the townspeople.
"I think they saved their money, and as they got old enough to retire, they went on back to China where they came from as young people," Ruth Knutson said.*17.
When Cabinet Gorge Dam was built (1950-'52), several Oriental's bodies were moved from their resting place in a cottonwood-shaded plot by the riverbank, north of the NPRR Noxon Depot, and interred in the Noxon cemetery on the Pilgrim Creek hill.

At Hope, Idaho, their Chinese cemetery has been kept intact by a special retaining wall built at the west end of the bridge over Pend Oreille Lake.


  1. Carmen Moore, tape-recorded oral history, February 1988.
  2. Rhoda Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.
  3. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.
  4. Johnny Knutson, oral history, 1970.
  5. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.
  6. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.
  7. W. R. Chuck Peterson, historian, Hope, Idaho.
  8. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.
  9. Carmen Moore, tape-recorded oral history, February 1988.
  10. Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history, March 10, 1972.
  11. Bernice Easter Mussuto, oral history, February 20, 1988.
  12. Bernice Easter Mussuto, oral history, February 20, 1988.
  13. Georgia MacSpadden, oral history, July 12, 1982.
  14. Loren "Lanky" Jamison, tape-recorded oral history, 1989.
  15. Rhoda Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.
  16. Don Maynard and Frank Berray, tape-recorded oral histories.
  17. Ruth Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, Nov. 18, 1983.



(insert picture)
Caption: Wm. J. Higgins homestead on Smeads Bench, original 1914 house. Photo circa 1940. Courtesy Maxine Higgins Laughlin collection.

Picks swung vigorously in the frosty January air. Three men carved out a grave for John Schiller, who'd had the audacity to die when the ground was frozen as solid as the rocky Montana mountains sheltering the wee cemetery hewed from the forest cloistering the town called Noxon.

Two feet of pure white snow muffled the laughter of the burly, young homesteaders, recounting John's most daring exploits. He was one of their own.

The old gray haired German had lived up along Bull River, the ribbon-like northwestern Montana valley two miles as the crow flies from the huddled buildings called Noxon on the Clark's Fork River; twenty miles by cold sleigh and colder ferry ride.
"Old Man" Green, with his wife and three little kids, "Dutch" Henry Scheffler, a butcher from Helena, Montana, who kept dogs, and Pete Hatch, a man referred to as "Old Man" Hatch, had been Schiller's neighbors for a time. Until the forest service had "reserved" homesteaders lands, building a headquarters next to his place in 1906.
The pick handlers recalled McJunkin had been the first one living and logging in the Bull River valley, sixty some miles south of the Canadian border, before Schiller wandered in. Before the forest service existed. Before there was any road at all.

McJunkin had a sawmill. Doc Smith acquired the place when McJunkin pulled up stakes and left. Smith let Green and his wife have it. Greens burned out and moved to Heron. Marion Cotton and his partner, Tom Moran took up the place next. Then the forest service snatched it away from them eleven years ago. John had neighbored with them all. Now a cold arctic storm had just ushered in 1917.

They were burying "Old Man" Schiller in the Noxon cemetery. Life in Bull River valley would never be the same.

But then, would anything be the same? With war raging across the ocean? The damned Kaiser was getting too big for his britches. Who could say. Who could predict what the future held even in the security of these Montana mountains they'd called home for the past two decades.
George Buck's Store, at west end
of Main Street, Noxon, Montana.
Circa 1908-1919. Courtesy Edna
Evans Cummings collection.

News trickled slowly into Noxon, the tiny tenacious community sprouting along the Northern Pacific Railroad in the remoteness that was the Clark's Fork River valley.

While war 'over there' was imminent, survival here depended on triumphing over daily challenges. Today's challenge was Schiller's funeral. Who knew what it would be tomorrow.

White Pine Sash Lumber Company, from Spokane, had a big mill in Martin Creek. Big, permanent, set solidly on cement piers, it was built to last. A considerable housing development grew up around it. But an Idaho-owned logging operation, Humbolt Lumber Company's big mill, near the Montana-Idaho border, in Blue Creek, had folded up in 1915.

The logging operation in the valley of Gold Creek had consisted of at least five logging camps and the standard gauge railroad which extended to the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain.

There had been a Shay locomotive, gear-driven for the steep tracks, puffing steam from a wide funneled smoke stack, with men chunking wood into it's greedy firebox pulling flatcars with bunks for holding 16-foot logs between steel uprights that were chained together across the several layers of logs. They had hauled logs from the mountains daily.

Some northwestern Montana and Idaho timber companies
 used narrow-guage railroads and Shay engines like the one
 pictured here to move logs from steep mountainsides to
riverbanks, to await log dives in the spring that floated the
logs to sawmills downstream.
Once, straining teams of horses dragged logs from the woods and pulled cables to heft them onto the flatcars.1. Now, only about 4-5 miles of the railroad, from Gold Creek to Camp 21, remained.2.

Loggers with wool stag shirts, chopped off wool pants, high crowned felt hat, bed roll and last, but very important, can of Copenhagen Snoops in their shirt pocket, were passing through Cabinet, Idaho NPRR station continually.

When their wage stake was all spent in Spokane, they were bound back to other logging camps to enjoy the fleas and bed bugs in the bunk house, bathing in a galvanized tub in spring or creek water, heated on the bunk house woodstove.

In 1917 Montana had about 150 sawmills. All but 12 having a capacity less than five million feet; 122 cut less than one million feet each. The small Montana operator usually 'mined the timber and moved on, leaving behind a ghost town of shacks, a sawdust pile, and denuded mountainsides.

The Anaconda Copper Mining Company (ACM) entered the lumber business early on, purchasing over half of the Northern Pacific land grant in Montana.

Weyerhaeuser Lumber Company, in Idaho, became the dominant timberlands holder the same way. By 1917, the NPRR, ACM, and "four relatively small owners" controlled about 80 percent of the privately held timberland in Montana.3.

Martha Evans and her sons, Walter and Warren, loading cedar posts from post piles to wagon for hauling to the railroad to load into boxcars for shipment to U.S. markets. Circa early 1900s (maybe 1915-16.) Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.

William 'Bill' Hayes ran his sawmill on Pilgrim Creek. He had quite a big sawmill on the farthest place up Pilgrim Creek.4.
"I think the big White Pine Sash Lumber Mill strike started out in 1916. Yes, that strike lasted for a long time. I think they founded a book, THE UNION, on that strike up there," Charlie Knutson said.
"I used to go up to Tuscor quite a bit to the dances held by LaRue who run the store there. He gave dances all the time upstairs.
"I helped take the railroad out right after the strike. I believe A. C. White owned that mill.
"Coxey's Army, a kind of union type army came into Noxon. Oh, there was a big bunch of them. I don't know how many men went in the army but there was a big bunch of them.
"There was a branch of them went all through the country. But Noxon didn't seem to favor them too much. They wasn't (sic) too keen on them. The army couldn't get out of there right away. So they greased the rails from Noxon on up, to stop the train, and got out of there that way."5.
B.B. Bunn, an early day sawmill man in Noxon, owned land and a mill south of Noxon on Pilgrim Creek. Both his daughters became teachers. Josephine was Bull River kids' first teacher before she married Compton White, an Idaho senator at Clark's Fork.

