Gen and Casey Miller Family

Gen Olson Miller


My mother died when I  was about 2 1/2 years old. For a short while my sister Frances (15 months younger than I) and I lived with Uncle Ole Olson and his wife Myrtle,  until they got us to Lantry to live with Gram and Gramp Olson. 

One of my earliest, half vague memories is a train ride from North Dakota to Lantry, South Dakota. Aunt Myrtle Farstad, recently married, went to Ole's to take Frances and me to our Olson grandparent's farm, two miles north of Lantry. I remember riding in an elevator in a hotel, and ordering strawberries for breakfast. I have no other memories of the trip until we got to Lantry. This was in May of 1922. Gramp Olson met us with a team and a sled or wagon. When we got to the farm, Gram had the table set and supper ready. Frances, only about three years old, grabbed a large piece of meat and stuffed it into her mouth. I was mortified. There is a large gap in my memory after that, but life must have proceeded in a normal way, for the farm was always "home" and Gram and Gramp "our folks." They were hard working, kind people, and made us feel we belonged.

I can still taste Gram's special chicken soup, her coconut cake, pork cake, fatigmond (fattigmand ), ebleskiver, kernmilkers veiling, and "fried cakes". We ate WELL .... and often! One thing I don't want to remember is her rich, buttery, creamed potatoes. One suppertime when I was 6 or 7, I had about cleaned up my first helping of potatoes when Gramp took a large second helping. I yelled, "Don't eat all the potatoes!", and he passed the bowl to me. A huge second helping went down ... and came back up about midnight. No more for me! For awhile, every time she served them, someone would yell, "Gramp, don't eat all the potatoes!" The joke on Frances was about "fried cakes" ... doughnuts. When she started school, she was quite plump and a neighbor lady teasingly said, "Frances, you look like your grandma doesn't feed you very well." Frances almost cried and said, "No, she doesn't. She only let me eat two fried cakes for breakfast." This of course, was on top of breakfast!

I was very protective of Frances in school, though we often disagreed at home. One day when she got angry at me, she tore into the house and yelled at Gram, "Where is the AX?" Gram asked what she wanted it for. Frances answered, "To chop off her head!" Gram said, "Oh, it is by the windmill." Frances meekly said "oh" and that was the end of that. The windmill was a sore point for me. Frances could shinny to the top and sit on the platform just under the fan. I got dizzy twelve inches off the ground and never made it halfway up the windmill.

Gramp enclosed a small space between the granary and the chicken house for our doll house. The chicken mites found their way in and covered everything. Once we forgot to put our dolls and toys away and a heavy rain ruined everything in the doll house. Oh well, we had about outgrown it anyway.

I couldn't wait to start school. In nice weather I walked the two miles with neighbor kids, though Uncle Art gave me a ride in his Model T Ford when he could. He and Myrtle lived 1/2 mile from our place and if I got there on time, I could ride with him. He ran the Lantry Lumberyard. He always had a Hershey bar or some other treat for me. He would let me sit on his lap and steer his car. This went to my head and I told the neighbor girl I could drive. She needed proof, so I told Uncle Art. With her along, he let me steer all by myself and I headed straight for the ditch. He rescued us, but I had made my point... I could drive (though not well!).

The next summer there was a large Indian Fair in town. Everyone for miles around attended. When we got there, Uncle Art took Frances and me to Woodward's store and bought us chocolate ice cream cones. What a fabulous treat. We smeared our faces, so he bought a new handkerchief to wipe off the ice cream. As he was returning us to Gram's care, Frances let go of his hand and rushed up to a line of Indian ponies tied to the hitching rail in front of Miller's store. One half-broken pinto let fly a back hoof and caught Frances just under the chin. It knocked her cold and really caused a stir.

A number of women were visiting at the living quarters of the store and they and Gram, came running. Each had a different version of what should be done. There was no doctor, but after cold, wet cloths on her head, and whatever else they used had brought her back around, she didn't seem to suffer any drastic after effects. I was worried sick and wondered why she would ever try anything so reckless.

I had a very special friend, Sheila McDaniel. Her parents lived about a mile from our place and we were the only two kids in the first and second grades. Her brother, Bobby Gene, became old enough to drive the old horse that pulled the buggy, and l rode to school with them. Bobby Gene wasn't above snatching cookies from my lunch and I always bawled loudly enough for the teacher's sympathy.... and sometimes one of her cookies.

Three or four years later, Myrtle and Art moved from North Dakota to South Dakota. Lois went to visit school with us. I was really protective of her. She was so little and I was so fond of her. When the teacher scolded her for talking, I decided to dislike the teacher for life, although she had been my idol until then.

Looking back, our school was quite progressive for its day. We had advantages the country schools didn't have and yet it would really seem primitive to today's students. There were two rooms, four grades in each, and a teacher for each room. Upstairs were two more large rooms, one where the teacher or teachers lived, and one for a winter playroom, or a place for school parties and YCL meetings. My first year, a married couple taught. Mrs. Wynn had 1-4 grades and Mr. Wynn had 5-8. My second year, Grace Eustice taught 1-4, and Margaret Aidelotte taught 5-8. Margaret was a local  girl who helped her dad in the fields in the summer. The summer before, she was cleaning the sickle on a mowing machine when the horses jumped and one foot was cut off. We small children were glad she wasn't our teacher as she was so cross. I suppose she had pain and it must have been hard to start school so soon after the accident. Before the year was up; she had an artificial foot, but it hurt her to wear it, so she didn't.

When I was to start 3rd grade, Mr. and Mrs. Art Koch were hired. She taught 1-4 and he had 5-8. Since I was the only 3rd grader, she let me take both 3rd and 4th grades that year. The next year I went into Mr. Koch's "upper room" in 5th grade. We called 1-4 the "lower room", and 5-8 the "upper room". He was my teacher for the next four years. The year I graduated from 8th grade, he ran for County Superintendent and won the position. When we moved to the Black Hills, I was disappointed to learn he owned and operated a bar in Rapid City.

My first year of high school, 1931-32, I worked for my room and board at Alice Vance's. Times were rough (depression!) and we didn't have many clothes. My aunt, Margaret, always liked fancy high-heeled shoes. When they got too shabby for her, I took them. One Friday night when I was too homesick to stay away another minute, I decided to walk home. Lantry was 15-17 miles from Dupree, and our home was two more miles north of Lantry. I started out in a pair of Margaret's cast off spike heels, and what a walk!

It got dark and I was scared. However, I was halfway and there was no use to turn back. The highway was gravel and OH! my aching feet! I barely knew Bill and Liz Ochsner, who were newlyweds. She had graduated the year before and they had been married that summer. They drove up to me in their old coupe.. or roadster.. and I couldn't see much room in it, so I turned down a ride. Mostly I was painfully shy and didn't know what else to do. I thanked them and they drove away.  I made it though, and was I glad to get home. I never tried walking it again. There was a train that ran between the two towns, and once or twice I rode it to or from school.

As I got ready for school at the end of September of my freshman year, a post office clerk brought me a registered letter. Everyone stared as I read it. It was from Aunt Myrt. Uncle Art, a night watchman, had been shot by burglar. The bullet entered a lung and he was in critical condition. Myrt thought I could break the news to Gram and Gramp. I caught the train to Lantry and told Mr. Woodward. He drove me to the farm. We learned Gram was with Margaret at her school near Timber Lake, so he volunteered to go get her.

I walked to Lantry to catch the evening train back to school, and left Gramp and Frances "batching" at home.

The winter of 1932, my dad moved his new family, a wife and two small children, to Minnesota. He stopped to tell me goodbye and gave me $10.00. WEALTH! I bought Christmas presents for the whole family from the Sears catalog and Alice Vance told everyone I could stretch money farther than anyone she had ever seen.

My second year of high school 1932-33, I worked for room and board at Art and Erma Hurst's. They were terrific! Their only child, Raydon, was 1-2 years old. I would babysit him after school if Erma helped at the drugstore. I also would help cook and clean, although it was easier work than any place I had ever stayed. Erma's sister's husband lost his job though, and their family moved in just before school was out.

In 1933 I moved back to Alice Vance's. I was now a Junior and it was suggested we each try to earn our own class ring for the next year. They cost $6 or $7, and not many people could afford them. Just as school ended, Erma Hurst called me. Her sister's family had found a house. Raydon had measles and they were quarantined alone, as Art couldn't go into the house and then back to the drugstore. Would I come and stay a few days and keep her company? Would I!

While there, Fred Barthold came and asked if I would be his wife's hired girl for the summer. They lived along the Cheyenne River, way south of Faith. I soon found out what WORK meant! Mrs. Barthold was allotted $30.00 a month for a hired girl by the corporation for which they worked. I got $3.00 a week, and she kept the rest. She was the most disagreeable human being I had ever met, but when she asked me to go to Rapid City for the school year, I agreed. There would be no pay, as I would be working for room and board. Their two boys were in high school and she planned to take an apartment for the winter The only other alternative I had was to work for the judge's wife in Dupree, and the lesser of two evils was to go to Rapid City. There were few clothes and no money, but plenty of homesickness. After the holidays, Mrs. Barthold and I parted company and I worked at another home, with nice people, until graduation.

Highlights of that year were being elected to "Quill and Scroll", an honorary journalism society, working on the school paper, and being chosen to interview the men who would make the stratosphere balloon flight that summer. My journalism teacher got me the job covering the flight, but I was unable to do it as relatives came for graduation and insisted I go home to Lantry.

(from Mickey Becket Collection)

(click both pictures to enlarge)

(from Mickey Becket Collection)


Coming from tiny Dupree to a class of over 200 seniors in Rapid City was a challenge. I really enjoyed school though and managed to graduate cum laude.

I started to itch on the way back to Lantry, and awoke with a full case of chicken pox. Later we learned I had acquired it from the rented cap and gown at graduation, as many others also got them.

After I graduated from high school in May 1935, I went home to Lantry. A lady I had known quite awhile was starting a cafe in Dupree, her first venture. I worked there all summer for $3 a week when she had it, and less if she didn't make enough to pay the help. One day she sent her teenage son and me to her home to get something from the basement. When we got there, I smelled a funny odor and asked the boy if he also smelled it. He said, "Yah.. see all those cherries Ma canned? A friend and I loosened the lids on some so they would ferment and make wine." I never followed through on that, and don't know if he got caught. It was my job at the cafe to mop the dining room floor in the afternoons when there were no customers, One day as I was mopping, the owner called to tell me a band of gypsies had come to town. I was to hook the screen door and NOT let them in. I did. One gypsy lady got very angry at me and kept yelling through the screen door. She said she was going to put a curse on me. Just then I saw Casey sauntering down the street. I got him to come and stay until the gypsies had left. As soon as they had pestered all the merchants, they got into their battered old cars and left town. In late fall the cafe owner could see her business was a failure and I went home to Lantry.

