BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS VOL. I
Caption: Hotel Montana. Originally built by Clark and operated by Clara and Al Prinze, bought by Pauline Gordon, and then sold in 1918 to Everett Jenkins. Left - Right: Howard Jenkins, Everett Jenkins, Ellen Jenkins, Minnie Jenkins and John Jenkins. Circa 1920s. Courtesy Ellen Jenkins Innes collection.
Coley Colvin and Frank Parrot were also pinging nails, their hammers echoing in the crystal air. Colvin added two bedrooms and a lean-to-kitchen to Maynard's house while Parrot built a house on the lot behind Buck's store in the west end of town. It was on the alley and a short distance south of the store.
When George Buck closed his store which also had the post office, Henry A. Larson acquired the post office position February 25, 1920,2 moving it into his store. The county newspaper reported, "Robert (Bob) Larson, one of the most promising young men of the west-end, is post master at Noxon."3.
Influenza hit again. Despite the care given by Dr. Salmon of Clarks Fork and Dr. Anderson of Spokane,
"George Vign, a well known young man of this community died Saturday at 12 o'clock of pneumonia following influenza. He leaves a wife, daughter, mother, father, five brothers and two sisters to mourn his death... Mr. Vign was liked by all who knew him and we shall all miss him very much. The body will be shipped to Westmond, Idaho, for burial."4.The school closed for two weeks because of the 'flu' but that didn't stop a number of young people from gathering at the Hotel Montana for a Saturday evening surprise with the Gordon girls.5. Dancing to the Victrola and parlor games entertained them until refreshments were served at midnight.6.
Caption: A portrait of Lucy Allen taken prior to her marriage to Bob Jenkins. Circa 1909-10. Courtesty Stewart and Agnes hampton collection.
Hotel Montana had 12 rooms when Granny and Pauline Gordon owned it. But now Gordon's sold the hotel to Everett Jenkins, recently of Heron. Jenkins bought it with a $2,500 loan from Mr. Bartow, 1st State Bank, Thompson Falls.7. In 1919, instead of returning to the logging business with his father, Freeman Jenkins, and his two brothers, Jack and Bob at Heron, Everett Jenkins had moved his family to Noxon. Mrs. Gordon and family planned to move to the Hammons farm which they recently purchased.8.
"The hotel was run down following the flu epidemic," Ellen Jenkins said. "Minnie was appalled at the infestation of bedbugs in the beds. Donning a pretty blue satin cap while waiting for her hair (lost to influenza) to grow back, she found plenty of hard work ahead. Steam from the NPRR engines was used to kill the bed bugs in the Noxon Section house.9. but Minnie saturated the hotel mattresses each day with kerosene until the bugs were cleared out. A huge new stove was installed in the kitchen. Big advertising signs were painted. A big new dinning table was purchased.
"Minnie's reputation for excellent cooking and her pleasant personality with salesmen and area people kept her busy making pies, huckleberry jams and jellies, doughnuts and cakes. A steady flow of people and friends from Bull River and Pilgrim Creek enjoyed their Sunday dinners, along with many tourists."10.Business boomed and their children, John, Howard and Ellen, each had their share of responsibilities. Howard and John did the outside work, caring for farm animals, cleaning the big barn and getting water in. A huge garden was planted to provide vegetables and fruits to can.
"Renovation included putting in a water tower (into which water was pumped from their well) for piped running water in the hotel, and a bathtub for hotel guests. Other bathers paid 25 cents each. Privy facilities remained outdoors. Crews of surveyors surrounded her table. Before long Minnie hired ladies to help. Miss Essie Thomson went to work for them*11. and Agnes Jenkins waited tables in the dining room.12. Jenkins hired Tom Randolf, a very clean, educated, mannerly black man from Spokane, WA. He washed dishes, windows, scrubbed floors and chopped wood for the hotel stoves.13.
"There was only one Negro at Noxon, Old Tom, who worked at Jenkins restaurant and hotel," Agnes Jenkins Hampton said.
"Apparently he was about 90 years old when he came to Noxon. He was there several years and lived with Jenkins. Tom appeared to be well educated.14. Teachers who stayed at Jenkins hotel included Miss Jean Wigal, from Missoula, Mary Peck, Helen Dahlberg, from Butte, and Agnes Getty.15. Jenkins installed a Kohler plant to provide electric lights for the hotel.
"It was the first of such plants in Noxon or the area," Ellen said. "At dusk it was started and ran until midnight, providing excellent lights and replacing all the coal oil and gas lamps, which eliminated all the cleaning of glass chimneys and filling coal oil."16. Ellen said Everett and Minnie were civic minded and worked hard to better life in Noxon.During the month of February 1920, Mrs. Luckman closed her restaurant in Noxon and Thomas Evans of Paradise visited old friends when he came to look over his property. (Whereabouts of Mrs. Luckman's restaurant is unknown.)17.
They opened a little meat shop in the old Maynard's saloon building. It had a straw floor over dirt. He was a pipe smoker and chewed snoose," Stewart Hampton said.
"Hagerty ran it and gave suckers and candy to the kids. He wore a huge mustache, was Irish. He cut and wrapped meat in white paper. One winter night when I was walking by it, the building was flattened by a terrific snowstorm. The whole front of it just plopped out into the street!"18.Anthony Wayne Saint sold his ranch on Pilgrim Creek for $6,000.00 to H. J. Beal, who came with his two sons, Tom and Johnny.19. Beal worked as a smoke chaser for the forest service. Tom Beal had a little old Ford Roadster. He put a top on it, and squeezed his girlfriend into the car.
The log house north of Katie and Earl Engle, was Mrs. Saint's house. Mr. Fulks lived there with her in their old age.
Clifford Weare said, "Old John Fulks, the eighty year old ferry operator said, 'You know, Cliff, I've always been pretty good. I never had many bad habits. And what I did have, prohibition's got one, and old age got the other one.'"
"Old lady Fulks, she always thought I was just right. I was nice to her, you know. She was old. "One day I said to her, 'Why don't you and the old man get together?'
"'He's a livin down there with that old woman,"' she said. '"And he never comes near me!"'
"Mr. Fulks was living across town with Grandma Saint. Mrs. Fulks lived next door to the Noxon school. "'Oh'," I said, "'You're just jealous. Just forget it. He's got to have a place to stay and why don't you get together?'"
"'Ahhh," she said, "I know you damned men! You're just like snakes! The last thing dies about you is your tail!"'
Weare laughed heartily as he said, "I never forgot that! You'd have to know the old lady to appreciate the joke, you know. Hahaha."20.
Bob Saint said, "The last few years that Grandmother (Saint) lived there Grandpa Fulks lived with her. He and Grandma Fulks never could get along so when Grandma Saint moved in to the west end of town he just simply moved down and lived with her. And Grandma Fulks stayed on her own place up there next to the school.
"Yeah, Grandpa Fulks told me that he was extremely well educated as a country gentleman in Missouri. He'd also been given a course in child delivery.
"He always told me, 'It's [Noxon] the hardest place to make a living but the nicest place to live that anybody ever saw.' That was his sentiments on Noxon. They knew it wasn't any place to make a living. Unless you worked for the forest service or the railroad you just didn't have any money to pay your taxes. You could probably grow a living on the place. What you could eat. But you couldn't grow enough to sell to pay taxes.
"Nobody ever went hungry in Noxon, to the best of my knowledge. It's just a nice, friendly, comfortable town to live in. We were fortunate, I suppose. My dad was employed as the Ranger. Year 'round. In those days it would have been good money. So, theoretically, I suppose we were almost wealthy, at that time, as compared to the rest of the people in Noxon."*21.(insert picture)
Caption: Fern and Ben F. Saint and their son, H.R. Bob Saint, on Gem Peak. 1923 UFSF Lookout camp. Courtesy Ben F. Saint collection.
"In fact, most people never knew that he had any other name but Strawberry," Bob Saint said. "And Ethel for years had been known as Mrs. Strawberry. If you spoke about Bartholomew, people would look at you blank. Nobody knew any Bartholomews, they were all Strawberrys, Ben Saint said.
"Ethel Bartholomew was very secretive. She didn't want to tell anybody anything! She was very close mouthed. Strawberry would talk.*22."My sisters, Ethel," Golda Fulks said, "was the one everyone called whenever they got sick. I thought she was the only doctor in Noxon. She was good at it. She was good at everything she did. My sister, Jude (Julia) and Ethel lived at Noxon at the same time. Julia married Bert Johnson and then LeGault, then Christianson.*23.
"Strawberry sang with the San Francisco Philharmonic previous to coming to Noxon," Bob Saint said.(San Francisco Symphony history, http://tinyurl.com/62xyh95.)
"He had a wonderful voice. You'd hear him singing. My God you could hear him for miles. He had a fantastic voice. When he was working you'd always hear him singing. And he had this ST Vitus dance, or whatever it was.
"Paul Nanny worked for the railroad. He ate at Ethel's, in the Cafe. Paul Nanny put every cent he could get into slot machines. Ethel always had one at the counter in her cafe. That's no doubt why Marion took care of Paul Nanny's check after he [Nanny] retired."*24.
In May, 1920 Jess Beason drove home to Noxon in the new Dodge car he bought in Plains. His wife Mary's brother, Andy Doyle, admired the new machine vowing he'd soon have one himself.*25.
Charles Mercer and Essie Mae Thomson created a brief stir among friends when they
"came up from Noxon on train 42 and were quietly married at the residence of Sheriff J. L. Hartman by Justice of the Peace W. R. Davidson. The witnesses attending were Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Hartman," the newspaper reported.
"Mr. Mercer is a young man of sterling qualities and the owner of a fine ranch in the Bull River valley. The bride is the charming and accomplished daughter of E. E. Thomson, an old settler in the same valley. The best wishes of their many friends go with them in their new relation."*26.Charlie and Essie Thomson were married April 15, 1920 in Thompson Falls, also. He was tired of the bachelor life he'd lived since arriving there sixteen years before at the age of 19. He'd tried the army, but left it. Twenty four year old Essie Mae promised to be the perfect match to complete his life.
Essie Thomson. Back of this photo is inscribed,
"For Edith from Essie Thompson. Courtesy Hazel
and Howard Ellinwood collection.
The men put in a beaver farm in the swamp south of the Bull River guard station, between the Thomson place and the ranger station. They fenced the swamp between the foot of the mountains and the river with hog wire strung between hand split cedar posts and beaver farmed for five or six years. Once when Clate Bauer was fishing he walked into one of the live beaver traps they had set in the river. Beaver farming on Bull River, raising beavers for the pelts, lasted until about 1935.27.
Men were trapping on Rock Creek, too, and also on the headwaters of Pilgrim Creek. Henry Larson and Earl Engle got a permit to start a beaver farm on Rock Creek. (Or Henry Larson and Bill Ellis - recollections are confusing.) They put a fence across the Rock Creek meadows, fencing only about a mile of it, not the entire meadow. They dug the hog-wire mesh down into the ground so the beaver wouldn't dig out. They had hundreds of beaver up there.28.
"Then Engle got out of it and Ross Long bought in. The beaver evidently were trapped out and sold somewhere but Ross claimed a snow slide came down and killed the beaver. The beaver might have pulled out and went over the hill."29.Swan Swanson claimed to have trapped some of them that were marked at the Rock Creek meadows, as far away as White Pine Creek.
"They went over the hill. They'll travel you know," he said.(insert picture)
Caption: Goldie Greer, Jary Greer and Dan Greer, children of Ethel and Bill Greer. Circa early 1920s. Courtesy Ben F. Saint collection.
Harry Talmadge was managing a beaver farm on the upper end of Bull Lake for Dell Fewkes, a butcher in Troy. Bear were their biggest problem. The brunos would tear out sections of the fence as they moved through the area. They were the destroying factor that finally ended Harry's efforts to raise beaver.*30.
Charlie and Essie moved into Noxon in 1921 but he kept his beaver farm operations going in the Bull River valley until 1935.
Taken on the Slagle place, which was Chess Greer's homestead.
Irene Bauer, Aleatha Bauer, Alzier Bauer, Mrs. Stella Jane
Bauer, Clayton 'Clate' Bauer, James 'Jim' Bauer, and Granville
Bauer. Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
"Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Buck and daughter departed for Aberdeen, Washington, last week, where they will make their home. Noxon will lose a good business man and good neighbors.32. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Larson bought Buck's new home."33.
"Tommy Burns and Mr. (Red) Halves moved a house down from the old saw mill to a lot which they recently purchased on Front Street adding one more popular residence to Noxon."34.George Greer advertised he would hold an auction sale April 3rd on his ranch near Noxon. It was one of the most successful sales held in the county.
"The cattle brought $110.00 on the average while the machinery and chickens as advertised in The Ledger brought good prices. Mr. Greer is one of the wide-awake young farmers of the west end and believes in advertising. The few dollars invested in bringing the sale before the public through the Sanders County Ledger paid him several hundred percent on the money invested. Moral: 'Go thou and do likewise.'"35.Within a year, Chester Greer and father returned to Noxon from Sunnyside, Wash.,
"after an absence of almost a year. Chester who was attracted by the publicity of the "Garden of Eden" lying to the west of us, returns to tell it to the world that Noxon and vicinity look good to him. Lack of water and dry climate make up the handicaps there."36.George Phillips bought S. S. Brown place west of Noxon.37. In Noxon Eddie Gore made himself a stump puller and began pulling stumps on his lot.38. The first rhubarb and asparagus put in their appearance from home gardens,39. and a Palouse dust storm darkened May skies.
"If this continues we will have most of the state of Washington up here."40.B. B. Bunn sold his ranch on Pilgrim Creek to parties from Butte.41. A number of farms changed hands in the last two weeks of April in Noxon vicinity.42. B.B. Bunn bought Diver's house. Then sold his Ford car to Mr. Gittings who moved to Sandpoint.43.
James Finnigan enjoyed very good success with the water wheel he installed in the creek on his ranch last fall, the paper said.
"He saws all his wood with it and will soon run a washing machine with it. He expects to have electric lights in his house from the same power."44.The newspaper also told its readers that Marian Larson took his wife, Madelaine, to Missoula to consult a doctor. She'd been ill for a number of days.45.
C. R. Weare was raising some pigs.
Freda Weare said. "We three smallest children made pets of the piglets, bathing them and dressing them like dolls in clothes made by Marion.
"When butchering time came, we had a big old bathtub out in the yard that Papa would put the pigs into to scald them. The clothesline hung behind it. Once they put a pig in and it wasn't quite dead yet so Papa grabbed the axe to finish it off. When he swung it up it hooked in the clothesline and came down hitting him alongside the jaw. It sliced him pretty bad."46.
Sam Higgins enjoying a fishing trip on the Clark's Fork River
near Smeads, Montana. Courtesy Maxine Higgins Laughlin
Sam Higgins preparing a meal on his
fishing trip with friends near ghost town
of Smead, Montana. Circa 1920. Courtesy
Maxine Higgins Laughlin collection.
A. J. Kline, recently from Tulsa, Oklahoma, threw in with Emil Gavin and Alex Davie, operating three moonshine stills, making 'moon' for the Spokane market. Trainmen on the Northern Pacific Railroad transported much of their product. The boys would deliver it to the freights when they stopped at the water tank near Heron between Emil's cabin and A. J.'s ranch. A small mountain of five gallon cans began growing rust on the hill behind Kline's spring, remainders of the ingredients for their 'moon.'48.
Sam Higgins returns to enjoy fly
fishing in the Montana waters
he loved. Courtesy Maxine
Higgins Laughlin collection.
Sam Higgins' fishermen guests,
In early August Mrs. J.H. Bauer and the Lux family went on a huckleberry picking excursion on Bull River last week where they picked 32 gallons of huckleberries. Huckleberries are plentiful this year and several Thompson parties will spend next week in the mountains to secure their share of these delicious berries.