Clayton Bauer was logging public forestland on lower Bull River in 1917. Ira B. "Strawberry" Bartholomew was a teamster, skidding there. His wife, Ethel, sold lots of tomatoes at the Noxon sawmills, including the Montana Lumber Company sawmill located on the banks of the Clark's Fork River a long half mile east of Noxon, on the flat.6. Ethel's brother, Charles Fulks, swamped roads, loaded horses, skidded and hauled.7.

These men were all seasoned lumberjacks. Strawberry had a family and a stump ranch and had worked the 1915 spring Bull River post drive taking the posts out at Smeads Spur across the Clark's Fork river from the mouth of Bull River.
"Had to take out a post a second to get done. It froze up. We worked seven days a week ...1915 and 1916 were real hard years. The only thing selling was ties for 18 cents and 28 cents," Ira 'Strawberry' Barthomew said.8. Fulks and Bauer grew up on stump ranching in the area.

Tied by the railroad to the national market, a few firms, such as subsidiaries of Anaconda Copper Mining (ACM), were indirectly linked to the world market price of copper. With such ties, the Montana lumber industry suffered from chronic instability. If construction increased within a given year, lumber prices could double; the slightest slackening plummeted prices to their original level.

This elasticity of prices, the monopolies, plus the warnings of early twentieth-century conservationists that timber resources would shortly be depleted, produced a speculative mania in timber lands, particularly squeezing the small timber holder and operator.

Martha Evans, her daughter, Clara Evans Prinze,
and Martha's son, Walter Evans. The Evans
family came first to Forsyth, Montana from
Cordith, Wales. Clara married Al Prinze.
They operated the Hotel Montana 1915-1916
that Clark had built earlier. Courtesy Edna Evans
 Cummings collection.
The years immediately prior to World War I saw a serious economic depression in the entire Pacific Northwest lumber industry. As builders turned increasingly to cement and steel, the regional and interregional competition for lumber sales became extremely intense. Not uncommonly mills operated at less than half capacity.

The economic nature of the lumbering industry contributed to the plight of the inland empire lumberjack, for labor was the first place the operator looked to reduce costs.

Clashes between lumbermen (the mill and timber owners) and lumberjacks erupted.9.

Lumberjacks, fiercely independent, mostly single men, were housed in tent camps throughout the forests.
"They came out there and lived like animals in those camps, sleeping on lousy straw for maybe 6 months. Then they'd go out (to town) and in 3 days they'd be broke, and they'd be back ... And they were just like grizzly bears ... They were tough characters," Champ Hannon, a government forester said.10.
With nothing save a blanket, called a 'soogan', they roved from camp to camp. And until the union came along, their lot was not improving much.

Lumber camps went on strike as part of a nation-wide movement for $60 a month minimum wages, better food, better bunkhouses and an eight-hour workday. Leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World, better known as the I.W.W., or "Wobblies", were in charge of the general strike.

The Evans family with stacks of the cedar posts
the men had hand split. Courtesy Edna Evans
Cummings collection.
Employers asserted their belief that back of the movement lurked a cause more sinister than merely the desire to better the strikers' conditions. German agitation was suspected.11.

Patriotism of World War I translated into opposition to strikes and militant unionism. Lumber owners accused lumberjacks of treason and obstructionism. The Industrial Workers of the World, known as the I.W.W., indulged in crimes ranging from sawing logs four inches short of the marks making them unmarketable, crippling horses in feed stables, spoiling food supplies, hiding or losing tools, breaking shovel handles and dulling axe bits, to loosing cockroaches into cook and dining tents. It was a deadly and dirty confrontation with no holds barred.
Wade Parks, Sanders County Attorney, advised Governor Stewart that the I.W.W. men on strike at Plains were all good men and would be re-employed.
"I also talked to Company representatives from the west end of the county (Heron, Noxon, Tuscor and Trout Creek) who state to me that the I.W.W.s are all quiet and law abiding..." Parks said.
Many of the men around Noxon did not drink, patronized the local grocery stores paying in cash for their purchases and were excellent workers. They were not of the lawless brand whose escapades were being splashed across the nations newspapers.12.

Lumberjacks were intrepid, big men, living and working in the woods close to nature, enjoying "a way of life that nurtured superior men and superior virtues". Careless, happy-go-lucky, he rolled his blankets and walked from any camp he didn't like, as the spirit, bad cooks, stinking outhouses, or a myriad of reasons moved him.

One editor wrote,

"The logger is brave, courageous and law abiding. The simple life in the timber has made him a good man. He is the child of the forest."
David Evans' mother, Martha Evans, with two of her sons, Walter and Warren, with their cedar post piles near Noxon, Montana. Circa 1915-16. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.

But hard fact showed few workers in the woods in Montana accepted the mythology of the satisfied lumberjack. A high rate of labor turnover prevailed. For each available position, five men had to be hired annually, and in some camps where conditions were particularly bad, as many as ten.

Montana logging was seasonal. The loggers' busy season stared in October and lasted from four to six months. The typical logging camp demanded a rigid regime from the lumberjack. Before dawn, the foreman shouted, "Roll out!"

Up to three dozen men, clad in longjohns, clambered from their soogans, pulled on wool shirts, pants and socks, laced up weather stiffened boots, in a shed-like bunkhouse, heated with a central stove and hurried to the cook tent to eat breakfast before daybreak, They set off on foot for the cutting area, often in temperatures below zero.

After ten hours of sawing, limbing, chopping, skidding, loading and hauling immense logs, he walked back to camp for dinner. Covered with mud and soaked with water, until snowfall replaced mud with snowballs clinging inside woolen pants legs, the logger generally was provided no facilities for cleaning himself or his clothes.

Thirty or more loggers often crowded into each dwelling. Stockings and boots hung about the stove to dry for the next morning, heavily perfuming their slumbering snores.

Each man carried his own blankets, called a "soogan", to whatever camp he worked in. He slept in it on wooden bunks with straw for a mattress, two to each bunk, generally from two to three bunks high along the walls of the bunkhouse. The typical lumberjack suffered from chronic bronchitis and other illnesses.

One Montana logger wrote President Wilson that a lumberjack's,
"evening conversation consisted of foulest subjects, together with expressions of discontent respecting conditions under which they were working, and the conditions that prevailed at other camps."
Lumberjacks attempts to organize to improve living and working conditions and wages came to a violent head with The Industrial Workers of the World, or I.W.W.'s, belittled with the title "I won't work" and "wobbly."

Edna Evans at Grandma Harriet
Raynor's homestead on Rock Creek.
Four-year-old Edna is holding a
banty chicken, 1916.
Photographed by her mother,
Lillian Raynor Evans. Courtesy
Edna Evans Cummings collection.
Residents of small western Montana towns considered lumberjacks as distinctly inferior human beings who were never invited into the close community social activities.

However at Heron, Noxon, Tuscor and Trout Creek, with a large percentage of the young men growing up locally employed in the timber industry, those with family ties enjoyed a decidedly elevated state.

Forestry officials noted a sharp distinction, though, and urged young men of family to seek at least summer seasonal work with the forest service, thus raising their standards through exposure to higher morals and aspiration.

F.A. Silcox, who entered the area as first Forest Ranger at Noxon in 1906 and by 1917 had advanced to United States District Forester stationed at Missoula, reported confidentially to the secretary of labor,
"The 'lumber-jack,' 'blanket stiff,' and 'river pigs' have been terms of contempt, and practically no consideration of the spiritual necessities of the men have been recognized by the industry. Little or no effort has been made to liberate the creative energies of the men. They have been treated not quite as good as work horses, for usually there was more ventilation in the barns than in the bunkhouses. A 'get-the-hell-out-of here' philosophy was to a great extent in vogue when any of the men complained about conditions."
So, while around Noxon employers preferred to hire the "stump rancher", a man who had purchased a cutover farm near the site of the lumber operations, numbers of roving lumberjacks also were required to fill the needs of the industry.

Stump ranchers, whose objective was to farm, were willing to work for low wages and put up with unhealthy conditions and staunchly refused to act collectively. Often they served as a strikebreaker. For the stump ranchers, timber work was a necessary evil allowing them to keep their farm.

Swan Swanson, the Whitepine Tie King, closed a deal with Hitchcock and Hitchner of Sandpoint to handle his entire output of cedar products in the future.
"Heretofore Mr. Swanson has issued his own price lists and has sold cedar posts and poles all thru Montana as well as in many other states. His business has rapidly grown until it has become one of the most important in the west end of the county," The Sanders County Independent Ledger informed its readers.
"Under the new arrangement Mr. Swanson will devote all his attention to the actual work of getting out his products and it is his expectation that he will be able to employ a larger crew and work on a more extensive scale than before."13.
Fire, not due to industry disputes, played havoc all during the strike-laden summer. No rain had fallen in the valley since June 25. Conditions were serious. Fire was increasingly on everyone's mind. It erupted violently on the afternoon of September 5th when a spark in the engine room of the Western Montana Lumber Company quickly engulfed the building, spreading to the landing spur.

Shortly after Clifford R. Weare had built his sawmill he contracted with Northern Pacific Railroad, in June 1911, for a loading spur to give him access to the railroad for his products.

'Weare's Spur' a railroad track 1,450 long, from the switch headblock and connecting with the NPRR at Noxon, became a reality. Clifford Weare had to,
"do all the work of constructing a roadbed for the track, furnish and put in cross ties, switch ties, and crossing plank fencing and cattle guards," his contract with NPRR specified.
NPRR furnished the metal for the track. Weare had to also keep the switch lamp lighted, keep track clear of obstructions, snow, weeds, etc. and to pay for maintenance and renewing track costs incurred by NPRR. He couldn't allow any obstruction within six feet of the track, and 'save harmless' the NPRR from loss, damage, and costs, by injuries to persons or property resulting from the spur. The work of installing frogs, switches, laying track, surfacing and ballasting, would be done by the company, at Weare's expense, paid in advance, $1,037. The track was to forever to remain NPRR property that could be used by other parties, too.

If business fell off, the track could be discontinued and removed by the company at any time, following 30 days notice. Clifford Weare also assumed liability for any injury or destruction to his property caused by having the spur put in to his mill, the Western Montana Lumber Company.14.

In May 1917, Mr. Carlin, from Spokane, had bought into the mill.15. Now, scarcely six years later the mill was a pile of rubble and ash.
"Fire completely destroyed the building and machinery and about 30,000 feet of lumber. A Northern Pacific boxcar standing nearby was also burned up," the weekly county paper wrote.
"The mill has been running only at odd times during the past months, but was fired up at the time the fire started. Several Noxon people were interested in the property, among them being Geo. Buck and F. I. Divers. The latter had charge of the mill when it was in operation.
"It is understood that there was no insurance to cover the loss. The property was valued at about $8,000 and consisted of the building, a saw, planer, steam engine and the lumber. No announcement has been made concerning the company's plans for the future, but it is not considered likely that the mill will be replaced.
"It was scarcely five minutes from the time the blaze was first discovered until the building was a mass of flames and in spite of the fact that there was good equipment for fighting fire, it was impossible to make any appreciable headway towards checking it. The building and lumber was bone dry and offered no resistance whatever to the flames. Plenty of volunteer firemen were on hand, but their efforts availed nothing."16.
1916-17 Ranger's wife, Fern Fulks Saint and children at the Trout Creek Ranger Station. Courtesy Cabinet National Forest Ranger Ben F. Saint collection.
Weare and Andrews had built the mill in 1910 near the mouth of Pilgrim Creek. Weare said they had sold the sawmill to Ed Hampton, George Buck and F. I. Divers, who was a good planner man.

Bad luck had plagued them that year.
"Hampton was logging the timber sale that went with the mill, " Weare said. "The logs were dumped into the Clark's Fork River in the wintertime. Ice came down the river and took out the boom and all the logs. Everything. They never got any of the logs. Then the mill burned down. Divers was busted.
"Divers was a good boiler fireman, though. Divers was. But aside from that he didn't know nothin. They couldn't sell lumber. They couldn't do nothin. I said, "'You pay my expenses, I'll go over and sell the lumber.'" They had about three million feet in the yard when I sold it to them.
"'Well, we ain't got much money.'"
"Well," I said, "I don't need much, I'll go and do it and you can pay me after I sell the lumber."
"I just went over as far as Billings. That was during the first World War. There was lots of refused cargos then. They wouldn't take 'em on the coast; the docks were full of lumber. And they had to pay for the dockage all the time. So they just sold that lumber for whatever they could get for it.
"But when I got over to Billings I got a longer haul and a different freight rate. I only sold three carloads to a lumber outfit in Helena. Then I sold three carloads to Ed Donlan in Thompson Falls. He built a little power plant there at Thompson Falls."17.
Swan Swanson said, "Diver's didn't last long. He used to talk a lot. We had to laugh at the old fellow. Didn't have a damned cent when he came in there. He bought a few logs. He had a broke boom and that busted him and that settled him. He lost about ten thousand feet of logs."
Weare sold the scrap iron from the mill for $1,500.