A surveying crew came to Dupree and made extra work at the established cafe, so I was hired to work until they left. I worked until late November when we extras were laid off. I hated to just sit around, eating off Gram and Gramp, because the depression had left them in pretty bad shape. Margaret asked me to come live with her, in a school teacherage, about 5 miles south of Lantry. She was going to get a divorce and was afraid of what her husband might try. The teacherage was a tiny room tacked onto the end of the schoolhouse. I had to be very quiet as I did the dab of housework and cooking. When Margaret was ill, I substituted as teacher. I pretended to know what I was doing and the kids didn't seem to notice I wasn't a regular teacher. We were bored most of the time, for we had no car. We listened to the radio, read, and embroidered tons of things.

In February we had an extremely cold spell with a lot of snow. We hadn't been able to get to Gram's for the weekend and were getting low on food. Clara and Ernie lived about 1 1/2 miles from the school, so on Saturday morning we decided to put on all the clothes we could find and walk to their place; Clara was a super cook and we knew we would be well fed. We misjudged both the cold and the amount of clothing we had on, and when we got to their house, Margaret nearly collapsed. I found both of my upper legs were frost bitten and turning white. Ernie got a pan of snow and rubbed the white flesh, and then had me soak in warm water. It was quite a painful session of home remedy. The injured flesh later turned a queer, dark color, but eventually became okay. We had no way to get to a doctor and I guess we never even though of that.

In March of 1936, Casey and I were married, but Margaret asked me to stay with her until school was out when she would move back with her folks. Casey had bought a place just west of his parents' home and we would go there weekends to try to clean and fix up the old house. One week, trying to surprise me, Casey got a small can of green paint and started to paint the kitchen ceiling. One third of the way across he realized he didn't have enough paint.; He thinned it well, but after painting another one third of the ceiling, he had to thin it further to have enough to finish. We had a "three shades of green" ceiling. We had no stove so Grandma Miller would pack us egg sandwich lunches. I would return to the schoolhouse on Sunday afternoons.

Just before we were ready to move into our place, I was told there would be a charivari (called a chivaree around there). It was the custom to chivaree newlyweds and things sometimes got pretty rough. After one wedding the men grabbed the bride, put her in a wheelbarrow and ran up and down Main Street with her until everyone was exhausted. We were afraid they would ruin her beautiful wedding dress. It wasn't unusual to grab the couple and put them in a hay wagon to be driven all over town. One couple wouldn't let the partiers in, knowing they probably had plans such as this, so they plugged their chimney until it smoked them out. I was nervous until I found out it would be at Casey's folk's place. Grandma made several cakes and homemade ice cream. The few men who had to have booze kept it outside. When the party ended, it had begun to rain. We headed for our place and got stuck in a creek bed. Casey had to walk back to get Fred to pull the car out of the mud. Fred teased us for a long time about having to get Old Mary, his horse, and rescue us on our honeymoon.

As soon as school was out we moved all our worldly possessions to our tarpaper house and set up housekeeping. Clara had given us a wedding shower, and we received a number of enamel pots and pans, a few linens and dishes, and lots of good wishes. We paid Gram Olson $40 for a nice cookstove. She had bought it from Aunt Myrtle when they moved to Minnesota. Gram gave me the brass bed and dresser that had been in my room at home, and a trunk for storage. Casey also had a trunk, and there was an old kitchen cabinet which had been left in the tarpaper house. (Years later brass beds and dressers like mine were considered antiques. We had thrown the bed out and never knew what happened to it. I still have the little dresser. The cookstove served us well for many years. In 1978 we sold it for $200, as an antique.)

Our house wasn't much! It had two rooms, with a slant roofed kitchen tacked onto one end. The kitchen roof leaked like a sieve every time it rained. We would get every wedding present pot and pan, as well as anything else we could find, and set them under the drips. We had a small wooden table and two wooden chairs. One of these I had found out in the yard, scrubbed clean, repaired, and put a heavy coat of varnish on it. I left to do other tasks and came back just as Casey got undressed to take a bath. I discovered him sitting in the fresh varnish with his bare hide.

The old cabinet, my only kitchen cupboard, seemed to always have mice in it. I got fed up, turned it upside down, and patched every hole and crack. That helped! The cookstove was my pride and joy and the oven suited me perfectly. One day Casey brought in a can of tar to melt. I begged him not to set it on my good stove, but he did. It caught fire, cracked the white porcelain backsplash in several places, and ruined the looks of the stove forever.

Our living room contained a "sanitary cot" donated by Grandma Miller. I never knew why it was called that, but I sure knew it could never be made comfortable. It was our guest bed as well as the couch. We had two old rocking chairs, one given us by Gram Olson. I don't remember where the other came from. Casey bought a large table with four matching chairs and a matching buffet; from Verna and Art. That made our room a combination living/dining room. In winter we set up a small heating stove. That first summer the crickets and grasshoppers were so bad that they ate the starched curtains on the windows.

Our bedroom had the brass bed and dresser, plus a wide shelf in one corner with a curtain hung in front for a clothes closet. No one needed many closets for we had few clothes.

Our water came from the well, in buckets; and hot water came from the reservoir on the end of the cookstove. On wash day, water was heated in wash boilers, and clothes were washed in washtubs with the help of a scrub board (which took off more knuckles than dirt!). In winter, the clothes were hung outdoors to freeze, then brought in to be hung on rope lines or whatever could be found to hold them while they finished drying. We dodged long Johns, shirts and dresses until the heat from the stoves got them dry.

We had an old dog named Soup, which had belonged to Cully.  At first we couldn't afford a car. We would drive a team to the neighbors and ride with them to town for groceries, or Grandpa Miller and some of the boys would stop by and take us along to town. After a couple of months, Casey bought an old Model A Ford truck from Cully. It had no shifting lever and the left door latch was gone. Casey would hold the door shut with his left hand, drive with his right hand, and I would shift gears with a long screwdriver.

Midsummer, we were awakened one night by a neighbor who told us Art and Verna's house was burning. They lived about five miles south of us. They lost everything but a few clothes and one mattress. We invited them to stay with us so they brought their mattress, and Dawn and Mary. We were glad to have them and thoroughly enjoyed the two little girls. Art's dad came to fix another building for them to live in, and he also stayed with us. Art's dad got the one bed, Art and Verna slept on their mattress on the floor but I don't remember where Casey and I slept. It wasn't long until they had a house.

Casey and I decided to go to the west coast. Crops were so poor from the drought and grasshoppers; and there was no work in the Dupree area. We had heard so much about the west, and decided to look it over... maybe even settle out there. If we didn't like it, we could just say we had taken a belated honeymoon, and come home as soon as we pleased. Art agreed to milk the cows while we were gone. There wasn't much else to worry about. Casey had a lot of horses and sold enough of them to buy a Model A Sedan for about $250, and have about $500 left over. (Neither of us can remember what happened to the old truck. I am sure Casey got something from someone for it!)

Since we might not be coming back, we had to take our best things with us. Casey built a sturdy wooden platform on the back end of the car, and we lashed our trunks onto it. We packed our clothes, favorite linens, and a supply of bedding, for we might have to sleep in the car part of the time. When all was ready we headed north through Lemmon, S.D., and across to Miles City, Montana, We hoped to find my Aunt Marie, whom I hadn't seen since I was three (and couldn't remember that visit). She had kept in touch throughout the years by letter, and we knew she owned land at Melstone, Montana. We drove north from Custer, Montana, just west of Miles City, and headed up a mountain for Melstone. What a bleak, forsaken area that was! On the whole drive, we saw one tumbledown shack, a very few sheep and lots of sagebrush. We arrived after dark and found people who knew Marie. They told us she was staying in Forsythe and teaching at Rosebud. There were no cabins, in fact there was NOTHING in Melstone, so we slept in the car that night. The next day we drove to Yellowstone Park.  There was a lot of road construction, and on a detour we picked up a bridge spike in a brand new tire. That hurt! We couldn't believe all the snow on the mountains, for it was August. We saw Old Faithful Geyser, the Paint Pots, and could only look longingly at the fancy hotel and eating places. We went out of the park on the other side through the northwest gate, and drove about halfway to Bozeman. Again, we slept in the car. When we started out the next morning the car began to overheat. Upon investigation we found the radiator had frozen in the night. We weren't used to judging temperatures in high altitude! No damage was done and we continued on our way. I bought a warm jacket in Bozeman and then we headed for Kellogg, Idaho, where we knew some former Dupree people. As we drove through the mining country, we knew we didn't want to settle there. We enjoyed the drive however, as the scenery was beautiful and we saw some bears.

The only place I didn't enjoy was Butte, Montana. We had stopped there to eat and saw the street was filled with picketing miners, protesting low wages. I had heard about pickets but had never seen any, and we ate rather quickly and got out of town. We found a cabin court down the road and spent the night there. We rented several cabins, coming and going, for 25 cents, 50 cents and 75 cents a night. They had hot plates to cook and sure beat sleeping in the car.

The following day we drove into Kellogg, found our friends and visited awhile. When they insisted we spend the night, we rolled out our bedding onto their porch and slept in style.

We decided to go on to Washington State where we had more friends, and they might know of available work. They welcomed us with open arms and said we should stay there. Casey could get work in the wheat harvest fields. These people worked for a family who owned huge orchards, and had just finished-picking the cherry crop. There was fruit everywhere we looked, and fresh vegetable stands all along the roads. As we traveled, we would buy crates of fresh tomatoes for 25 cents, and eat our fill. We feasted on melon and other fruit. In the evenings we would buy bread and hamburger and cook our suppers in a cabin. In Washington everything looked promising!

Casey applied for work and was hired to pitch bundles of heavy, irrigated wheat into hayracks. The farm was fenced with a padlocked gate, and the men were let in as they arrived for work. They had to carry a sack lunch from home. Casey loaded about 20 loads of the heavy bundles a day, coming home exhausted, and for all the work was paid $3.50 a day. On the third day he was sick of the whole situation. We left Washington without even collecting the wages he had earned.

We headed for Portland, Oregon, where Casey's Uncle Lute and Aunt Anna lived. He had been there the year before for a brief visit, and liked the area. We arrived at the edge of town at dark, in a pouring rain, and didn't know our way around. We had no more clean underwear, so rented a cabin, ate at a hamburger place, and went back to the cabin to do some hand washing. We found some string and hung the wet things here, there and everywhere, hoping they would be dry by morning. The humidity was high, and being used to the dry, hot weather at home, we weren't sure the clothes would ever dry. As I finished, Casey sat down on the edge of the bed to get ready for a good night's sleep. Horrors! The bed collapsed and we couldn't get it put back together. Casey got the owner, who made snide remarks while looking at the wet laundry strung all over, but he fixed the bed. He finally told us he'd had some "roughnecks" stay there the night before, and wasn't surprised the bed had fallen apart.