Harry and Sarah Tallmadge also filled buckets with delicious purple-red huckleberries from knee high bushes along the Squaw Peak trail up Star Gulch back of the Ellinwood homestead. They looked over the vacated ranch, dipped cool cups of water from the river and washed the berry stains from their hands before heading their team over the dusty wagon road for home and chores waiting there.49.
Almeda 'Grandma' Ellis bought white flour by the barrel and baked bread goods, which she sold through Henry Larson's store. Everybody worked to make ends meet. By Late summer when haying was finished, several families went "to the hills" for huckleberries, leaving two men behind to do chores for all families on the outing. They'd stay a week or more and upon returning, divide berries evenly with fellows who stayed to do chores.50.
Caption: Dr. Nelson Munro and Sam Higgins near Smead, Sanders County, Montana. Munro's hat suggests he was with the US Forest Service. Higgins is using pliers to open the crate (the contents have been lost to history.) Courtesy Maxine Higgins laughlin collection.
In December 1920, Minnie and Everett Jenkin's daughter, Ellen, contracted influenza and became very ill. When her fever reached 104 Dr. Starr was called to attend her. But it was Dr. English who drove from Troy by sleigh to the Bull River Ranger Station where Lula and Walter Lake were living. Mrs. Clyde Scheffler was there, in labor.
Paul Henry Scheffler's homestead adjoined the forest service headquarters. Paul had moved west from South Bend, Indiana to Helena where he'd had a bar. Marion Cotton was his upstream neighbor. Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Scheffler came from Michigan in 1919 to stay with Clyde's dad. But Paul Henry wasn't midwifing! When Mrs. Schaffer's baby was due, she was taken to the Bull River Ranger Station. A fine baby son was born December 9, 1920. They named him Ed.51.
(insert picture ~ page 1 of vol. 2)
Caption: Wm. J. Higgins homestead on Smeads Bench, built in 1914. Photo circa 1940. Courtesy Maxine Laughlin collection.
"William 'Bill' Higgins, my dad, was the last one to leave. We lived up on that bench, you know, above Smeads up there," Maxine said. "I remember waiting in the boxcar depot at Smeads for the train when it come around that bend. There was a white handkerchief and I flagged the train down. It cost a nickel to ride to Noxon.
"Aunt Phoebe Saint was sick, and her kids, Laura, Del and Shirley, my cousins, stayed with Momma up on Smeads Bench that summer. Momma used to send us to town with the butter and stuff.
"We'd go down a trail that shortcut, not come down the whole road. We'd plant a lantern at the bottom of the hill with some matches because it would be night when we returned on the train. We'd light the lantern and, lugging it, walk up that trail.
"We took the butter to Larsons store. How the hell did we get it in there without meltin' it? We'd stay all day at Grandma Saint's then she'd put us on the train at night and we'd come back home.
"We had a big root cellar with walls three feet thick with sawdust in between. In the overhang protecting the entrance, Dad hung our venison carcass to let it age. In the wintertime it would freeze, naturally.
"We had venison steaks for breakfast and hotcakes with the gravy dripping. We used the hindquarters for steaks, the better cuts. Then the front quarters and the rest of it was canned in jars and put in the root cellar.
"I didn't know there was anything to eat besides venison when I was a kid. My dad got up in the morning, grabbing his rifle. The rifle was always hanging on the wall, loaded. By the time my mother was up, he'd kill a deer. Practically in the front yard. One time a coyote came down.
"Right above us, on the Smeads Bench above the house, was the biggest huckleberry patch. We used them all, canning them. Elderberry jelly, jam and wine, too. Even dandelion wine.
"There was a little trough down from the main creek, fed by a beautiful spring. He had this trough built down to the house. It emptied into a big tub and overflowed it.
"Mother had a little milk house to cool the milk, butter, cottage cheese and stuff. He dug a little place where the overflow ran and built the milk house. It had no floor to it, but was built so you could set pans over the water to keep cool.