* * * * *
"I worked on the Martin Creek fire, set by the Humbird Lumber Company, according to charges successfully prosecuted. Then I fought fire on Prospect Creek. On the Martin Creek fire I worked under the direction of Earl Engle and Granny Gordon. I worked on the Heron fire in Jacks Gulch. The Couer D'Alene forest was moving men and equipment into the Couer d'Alene River from Heron," Walter Robb said.
"A number of us that were locals were assigned to work along the trail as there was much labor trouble and many fires were set along the way. Our boss was Bill Smith from Noxon. We were able to prevent any incendiary fires from doing any damage."18.
While strikers were raising havoc with timber harvest and sawmills, on September 7th rain finally ended 68 days of continuous sunshine, the longest drought ever recorded in the valley.19.
Forest service influences, introducing the concept of reforestation of the fire denuded slopes, pushed its way into the valley. The service began making arrangements to,
"start the work of setting out 220,000 western pine on Pilgrim creek during the next few weeks. The camp will be opened Friday or Saturday and active work will be commenced the first of next week.
"It is estimated that 320 acres will be covered on this job and from 30 to 40 men will be employed under the direction of Ranger Fred Brown. The work will be rushed as fast as weather conditions permit."20.
For the majority of lumberjacks' seasonal and irregular employment prevented marriage, voting, or the pursuit of a normal life. Roughly 90 percent of the loggers never married and the rest left marital obligations behind.

The "jacks" and "river pigs" gained a reputation for irresponsibility, living at a subsistence level, and when payday came he rushed to the nearest town for a 'spree.'

To these migratory workers the I.W.W. offered more than collective action for higher wages and better working conditions. It preached solidarity, work equality, and class warfare. The Wobbly organizer understood the deep alienation of the logger toward his boss and society.

The struggles to unionize had been impacting western Montana for nine years, ever since a handful of western timber workers had attended the I.W.W. convention in Chicago in 1908. In 1909, after the Missoula City Council passed an ordinance banning street meetings, hundreds of Wobblies arrived in boxcars, filling the county and city jails. The high cost of feeding them and paying for additional police finally forced city officials to rescind the ban on public speaking. The "free speech" movement spread to Spokane, WA and during the next four years over twenty major speech fights erupted in the west. Still, virtually no changes were made for the lumberjack.

Scattered increase in timber harvest and skyrocketing lumber prices in late 1916 and in 1917 incited the I.W.W. to greater efforts. In March 1917, men regional to Spokane formed the Lumber Workers' Industrial Union No. 500.

They announced plans, without precise dates, for a series of strikes in the inland empire for wage increases, the eight-hour day, and improved working conditions.

Baxter Hotel at Noxon, Montana prior to 1918.
Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.
Better food service, meals served in porcelain dishes, a maximum of twelve people in each bunkhouse, spring beds, shower baths, free hospital care, and adequate lighting for bunkhouses were their demands.

As the I.W.W. organizers fanned out into Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, the United States declared war on Germany.

February, 8, 1917

The little weekly newspaper, plus hearsay passed along by railroad conductors on the NPRR, disgorging freight and passengers a couple times a day, were the mainstays of news in the town of 50-60 people.
In Washington, D.C., in an environment as alien to the homesteaders as the torpedo infested oceans were, President Woodrow Wilson had engaged them and their country in events which would rupture community bonds, kill off ideals and foster new standards.

Still in its boisterous infancy, a population whose majority had scarcely reached adulthood was shaping the settlement along the Clark's Fork River in northwestern Montana.

Their hope of world peace ended as they read in their local paper,
"when Germany declared last week, that she would resume at once her policy of torpedoing boats without warning. An area surrounding France, England, Norway, Spain and Holland and the Mediterranean Sea was designated as blockaded territory. Every ship that enters that territory will be sunk without warning with the exception that the United States is allowed to send one ship a week to Falmouth, England, providing the ship fly the American flag, be marked with vertical stripes the full length of the vessel and be brilliantly lighted at night.
The editor continued, "The Kaiser has said that he will dictate the seas and it is up to America either to tamely submit to the edict or stand firm for its rights. President Wilson and congress chose the latter course and there is little doubt that the vast majority of American people will endorse the action of their leaders."
In his war speech, President Wilson claimed Americans were,
"the sincere friends of the German people", of whom there were many in Montana. Nothing was desired "so much as the early re-establishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us ..."
However impossible it seemed to these immigrants to "believe that this is spoken from our hearts ..." Americans would prove that friendship in their daily attitude and actions to Germans living in America "who were loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance ...," President Wilson said.

Wilson referred to the Prussian autocracy differently.
The autocracy "has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of council, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce," he said.21. Autocracy was America's enemy.
Was Noxon one of the 'unsuspecting communities'? Who might be spies, not only in the little valley in the northwestern corner of Montana, but across all the vast acres of the state; in the legislature and senate; or the county commissioners in the courthouse; or even next door? The news was stunning.

(insert picture)
Caption: Hen and her chicks, a vital staple supply of meat and eggs for the early settlers in the northwestern mountains of Montana and Idaho. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.

In January 1917 a show from Spokane played in Noxon all week. It was a good one. Prizes were given. Geraldine Savage, the most popular baby, got a child's diamond ring; Mrs. George Phillips, the woman who could drive ten nails quickest, received a silver butter dish; and Ruth Knutson, the most popular young lady in Noxon, won a 27 piece set of silverware.22.

Ed Hampton acquired the Montana Hotel early in 1917, planning to mellow into old age gracefully, boarding teachers like Hattie McDonald. She'd roomed there for two years before her sister, Ann, came to teach with her at Noxon. Hattie moved from the hotel into a little cabin on Pilgrim Creek with her sister. Ann bought a piano and began giving lessons.
Two friends dressed to attend
a dance at Noxon, circa 1908.
Note the waterpump in foreground.
Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings

In the homily valley the newspaper editor, fully understanding his readership, gave equal space to the more immediate challenges at home. Yes, a war was being fought across the oceans, but poultry mating season had arrived on Montana homesteads.

February 8, 1917
"Matings should be made at least two weeks previous to saving eggs for hatching. Only the strongest pullets or yearling hens should be selected and mated with a male bird of equal vitality and thrift."

If egg production was backward through the early winter, a slight stimulant should be given. Sprouted oats, alfalfa leaves or vegetables made valuable feed. Too much concentrated protein feed, such as meat meal, would be likely to impair fertility. Clean houses and runs, he counseled.
War or no war, and it might be mating season, too, but one of John and Alice Fulks daughters, Golda, wasn't interested in the young men thinking of mating. Instead, wearing her best blouse, nipped at her tiny waist by a long, accordion pleated skirt, she took the train to Thompson Falls to take the teachers examination.

At Heron, Albert Joseph Kline, his wife, Sophia, and son, Albert M (age 4) and daughter, Wilhelma (age 6) along with baby brother, Raymond, arrived in May on an immigrant train from Tulsa, Oklahoma in May 1917. The purchased a ranch two miles east of town from Mr. L. L. White and built their home.