I was really nervous about meeting relatives, and would have liked to stay in the cabin, but the next day we drove to Uncle Lute's place. There Casey decided it would be a good joke to sit in the car and have me go tell Lute I was a Miller from South Dakota. I did. Lute looked at me and said, "No, you're not a Miller." Casey rescued the flat joke and we got royal treatment. Here too, fruit was falling off trees, because prices were so low the orchard owners couldn't afford to pay people to pick it. They were turning cattle and pigs into orchards to clean up the fallen fruit. Coming from an area with no fruit, it drove me crazy! Anna insisted I do some canning to take home with us. I wanted to rent a cabin and can things, but I lost the argument. We headed into Portland to a big Montgomery Ward store to get supplies. On the way, other motorists were waving at us, and we thought it was a mighty friendly town. When they started to point as well as wave, we discovered we were driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Casey's famous "bootlegger turn" got us headed right. I bought a large blue enamel canner which I used until 1980, when it finally sprung a leak, 100 fruit jars and some jelly jars and lids, plus sugar and wax for jelly. We got a large tin preserve kettle, which once back home couldn't take our alkali water and leaked in a year or two. I had helped Gram can, so knew how; but I followed Anna's instructions as she hovered right over me until I had 100 quarts of fruit and several glasses of jelly sealed and packed to go home with us. We put the filled jars back in the boxes they'd come in, so they would survive the long trip home. (We had lots of company that winter when word got out our cellar was full of plums, peaches, apples and a few pears.)

Lute and Anna said they had tried hops picking when they first lived there. It was time to pick them and we decided we would try to earn some money. Anna said I would have to wear slacks to work in the field, so we bought a pair for 99 cents. We found a hops farm where whole families were picking; some had children of all ages helping, so we decided we surely could do it also. We got hired and were given a sack large enough to hold a bed mattress. Hops are green, leafy pods that are used to make beer or ale. The pods are overlapping layers of leaves, sticky and aromatic. The heads of the hops were about 2 to 2 1/2 inches long, and 3/4 to 1 inch across. As we started to pick, our hands turned green, then black, and our fingers stuck together. The sun was hot and our backs ached, but we worked as fast as we could to fill that sack. FINALLY it was full and we took it to the weigher, who would pay us according to the weight we had picked. $1.63!! With 99 cents for slacks and the gas to drive there, we weren't exactly getting rich. We left and never looked back!

They took us to the State Fair in Salem and we had a grand time. Anna packed a huge picnic lunch. We were joined by their bachelor son, their married son, his wife, and their little boy who wasn't old enough to walk. We took turns pushing the stroller and saw all the sights.

One day Casey and I decided we had to see the ocean. He wanted to see a former friend from Dupree who lived in the area. We found their place and enjoyed a short visit. They worked for relatives who raised mint, and had a distillery. Did it ever smell nice around there!

We decided it was time to head back home. The west wasn't the dream place we had been led to believe, unless you were already well established. Ranch life looked pretty good to us. We had just one thing left that we wanted to do, and that was to find Aunt Marie. As we were getting ready to leave, Anna insisted she and I have a little shopping spree. I don't know what it was that she wanted for herself, but she was very firm that I get a new dress and hat. She picked out a dark green knit boucle, two-piece dress. I bought it and a green hat to match. Women's hats looked just about like men's hats that year, except they came in bright colors. That done, we headed home.

Since we'd had such a nice vacation, we decided to take turns driving and sleeping, to save some time on the return trip. The trip west was the first time I had ever driven mountain roads, but I had done okay on the way out and didn't worry about it a bit. The roads were wonderful... nothing like the gumbo or gravel roads at home. Casey drove until we were high in the mountains, just about dark. We switched places and he promptly fell asleep. All went well until I happened to glance into the rear view mirror and saw what looked like a man riding on our trunk. Had a hobo hitched a ride? I figured if I speeded up, then hit the brakes, I would dislodge him, or at least shake him up. I tried it, but he only slid to the other side of the car. Try again .... but no luck getting him off. I thought I had better awaken Casey and see what he thought we should do.. He was pretty groggy, but he leaned across the boxes of canned fruit trying to see the back of the car. Suddenly he said, "It's your new hat!" It had slid out of the sack and skittered across the shelf under the back window. He went back to sleep and I drove on.

I think we were more tired than we realized, for we don't remember too many details about the drive to Forsythe, where we found Aunt Marie. She was staying with old friends who insisted we come in and stay awhile. We spent that afternoon and night, getting acquainted with Aunt Marie. It was a Sunday, and she took us to see her school at Rosebud. The next morning we followed her as she headed for school, and as we came to the place where we turned to take a different road, she got out of her car and came back to ours. She said, "I think you have a very nice husband, even if he is an Indian!"

It seemed that once we were headed home, we couldn't wait to get there. We didn't waste much time along the way. The last day we decided if we took turns driving and didn't stop to sleep, we could get home late that night. I had taken my turn at the wheel and was dead tired. I curled up in the car seat; put my head in Casey's lap and conked out. The next thing I knew, something very hard was trying to smash my forehead. I struggled up to see Casey yank the wheel around and fly across an irrigation ditch. He had fallen asleep, jumped the ditch, and when he woke up he jumped back across and onto the road. The steering wheel had made a nice red welt on my temple and we were both wide awake after the scare. The biggest mystery is how the jars of canned fruit survived without even one cracked jar. We sure couldn't have duplicated it with our eyes open and still don't see what kept the car from rolling over. We did get home that night, with over half of our money left. It was a wonderful trip but it seemed awfully good to get home.

We got ready for the long winter, buying sugar, flour, and other staples, and thought we were all set until spring. In late November I got sick .... then sicker. Casey bundled me into the car and drove to Lantry to see what Gram and Gramp thought. Margaret was still living with them and recognized appendicitis, for she had lost her appendix a few years before. She got ready to go with us and we drove the 100 miles to the Pierre Hospital, arriving there between 10 and 11 pm. My appendix was out by midnight. I spent Thanksgiving day enjoying the first solid food I'd had in over a week. I never knew pumpkin pie could be cut into such TINY wedges and still be called a piece of pie! I had worn my new green dress, and had pinned my treasured Quill and Scroll pin to the collar. When it was time to go home, the pin was gone and I never saw it again. That hurt about as much as the surgery! Casey sold a horse for $150 to pay the hospital bill.

We had a few modern conveniences in our tarpaper house by now. Casey bought a secondhand gas motored washing machine. It worked about every third or fourth washday. We had a good battery operated radio. The main power was a regular car battery, and it took two big dry cell batteries and two small dry cell "C" batteries, This all sat under the little table that held the radio. The car battery had to be recharged every week or ten days. When the roads were bad and we couldn't get it to town, we had to ration our listening. It was saved then for news and weather reports. When we had plenty of battery "juice", we listened to Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, and on Saturday nights, The Grand Ole Opry. There were a lot of good bends - each person had his favorite. The neighbor women listened to Ma Perkins, one of the first soap operas, but I couldn't sit still long enough for their drawn out situations. I listened to the Neighbor Lady, from the Yankton station, because she read recipes over the air.

It was a hot and dry summer. We had something new to think about as there was a baby on the way and we wanted to do something about that leaky kitchen, and needed to find a corner for a baby's things. Gram and Gramp came to spend a few days while he helped Casey tear down the kitchen. They used the lumber to build a small bedroom off the existing bedroom. By small, I mean just enough room for a double bed, the little dresser, a shelf-curtain closet, and not another inch to spare. We rearranged the rest of the house and took the living room for a kitchen. The former bedroom became the living room with the heating stove set up in it. The weather was nice when Marlene was born in November. However, the day before I was to go home, it began to snow, with a hard blizzard forecast. Dr. Cramer knew that Grandpa Miller was at a county commissioner meeting, so he called him and asked him to take me home. When we got home the new baby crib still hadn't arrived. Panic! We had no experience with new babies and didn't know where to put her for the night. (Since then, we have slept babies in baskets, boxes, and even dresser drawers stuffed with pillows!) The train came in late at night, so Casey and a brother went to town and discovered the crib had come.

We had to warm it up and assemble it before we could use it. I suppose I would have sat up all night, holding her, if the crib hadn't come! She had colic for several weeks and we soon learned it took more that a new bed to make a baby sleep well.

The windows in the tarpaper house were long and narrow, coming nearly to the floor. When Marlene could sit up, one morning I left her in the living room in front of a window, and I went to the kitchen to do some work. A huge bullsnake was just outside the window and every time Marlene patted the glass, it would hiss and stick out its tongue. I normally would run fast and far at the sight of a snake, but for this one I grabbed a hoe and cut it into 3 or 4 pieces.

We had to have an icebox to keep the baby's milk sweet, and to save so many trips to the root cellar. Root cellars were cool, deep caves, dug by hand, with thick timbers on the roof and dirt piled on top for insulation. Shelves were built along the walls for the canned goods, milk and butter that were stored there. We had only a tiny dirt cellar under the house and it was caving in, so we used the root cellar year round, much as basements are used today. The steps into it were just dug out of earth and with use became worn. It was easy to slip and slide to the bottom where there were usually a few mice, lizards, or a snake or two. The cans of cream which we hauled to town to be shipped to creameries, were stored on the floor of the root cellar where it was coolest.

Our ice was kept in a much larger cave affair, also roofed. As soon as the dams froze to a depth of 18 inches to 2 feet, the men gathered to "put up ice". Long ice saws, ice tongs, ropes, and a team and sled were assembled. The women usually came with their husbands for the day, and it was rather like a holiday. The women would cook a big meal and the men would work hard sawing a lot of big, oblong cakes of ice, pulling them out of the water and loading them onto the sled. When they had it loaded, they would drive to the ice house and make a layer of ice cakes, then a layer of straw, keeping this up until the ice house was full. In cities, the ice was packed in sawdust, but we had none available. The top layer of straw was a thick one. No matter how much ice we stored, or how well the straw insulated it, by the hottest part of July it would be all gone. There was simply no way to keep enough for a whole summer. We had lots of homemade ice cream. When I needed ice for the icebox, Casey would take the axe to the ice house, chop off a good sized chunk, grab it with ice tongs and heave it into the top section of the icebox. A pan was kept underneath the icebox to catch the water as the ice melted. It was easy to forget to empty the pan when you were busy, and we would see a little river of water start across the kitchen floor. Our icebox was secondhand, but nice white enamel. We would put jar lids of kerosene under each icebox leg to keep the ants out of the food. Our house seemed to have been built on an ant hill and we had ants to battle all summer.

When Marlene was about 1 1/2 years old, we came into the house one day to find her sitting on the floor in front of the icebox, carefully breaking eggs onto the floor. When she saw us, she looked, smiled and said, "Cake!" How could anyone scold such an intelligent child!

