We had a coal and wood stove and the winters were very cold. We had a range in the kitchen and a regular heater in the living room. One morning I went in and stoked up the coals in the heater and laid the poker underneath the heater. David was just learning to walk and wasn’t walking very well. He had followed me into the living room and when I left the room he picked up the hot poker and started for the kitchen. Coming in he fell and the hot poker fell across the back of his neck and he screamed and cried. I ran in there and saw the hot poker lying across the back of his neck and grabbed it off and put it back. I picked David up and his poor little neck looked like burned beef. I called Dave and we took him to the Doctor. The Doctor thought that he had badly injured some of the tendons and that he would never be able to use or turn his neck normally again. But we were blessed and although it took a long time healing and left a terrible scar he was able to use his neck normally and never suffered ill effects from it.
David was a busy little boy and had to be doing something all the time. We bought him a new pair of shoes and put them on him. But the next time we looked for them we couldn’t find them anyplace. Later Dave found them out in the field in an irrigation ditch. Another time Grace had a pretty little doll and David threw it down the outside toilet. My sister Melva said she would get it out for us and went down one whole head first, but the poor girl got stuck! We couldn’t get her out and finally had to call Dave from the fields to get Melva out. We did get the doll too. Still another time I bought myself a new hat and laid it on the table to wear to Relief Society and it disappeared. We could not find it anyplace. When Dave carried the slop out to the pigs that night, it was in the bucket. Yes our little David was surely mischievous and had to be doing something all the time.
Grace was a mild, sweet-dispositioned child and always wanted to be doing something to help me. She soon learned to do many things that were very helpful to me. Mother Rowley had a Maytag power washing machine. We had an old Speed Queen and ours broke down so I took my clothes down to Mother Rowley’s to wash. Sometimes we were home alone and Dave would harness up old Babe before he went to the fields. My sister Melva and I would hitch her up and bundle up the children and then with the clothes off we would go on the sleigh down to Mother Rowley’s to do our washing. We did this part of the summer and into the winter. One day the sleigh slid off the road and dumped all of us in the snow. But old Babe was very quiet and gently stood there until we got things straightened up and then we went on and got the washing done.
In November 1931 we lost 13 head of cattle through the ice. Even though Dave got them out they froze to death before we could get them dried off. That winter we again had severe weather. There were blizzards and very cold and miserable weather to endure. The drifts sometimes blocked the road and no one could get into town or anywhere. Feeding our stock during these bad spells was very difficult. It was also hard to keep many of the homes warm enough and people had been known to freeze to death in their sleep. Life wasn’t too pleasant in the wintertime.
Our winter brightened very much, however, with the addition of another baby to our little family. On 14 December 1931 another boy was born and Dr. Hoone of Chinook took care of the baby and I. He was a very healthy, good-natured baby. He was blessed by Dave and named Douglas Alcorn Rowley. He had blonde curly hair and was really cute. His Grandfather Rowley called him his little “goldilocks.” His hair was naturally curly and I just assisted it a little and made it look more uniform in the curl.
Douglas was born while we were living on the old Merrill place across the road from the Milk River, and dead water channel. During that 1931-32 depression, when it was difficult to get money out of anything we sold our beet for $4.00 a ton and hat at $4.00 a ton. Wheat sold for $0.08 a bushel and other things accordingly, which didn’t even pay the expense of production. When Dave took our best check into the bank to deposit it and went back the next day to pay off our best labor the Bank had closed its door and couldn’t issue a check.
We decided we couldn’t sell our wheat for $0.08 a bushel so we fed out a lot of hogs. But when he had them all fed, we couldn’t sell the hogs and we gave many of them away or got rid of them as best we could.
A friend of Dave’s, Guy Nystrom, had a large herd of good cattle and he was very old. He put the money to buy his winter’s hay into the bank and when it closed its doors he lost all his money and he died a week later. Many people, businesses, and etc. were going broke and many people were hungry and starving.
Dave’s brother, Francis had bought the old Lee Morgan place in the spring of 1928 and had been doing quite well on it. Then the fall of 1932 when he couldn’t even pay his taxes the bank foreclosed on the mortgage, they took the place and all of our stock. Dave had signed the note with him and consequently we lost all of our material possessions as well, even the things we had before the note was signed. There was about $5,000 balance left on the place and all. Between us and Francis we had at least $10,000 worth of stock and chattel, besides the place. Dave asked the bank to sell it on time because no one had any money, but they said it had to be cash. They sold out the whole thing for $1,006. Then they wanted us to finish paying the balance of about $4,000. They sold the note to a Mr. Harbolt in Chinook and he came and tried to collect. Finally Dave and Francis paid him $200 for the papers (which was about two years later). Believe me these depressions are not fun and it has broken many people.
In November of 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as President of the United States and one of the first things he did was to declare a bank holiday and make it so no bank could go broke and cause so many people to lose their life’s savings. He then started the NRA (National Recovery Administration) and PWA (Public Works Administration) and etc. to get people on jobs so they could make a living and it surely helped many, where it was handled right and in an honest way.
Dave went to work on the NRA with a four horse team building reservoirs on sub marginal land above and north of Chinook. He made $11.00 a day for nine days a month which I think was more money than he had ever earned and it helped out more, too. Yet there were those who tried to take advantage of the program and did. Dave also trapped skunk and etc. to try and make ends meet.
