History: David William Rowley

The winter we were living on the Merrill place I hitched up the iron gray team. Burt and Duke, and hauled a load of wood. Francis had come over and he was helping me unload the wood. I was working just behind Duke’s single tree when I felt a brush on both sides of me and I ask Francis, “did Duke kick at me?” He said, “He sure did and a foot went on each side of you as slick as a whistle,” and he had a good laugh.

My wife’s relatives lived with us for quite a while, especially her younger sister, Melva and her brother Harold. Her dad was with us for a while, too.

While living on this same place I got up one Sunday morning, it must have been in January or February and the day seemed so sunny and warm that I decided to air out the potato cellar. We had been in Church for a while when I looked out of the window and saw they were frosting up. It was getting cold and I saw a blizzard coming. I left church and hurried home. I shut the doors and put some heat down there. If I had been much longer everything in the cellar would have been frozen. This is an example of how quickly the weather changed in Montana. Some times in the winter it could be really cold when you went to bed and when you got up a Chinook wind would have melted almost all of the snow.

Francis had been living on the Leo Morgan place, but because of this terrible depression he couldn’t make payments so the bank decided to foreclose. They took back the place and sold everything Francis had; and because I had signed with him, they took everything I had too. I asked the bank to sell things on time because people didn’t have money. If they could have had easy payments people would have paid more for out things.

Between Francis and I, we had at least $10,000 in stock and cattle besides the place. They sold out the whole thing for $1,006. A flock of sheep sold for $2.00 a head; big short horned cattle sold for around $15.00 each; a very good four section harrow and a completely overhauled hay stacker (it cost $52.00 just to overhaul it) sold for $6.00 apiece. Then they wanted us to pay the balance of $4,000. We couldn’t, so they sold the note to a Mr. Harbolt in Chinook. About two years later he sold it to Francis and me for $200 cash. We paid it, not because we thought we owed it, but just because we wanted to clear our names.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected President and he started doing things to help the people get back on their feet, such as the NRA (National Recovery Service) and the PWA (Public Works Administration). I went to work for the NRA with a four horse team building reservoirs. The money I earned saved us from starving and going without clothing. The full account of this experience is to be found in the history in the history of Lillian Alcorn Rowley’s life.

Well, after losing all we had in the Leo Morgan episode, we moved back on the farm with the folks. We were better off because I was working on the NRA nine days a month, the rest of the time I could help Dad, trap and such. I was paid $11, a day and I must say that was the biggest money I ever saw I was most grateful for it and it seems like we made it go a long ways.

To be continued…


History: David William Rowley

That winter Wren Stoddard and I hauled coal from the Hebbleman mine about 10 miles from where we lived. We usually left home before daylight and would get back about noon. Then we would take the coal into town, unload it, collect our money for it and get back home in time to do chores. One morning when we left for the coal they were shining brightly and the sky was real clear. We got to the mine, which was down in a canyon and loaded up our coal. It was probably between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. our wagon boxes were on runners. We looked up to the rim of the canyon and could see snow starting to blow. By the time we got to the top and started home it had become a blizzard and kept getting worse. We couldn’t see a thing in front of us. We couldn’t depend on the horses finding the way either, because they didn’t want to face the wind and kept circling around trying to get their backs to the wind. Soon we were hopelessly lost. We walked beside our horses to keep them from freezing. A long in the afternoon we came upon some old buildings we knew. We stopped and rubbed the frost out of each other’s faces after we managed to locate the road and get going again. It didn’t take long and we were lost once more. Just before sundown, it started to clear off and we were able to find our way home. We were both badly frostbitten. It was quite a while before I could shave. This was another one of the many times my life has been spared.

The next summer another baby was born to us. This time I was the father of a son, born 27 August 1929. We named him David Alcorn Rowley.

I was still helping my father and raising a big garden for ourselves, but I was having a hard time to provide the things that my family needed.

In the spring of 1930 I rented the Victor Bottomly place. It was straight north of the highway about a mile from Dad’s. it wasn’t a very good place, but at least we were by ourselves. We had a few cows, chickens, pigs, horses and some machinery. I never was afraid of hard work and much of the time it was before daylight when I started and I wouldn’t get out of the fields until after dark.

We talked of going to the temple to be sealed many times. In the latter part of the year of 1930 we went to the Cardston, Alberta Temple in Canada there we were sealed for time and all eternity and Grace and David were sealed to us. It was on the 24th of September 1930. Lillian and I both got our Patriarchal Blessings at this time also under the hand of Patriarch John F. Anderson. I have treasured that blessing almost more than anything I have. It has been a great comfort and guide to me. The trip was a vacation for us and we enjoyed it very much.