The living room floor was covered with several layers of rubberoid, the top layer painted a dark maroon. We couldn't afford linoleum, so I kept that floor shiny with homemade floor wax which Gram taught me to make. We would put a bar of paraffin in an old pan and melt it on the back part of the cookstove. When it was melted, we added gasoline and turpentine. Its a wonder we didn't blow the house sky high! The wax stayed semisoft and was applied with a cloth. After it dried awhile, it had to be polished. On hands and knees, we would take old scraps of woolen cloth, or socks, and put a brick inside. This was pushed back and forth, over and over, until the floor shone. We tried to short cut the process by putting old woolen socks on over our shoes, and "skating" back and forth, but it always had to be finished on hands and knees.

When I was ready to bring Marlene home from the hospital, Casey decided he had better sweep the floors since I had been gone ten days. He stood in the center of the room and made circular swipes all around himself. When I looked at the maroon floor it looked as though someone  had painted a huge grey daisy on it. His swipes had only rearranged the dust, not removed it.

Marlene had two accidents in the tarpaper house. When she was big enough to start climbing, she pulled a drawer part way out on the little dresser, to stand on. She wanted to reach the dresser top and get "mama's 'fume", my perfume. Her stiff soled shoes slipped off the edge of the drawer and her nose hit the edge as she fell. Her nose was broken, but the doctor said to just massage it after the swelling went down.

Her second accident happened when she was about three. I had been sick and he had a young girl from town who came to help for a week. Marlene was rocking in a little rocker, very violently. The girl told her she had better slow down. Marlene said, "You can't catch me, Tiny Jean!", just as the rocker went over backwards and her head hit a piece of sharp metal on the cookstove. It bled like crazy, but healed in a short time.

Aunt Marie visited us in the tarpaper house in the summer of 1938 and again in the summer of 1940. The men were building a large dam at our place and Marlene picked up some choice cuss words. Every time she used one, Aunt Marie would throw a dipper of water in her face and I would have to wipe the floor dry.

That November, Marlene invited the grandparents. aunts, uncles and cousins to her birthday party. I didn't know anything about it, but fortunately Verna double-checked with me. We had a party, but Marlene had caught a cold and felt miserable. While the cousins played happily, she spent the evening with her head in my lap, even ignoring the gifts people had brought her.

Some former residents had moved to Idaho and wanted to sell all the buildings on the place they had left. In October 1940, Casey bought the house, chicken house, granary and garage. He hired a man from Eagle Butte to move the house to our place. This was our Yellow House. Fred moved the smaller buildings later. The house was set on a foundation, but had no basement. It seemed large after the crowded tarpaper house. We had a nice living room, a smallish bedroom with a closet built under the stairway, a huge kitchen, and a walk-in pantry. The second story was one large area, with no partitions, and was used as an extra bedroom or playroom in cold weather. Casey built an entry to hold the washing machine and cream separator. We had to go a little slower on cleaning, painting and moving as another baby was on the way. But, we were determined to be settled in the new house before the baby arrived. So many windows had been broken while the house stood vacant, that Casey had a big job taking a few at a time to town for new glass. I did a bit of painting, a LOT of scrubbing, and we got his brothers to help us move and set up the cookstove and heating stove. We had 2 or 3 broken windows left to replace, but moved in and slept in our new home for the first night.

 We awoke the next day to a howling blizzard. It was November 11, 1940, Armistice Day. We hurried to tack blankets and quilts over the broken windows and I began to wonder what the roads would be like in case the baby got in a hurry. The storm raged for 2 or 3 days, but we were warm and happy. Casey was working in town and since I was home with no car, he hired a neighbor girl to stay with me to help with the housework and Marlene. I wasn't used to having help but the hired girl spent most of her time in the pantry. Once, when a batch of cupcakes disappeared really fast, I found the little paper cups stacked neatly in the corner of the outhouse. She even snacked out there! She wasn't fussy enough in washing dishes to suit me, but she polished Marlene's little potty every day until it shone like a jewel.

The doctor had given me some pills for leg cramps. When the hired girl already had my goat one day, she asked what the pills were for. I told her they were my reducing pills. When she went home for the weekend, the pills disappeared never to be found. When I asked her if she'd seen them, her face turned red but she didn't answer. She said she had gained 20 pounds while working for us. What a relief when the doctor told me the baby would be early. I let the hired girl go, and baby Ann arrived on December 4, 1940.

Verna and Art had lived in town for a few years. Verna kept Marlene while I was in the hospital. We bought a tiny crib, which sat near the heating stove in the living room. The winter passed quickly. As soon as spring arrived, Casey planted the usual wheat, oats and other crops. He plowed a big garden and I did more painting and cleaning. We moved the kitchen wall, tore out the big old pantry and had an extra room. We used it for a dining room for awhile, then changed it to a bedroom as the girls got older. I kept my sewing machine in there and did lots of sewing. We bought a cabinet sink and Casey plumbed it to drain outside, but we still had no running water and had to carry it in pails from the well.

Cully wanted the wall sink Myrtle had given me and offered to trade an old sow who would soon have piglets. We traded and I had to take care of the pig who had 5 piglets eventually. I felt I owed Myrtle something for giving me the sink. When the pigs were big enough to sell, they brought $6 each. I sent Myrtle $6. Casey said I owed him for the feed and that Marlene and Ann should each have one pig to buy War Stamps.  I spent $5.98 for a new winter coat for myself. I think we butchered the old sow but don't remember her fate for sure. I disliked pigs, chickens, cows and horses, and often wondered what I was doing on a ranch!

One winter I sewed new flannel pajamas for the entire family. The first time they were washed, I hung them on the outdoor clothesline from papa-long to baby-short. When I looked out the window later, the pigs had chewed the legs off the long and medium sizes and all the pj's hung even with the baby pair.

In spite of ornery critters, these were happy years. We were far from rich but times were better than before and we lived well. We had even bought a bedroom set that matched! The sanitary cot disappeared and a daybed took its place. We had a lot of company and enjoyed friends and family. Then, as we listened to the radio one Sunday after church, the shocking news of Pearl Harbor was broadcast. We had been well aware of the war in Europe, but now it had hit home. With the war years came shortages and rationing.

It has become popular 43 years later to remember what you were doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed. We were just through church, Sunday dinner and dishes when someone turned on the radio. Within minutes we heard the announcement that Pearl Harbor was attacked, with an undetermined loss of lives and ships. Shock is too mild a word to describe our reaction. We jumped into the car and went to Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house to share our feelings and fear with the family. Grandma said, "It wasn't easy to go through World War I and this will be even harder." Donald was already in the Army and Buck joined the Air Force right away.

We soon found out what rationing meant. Sugar coupons were issued, and meat and shoe coupons. Prices went up rapidly with many things becoming scarce or impossible to buy. Gasoline and tires were rationed, as were cars and machinery. Casey needed a tractor and traded our car for a small tractor and a horrible old coupe. The car's doors flew open whenever they felt in the mood! One day in Dupree, as I started home with the kids and groceries, Ann leaned against the door and went flying out into the street, along with a bottle of cooking oil. I rescued Ann first, but didn't waste any time retrieving the scarce oil. Camera film was scarce and we got out of the habit of taking many pictures. Our large, kerosene burning refrigerator developed a leak in its cooling system. Sears informed us the factory had been converted to war supply and there would be no repair. They did ask us to ship it to them and paid us for the remainder of the warranty. A gas-motored Maytag washer was purchased and was a lemon from the start. "War conversion" was the excuse.

We began mailing cookies and candy to the boys in the service and doing all we could to help supply our own families with food. Large gardens and swapping with neighbors helped fill endless fruit jars. Since we could butcher, we had meat, which town people envied, for when ration books were used, they had to find substitutes. One neighbor made sorghum from cane and we bought huge cans of it for sweetening. We bought Black Hills honey in 60# cans to replace sugar. Mr. Voik had huge cornfields and let some of us neighbors pick field corn to can. I recall driving up there about 4:30 a.m. to get some to be able to finish canning it that day. One year Cully and Margaret let us pick some string beans when they had an oversupply, and we returned the favor the following year. When Margaret's washer broke down, she brought her laundry and her kids to our house each week and washed there.

Radio batteries were kept charged and saved for the news. The men worked long hours raising wheat and cutting hay to feed cattle. There were no bicycles or skates for kids at Christmas, and we had to hoard up our sugar to be able to make a pan of fudge. Every family had someone in the service and watched the mail constantly for letters. When it was rumored that Japan planned to strike on American soil, Grandma Miller said she'd "throw her flat irons at any that came into her yard."

Cloth became very scarce and of poor quality. Women made over large garments into small garments. We answered an ad that was selling unclaimed clothes from dry cleaners and laundries, and bought a package sight unseen. It contained a faded woman's coat which I carefully ripped, turned the bright inside to the outside, resewed it, and gave it to Margaret. It also contained 2 or 3 silk or rayon dresses which I made into dresses for Marlene and Ann .... and, several satin evening gowns, gawdy colors and cut on the bias, which were totally unsuitable for children's clothes. These were later taken to Cherry Creek where the Indian ladies grabbed them with glee. I can't remember if we charged them a few cents, or what we did, but recall we took eggs along to sell to them.

Art was in the Army and Verna and the girls came home for a visit. They were at our house when Casey came from town to tell us he had received a telegram notifying his folks that his brother Buck was missing in action.

Karen was a baby, and Butch Salisbury kept karo syrup under the counter for baby formula, so she never missed a meal. Work, waiting, and worry became a way of life. We learned to do without the things we couldn't get. Car dealers had lists of people who wanted a car as soon as they became available. When sugar was scarce, we learned to can with a lot less, though at times a little extra canning sugar was allotted, according to the number of people in the family. We ate well and really had no hardships, for the wrecky old car got us where we had to go. Marlene learned to drive it at an early age.

We had a lot of friends in town,, as well as relatives and neighbors in the country who would gather at our place every Sunday, whether we had invited anyone or not. I learned to make ice cream with sugar substitutes such as honey, syrup and Eagle Brand milk. One Sunday, some regular visitors came and stayed for the evening meal. I told everyone that I had experimented with no-sugar chocolate and butterscotch sauce to put on ice cream. One man was talking a mile a minute and spooning large amounts of what he thought was butterscotch onto his ice cream. We saw that instead, he was spooning on mustard, but everyone kept quiet. When he took his first taste, we found out even though he was constantly playing jokes on others, he wasn't a good sport when he was the victim.

Inez was teaching at a country school near her folk's place and invited Dawn, Mary and Marlene to come to her Christmas party and program. The cousins came to spend the night and Casey took them to the program. Dawn looked over the audience and said, "I guess we're the dressed up ones tonight!" The girls had a good time. When they got home I asked Marlene what she had done. She said, "We heared them say pieces, and we dist crapped and crapped'.....they clapped their hands!