A.J. was a carpenter and bricklayer but he quickly adapted to logging. Working with Emil Gavin, they logged along the Clark's Fork River and hand hewed railroad ties for the Northern Pacific Railroad. As the family grew, Sophia and Albert M hauled logs on a wagon to a sawmill about two miles away returning with the sawed lumber to build their home. Jerold, Kenneth and Roland Kline were born in Heron.23.

(insert picture)

Caption: Sophia Kline, Albert J. Kline with children, Wilhelma and Albert M. Kline. 1914, Heron, Montana. Kline helped spur building the original Heron Community Church. He also played guitar and fiddle at school dances. Courtesy A. J. Kline collection.

Next: Chapter 2

  1.  Austin Clayton, letter 1/21/87; An historical account in Pend Oreille County news about the RR man who built and operated logging roads. He may have helped move the equipment from Gold Creek to LeClerque Creek for Panhandle Lumber Co. about 1919.
  2. Forest Service Planning Unit No.17 history.
  3. The 1917 Montana Lumber Strike, by Benjamin G. Rader, in Pacific Historical Review May 2, 1967.
  4. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, November 18, 1983.
  5. Charles Knutson, tape-recorded oral history, November 18, 1983.
  6. Clayton Bauer, tape-recorded oral history November 1979.
  7. Ira B. Bartholomew, letter May 13, 1985.
  8. Ira B. Bartholomew, letter May 13, 1985.
  9. Sanders County Independent Ledger, June 18, 1917.
  10. Not In Precious Metals Alone, A Manuscript History of Montana, Montana State Historical Society, 1976.
  11. Sanders County Independent Ledger, July 5, 1917.
  12. Not In Precious Metals Alone, A Manuscript History of Montana, Montana State Historical Society, 1976.
  13. Sanders County Independent Ledger, August 16, 1917.
  14. NPRR contract with C.R. Weare, June 27, 1911.
  15. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 10, 1917.
  16. Sanders County Independent Ledger, September 6, 1917.
  17. Clifford R. Weare tape-recorded oral history, March 19, 1972.
  18. Walter Robb letter, February 8, 1988.
  19. Sanders County Independent Ledger, September 13, 1917.
  20. Sanders County Independent Ledger, September 13, 1917.
  21. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 5, 1917.
  22. Sanders County Independent Ledger, January 12, 1917.
  23. Roland Kline, letter June 10, 1991.



Looking northeast over Noxon from a promontory up Pilgrim Creek. Circa 1919. Note how the forest crowds in on the little hamlet nestled at left of photo in the valley carved by the glaciers that created the Clark's Fork River drainage from Lake Missoula centuries before. The river runs right to left through the photo near the base of the mountains in the background. Courtesy Stewart and Agnes Hampton collection.

Noxon had grown into a closely knit little community. Perhaps half a dozen residences, a like number of businesses and a schoolhouse, aligned along the Northern Pacific Railroad which paralleled the Clark's Fork River in generally an east-west direction.

Noxon, circa 1919-'21. East to west: Finnigan's Saloon, Hay and Grain Store, Maynard's Saloon, Peek's Store, Buck's Store (building in the rear) Mrs. Baxter's Hotel (later known as Sheldon S. Brown's Pool Hall, and then Straberry's Pool Hall.) Courtesy William Finnigan collection.
East and west of it were like hamlets, plus a few depot-only railroad stops. Surrounding each hamlet were little creek valleys, in which homesteaders had laid claim to 160 acres each, mostly forested land. None of the valleys exceeded two miles in width, with the exception of wide level areas around Heron and Whitepine.

Little distinguished the settlers from each other, but all were elevated above transient lumberjacks. Entree into the family circles could only be gained through exemplary behavior at community dances, which were open to everyone; or, through invitation from a homesteader/logger.

By and large the population was predominantly eager to dance and socialize. Ready for any opportunity to gather together.

The area was opened to settlement by the NPRR in 1883. A few called Noxon "home town" in 1917. Most arrived to homestead after 1904, thus having been in the area scarcely a dozen or more years.

During that time, some families joined ties through marriage. Some of these inter-related groups, settled in and around Noxon, included the Bauers, Greers and Gordons; Saints, Fulks', Bartholomews, Higgins' and Berrays; the Huffmans, Hammons, Bucks and Ellis'. Baxters and Weares united through marriage, too, as did Evans' and Raynors.

Individual families were numerous, including Hampton, Brown, Engle, Lyons and many other early settlers whose entry into the area are told in Volume I of this three part history series. The early settlers included many young people, now grown to young adults, with babies, and working to stay and prosper.

(insert picture)

Caption: Depot agent and lady at Eddy, Montana at Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. Circa late 1880s. Courtesy Ruth McKay Tauscher collection.

Most had lived through the devastating holocaust of the 1910 fire and found the courage, or the desperation, to remain. The majority lived in log homes, used kerosene lamps, outhouses, icehouses, and enormous woodpiles. They grew and preserved sizeable gardens, shot and ate venison, caught fish and gathered and preserved vast quantities of wild berries from the surrounding mountains.

Although much was made of appropriate dress, in the woods, farming or working in sawmills, men wore functional garb. Family men enjoyed advantages. Their clothes were washed regularly. 'Floaters' were limited to their 'bindle'. Attendance at a Parents-Teachers meeting, church, wedding or funeral, mandated wearing coat, hat and tie. And a suit, if they owned one.

The maps included in Behind These Mountains show the locations of known settlers. Vignettes of many of them and the part they played in settlement and development are included in this series.

Josephine Bunn all dolled up for a costume for party
in Noxon, Montana. Circa 1908. Courtesy Edna Evans
Cummings collection.

Zenus Carmichael, a harness maker, came to Noxon in 1915. He settled back at the base of the mountains in Bull River, built the bridge linking his 160-acre homestead with Caspar Berray's and LaFaun's places. He kept a good root cellar, well stocked. After the forest service arrived, in 1906, and began installing lookouts, Zenus spent some time on the Squaw Peak Lookout.1.

Dennis and Bridgett Daly left Wallace, ID in 1916 with their little son, John. They came over Thompson Pass headed for Bull River, stopping to spend the night in the old Ginther house alongside the trail. The house had a reputation for being haunted.

Upstairs were some five-gallon cans. During the night packrats began hopping around on the cans. The Daly's hitched up their wagon by lantern light and lit out for Bull River in the middle of the night, not stopping until they got there. Dennis settled his family on a homestead on the mountainside behind John Connelley's place on the North Fork of Bull River.

He returned to Wallace, working there, and coming home to his place on Bull River sporadically. He died soon after moving his family to the valley. Two nephews, Bob and Joe Daly, whose mother had died, came to live with Bridgett and her three children, growing up in the mountains of Bull River.2.