Part of our beets were frozen in the ground that winter and we lost most of our horses because they got into some garbage and ate some poisoned oats.

We moved onto the Merrill place across the road from the Milk River. During that 1931-1932 depression year we sold our beets and hay for $4.00 a ton, wheat for $0.08 a bushel and everything else in proportion.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

I continued to see Lillian for a while, then went back to Taylor Butler’s. I could have continued to work for them, but it seemed like the folks always needed my help so I came home to help harvest their crop of grain, beets, hay, etc.

Lillian and I continued to go together through the winter and spring and then we decided to get married. We just took off, taking her father and my father with us. We went in Alcorn’s car and we were married by the President of the Chinook Branch, Wallace B. Peterson on 14 July 1927. We backed out of the building so that if anyone asked us about getting married we could tell them we “backed out” of it.

We came back to Harlem in a heavy rain storm and went to a Church party in the Harlem branch that night. No one knew we were married. Lillian sang some songs at the party, she had a very good singing voice. She used to entertain a lot at the Branch activities with her singing.

Lillian’s dad had given her 100 nice laying hens which I had to put in with dad’s chickens and we had to move in with my folks for a while because there was no other place to live. I hadn’t been able to save any money. The spring before Dad had bought the old Everett place near the Albert Johnson place. There were no buildings on it so we built a small house of cottonwood poles. This is where we all lived together for a while. There was Dad and Mother, Francis and Erma and Lillian and I all living together in the same house.

On the 7th of August 1927 I was ordained an Elder by James G. Allred.

Lillian and I were pretty excited that winter because we were expecting our very first baby. We wanted to get a place by ourselves, so when a friend, Wren Stoddard, told me that the bank wanted to sell the Leo Morgan place, he and I went up to look it over. It was a good place.

That night I had a dream that Leo Morgan and I had a wrestling match. I had been doing some wrestling and boxing and was pretty good at it. In my dream I could throw him awful hard, but he would get straightened up and reach out his long arms and get a hold of me and I couldn’t get away from him no matter how hard I tried. I just could not get out of his reach. I told Lillian about the dream and we figured it was a warning from the Lord. I went over and told the folks and Francis said if I wasn’t going to buy the place he would. It turned out that he couldn’t get the place unless I cosigned with him. To help a brother I did it against my better judgment and the Lord’s warning.

Since we didn’t get a place for ourselves, I moved two labor shacks from the Alcorn place over to Dad’s and fixed them up for a place for Lillian and myself. That was where Grace and David were born. We continued to stay on at Dad’s place in the house I fixed up for us and that fall on 20 September 1928, a sweet little girl was born to us and we named her Grace Harriet after her two grandmothers.

Grace was a tiny little baby, but we loved her so much and were so grateful for her safe arrival.

In the fall of 1928 my sister, Verda, was called on a mission. She came home in September in 1930. She enjoyed it very much.

To be continued

History: David William Rowley

The way we put up hay in those days in much different than the way it is done now. It was all done with horses instead of trucks and tractors. We would mow the hay with a horse mower and rake it into windows with a horse-drawn dump rake. Then we would go through and pile it by hand with pitch forks so it would dry out goods. It was then loaded on horse drawn wagons or slips and taken to the stack where it was unloaded with a derrick fork or net. A derrick fork is a large 4 to 6 tines fork about 4 or 5 feet wide. We would push the fork down through the load and have a horse pull it up with the derrick and dump it on top of the stack. There the stacker men would place it where it was needed.

Later we began to use the buck rake and stacker. The buck rake would pick the hay up out of the wind rows or piles and push it onto the stacker which would dump it on top of the stack and then again it would be stacked by a man on top of the haystack who would pile it right and shape the stack. Now it is much different and is all done with tractors and bailed in the field and then hauled in with trucks and tractors.

All things are so much different than they were in my generations when we grew up. Now I don’t suppose there would be many of the young people who would know how to handle horses. One of the first things to know is that one should always work on the left side of the horse so he would always be on your right hand side. This is important both to you and the horse. He’d always be handy to you and he would know what to expect and be prepared to accept the harness, saddle or whatever you were using on him. Horses have been one of the greatest blessings man has ever had out of the entire animal kingdom.

While we were living on the Colgrove place the folks were piling their coal out in the snow. There was an old garage type building setting out in the pasture. The horses would get into it to try to get away from flies and mosquitos and were kicking it apart. So one day when the folks were gone I harnessed a team and went to put some timbers under the garage. I pulled it up to the yard for a coal house. I put it just behind the kitchen door do it would keep the snow out of the coal. The folks were really surprised and happy when they got home on that day!