In 1942 Marlene started school. She wanted to ride a horse the mile and a half to the country schoolhouse, but I didn't trust horses. Casey took her in the car most of the time. When she was older, she would walk to and from school. One night she had a cousin stay with her. As I combed their hair the next morning, I noticed both girls had little bugs crawling on their heads. It was my first experience with head lice and I nearly flipped! I took the girls to school and told the teacher what I had found. She began to examine other children's heads and found that the whole school was lousy. The doctor was gone so I visited a friend's mother to learn how to delouse a child. She said, "Don't be so upset. It's no disgrace to get head lice --just a disgrace to keep them." She told me to rub kerosene into Marlene's scalp and comb her hair with a fine toothed comb. I did and Marlene's scalp blistered and peeled, but the head lice left home.

All the neighborhood small fry were included in school parties and Christmas programs. Marlene was proud as punch when her little sister, Ann, was big enough to visit school.

When Ann was 5 months old, she became ill. The local doctor couldn't give a diagnosis. We tried several treatments, but she refused to eat, had a high temperature and was becoming dehydrated. As we were trying to decide where to take her for a second opinion, a doctor from Pierre came to Dupree to hold a tonsil clinic. He diagnosed Ann's problem as kidney infection and gave her medication which made her improve almost immediately. As soon as she was recovered we took a trip to Minnesota. My sister, Frances, had two little girls for Marlene to play with and they had a good time. Myrtle and Art always showed us a good time, that year taking us to see "Over the Rainbow". Dupree only got OLD movies, so we were thrilled to see a newly released, technicolor picture.

What courage - or blissful ignorance - it took to build a new house as soon as World War II ended. I drew the plans, Casey hired a carpenter, and they quickly streamlined my plan into a solid house with no frills. Ours was the first new house in the neighborhood and we still owe a lot to brothers and neighbors who helped. Since materials were horribly scarce, we had to reuse lumber from the yellow house and the tarpaper shack, and nearly wore out a car hunting other materials. Our furniture was all stored in a leaky, mouse-ridden garage. We moved into a homemade trailer house we called the white shack. I've tried very hard to shut that summer out of my memory, but it keeps cropping up. A two-burner kerosene stove with a portable oven was my only cooking facility. With a carpenter and his teenaged son added to our family of five for meals EVERY DAY, I soon learned to cope. When threshers and combiners came to work in the fields, I had to feed them on tables in the yard. If Fred and Buck hadn't helped me, I would never have made it.

Every morning we got up early and I would start baking cakes and pies (with sugar rationing! We were allowed 1# of sugar per person in the family for nearly five years) and get the meat and vegetables started so things would be ready by noon. Casey milked cows and we "separated" the milk out in the yard, as there was no room in the white shack for the separator. The separator "dishes" (parts that touched the milk) were washed, scalded, covered with a clean dishcloth, and stored inside the little entry. The girls were washed, fed, and sent outdoors, as there wasn't room to have them inside unless they sat on the beds, which they had to do if it rained. The threshers were usually 2 or 3 men with the rig (thresher) and several neighbors and relatives, who would come to help, up to 10-12 men in all. It took some men to drive hayrack teams, to pick up the bundles of grain in the field, and haul them to the threshing machine: There, another team and wagon waited under the grain spout. The wheat poured directly into the wagon box and when it was full another team and wagon drove under the spout. The loaded wagon (later trucks were used) drove to the town elevator to have the grain weighed and sold. That summer the threshing machine broke down and I had a crew of three repairmen plus two carpenters and our family of five, for 2 or 3 days until the machine was ready to thresh again.

When the last load of bundles was being fed into the thresher at noon, Fred and Buck hurried in, washed up and helped me set up two tables in the yard. One was our table from indoors and was brought in after each meal. The other stayed outside and had to be washed well before each meal. I would just fly, getting clean dishes and silverware set out while the men helped carry out the food. Some workers sat around the tables; the rest sat wherever they could, but all ate heartily. When they finished the umpteenth cup of coffee, Fred and Buck would help me pile dishes into dishpans and carry them inside. I would rescue leftover food, wash dishes for an hour or so ..... then start working on supper.

When combines were introduced in later years, they did the whole operation mechanically, saving 6-8 hauling teams of men and a lot of the hand work. Combine crews were smaller than threshing crews. They were usually Southerners who followed the harvest from South to North until the season ended. About three men came with the machinery, which cut the heads off the grain, going around and around the field. At the same time, the machine threshed the grain and put it into the hopper, a bin on top of the combine. When the hopper was full, a truck was driven beside the combine, which "augured" the grain into the truck. It was then hauled to town to sell, or if the farmer wanted to keep some, it was hauled to his granary to store. The trucker was usually one of the crew of Southerners, so the farmer rode along to the elevator to watch the weighing and collect the money. The elevator owner could short the weight and/or declare the grain a poor quality and pocket the difference. Dishonest elevator owners were infamous and the farmers had their own names for them. In one town, it was said you were lucky to get your team and wagon back!

When the basement of the house had to be poured all at once, we gathered relatives and neighbors to help. Midway through the day, they began to insist Casey buy a case of beer to help get the job done. He couldn't leave the cement job and I refused to go into a pool hall. Donald was working in town, so I was sent in to get Donald to buy the beer and help me load it. Just as he and I were heaving it into the back of the car, the minister of our church arrived on the scene. He stopped to visit and I stammered and stuttered the reason why I was buying 24 bottles of beer! One fourth of the basement floor wasn't poured, and the upstairs wouldn't be finished until the next summer as the carpenter had never done any plastering and wanted to practice on his own, first. We decided to move into the basement at the end of September. We had planned a gradual move, but three couples came out from town and MOVED us one Sunday after church. With everything in boxes and general bedlam in the basement, I realized I had almost 20 people to feed for supper. We made it though.

We had the upstairs finished/painted, curtained and had lived in it only a year or so when our lives changed. Florence came over to swap home permanents one day, and as we prepared to start, a stranger knocked on the door. He was an ASC official, who came to offer Casey the job of fieldman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What a decision! Donald and Florence decided to take over the ranch. We thought we would move into Dupree, as I would be alone to haul school kids on winter roads while Casey traveled from county to county. Rent a house in Dupree? You gotta be kidding!

We ended up moving to Spearfish where Casey had bought an old house. We found out later it was not old, but ancient! The big bedroom was a tacked on room, which sat right on the ground. The floor was terrible. There were big double doors between the living room and bedroom which had sagged and didn't close properly. I had no furniture for a bay window and one end of the living room had a huge one. There were only two cabinets in the kitchen. The dining room, which was almost too small and narrow to be called a room, opened to outdoors - that is, the front door was in the dining room. The bathroom was right beside the front door. The smaller bedroom opened into the kitchen. The back porch where I had the washer, had outdoor vines growing through the walls. The inside windows were seven feet high, and I couldn't afford decent curtains.

Marlene was eager, but nervous, about starting a larger school. Ann and Karen cried every night for six weeks to go back home. Casey was gone Monday through Friday and I had no car.  It seemed we got acquainted very quickly for greenhorns, but that house was something else! When I discovered my 36 quarts of home canned chicken and jars that held two home canned hams had never been unloaded from the moving truck, I also was ready to "go back home". It had all been stolen.

When Casey left one Monday, I called a realtor and discussed selling the house. He had lived in town all his life and promptly told me the age, and all the faults of the house. When I refused to sign a six-month contract, he lost interest completely. The roof had to be repaired and Casey had it stained, which made the house look better. We rented the upstairs apartment to a family with four kids, two of whom wore cowboy boots. Overhead it came through like a thunderstorm. We had advertised the house in the paper and had 2 or 3 lookers who didn't like it, so I raised the price $1,000. Then fortune smiled. As I answered the doorbell one day, a white haired, sweet, grandma-type lady asked if the house was for sale. I assured her it WAS. She said she had prayed for "just the right house and the Lord led me to this one." They rented one large bedroom to us to store our furniture while we built another house. As soon as school was out, we went back to the white shack which sat in Buck and Eva's yard at Dupree,. It had been Florence and Donald's first home too. The beginning of school found us renting a cabin, in Spearfish, waiting for the last work on the new house to be completed. Cully's oldest daughter, Eliza was staying with us making us an even half dozen now.

We lived in our new house in Spearfish until school was out in 1952. Marlene and Ann had learned to swim, play piano and had become city kids. We sold the Spearfish house and were building the green house in Sturgis, but had to rent a place for two months while the house was built.

We settled in before long, and when school started Marlene was a sophomore, Ann in 7th grade, and Karen in 3rd. These were happy years with our kids, other kids, and good friends.. Then, Casey's job got shaky and was brought to an end with a new administration in Washington in 1954.

Everything happened at once that month. Casey had to have a tumor removed from his back at the Deadwood Hospital. He was recuperating at home when he was informed that his job was ending. To add insult to injury, the head honcho from the state office was coming to Sturgis and asked Casey to meet him at the airport. We felt obligated to invite the man for a meal, but it was one meal I didn't prepare with TLC. I had my inning when I sent in Casey's last weekly reports. When I addressed the envelope to this same official, I substituted "S.B." for his first two initials, which were "C.B."! It made me feel better, and we began to think of other things ... mainly a new job.

At this same time, Casey and Ann wrecked the car. Ann was driving as they hauled half a beef and several dozen eggs from Dupree to Sturgis. The roads were rutty from a rain and she couldn't handle the car when it was caught in particularly deep ruts. The car rolled over and over, eggs smashing and coating everything. Casey laid blankets from the car seats out on the grass over the beef, to keep it clean. People passing by thought it was dead bodies. Casey asked Ann not to mention who was driving, so his insurance would cover the wreck. She went to the top of the hill to warn other cars to slow down, and a friend stopped, put her in the car and visited with her. He was so nice she told him the secret.... it was the Sheriff from Dupree! The windshield had been broken in the wreck. When Casey got ready to trade it in, he and Marlene headed for Rapid City. It began to rain! They had to come home to get cardboard to cover part of the windshield, leaving just enough room for Casey to see to drive.

I had made up my mind the girls would go on to college if they wanted to, and would have scrubbed toilets to see it happen. Casey was very fortunate to stay with ASCS in the county office in Sturgis, and I got a job with an optometrist. Marlene graduated in 1955 and went to college at South Dakota State, to become a nurse. She married, her senior year. Ann was a junior in high school, and Karen in 8th grade, and Casey wanted to move to the country. We sold our green house and rented while we built a house 4 miles from Sturgis where he had bought 60 acres. We moved into the new house in July 1957. Casey got his job as fieldman back when the administration changed again; the girls all grew up and left home. Ann went to Parks Business College in Denver, worked there 3 1/2 years and married. Karen went to Spearfish College for a year and then to beauty college in Rapid City, where she worked awhile. She then moved to Pueblo, Colorado to stay with Ann and Don. She met her future husband, married and moved to New Jersey.

On New Year's Day, 1969 we had dinner at Schnells.   Mid-afternoon we saw that a heavy snow fall had replaced the lighter snow that had been falling all day. Hating to eat and run, we waited until about 3:30 and started home. The storm had developed into a full fledged blizzard, and the four miles home took a long while to negotiate. The storm continued through the night. The next day brought worries of how Fred and the cattle at Dupree were doing. Without a phone at the ranch to reach Fred, Casey called Buck, who reported the weather was as bad there as in Sturgis. Roads would soon be blocked if it lasted, as some already were nearly impassable. Casey's ASCS job required him to travel to several counties a week. His schedule would take him to Dupree the following day, so we packed a few groceries and clothes and I decided to go along to see if I could help at the ranch. Little did I  know!

We were able to drive all the way to the ranch, though the roads were especially bad from Newell to Faith, and the ditches were drifted full.  At the ranch it was decided I would stay and attempt to feed 52 head of cattle, though I had never done that. Only the innocence of ignorance gave me the courage.

Casey told me to feed hay twice a. day and cubes once a day, if we could get the cubes to the cattle. The haystack was about half a mile from the house, with four feet of snow on the level spots. All the earth seemed to be one big white expanse, with only the ranch buildings and a few trees around the dam to break the whiteness. It was 18 degrees below zero when Casey left for another county office, and I was IT! He had warned me to never leave the pitchfork at the haystacks, as it could drift under in Dupree's constant wind, and there was no way for me to get another.

A pitchfork! Sure, I had seen plenty, but had little experience using one. It became my cane, balance pole, hay thrower, and on one occasion I felt it saved my life.

I bundled up in all the clothes I had along and pulled a pair of Casey's old wool pants over my slacks, then put on his heavy old parka. I found the best foot gear (lightest and warmest) was heavy socks, then tennis shoes, more heavy socks over the shoes, and a shiny new pair of men's four-buckle overshoes over everything. Casey and I thought the overshoes were his, but they later turned out to be Fred's new Sunday best. At the time I was too concerned with just survival to worry about the details. Finally, dressed and full of breakfast, I started out. I was soft as mush, and that was the last time l ate BEFORE tackling that long walk and hay throwing. I had two pairs of men's work gloves on, with the cloth pair inside for warmth, and the leather pair on the outside to stop the wind and take the abuse of the hard work. I wound one oversized hand around the pitchfork and with the other grabbed a small pail of cubes .... and headed "north". Even direction was uncertain in all the whiteness.

The cattle were scattered between the buildings and the pasture, looking for shelter from the cold wind. Rattling the cubes in the pail and calling like an old cow hand, I got them started following to the haystack. Their round feet made a track much shorter than my feet but I felt I had better follow their winding trail. Several days of walking in their steps made the ends of my toes as sore as boils. Leaving their path, I would flounder in the snow up to my knees, and it was easier to have sore toes than break my own path each day. Though each night's snow or wind filled any tracks, the cattle followed the same path each day and it could be found by its roughness. When we got to the haystack, I wondered how I could possibly obey the order "feed from the top of one end and keep the stack as whole as possible", when I couldn't possibly climb it...too tired, too many clothes and too cold! Darned if I would admit I couldn't do it! The pitchfork was a good climbing pike. Once on top, I had to learn how to dislodge a heavy, snow-covered bale of hay and push it to the ground. How many did he say to feed each feeding? I think it was 10 or 15, but will have to ask Fred if I ever get back to the house. I had to cut the baler twine. Casey had given me his knife and if my hands hadn't been so cold, cutting string would have been a lot easier. Next, I knew I had to break the bale in two. Jackie Birkland once told me she could throw a one hundred pound bale over the fence, but I knew I would have about all I could do to lift half a bale. Now, jab the fork into the hay, stumble to the fence and heave it over to the cattle. Casey said to scatter them so all could get at it, which meant trying to aim them when I could barely lift them. Finally the stupid, fighting critters were all busy eating, the quota had gone over the fence, and I could struggle back to the house to get warm. Some days the sun shone and some days it was snowing and blowing, as cold as Siberia. It was always a good feeling to know I had fed one more day, and the exercise was making the strenuous work a little easier each day.

When I first was at the ranch, relatives came to chat, drink coffee and have dinner. After a few days of this, provisions were dangerously low and I had no way to get to town. I finally had to tell them I had no more to share and as the roads got deeper each day, the visits dwindled to just an occasional visitor.

Casey always worried about the way things were being done. He was afraid that the calf crop would be hurt. When roads became impassable, he bought a snowmobile. He made a toboggan from an old car top and could haul hay bales on it.

Two cows got sick. One had dysentery and the other had bad feet. I named them Footsie and Shootsie, put them in the barn and carried buckets of water and hay to them.

Each morning as I would leave the house Fred would say, "Its too dangerous to go feed! We won't see you again if you go." It became a ritual, sometimes repeated at the late afternoon feeding also.

Casey brought what food he could haul on the snowmobile, weekends, but we didn't have many extras. After about 2 or 3 weeks there was a lull in the weather. The snow plow had cleared Cherry Creek Highway, about 3 miles from the ranch, and Donald and Marvin drove out. After feeding them the best I could with the limited supplies, I asked to ride back to Sturgis, knowing Casey would be there.

Back in Sturgis, Casey and I went to town and bought groceries. We loaded the pickup with them and added a lot of meat and canned goods from our basement. Casey drove me back to Dupree. I made a cache in a deep snow bank just north of the house to store the frozen meat and vegetables. A day later I looked out the living room window and smack dab on top of my food cache Fred had tossed 3 or 4 dead, bleeding rabbits he had shot. He was quickly persuaded to move them!

Fred's cattle were suffering. He and Clint would try to feed them, but only part of the herd was ever near enough the haystacks to eat. To get corn or cubes to them, Fred would catch a ride to Dupree, hire the snow plow to make a road to his place and have a trucker follow the plow with some feed. Again, only the cattle that were near enough got fed.

On one such occasion, Fred and Clint drove back to town following the snow plow. Fred hadn't returned by bedtime but I had to roll in to be able to get up early and feed the next day. About midnight a pounding and yelling Fred woke me up. He was "happy" and wanted some food. He said he had brought me two heads of cabbage but had lost his bottle of grape juice in a snow bank. After fixing him some food, I  checked the refrigerator for the cabbage. Two small, black cannonball objects were all I could see. "Oh, I dropped them on the road a few times on the way home." Once I cleaned the mud and gravel from them, they tasted alright. Fresh vegetables were a scarcity that winter.  Casey hauled grapefruit inside the front of his overcoat, on the snowmobile, so they wouldn't freeze.

Once when Fred had to feed his cattle, he left early, saying he would be going to Gettysburg to get a truckload of corn. I fed cattle and came home to a power out. The wind was so strong the big furnace had enough draft to keep burning, but there was no more automatic stoker. Shoveling coal by hand wasn't anything I hadn't done before, but it had to have wood mixed in so it would burn properly. I had no wood. Casey had a huge teepee of fence posts north of the house, and I decided he could spare some of the poorer ones. The snow was so deep and soft in the yard that it couldn't carry my weight, and I could only lug one post in each hand and still pull my feet out of the drifts. Eight or nine trips gave me a stockpile of wood in the basement. A broken bucksaw I found provided the means to cut it up. It was easier to live with no men to cook for and I managed beautifully-for three days with no modern conveniences run by electricity: Just before afternoon cow feeding on the third day, Fred walked in. I was sawing posts and he began to tell me, "You shoulda ...." I told him what MEN SHOULDA.... to be prepared for winter emergencies. He had men coming with a snowplow and a truck of corn for his cows. I had to cook for the men and feed our cattle.

One morning as I returned from feeding, I decided to find a better path home. Before I knew it. I had stepped into a tall weed patch where the snow wasn't solidly packed. Both feet sunk until I high-centered and I couldn't move either foot. Panic! Once calmed down, I used the handle of the pitchfork to make holes big enough to enable me to pull my feet loose, then crawled to the house on my hands and knees.

The BIG THRILL was the mail that Casey brought each weekend. Inez Miller from New York wrote regularly. Her hilarious letters cheered me on. Family letters with news of the grandkids were like a ray of sunshine. My world was about one square mile in size, and civilization seemed a long way away.

The calves began to be born and continued all through January, February and March. Casey tried to do all that was necessary on his weekends, and they weren't the most pleasant times. As the snow melted, the roads became a sea of mud, with water running over and around the remaining ice. However, the calf crop was good, and with the spring came green grass and sunshine.

Much of April was a good time to be alive. I went home for a long weekend and saw our doctor for a bad ear. He said he hadn't seen me in such good shape for a long time. Friends I saw asked where I got my suntan. They didn't realize it was snow and wind burn.

Back at the ranch I enjoyed the daily feeding and tramping across the prairie although I had to become snake conscious as the weather warmed. One beautiful morning as I went to feed the cows, Fred and Clint left for Gettysburg for machinery repairs. They never looked back so didn't see me waving my arms like signal flags, nor hear me yelling my lungs out. I had gone up to give a favorite yearling a hand-fed cube and the poor creature had a complete mustache and beard of porcupine quills. I had no idea what to do but couldn't stand to see it suffer. I drove the pickup to Birklands, but no one was home. Buck was just loading the mail to begin his route when I got to town and said to go home and he would come about noon, as soon as he got the mail delivered.  Jean and Shelly Farley  came to visit when I got home. Buck arrived and tied the calf to the pickup bumper. Jean and I sat on her while Buck pulled out the quills. The patient recovered quickly and completely.

The next crisis was old Kuncklehead, the meanest cow we owned. She had a new calf, but had sunburned "milkers" and wouldn't let the calf suck. As if that weren't enough, she decided to jump a fence around the haystack, and cut two "milkers". She was such a huge cow that it took four of us, Clint, Jean, Fred and me, to rope, tie, and hold her down to try to milk her into a bottle for the calf,. This lasted for several unpleasant days! Casey eventually decided to milk her for some milk for our own use, but it always took a lot of rope and patience.

In May, with the calves doing nicely and plenty of grass and water for the cows, I gave up ranching and returned to Sturgis, but only for about 4 months. Casey was to retire from ASCS in July and wanted "2 years" on the ranch. Our kids and grandkids all came home that summer. It was fun, but flew by too quickly, By late September I had spit polished the Sturgis house and we rented it to strangers. We moved all our possessions to Dupree, pickup load by pickup load. It took most of the summer.

Aunt Marie was our last company at Sturgis. The day I took her to the plane to go home, I loaded the last few items into the Volkswagen. With the car crammed full we drove to Dupree for "2 years". The two years stretched into four years and although with hindsight it seems a short while, at the time it seemed an eternity-- of WORK, WORRY AND WAIT!

We had spent the first winter back on the ranch, and it was anything but a lively time. Church on Sunday and driving to town for mail and groceries were about as much excitement as we had. When spring came it was a relief to start yard and garden work, and to look forward to summer visits from our kids. We never thought we'd go from boredom to bedlam in such short order!

Ann was to take Teena to Washington, D.C. to an eye doctor and Marlene said she would drive her there. With Evonne along the two little girls could entertain each other while the two big girls did what they had to do. We agreed to keep all four boys. Marlene came to the ranch, visited us a few days, then left Ken and Tim while she and Evonne drove to Brookings to visit Ivan's parents. Ann and her three flew into Rapid City where Casey met them... Ann was very upset over her lost luggage but the luggage arrived on the mail truck to Dupree the following day. As soon as they got to the ranch, the boys began to pair off and explore the possibilities around them.

We only had two bedrooms, so we fixed sleeping quarters in the grungy basement for the boys. At first they were a little afraid, but as each one fixed up his corner, got his comic books settled, and staked out his private territory, they got used to sleeping down there. Ken insisted he have "walls" around his bed; so we hung up old blankets and bedspreads to divide the space. Later when I saw the lighting systems they had invented, I worried about fire. However, their guardian angels worked overtime all summer.

Ann and Teena flew to Sioux Falls, where once more her luggage was lost. It had gone to California. This time it was Marlene who stood by as Ann dealt with the frustrating affair.    All four spent a couple of days with Kundels in Brookings, then drove to Villa Park, Illinois, Marlene's home. They drove to New Jersey to see Karen and to pick up Ivan at the RCA school in Cherry. Hill, NJ. He drove them to D.C. and took a bus back to NJ. Teena's appointment was the following day, and when it was decided she wouldn't have surgery, they drove back to Karen's house where they helped during Sheri's birth. It was several days before the girls called, but we didn't have much time to worry about it. We were busy just trying to keep track of the boys.

Ken and Tim were supposed to do some summer studying and grandma was teacher when and if I could catch them. It wasn't very easy to do that after Scott and Steve came, and somewhere along the line everyone sort of forgot schoolwork.

Ken had asthma, so horses and weeds made him miserable. For awhile he was sorry he had come, but when Marlene sent medication that gave him relief, it was hard to keep him off the horse.    The boys took 15 minute turns, riding.

Ken was 9 years old, Scott was 8 1/2 ,Tim was 8 and Steve was 6 1/2. Ken was sort of a loner. Scott and Tim played together and if we could see one, we knew the other was near. They teased Steve and didn't include him in their plans very often. Steve was so young to be away from his folks for the first time, but he was happy gardening and learning to ride horseback and never complained.

The first time Steve tried to ride, grandpa saddled Old Pepper in the corral and put Steve into the saddle. Steve leaned as far back as he could, and held the reins at the very ends. Every time the horse took a step, Steve would yell, "Whoa horse! Please horse, Whoa!"

All the boys enjoyed watching as grandpa milked old Knucklehead. She was a wild range cow that gave a lot of milk, but it took a lot of persuasion to make her submit to the process of getting the milk. Being city kids, we weren't sure they would like raw milk, but they drank it with relish. They all enjoyed riding out to check the cattle, catching snakes and going fishing.  Scott got to help Birklands drive cattle. One day the boys got two horses saddled and doubled up for a ride. Grandpa came behind them on a horse so small his feet almost touched the ground. He used a gunny sack instead of a saddle as there just wasn't enough equipment to go around.

Grandpa had lots of work and would get too tired to entertain the boys, so then grandma would have to take the gang fishing. I did learn to "cast", but never learned to enjoy it. The boys helped make doughnuts once or twice and we had fried onion rings quite regularly.  We had a midnight snack each evening at bedtime, which was usually about 8:00. We were ALL tired from getting up early and working hard. One night two of the boys had been especially obnoxious.   At snack time one went too far. Grandma went into high gear and gave him a sample of her sharp tongue. As the chastised boy's ice cream melted while he hung his head, Ken piped up, "Grandma, I think you spoiled his appetite!"

As I sat in front of an open window, I heard the boys talking quite excitedly out by the row of evergreens. They had thrown a snake into a tree and couldn't pull it down again.. Grandpa was coming that direction.  Just in time to avoid a scolding, they got the snake loose. One boy said, "What shall we do with it?"   Another said, "Let's take it in the house and scare hal out of grandma!"

Grandma had fun walking casually out to the boys and confronting them. They couldn't understand how I knew their plan.

They put a bullsnake into a length of plastic pipe. After a day of playing with it, the snake wasn't moving too fast.   The next day was Sunday and Steve didn't feel well. He and Grandma stayed home from church. The other boys warned him NOT to touch the snake. Naturally, the minute they left the yard, he went out to peek at it and it escaped. He  panicked as he knew they would be angry. Now he was really sick!

One boy had a plastic gizmo that was supposed to allow bugs and snakes to stay alive while trapped in the container with the lid secure. A snake proved the lid wasn't secure and grandma nearly fainted when I met the snake at the kitchen door. The snake made a fast turn and slithered under the refrigerator. It must have felt it was the safest place in the house as it stayed there until grandpa helped move out the refrigerator and the boys grabbed the snake.

My cousin came with her two boys and decided since we already had four, two more wouldn't hurt. One of hers was a real bully and was constantly out of line. Scott came in crying and trying to breathe after having the wind knocked out of him. He also had an injury on his leg and grandma gave him first aid. Only when Ken came in a half hour later did I learn that our four and the other visiting brother had ganged up and beat up on the bully.

Grandpa's nephew brought his boy's mini-bike along from Idaho and Eddie and the bike spent a lot of time at our place. One day they were taking turns on the bike and got caught in a sudden cloud burst. The boys put their clothes in my dryer and wore women's housecoats while they dried.

Scott worked over an old gasoline engine and got it to work. He drove the pickup and hit the gate post, and grandpa had to pound out the dents. He borrowed the spark plug from the lawn mower, dropped and cracked it, and we had to go to town before we could mow the lawn.

They all liked fireworks and we had a full week of them over the 4th of July. Grandpa and Uncle Fred took them to a rodeo at New Underwood.There they entered a chicken race and said they "almost won". Ken decided he would be a rodeo cowboy for his life's career. Tim decided to make a barrel racer out of Old Pepper. When grandpa took Scott and Steve to Rapid City on an errand, Ken and Tim made candy to sell to the boys when they got back.

Tim helped grandpa dig a grave at the Dupree cemetery, and walked around looking sad the rest of the day. The next day he said, "What a day to dig a grave!" We never did figure out just what he meant.

Bedtime was story telling time. Grandpa and I each took turns. Steve always began his stories, "DOWN in Alaska ....".  Ken was upset because the horse named Paint didn't want to "get fertilized" and he explained it in detail to his teacher that fall.

Ken spent his allowance on fresh limes while the others spent theirs on candy and bubble gum. Grandma put licorice on the grocery list quite often. One day as Steve and I came home from the grocery store, the other three cowboys blocked the road and "held up the stagecoach" for licorice.

The three older boys lugged a piece of lumber to a tree way down in the barnyard, coaxed Steve to follow them up into the tree, then the other three ran down and pulled away the piece of lumber, leaving him stranded. They disappeared and Steve set up a howl that brought grandma running. 

As time got closer to summer's end, Steve kept a daily watch on his melon vines, which couldn't possibly bear melons for another month. Grandpa went to town and bought two nice honeydew melons and wired them to his vine the last day he was there. He proudly shared them with everyone.

After Scott and Steve went home, Ken and Tim had a couple days more of ranching before their folks arrived! Tim was very sorrowful at turning Pepper out to pasture. He had new cowboy boots, bought with growing room, and the toes turned straight up. Ken asked grandpa how much he would charge a relative for a calf as he wanted to take one home. He felt that when it grew up, they could have fresh milk like old Kuncklehead provided!

Grandpa took them to Thunder Butte and Rattlesnake Butte, and they hunted rocks and explored. The day before Marlene arrived, the boys set a trap just north of the house yard. When they went to check it, they had caught a skunk. They thought they'd get a fence post and kill it, but since we didn't have 20 gallons of deodorant on the ranch, grandpa talked them into letting him shoot it.

The next June, 1971, Casey and I flew to Fairbanks to visit Ann and Don. We had decided to have all four cowboys another summer if they wanted to come. They did! We brought Scott and Steve back with us. It was close quarters from the Rapid City airport 140 miles to Dupree, with four people and luggage in a V.W. Bug.

We got home July 1, and July 3 Karen, Ed-and two children came to visit. Ed had to go home after the holiday weekend, but Karen and the kids stayed. Marlene came and brought Ken and Tim to spend the summer. Sheri had a fever and Steve not only had a fever, but screamed with pain and held his stomach. Marlene called the. Eagle Butte Government Hospital, as we had no other doctors in the area. She was told non-Indian patients were only treated on Fridays. She tried to convince them it could be an emergency, but it was a Wednesday and we weren't Indian. The girls finally decided to leave a day or so early and Marlene drove everyone to Brookings. There, Steve and Sheri saw a doctor and Emma helped take care of them.

We had to make a few house rules the second summer because this would be a longer visit than the last summer and we hoped to have as few casualties as possible. We made a chart for chores, complete with gold and silver stars, and allowances could shrink if chores weren't done. We set bedtime for 8:00 because we all got up early and worked hard.

The bullheads had a disease and since that was mostly what the boys caught on our many fishing trips, the banks of the dams had a lot of dead bullheads lying around. Uncle Buck told the boys they could fish in his dam and there they would catch fish we could take home and fry.

The second summer everyone took it for granted that nobody got homesick. As much ground as they covered every day, and as many things as they tried, it is truly miraculous that no one was injured, snake bitten, or even ill. At times it seemed as though we had just one long meal that lasted from July to the end of August.

One Sunday Tim refused to go to church. It was such a pain to take off his black jeans and his favorite paper-thin flannel shirt, and get cleaned up. As a last resort, he ran outside and began doing a "genuine Indian rain dance" around a spruce tree, He danced till he was red faced, but it didn't work and Tim had to go to church.

Tim's favorite pants had to be washed at night to be dry by morning, for he didn't like any others. They were patched and repatched. His green and black flannel shirt gave out in the elbows and had to be abandoned when he went home. I still have it. He wore one of Uncle Fred's straw "cowboy hats" and seldom took it off. Ken wore the soles off his boots and then wore grandpas too-large cowboy boots. Scott and Steve got new tennis shoes when they came, and had outgrown them by the time they went home.

All the boys helped grandpa both summers. They soon learned to saddle and unsaddle horses. They helped haul hay and fix fence ... and run errands. Steve was so young and he said he was "a chicken".   He never got into any trouble. The others were good kids, just full of ambition with lots of room to exercise it.  They actually saved grandmas sanity by livening up ranch life and taking my mind off the isolation and near desolation of the ranch.

Grandma Kundel came with Marlene to pick up her boys and we had a rodeo with all four boys planning the whole affair. They even had tickets, which we had to buy for ten cents if we wanted to attend the big rodeo.

After Marlene and Emma left with their boys, Aunt Marie came. She stayed until time to take Ann's boys to Denver to meet Don. She flew on to Fairbanks to await Todd's birth while Don and the boys went to Colorado to visit Don's parents. When Don and the boys arrived in Seattle to catch their Alaska Airlines plane to Fairbanks, the plane was not there waiting for them. We all heard that the plane had crashed with no survivors, and it threw us into a tizzy, until we learned they were not on it yet. It had crashed before it got to Seattle.

Jerry Miller taught me to do Indian beading. I was active in Women's Fellowship and we had a very different adult Sunday school class. These helped the winters pass quickly. The highlight of those four winters at Dupree however, was the Christmas Marlene, Ivan and kids made a last minute decision to join us for Christmas at the ranch.

In February of 1972 Aunt Marie decided to move from Arizona permanently and came to Dupree. Casey took her to Sturgis to buy a trailer house and by the end of April she was living in her trailer in Sturgis. She would visit us as often as we could get her, or she would catch a ride out to Dupree with Donald.

In August of 1972, Aunt Marie and I flew to New Jersey to help Karen sell her house and move to Chicago, Ed had previously gone to Chicago to look for work and was living with Marlene and family. Aunt Marie had to go back to Arizona and missed her trip to Niagara Falls. I didn't get home from New Jersey until October. In November Casey had to drive to Illinois and I was keeper of the ranch again. He had to go again in February of 1973 and brought Steve and Sheri back with him to stay with us at Dupree. Karen came the end of April and we began to start moving back to our house in Sturgis. Aunt Marie "helped" all she could with that decision. By June we were nearly all moved back and Marlene and kids came. In July Karen and Aunt Marie went to Alaska to visit Ann and family. Aunt Marie had a heart attack at Ann's house and died there, two days after they had arrived.

In July Ed Kuiken and his new wife were to come "to get the kids". We got Marlene to come to Sturgis, and we WAITED! When they didn't show, Karen packed to go home with Marlene for a few days, and in sneaked the Kuikens after all. Karen's lawyer, Mr. Coacher, helped us convince Ed that the kids weren't going anywhere, and they left August 10. On August 11, Casey and Clint went to a horse sale and bought "Missy", a part Shetland pony, for Steve and Sheri. She was their pride and joy until she foundered on alfalfa and they had to sell her a few years later.

The fall and winter were occupied with court notices, threats and phone calls, as Ed sought to be free of child support. In March, knowing court action was imminent, Casey took Karen and the kids to Montana where they took a plane to Fairbanks to live with Ann and Don. When the sheriff came to serve papers on Karen, he said he hoped they stayed "wherever they are".   ( finish moms story,  it all worked out ok.   The kids were safe in Alaska and later back to Sturgis to live in the folk's yard in their own little place. )

editor:  This was as far as  the book got...   we always hoped life would slow down so mom could finish her book, but alas it didn't.   She passed away in 2011, and we girls are so grateful to have this much at least! 


Stories of The Olson/Birkland family

Aunt Marie Butler

Christopher Olson was born February 24, 1860, in Somsoy, on the east coast of Denmark. He had one sister, Barbara, and one brother who drowned. Chris came to Dwight, Illinois in 1883. Having learned carpentry and cabinet making in Denmark, he was a carpenter in coalmines in Illinois. He married Ingeborg Paulson in Dwight, IL, in 1888. She was born December 4, 1870, of Danish parents, in Schleswig-Holstein,a portion of Denmark that was captured by Bismark in 1872. She learned to speak both Danish and German before she came to America in 1886. She and a girl friend came to Dwight, IL. when Ingeborg was 16 years old. She had three sisters and one brother. One of her sisters lived in North Dakota and Chris and Ingeborg visited her there in 1909. Hearing about homestead drawings in Aberdeen, S.D., Chris went there to successfully draw a homestead number for land near Lantry, S.D. In 1910 Chris and his oldest son, Ole, built a house, barn and granary on the land. Chris returned to Illinois that fall, had a sale, and brought his family to Lantry in February 1911. That fall he and Ole went to N.D. to work in the harvest fields to earn some income. In 1912, Ole and Andrew,  (the second son) went to ND to again work in the harvest fields.  In 1913, Chris rented a farm in ND, and moved the family there in the spring of 1913. In 1920, the family moved back to Lantry where they lived the rest of their lives. Chris died in 1938, and Ingeborg died in 1939.

Children born to them were:

Ole Frederik, b. April 27,1889; d. 1963; m Myrtle Thomas of Illinois.

Andrew Miller, b. July 30, 1892; d. 1894....

Andrew Miller, b. August 3, 1895; d. 1977; m. Anna Birkeland of N.D., who
died in 1921; he m. Gertrude Weicker of Eagle Butte, S.D.

Myrtle Olina, b. June 12,1902; m, Arthur Farstad of Minnesota.

Ernest Waldemar, b. May 12, 1905 m. Clara Birkeland of Dupree, S.D.

Vemon Russell, b. March 20, 1908; d. at 13 months of age

Margaret Edna, b. July 20, 1910; d. November 1965; m. Charles Cudmore of
Timber Lake, S.D., divorced; and m. Langdon Bisbee of California.

My father, Andrew Miller Olson, had two children while married to Anna
Birkeland; myself, Genevieve, b. 1918; and Frances, b. in 1919. My mother
died and he later married Gertrude Weicker. They had 5 children, Daisy
Barger, Andrew, Delores Lund, Loren and Patty.

Kristin Birkland came from Norway to Iowa in the 1880's. He worked on the railroad awhile, then moved to North Dakota and farmed near his brother John. In 1894, he returned to Norway to marry Marie Kalve, and bring her to America. He was about 35 and she was 27. They lived five miles out of Finley, ND where Marie was born on November 5, 1895. Anna was born March 17, 1897, and Harriet was born about 1900. Their mother had a cousin, John Ostervald, in Washington State, who asked Kristin and Marie to move there to do commercial fishing. They moved in 1903, when Marie was 8, Anna was 6, and Harriet was 4 1/2. John Ostervald met them with a flat scow and took them to an island on the Columbia River where they were to live. Kristin bought 40 acres on this island and stood in a boat while he chopped trees to clear some land and build a house. The house was built on 6 foot high stilts. He wouldn't let the girls go to public school until they were 8 years old, but they had to have lessons at home ... or else! Aunt Marie and her sisters spent all the time possible on the fishing boats with their Dad, but none ever learned to swim. When their mother worried about that fact, their dad said, "What's the difference? You are as dead on land as in water, if you are dead!"

Marie's aunt, her mother's sister, cut up her long, wool, blue serge bathing suit and made Marie a "middy outfit". Aunt Mary detested it and one day asked her dad if she HAD to wear that thing. He said, "Not if you don't want to." She threw into the Columbia River!

When Marie was about 12, a neighbor man drove his buggy to her house one evening and begged a long while to get her folks to let her come and work for his wife. Marie didn't want to go, but her folks finally persuaded her to try it. She said, "Sure enough! That woman had a baby under her apron and the next day it was born." Marie was to wash diapers, so she pinned them all together, tied them to the boat dock on her way to school and let the waves wash them. She picked them up after school, rinsed them, and hung them up to dry.

Marie went to school in Washington until she was about 15 years old. At this time, 1911, Kristin's brother Gjert, in North Dakota, fell off a garage roof he was repairing, and broke his neck. Kristin had developed rheumatism from 7 years of fishing (he owned two fishing boats by this time), so he moved the family back to ND and built a house in Finley. Here Marie and Anna had to repeat the 8th grade, as Washington schools hadn't taught North Dakota civics, which was required to graduate from 8th grade. The two older girls began studying for confirmation, in Norwegian. In 1912, Marie and Anna graduated from 8th grade and were also confirmed at this time by Rev. Tollefson, in the Lutheran Church. When she and Anna were to be confirmed or graduated from 8th grade, an aunt gave Anna a pretty satin flower to wear in her hair. Marie, who had always been plump and too outspoken to have the relatives fuss over her, got the aunt's used, white kid gloves. When Marie's mother built a fire in the cookstove to get breakfast, Marie dropped the gloves into the stove. That fall at harvest time, their Dad had several fingers cut off by a cog on a grain elevator belt. The family put him in the wagon and drove to Finley. Dr. Himark, who was drunk that day, soaked the hand in Epson Salts, but blood poisoning developed, and he died.

When she was a young lady, a young neighbor man spent a lot of time at their home. One day he brought Anna and Marie each a beautiful, gold bracelet. Anna had a beau, so they teased Marie that this young man was courting HER. She threw the gold bracelet down the toilet hole, and gave him the brush-off!

Marie hated parties, preferring to stay home and read or sew. However, her parents made her go along to chaperone sisters, and Marie thought it a real waste of time.

Marie finished one year of high school in Finley and that summer went to Mayville Normal School to get a certificate to teach school. She was a little over 17 years old She went to Mayville again the next summer. She taught 44 months in schools hear Finley. In May 1917, she went to Montana to teach. In June she took up a homestead of 320 acres. She went to Yellowstone to work and attended Bozeman College to get a Montana certificate to teach. She stayed with the Stensvad family for five years, helping at their home after teaching school all day. Mr. Stensvad wasn't too ambitious and was quite fat. They were poor, and Marie sewed and sewed. She made dresses, quilts and shirts. It took 7 flour sacks for each pair, of Mr. Stensvad's BVD's she had to sew.

At one school where Marie taught, the children couldn't attend until the sugar beet harvest was over in the fall. They had to quit school atplanting time, to work in the fields. This school had a floor grate over a furnace. Marie had children bring whatever food they could, she would add to it, lower a big kettle of soup onto the top of the furnace, and it would be cooked by noon. Some students lived so far from schoolthat they had to stay nights during bad weather. She kept them busy making quilts.

Her cousin, Clara Fiene, lived near Melstone, Montana. The first day Marie got there, she met Chester Butler. He had a homestead adjoining Clara's land, about 5,miles from Marie's homestead. He became "interested" in Marie and hung around her, but that fall (1917) he was drafted and spent 2 1/2 years in Ft. Lewis, Washington, in the army. He never went overseas. When he left for the army, he agreed to sell Marie one pitchfork, one crowbar, and one wrecking bar, for $2.00. Someone stole them almost immediately from her. When Chester came home in 1920, he asked Marie for the $2.00. He also asked her to marry him. She refused to marry him, but paid the $2.00. (He then married a North Dakota lady and moved to Ft. Peck, where he worked in a post office under civil service. They had a baby girl who died, and his wife died of cancer in 1938.)

In 1918, Marie's mother and sister Harriet came to Montana to visit Marie. Anna had married Andrew Olson and was expecting their first baby. There was a history of kidney disorder in the females of the family. Grandma Birkland, Anna and Harriet were all affected. While visiting Marie in 1918, her mother became sick and died. Marie took her back to Finley for burial. