Monday, February 28, 2011



(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.


  1. Thank you so very much for the information on Ira B. (Bela) Bartholomew. He was my first counsin twice removed. Susan Brennan

    1. Hello Susan, Strawberry was a very dear friend. My husband logged for him, shortly after we were married. The letters he wrote me are in Montana Historical Society, in the Mona Leeson Vanek collection.
      Thanks for commenting. Mona ;)

    2. Mona,

      Thank you so much for responding. It's wonderful to hear from someone who actually knew him. I'm certain that he had Huntington's Disease. There were at least eight cases of it involving close relatives.

      Thank you for all the time you spent compiling and writing "Behind These Mountains". It is an absolute treasure!

      Susan Brennan

    3. Nice to hear from you Susan. Strawberry was widowed, elderly and very shaky when Josephine "Jo" Goff and her sister Dorothy Irwin were close friends and treated him like family. Dorothy lived in a trailer house about four miles from Noxon with her little girl, small son and a teenaged son. Strawberry was like the grandpa Dorothy's children didn't have. One day, Jo took Strawberry to Noxon Mercantile. When her groceries were boxed and they were ready to proceed to Dorothy's to spend the day, Strawberry insisted on carrying the box out to the car. In my mind's eye, I see them yet. Jo holding open the store's door while Strawberry staggered with the brim-full box which also held a dozen eggs. He wobbled, shook, and did his best to keep his footing and make it out the door and to the car .... and Jo laughing as she said, "Oh, well, we'll have scambled eggs!" The sisters had a remarkable way of allowing this gentle old man to keep his dignity and enjoy family commaraderie.

      Mona :)

    4. It is amazing how one will come across something while perusing the internet looking for something else. My 2nd great grandparents migrated to the west from northern Pennaylvania in the early 1880s and eventually settled in Washington. My grandfather used to tell us stories about Uncle Beeley (Bela Bartholomew) and "Strawberry" (Ira B. Bartholomew) when we were kids. I never knew any more than that. So while searching out something else come across Strawberry. Who would know. Strawberry would be my 1st cousin twice removed. The story is that his mother and father were cousins. Bela married Lillian, my 2greatgrandparents youngest daughter. Bela was the grandson of my 3rd greatgrandparents so they would have been 1st cousins once removed. The story goes that Lillian divorced Bela and moved to Tacoma where she lived out her life. My email is and if there is any additional information that can be shared about Strawberry, please contact me. Thanks, Charles Bartholomew

  2. Thank you for commenting on this chapter in Behind These Mountains trilogy. Strawberry not only makes his appearance in Volume I, his activities run through all three volumes.

    In addition, he was a dear friend of ours, and during the 1950s he employed my husband, Art, when he was logging east of Noxon, Montana in the Stevens Creek area. The several letters he wrote me after leaving Noxon when his health failed to live out his life with a sister of his deceased wife. They're deposited in the Mona Leeson Vanek archives at Montana Historical Society in Helena, MT. Unfortunately, I have only one photograph of him; with his team of horses taken in Noxon. The quality is poor but I'd be glad to send a .jpg.

    After his wife, Ethel, died, he was befriended by Dorothy, her sister Josephine Goff, and eventually their mother, who along with Dorothy came to live with Strawberry and became his "family." Dorothy by then was battling cancer, and had two youngsters, Jan and Robin, who had adored Strawberry for years and treated him like a grandfather, and he cherished them. He had no children of his own.

    Although I published copies of the original print books on this website, without most of the photographs, edited and greatly enhanced editions will become Kindle books including all the historic photographs in first editions, plus additional photographs from settlers albums: by the end of this 2013, God willing. Volume one is available in Kindle now.

    Mona's Author Page,

  3. Charles, Click the archives in the right hand column to read all three volumes of this northwestern Montana trilogy,