When I was with my folks in Harlem during the spring and summer of 1926 I attended a dance and was introduced to a girl by a mutual friend, Bert Murphy. Bert later married my sister and became my brother-in-law. The girl’s name was Lillian Alcorn. It is interesting to note that after the dance I told my brother, Emerson, that I had met the girl I was going to marry.

I had wanted to go on a mission for the Church before I got married, but I knew Dad couldn’t send me. In fact he seemed to need most of what I earned for taxes and things. Besides I was too shy to ask to go on a mission, so I didn’t get to go. This has been an ache in my heart ever since.

It was getting cold in the fall of 1926 and I didn’t have any winter clothes. I needed a coat very badly. A neighbor, Sam Taylor needed to go to Idaho to see his sick mother and he asked me to take care of his family, stock and chores while he was away. He paid me $5.00 and I could buy a coat for that, but I also owed that much in tithing. After a small struggle with myself I paid my tithing. A couple of weeks later, Sam’s mother died so I had the opportunity of doing his chores again.  He paid me another $5.00 and I bought my coat. Whenever we do the right thing the Lord always helps us to get what we really need.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

Francis got home that fall about harvest time, then went to work for the gravel company. He met a young woman named Erma Thornton. And it wasn’t long before they were married. They lived on the place with Dad and Mother.

We farmed the Lohman place for two years. A couple of years I went out with the Walters’ Brothers Company Threshing Machine from farm to farm threshing their grain. It had been bound in bundles with a binder. I had a team and wagon and would load the grain out in the field so it wouldn’t slide off the wagon and lose part of the load before I got up in the thresher. Then I’d help spike it into the feeder rack on the threshing machine. In spiking you always laid them in head first and always straight and even and on my side of the feeder. Then the heads would always go in first and the kernels would be shelled on the inside of the thresher. I had been working for them a couple of weeks when the spiker who would climb on all the wagons on his side of the thresher, got sick. The Walker boys came and asked me if they got someone to handle my team and wagons if I’d spike for them.

I was getting $7.99 per day for myself and my team and wagon. They were going to hire a man to handle the team and wagon for $5.00 per day and then they would pay me $6.00 per day and $2.00 per day for my team and wagon. I told them if they would get my brother. Emerson who was working on one of the adjoining places, then I would do it. So they got Emerson to drive my team and I went to spiking for the rest of the season. Though I only made a dollar more a day it gave Emerson a job where he was making quite a bit more than he was at the other place.

In March of 1926, Taylor Butler, a member of our Branch, came and wanted me to go and work for him on a sheep ranch. He needed me to help lamb out a lot of sheep. We had some canvas topped lambing sheds where we have a lot of pens about four feet by five feet where we would put the ewe and the lambs to help them get acquainted. This was done until the lamb was big enough and healthy enough to fare with his mother. I worked on the night shift most all the lambing season. When it was nearing the end of the laming season and the grass was beginning to grow they asked me to take a herd out on the nearby range, so I did. I herded those sheep for several weeks. The Butler’s were really good to me. Sister Butler would bring out cooked goodies such as cakes, pies and most of the bread I needed. I had a couple of very good sheep dogs which sure helped in caring for and herding the sheep.

One day I got a letter from my Mother in Harlem, Montana, where the folks had moved and rented a farm from Roy Colgrove. They didn’t have the crops in and it was getting late so Brother Butler told me to take some horses of his and go down and help them get the crops in. the Butler’s said they would like to have me come back for haying and I told them I would.

I took four head of horses and went to Harlem where the folks and I helped them get the crops in and then went back up to Clear Creek to help put up hay for the Butler’s. They had a lot of hay and we worked it most of the summer.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

Dad had some skin cancers on his face neck. He had heard about a man in Saint Anthony, Idaho who could remove them. So on his way to Montana he stopped there and they were removed. It was an herb remedy that this man had gotten from the Indians. It was applied in the form of a poultice and after a few days, when the poultice was removed, the cancers came with it. Dad had them in a bottle, roots and all. He had been given a jar of black salve to apply where the cancers had come out. He had some of it for a long time and it would heal any kind of wound or sore. Dad was sick from the treatment for a week or so. He went back for more treatments a couple of times, then he seemed to be all right.