"Momma had a strawberry patch with wild strawberries in it. And a big garden. We had a couple cows, pigs and rabbits. When they killed the rabbits they had to send me away from home because I'd make pets out of all of them.
"Everybody had a big boiler. Momma washed clothes on a washboard by hand. First you soaped them, then rolled them up and soaked them. Then you put the boiler on the stove, bucketed water to fill it, took the paring knife and chipped Fels Naptha Soap, or whatever you had, into the boiler. You scrubbed the clothes, put them in the boiler and boiled them. With a long stick, you fished them from the boiling water, rinsed them twice and hung them on the line."52.(insert picture)
Caption: Dr. Kalb, Dr. Nelson and a lady, 'eating out' on one of their Clark's Fork River fishing holidays with Sam Higgins, near Smeads, Sanders County, Montana. Circa early 1920s. courtesy Maxine Laughlin collection.
Fred Minear said, "Jimmy Saint lived in a cabin north of the Noxon forest service Ranger station on Pilgrim Creek road at the west end of town. He offered to let us stay in Grandma Fulks' cabin when we came to Noxon in 1920.
"Saint was the one who talked my Dad into coming to Noxon from Sandpoint, ID. Francis "Frank" Minear left North Dakota following three straight years of crop failure.
3. Sanders County Independent Ledger, June 3, 1920.
4. Sanders County Independent Ledger, February 12, 1920.
5. Sanders County Independent Ledger, February 26, 1920.
6. Sanders County Independent Ledger, February 12, 1920.
7. Ellen Jenkins Innes, letter November 30, 1986.
8. Sanders County Independent Ledger, January 29, 1920.
9. Dan DeLong, oral history October 24, 1986.
10. Ellen Jenkins Innes, letter November 30, 1986.
11. Sanders County Independent Ledger, March 4, 1920.
12. Stewart and Agnes Hampton, oral history November 18, 1983.
13. Ellen Jenkins Innes, letter November 30, 1986. Tom Randolf was hired in 1924. About 1930 he returned to Spokane, WA.
14. Agnes Jenkins Hampton, oral history, November 18, 1983.
15. Ellen Jenkins Innes, letter November 30, 1986.
16. 1926 the Kohler plant was installed, Ellen Jenkins Innes, letter, November 30, 1986.
17. Sanders County Independent Ledger, February 12, 1920.
18. Stewart and Agnes Hampton, oral history November 18, 1986.
19. Sanders County Independent Ledger, October 23, 1920.
20. Clifford Weare, tape recorded oral history June 28, 1973.
21. H. R. Bob Saint, tape recorded oral history, November 18, 1983.
22. H. R. Bob Saint, tape recorded oral history, November 18, 1983.
23. Golda Fulks Hollar, tape-recorded oral history, January 31, 1984
24. H. R. Bob Saint, tape recorded oral history, November 18, 1983.
25. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 6, 1920.
26. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1920.
27. Ruth Mercer McBee, letter, 1989.
28. Bob and Ann Larson, oral history, March 6, 1972.
29. Bob Larson, oral history, 1974.
30. Harry Talmadge, tape recorded oral history March 7, 1977.
31. Ira B. Bartholomew, letter, var. 1972-74.
32. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1920.
33. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 22, 1920.
34. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1920.
35. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 8, 1920.
36. Sanders County Independent Ledger, March 31, 1921.
37. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 8, 1920.
38. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 15, 1920.
39. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 13, 1920.
40. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 13, 1920.
41. Sanders County Independent Ledger, April 29, 1920.
42. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 6, 1920.
43. Sanders County Independent Ledgerger, May 13, 1920.
44. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 13, 1920.
45. Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 13, 1920.
46. Freda Weare Ulrick, oral history May, 1979.
47. Roland "Red" Kline, letter June 10, 1991.
48. Stewart Hampton, oral history, var.
49. Harry and Sarah Talmadge, tape-recorded oral history, March 7, 1977.
50. Billy and Edna Ellis, letter April 24, 1987.
51. Ed Scheffler, oral history, December 1987.
52. Maxine Higgins Laughlin, tape-recorded oral history, February 19, 1981.