When a settler was found dead in his log cabin, the sheriff rode up. But the man had committed suicide. He'd shot his dog, set the house on fire and shot himself. The forest service came to put the fire out. George Jamison and John Connelley buried him right there. They rolled him up in a blanket and buried him four feet deep and put the dog on top of him.3.

Harriet and Henry Raynor, a Yankee Civil War veteran, came to Noxon by wagon train from Yankton, South Dakota and were well established on Rock Creek with a large clan of relatives surrounding them.4.

Henry Raynor wasn't a logger. He lived on what the family produced on their homestead, augmenting it with his $75 a month veterans pay. They raised and butchered their own cattle, had chickens, a milk cow and a big garden.

Harriet Raynor's aviary. Harriet
raised a variety of special birds.
Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings

Harriet Raynor on the Raynor
homestead on Rock Creek, cira
1920. Courtesy Edna Evans
Cummings collection.

Shelves in the cool, dark cellar stored the shallow tin pans in which Harriet poured her milk so the cream would raise and could be skimmed to churn into butter.

One day Harriet, who also enjoyed her aviary of prize birds, beat the dickens out of Mrs. Beals' in the store at Noxon because Mrs. Beals made some snide comment about the butter Harriet churned from their cow's milk. Harriet didn't take any guff from anyone.

David Evans, his wife and daughter, Edna, lived on the east side of Pilgrim Creek. Five-year-old Edna had a big rag doll. Johnny Skelton and his sister, Nellie, children of a schoolteacher, lived on the west side of Pilgrim Creek. Mrs. Evans played ragtime music on the phonograph. Johnny and Edna danced around under the big tree, hollering "ragtime," "ragtime."

Lillian Raynor Evans, Harriet Raynor, seated with granddaughter, Edna Evans, and David Evans at their home on Pilgrim Creek, Noxon, Montana. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.
Mrs. Evans was a self-taught photographer, developing and printing her own pictures. She also raised rabbits. David Evans worked on the railroad bridges and operated the ferry. David Evans wore a long heavy overcoat in February, to keep warm. One time he fell in the water and his coat froze stiff before he made the mile from the ferry to his house in Noxon.

David and Lillian Evans home in Noxon, Montana. Circa early 1900s. Edna Evans seated on a chair. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.

Lillian Raynor Evans and her rabbits at Noxon, Montana. Circa 1915. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.
David's parents and brother cut cedar posts and shipped them out on the railroad. Grandfather Evans had one of the first cars in Noxon, a Reo.

Insert pix William Evans' Reo, the first Reo car in Noxon, Montana. Circa 1918. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.

Ed Hampton, who'd settled in Noxon shortly after the NPRR was completed in 1883, left Noxon and returned to Canada. His daughter, Mary, stayed behind to work in Buck's store. His brother, Arthur, and his wife, Florence 'Fanny' Hampton, also remained at Noxon. David Evan's sister, Clara, and her husband, Al Prinze, bought the Hotel Montana from Ed Hampton.

Lillian dressed little Edna in white eyelet dresses, white socks, white shoes, a put a big bow in her hair. All fixed up, they walked the mile west to the two story frame Northern Pacific Section house that sat alongside the railroad tracks, where Andrew and Mary Knutson lived. Andrew was the NPRR section foreman. Mrs. Evans did ironing for Mary Knutson while Edna played with the two Knutson girls, Ruth and Rhoda, and their brothers, Johnny and Charlie. Henry Larson, who clerked in the nearby Peek's General Merchandise Store, often gave Edna a big long stick of licorice candy just to see her get dirty.
"We went to Golda Fulks one day I remember well," Edna said. "Momma and she were friends. Golda had an Aladdin lamp and, curious like kids are, I was walking around looking at things. The mantles on the lamp were hanging down and I had to touch. It [the fragile mantle] all fell to pieces and I was in trouble!
"Raynors crossed the Clark's Fork River by row boat to go to dances where they danced all night until five o'clock in the morning. it was daylight when they started home. David (Edna's daddy) called square dances from a book he had.
"He and Momma both played the harmonica. They called it a mouth harp. Momma played Red Wing very well, as good as the record on the Edison phonograph."5.
* * * * *
American railroads had flooded European countries with glowing advertisement for settlers. Over five million immigrants flocked to America between 1911 and 1920. Train loads of them rumbled into eastern Montana seeking land. But Albert Sanda moved onto Pilgrim Creek, less than twenty miles from the state's western border with Idaho.

Ernie Raynor, making cedar posts on Rock Creek in Sanders County near Noxon, Montana. Circa 1917. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.
While President Wilson was taking America into war, in a single day in 1917, a record number of farmers took up new land in Montana. Two engines pulled eighty-four carloads of settlers, their families and effects west over the Great Northern railroad (the High Line) to Montana.

The immigrant settlers scattered to points along the Havre line, Shelby line, and the Billings line. The Milwaukee railroad averaged over ten carloads a day for all of March, while the Union Pacific railroad brought still more. The peak of influx wasn't expected for another thirty days.6.

Noxon men quickly found this a new and lucrative market for the cedar posts they hewed from inexhaustible stands of virgin cedar in Rock Creek, Dry Creek and Bull River, north of the Clark's Fork River.

However, the post splitters soon tired of waiting in line to ferry their wagonloads across to the south side of the river to the NPRR railhead at Noxon. They wanted a bridge.

'Launched' isn't the right word, because the club 'revolved' into a serious attempt at self-government, the first beginnings of an entity that would spllit appar the county, shattering many friendships.
"The people living in the vicinity of Noxon are conducting an experiement," was the way the newspaper reported it.
March 8, 1917
"A community club, elaborate in its purpose and organization is to be formed out of a rather loose association known as the "Forum" which is in turn the outgrowth of an old debating society. While the club is a successor to the old debating society in a general way, its immediate purpose is the conduct of the ferry at Noxon.
"The community owns the ferry, which is operated on a forest service cable. The people by popular subscription pay a part of the cost of running the ferry.
"The society was called together for the purpose of uniting in a common plan to provide funds for the ferry and the officers take charge of the annual subscription."
The Friday meeting was called by Forest Supervisor, Stevens, to discuss a closer organization because the forest service owned the ferry cable.

Some time before, Stevens had submitted to the members an outline of a constitution and by-laws, which would be used as a pattern for regulations adapted to local needs.

Several alternative plans of organization were proposed at the meeting. Folks agreed to meet again in a month. In the meantime, a committee, J. W. Hammons, Earl Engle and George Buck, "will draft a constitution and by-laws" the next meeting could act on. The current officers were William Ellis, president, and his father-in-law, George H. Buck, secretary. The object of the meeting:
"To consolidate local needs and form a united movement to satisfy these needs.
"Somewhat the same purpose that a town or village organization serves in the way of police, fire protection, road and sidewalk maintenance, protection against trespass ..."