Mother, Verda and Mary Galloway, Hugh’s wife, came up on the rain. The wind and dust was blowing very hard when they arrived and Mother cried. She never learned to like Montana. Her heart kind of stayed in Idaho. She would get homesick every once in a while and Dad would let her go back to visit with her relatives, since Verda was old enough to cook for the rest of us. Sometimes Dad would go with her. Several times Emerson went with her as well as Verda a few times and Walter, also. Francis went back to Idaho to work sometimes, but I never did get to go back and I really wanted to.

We got seed potatoes and other things to Zurich and put in a crop. Francis had a girl he liked in Idaho so he went back and worked there that summer. I thinned 15 acres of beets, mostly alone and it was very hard work.

A brother Barnes of Chinook was a field agent for the Utah Idaho Sugar Company. He came out to see us right after we got there and signed us for our beet acreage and found out that we were members of the Church. He told us they held meetings in Zurich. We tried to be there as often as we could. Winfield Hurst was the branch president and was a fine president.

I was asked to teach a class in Sunday School which I enjoyed very much. The students were thirteen and fourteen years old. Emerson was in my class. We weren’t there very long when I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. I know our Heavenly Father helped me because it was one of the best talks I ever gave on faith and works.

We had all been going to Church in Zurich, but it was quite a ways to go so in the summer of 1925, the members from Chinook decided to organize a branch there. They had received permission from the Mission President and with his help they formed the Chinook Branch. In order to have a song books it was decided that each member was to bring a dollar to the meeting.

I had thinned a lot of beets for Dad, but he had so much expenses that he couldn’t pay me. I had worked for another man, too, but he couldn’t pay me either. I felt so bad that I couldn’t raise even one dollar. I was walking along to Church the next Sunday, with my head down and feeling really bad about it. The road was freshly graveled; in fact there were piles of gravel that hadn’t been spread out yet. I glanced to the side and there on top of one of those piles was a brand new shiny silver dollar. It was almost impossibility for anyone to have lost it there by heavenly means for me in my hour of need. I picked it up and went on my way rejoicing and was able to do my part in buying the hymn books.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

While going to seminary I knew that my turn was going to come to open with prayer and I was so scared. When it did come, I couldn’t say a word. I just stood there opening my mouth but nothing was coming out. Finally Brother Fisher reached out and touched me and said, “Just say amen,” and I did. I wasn’t able to stay in Seminary till school let out so Brother Fisher had me make up the lessons and send them to him. He then sent me my certificate and a very nice letter. I’ve never seen him since, but I’m still grateful for the time I had in his class and the things I learned there.

When we moved to the Webster place Dad gave Francis and I a couple colts. Francis whip broke his colt. He could call him out of the pasture and even if the colt was clear at the other end he would come to Francis when he called. He later became a very good work horse. His name was “Snip.”

On the Webster place a tree had been allowed to grow really close to the back porch. Its branches were beginning to life the shingles up off the roof. One day when the folks were gone, Francis and I sawed into the tree until it was bout ready to fall. Then I went and got a team to help get it the rest of the way so it wouldn’t fall on the on the house.

I hitched the chain way up in the tree and then to the back of the sleigh, as it was winter time. Then I got into sleigh to drive the team. This was Francis’ team and when I spoke to them instead of starting out slowly like my team, they jumped and lunged and I went so high in the air that I didn’t know when I was going to come down. When I did I lit on my head and I thought I had broken my neck.

Francis stood back and laughed till he couldn’t stand up. This made me so mad and I said, “Yea, you’d laugh even if it had killed me!” I suppose it did look funny to see the sleigh and me shoot up in the air that way, but I was hurting too bad for it to be funny. I hurt for several days, but was grateful that I hadn’t broken my neck.

In the spring of 1923 my cousin, Charles Galloway, came to our place and he and I went to Salt Lake City to work. We had very little money so we caught a ride on a freight train. I had never done it before and it was a dangerous thing to do. In fact it was a dare-devil thing to do. The train, after some trouble in Pocatello, Idaho took us almost to Hyrum, Utah. From there we took the Bamberger on into Salt Lake. The Bamberger was a big street car.

I worked for the Jacobsen Construction Company doing work on several different buildings, including some chapels and on the Salt Lake Temple grounds. It was a different kind of life for me, but I liked it.

One day I got a letter from Mother telling me they were moving to Montana and wanted me to go with them. So I quit my job and went back to Idaho. I have sometimes wondered what turn my life would have taken if I took a load of stock, machinery and furniture in a boxcar on the railroad. Dad and the other boys came up in a ford car and we got there ahead of them. In fact we unloaded the boxcar and moved everything out to the farm two miles east of Lohman, Montana, before they finally got there.

To be continued…