Some of the first work Dave did for the NRA was to haul gravel for the roads when it was 40˚ below zero weather with a wind blowing. His wages were turned over to different stores so we could get groceries and the things that we needed. Our account was turned over to a Joe Eppler who ran a little store. Dave had heard that he was very crooked so he kept his own account of all the groceries we got. The weather was getting awful cold and we didn’t have money to buy children the clothes they needed. Mr. Eppler stocked some clothes, but not very many and he didn’t have the clothes we needed for the children. He said he wouldn’t get them for us either, even though he had quite a bit of our money. Finally the children got sick and he wouldn’t let us have money to get medicine. Dave went to the druggist and he let us have the medicine and then Dave did some work for him to pay for it.
To be continued…
Aleene Sumsion – Daughter-in-Law: Son Ralph’s (34) wife
Archie Harold Alcorn 97) – Brother
Bert Lund Murphy – Brother-in-Law: Sister-in-Law Verda’s (88) husband
Cheryl Jeanette Smith (12) – Granddaughter: Daughter Grace’s (10) daughter
Clark Alcorn (91) – Father
Clayton Alcorn Rowley (35) – Son
Coral Lorraine Bolton (28) – Son-in-Law’s Mother: Donald’s (9) mother
David Alcorn Rowley (32) – Son
David Lenn Judkins – Grandson: Daughter Marjorie’s (36) son
David William Rowley (30) – Husband
Deon Eugene Judkins – Grandson: Daughter Marjorie’s (36) son
Dollie Cook – Wife of Maternal Uncle: James Jr’s (228) wife
Donald Eugene Smith (9) – Son-in-Law: Daughter Grace’s (10) husband
Donald Eugene Smith Jr (11) – Grandson: Daughter Grace’s (10) son
Donna Diane Smith (13) – Granddaughter: Daughter Grace’s (10) daughter
Douglas Alcorn Rowley (33) – Son
Dwain Eugene Judkins – Son-in-Law: Daughter Marjorie’s (36) husband
Dwana Kay Judkins – Granddaughter: Daughter Marjorie’s (36) daughter
Emerson Adis Rowley (89) – Brother-in-Law: Husband David’s (30) brother
Erma Thornton – Sister-in-Law: Brother-in-Law Emerson’s (89) wife
Fannie Marie Weaver (Aunt Fannie) (229) – Maternal Aunt: Mother Harriet’s (92) sister
Grace Davis (86) – Mother-in-Law
Grace Harriet Rowley (10) – Daughter
Grant Alcorn Rowley (39) – Son
Hannah Davis (210) – Husband’s Maternal Aunt: Mother-in-Law Grace’s (86) sister
Harriet Ann Weaver (92) – Mother
Hugh Alcorn Rowley (37) – Son
Hugh Francis Rowley (87) – Brother-in-Law: Husband David’s (30) brother
Hugh Thompson Rowley (85) – Father-in-Law
James Albert Weaver Jr (228) – Maternal Uncle: Mother Harriet’s (92) brother
James Sheldon Nelson Sr – Wife of Maternal Aunt: Fannie’s (229) husband
Jesse Verl Alcorn (99) – Brother
Joe Ben Smith (27) – Son-in-Law’s: Donald’s (9) father
John Joseph Everhard – Son-in-Law’s: Donald’s (9) stepfather
Joseph Lorenzo Alcorn (96) – Brother
Karen Andrea Goe – Niece: Maternal Aunt Melva’s (98) daughter
Kurtis Wayne Rowley – Grandson: Son Ralph’s (34) son
Leonard Clark Alcorn (93) – Brother
Lillian Alcorn (31) – Self
Lillian Lorraine Smith (3) – Granddaughter: Daughter Grace’s (10) daughter
Margaret Jeanette Alcorn (224) – Paternal Aunt: Father Clark ‘s (91) sister
Marjorie Ann Rowley (36) – Daughter
Marjorie Elizabeth Snyder – Son-in-Law’s Stepmother: Donald’s (9) stepmother
Marvin Ballard Alcorn (95) – Brother
Mary Catherine Hammons (218) – Paternal Grandmother: Father Clark’s (91) mother
Mary Francis Alcorn – Cousin: Brother Archie’s (97) daughter
Mary Gregory Askins – Sister-in-Law: Brother Archie’s (97) wife
Melva Alcorn (98) – Sister
Myron Nelson – Cousin: Maternal Aunt Fannie’s (229) son
Pamela Rowley – Granddaughter: Son Douglas’ (33) daughter
Ralph Alcorn Rowley (34) – Son
Robert L. Goe – Brother-in-Law: Sister Melva’s (98) 1st husband
Ronald Steven Smith (14) – Grandson: Daughter Grace’s (10) son
Rosina Weaver (Aunt Rose) (469) – Mother Harriet’s (92) maternal aunt
Royal James Rowley (205) – Husband’s Paternal Uncle: Father-in-Law Hugh’s (85) brother
Scott Calvin Rowley – Grandson: Son Douglas’ (33) son
Sharon Lee Rowley (38) – Daughter
Verda May Rowley (88) – Sister-in-Law: Husband David’s (30) sister
Vonna Ensign – Daughter-in-Law: Son Douglas’ (33) wife
Walter Illith Rowley (90) – Brother-in-Law: Husband David’s (30) brother
William Douglas Rowley – Grandson: Son Douglas’ (33) son
William Vernon Alcorn (94) – Brother
William Weaver (457) – Maternal Great-Grandfather: Mother Harriet’s (92) father