"Agreements with the forest service and with the county or state will be within the province of such an organization. Perhaps out of it may also grow some more extensive forms of co-operative work, such as marketing and purchasing. Both men and women will probably be eligible to membership."
They met again the middle of April, "and drew a large crowd of people from all over the vicinity of which Noxon is the center."

Noxon ferry, which homesteaders had to use to move their products to the NPRR for shipping, circa 1913-22. Courtesy William Finnigan collection.

William Ellis presided as Chairman, and George Buck acted as temporary secretary. A constitution,

"... so drawn that the association can act thru an executive committee and yet is free to govern itself entirely as it sees fit," resulted. A broad stated object "provides for future expansion."
For 10 cents monthly dues anyone living in the community or having interests there "is eligible to membership" but "could be expelled for conduct unbecoming a good citizen." "The election of officers drew a lively interest.

G. J. Gordon, S.S. Brown, Walter V. Lake, J. W. Hammons, Arthur Legault, H. C. Minton, J. C. Colvin, P. H. Scheffler, Jack Pilik, James Miller, Mrs. S. S. Brown, Frank McKiernan, Frank Connaly, Harry Kirschbaum, H. J. Beal, Mrs. H. C. Minton, Mrs. E. Engle, C. L. Maynard, Bryant B. Bunn, Mrs. Z. W. Jamison, Wm. Ellis, Earl Lockman, Geo. R. Jamison, W. C. Finnegan, Chas. Mercer, F. M. Anderson, C. R. Weare, C. L. Crawford, Marion Larson, Harry Talmadgen (sic), Marion Cotton, B. F. Saint, Earl Engle, F. E. Harris, Mrs. F. M. Anderson, LaFern Saint, Geo. H. Buck, Elizabeth E. Buck, Ethel Weare, Henry Larson, Edna M. Dillon, Sue Ettien, Georgiana Emard, Amber Divers, Mrs. A. Knutson, Jos.Bauer, Wm. Geske, Mrs. Alice Fulks, Wm. Fulks, Arthur Hampton, John Knutson, E. E. Thompson, Solon Ellis became members and signed the articles of association that Saturday night.

Several candidates were nominated for each office and the votes were fairly well divided. J. W. Hammons was elected president, Marion Cotton, vice-president, and Marion Larson, secretary (for which he'd be paid $5 per year). The regular meeting - May each year; "but special meetings may be called at any time."7.

Early in 1917, Governor Samuel V. Stewart created the Montana Council of Defense. It ran for almost a year as a quasi-legal body before the Extraordinary Session of the 15th Legislature made the council a state agency.

A Community Club at Thompson Falls pushed a movement for a countywide patriotic organization.
"When the county-wide organization is formed, it will undertake the task of making a complete inventory of Sanders County's resources... It will assist the government in gathering any facts it may desire regarding this county," the newspapers advised its readers.
"It will also urge upon all farmers and town residents the planting of as much foodstuff as possible and perhaps aid farmers who are lacking in funds to procure cheap money for the planting season."8.
Everyone with tillable soil MUST plant it to crops such as potatoes, cabbage, turnips, beans, oats, wheat and corn, that store well for a year or more; urge the NPRR to release right-of-way land through town for crop planting to anyone who wants it, the editor wrote.

As snow melted from homestead garden plots the axe, grub hoe, and dawn to dark bonfires enlarged them. Many women cracked the whip over the horses plowing deep furrows in the virgin soil. Spades, hoes and rakes, blisters and backaches, created the larger gardens demanded by the nation at war.

Harriet, Fred, Bessie, Sherman,
Roy, Wesley, and Gilbert Raynor
at early homestead on Rock Creek,
Sanders County, east of Noxon,
Montana. Henry and Harriet moved
with their family, Fred, Arthur, Ed,
Lillian, Ernie and Sherman, and
Harriet's son, Frank Allan, from
Rathdrum, Idaho. A baby, Harold,
had died earlier and was buried at
Rathdrum. Courtesy Edna Evans
Cummings collection.

Food conscious communities took note when ten carloads of Chinook salmon fry from Anaconda were placed, as an experiment, in the lake behind the Thompson Falls dam.9.
The patriotic club had still more ideas.
"If war developments continue and this country actually places men in the theatre of battle, the organization would provide supplies assisting the Red Cross with bandages and other necessities of the soldier in the field and act as the receiver of contributions of various kinds."10.
Snow was not the only thing flowing from the valley. Gone was the trusting community camaraderie of January's funeral group. Differing ideologies emerged as Noxonites began taking their first plunge into wars unfamiliar waters.
Those pushing for a county club said,"important work that the county club may perform is the observance of any persons who may be suspected of disloyalty and the cementing of the entire county into a united body to support the country in whatever need may come."
Instead of uniting neighbors, the defense council caused flagrant and wide-spread disregard of President Wilson's dictum that the country was not against a people: The Germans.

Desire for land? For community standing? For power? For any reason at all, "patriotism" became a weapon of abuse.

As anti-Germanism fever gripped the valley even nature's creatures were singled out for destruction. The war made .22 rifle ammunition scarce. Small boys no longer enjoyed their 'chore' of plinking a shot through the furry body of the pesky gophers. Instead, they helped spoon moistened oats or ground wheat, laced with Kill-Em-Quick, into the ground holes of the rodents.

April 15, 1917

"Gophers are enemies of the United States government and of the people of the United States."
"Use KILL-EM-QUICK gopher and squirrel poison. The minute Mr. Gopher smells Kill-Em-Quick, he starts right in to commit suicide - it gets them all for 1 cent an acre - saving enormous losses. It is estimated that gophers cost the state of Montana as much as $40,000,000 per year on the basis of 1916 wheat production for the state.
"In some sections they rob our nation of 50% of the crop. Montana has too many of these pests, which by destroying a portion of our food supply, are offering aid and comfort to our enemies.... every farmer who fails to take some action against them is allowing himself to be robbed of a portion of his profits.
The next week the editor was informing readers that animal pelts were desperately needed, but it was fur from larger animals than gophers he referred too; rabbit, mink, racoon coyote, martin, fox, wolves and such.

November 22, 1917
"There is a chance for Montana boys to do their bit in helping clothe the boys in Europe by spending some of their spare time trapping and capturing animals, whose pelts are needed by the government in lining aviators' coats and for caps and coats for all branches of the military and naval service."
(500,000 dog pelts were bought by the American Air Service before the Armistice of WW1. With aircraft soon reaching altitudes of 18,000 feet, only twelve years after the Wright Brothers made their first flight, pilots were experiencing frostbite. Better flight suits were being sought after and developed.)

Raynor with team of horses, putting
up hay on Rock Creek homestead near
Noxon, Montana. Circa 1920. Courtesy
Edna Evans Cummings collection.
C. R. Weare recognized in the story a way to augment incomes. The allied governments recently bought 790,000 pelts on the closing dates of the St. Louis fur sale. Skins sold for 30 and 40 cents each, and exceptional pelts brought as much as $1.00.11. Weare was out early and late, tending trap lines. Lantern light often spilled from his barn windows across the snow-covered acres of his homestead. Skinning beaver, martin and muskrat, then properly dressing the hides, often kept him up long after his family was asleep.

War imposed activities invaded the narrow valleys in many ways. The government established wheat standards; advertised for all experienced ship carpenters to,

"register with the emigration service as it is believed they may be needed to assist in organizing and training workers for the national shipping board;"

and ordered the discontinuance and dismantling of all private wireless apparatus "while a state of war exists only plants under government supervision can be operated."

The Thompson Falls Power Company fell victim to orders calling not only for shutting down the wireless plant but also requiring,
"that all of the apparatus outside of the building be pulled down and that the coils and other devices inside the building be packed up and sealed. A government agent will be here soon to see that the orders have been carried out."12.
Following close on the heels of labor disputes, espionage became a major concern for the county sheriff. Evidence of a spy wireless was found on the highest peak near Paradise, MT only sixty miles east of Noxon.

Some people in Noxon speculated, and cast suspicious eyes on neighbors and travelers alike for evidence of pro-Germanism. Patriotism was loudly touted as the Red Cross Society met and gave a dance at Peek's hall, the undeveloped upstairs room under it's flat roof popular for gatherings.13. Sarah Cobear played piano. Bob Jenkins played fiddle.

A picture of the Kaiser someone had posted on a pole across the street attracted attention. One lady said,
"Give me a gun. I'll shoot the son-of-a-bitch."14.
(insert photo)
Henry and Harriet Raynor's hay barn on Rock Creek, near Noxon, Montana. Circa 1920. Courtesy Edna Evans Cummings collection.
Changes at Noxon due to the war occurred almost imperceptibly. On April Fools Day 1917, Harry Tallmadge staged a dance above Peek's store. Marion Larson, a gay young blade always popular with everyone, laughed and swung the girls until they squealed. He paid special attention to Madelaine Brown as the young ladies served midnight supper of sandwiches, cakes and coffee.

Beneath the veneer of gaiety sober suspicions lurked and certain reserves tinged conversations. McCann's orchestra, hired from Trout Creek, played gay two-steps, polkas and waltzes. David Evans called square dances. However, cautious, speculative glances were exchanged, especially between the businessmen present.

Harry, recently intrigued by photography, brought his camera. During supper intermission he grouped everyone for pictures. The only light available, lamplight and candles, flickered across them. Would these men, laughing in the photos, soon be going off to war?

Off to one side, out of hearing of the ladies, Eddie Gore, the little man who delighted everyone with his circus acrobatics, recounted memories of the stench and mutilation he'd witnessed five years ago in the Philippine war. Bob Larson, who came by train often to Noxon's dances, and his brother, Henry, who worked in the drug store at Thompson Falls, listened closely, being interested in Noxon's future and its gay ladies.

April Fool's Day dance, 1917, photographed by Harry Tallmadge in dance hall over Peek's Store using light from kerosene lamps. Courtesy Harry and Sarah Tallmadge collection.

(insert photo)Caption: Arthur Hampton, Eugene Green, Marion Larson and Frank King, the Noxon School Board. Circa 1909. Courtesy Stewart and Agnes Hampton collection.

Arthur Hampton, who was now clerking in Buck's store, spread the word that a free dance would be held in Peek's hall six days hence, on school election night.

On April 7, dancers clustered around Andrew Knutson, NPRR section foreman, congratulating him on his election. Andrew received all but four of the thirty-one votes cast. He succeeded George Phillips, joining two other school board members, Mrs. Mary E. Divers and Joe Hammons. Marieneas "Marion" Larson was acting clerk of the board.

As could have been expected, a short time later someone (probably one of the four who voted against him) contacted the State Superintendent of Schools to protest Andrew's election to the school trustee seat. A law enacted by the last legislature required that at least one school trustee in a third class school district must come from "outside the territory of the large school of the district."

In the case of Noxon, this meant having a trustee who resided in the Bull River valley. Other trustees from other Montana school districts were facing the same objections to their seating, but Noxon's situation was slightly different than the others. Knutson was the only candidate. No one from the Bull River School would accept the office.

Eddie Gore posing in a richshaw when he was in the US Armed Forces, serving in the Phillipines. Courtesy Douglas and Mary Smith collection.
April 5, 1917

"$7,000,000,000 WAR LOAN IS A REALITY"

The newspaper headlines brought gut-wrenching worry to readers. Every businessman, every homesteader struggling to make ranching with chickens, cattle, hogs and hay a supporting proposition, were hit hard as taxes to support the war increased.

A new dimension was added to Montanans spending habits when the copper penny was introduced to the state, replacing nickels and dimes.

Clinging to their toehold on security, was it jealousy, fostered by suspicion that a neighbor was less jeopardized? Or the broad mixture of nationalities? Or human nature under stress?

Things came to such a state in Sanders county that the editor was prompted to admonish his readers.
"Lets be big enough Americans to forget our dislikes for each other and merge in one great, loyal body beneath the colors of the union.
"Petty little neighborhood differences and personal quarrels are shamed to suppression by the big common interest that the war now holds for all of us. There are too many things for the citizens of Sanders or any other county to do to waste their time in bickering over their little enmities.

 "T'would be a dull world - If we didn't have differences of opinion. As one old man, untaught by schools, but wise in a gentle philosophy that the storms of life has taught him, says; "'Why if everyone in the world thought just the same as I do, they'd all want my old woman.'"15.
An unidentified man and woman, possibly homesteaders in the Bull River valley, circa 1918. Since the Pilik School was the only frame-lumber building I know of in the valley, I think picture may be on the back porch of Pilik School. The photo was in the Essie Thompson Mercer collection sent me by her daughter, Ruth Mercer McBee. It contained several Pilik School photos.
Next: Chapter 3

  1. Dad's Peak is named in honor of Zenus Carmichael. Grace Carmichael Nelson and Glen Nelson (January 1988 USFS record.)
  2. Loren "Lanky" Jamison, tape-recorded oral history.
  3. Loren "Lanky" Jamison, tape-recorded oral history.
  4. Edna Evans Cummings, April 13, 1987, tape-recorded oral history. Joel Raynor and two other Raynor men came to the US from England. Sherman and Henry were descendants of Joel Raynor. Sherman was in the war of 1812, receiving $8 a month pension from it. Harriet Foland was a daughter of Mellisa Foland, born in England.
  5. Edna Evans Cummings, April 13, 1987.
  6. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 5, 1917.
  7. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1917.
  8. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1917.
  9. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1917.
  10. Sanders County Independent Ledger,April 15, 1917.
  11. Sanders County Independent Ledger, Nov. 22, 1917.
  12. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 19, 1917.
  13. Sanders County Independent Ledger, Nov. 8, 1917.
  14. Stewart Hampton, oral history 1965.
  15. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 19, 1917.