Newspaper Archive of
Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
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December 24, 1996     Hells Canyon Journal
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December 24, 1996
 

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Hells Canyon and Its People Pl e lgs, C, anyon urnal,, :] eeembler 24, Continued from page 10 workmen and families. We first lived in a frame room (lumber), with three tents behind it with wood floors and boarded-up sides. In the first one, we four girls slept and had our things. The next tent was used for the kitchen and dining room, and the last one was our Grandfa- ther Stewart's bedroom. He was from Edinburgh, Scot- land, and told us many de- lightful stories about "Ghosties" and the "Wee Folk." He taught us to dance the sword dance and the Highland fling. At first, most everyone lived in a walled-up tent. Even the hospital was in a tent. Our father thought it would be good for us to sell papers. My oldest sister was very shy, so I usually sold the papers. Once there was an epidemic of smallpox--19 men had it. They were iso- lated in alarge tent. The man nurse had gone for a walk, and I took my papers in and let all the men read them, then sold them to the town people. No one caught the disease; neither did I. The second house we lived in was one large room with a hallway and three bedrooms on each side which accommo- dated the family quite well. There was a large dance hall four feet from where we lived. At first, Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins played for the dances. Later Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Sprague, from Homestead four miles below, played. Once, Mrs. Sprague was ill and didn't come with him, so I played the piano with his violin mu- sic. He was a good violinist. After I played with him, his wife never did again. They said I was good. I was 12 then. The rest of my life I have played for ballroom dancing, but no more now. I miss it. It was 1911 when martial law was declared on Copperfield by Oswald West, then the Governor of Oregon. He sent in a company of Na- tional Guard and his secre- tary, Fern Hobbs. When the young men got off the train and tried to stack arms, they fell over. The meeting was held in the city recorder's of- rice above the jail. All Stewart and Warner's equipment was confiscated. All the Stewart and Warner property fix- tures, even the pool tables, they were moved to the County seat in Baker, Or- egon. My father and Warner hired a brilliant young attor- HELLS CANYON a couple ney, James Nicols. He had once worked with Clarence Darrow in the East. The South and West won the case, and the State of Oregon had to pay all the expenses. Two militia men were left in town until the case was won. One Sgt. Renaurd and Pvt. Vern Walton. Very nice young men, who dined at our house many times while they were here. Their quarters were above the jail. Mr. Stewart moved a small cook stove in for them, so they had a way to cook when they were not eating with our family. A new school house was built in town by 1923. My two sons and young brother started to school there. Mrs. Elliot was the teacher. When we went to school in the old place for two terms, Mr. Parker had 69 pupils from primer to 8th grade. We older pupils helped with the younger ones. We all learned well through the 8th grade and most of us went out of the Canyon for higher learning. Moonshine and Racing We always went up the Kleinschmidt grade to Cuprum for their Fourth of July celebration. One year, my sister, Louise, and Mrs. Martin went up on the hills to bring in the horses we were to ride and pack. They found the horses and also found a miles upstream from the present moonshiner's outfit. They took five quarts of moonshine. (It was in quart jars.) So we took it to Cuprum, also. Mar- tin and Lou sold the liquor; our mare, Banjo, won the race ($25.00), and I got $10 a night for three nights of playing the piano for the dances. We came home with folding money. The Crawfords The Crawfords came to the Canyon from Kentucky. There were Mr. Crawfo d, his sons Oscar, Austin, Ed, and, Elmer, also Aunt Nancy who cooked for the family, and later two daughters, a blonde, Ethel, and a brunette came. The Crawfords were making moonshine up Hunsaker Creek which bordered Stewart's orchards. A sales- man came into the Canyon twice a year selling many things, like the Watkins people do now. He was called the Parks Brothers man. My mother was walking to the post office one day, and not 50 feet from the road were Mr. Crawford and Oscar. They had ordered the sales- man out of his wagon and were just ready to hang him from a tall tree. They thought he was a revenue man look- ing for their "still." My mother told them who and what he was. Ever after, he told people Mrs. Stewart had saved his HCJ file photo day site of Hells Canyon Dam. life. The Crawfords moved to Cornucopia Gold Mines back in the Granite Mountains above Halfway, Oregon. Where they went from there, we never heard. Mrs. Rome made moon- shine up on Windy Ridge. She was a woman about 55 from Austria, with'a young daugh- ter about 16 at the time of her arrest. No one knew who turned her in. Some Seventh Day Adventists also lived on Windy Ridge. They may have called or notified the revenu- ers. Anyway, when they came, Mrs. Rome was still in bed, and she would not dress so they could take her to Boise to jail. They finally got her to dress. I think she was only in jail three months. When she came home, she told us what a wonderful time she had had. She said, "We play cards, we see lots of people, have good things to eat and have a good time all the time." The girl, Sophie, stayed alone up on Windy Ridge on tl e moun- tain except when she came down to Homestead for sup- plies. Sometimes she stayed at my house all night, other times at Mrs. Beranik's. Mrs. Beranik had two very good looking daughters, Anna and Catherine Americh. They were what we called in those days, "Bohunks." Anyone born in the Balkan states in those days were called Bohunk. The girls, however, were born in Illinois. Mrs. Beranik had two more chil- dren after moving into the Canyon. The boy's name was Carl. I have forgotten the girl's name. There were also two other girls. The eldest married and never came West. The other was Emille Storr. She married Tom Lind- say, who also made moon- shine. I don't know where they sold it all. Perhaps to Albert Campbell's cowhands and people in Cuprum, Council and Weiser, on the Idaho side. A lot of Pine and Eagle Valley cattle and sheep men used the Canyon hills for win- ter range. Sheepman Mr. Densley had lambing pens down near the Interstate Bridge. Years later,'I lived in a house near where the lamb- ing pens were. I planted a vegetable garden there. I have never seen things grow like they did. The sheep had made it very fertile. Some people came down from Pine Valley and got tomatoes and green beans. There were some tall trees by the creek, and that was where I planted head lettuce. It was in the shade except in the early mornings. No one had tried to grow head lettuce there, or since, that I know of. It was very hot there, sometimes for three and a half months. Once, before my parents died, it was 127 de- grees in the shade for 11 days. We all moved our beds out to the shady side of the house. While I was talking about moonshine, I should have mentioned home brew. Most everyone made that. When I lived in Homestead, the Sheriff's wife came up with a water bucket and some money and asked me if! knew where I could get some beer for her. I knew several people who made it, so I purchased 10 bottles for her. The reason she wanted it, her niece, Roberta Hudson, was visit- ing them. She was from Port- land, Oregon. Ole Olson, whohad earlier been section boss, stayed on after the railroad stopped running for a few years. He also made moonshine. He sold most of it to the railroad "bridge gang and to the cow- hands. I made a mistake there. The railroad was still running. The bridge gang re- paired the bridges and worked in the "Big Tunnel." It was almost a mile long. It went through Oxbow Hill. To be continued...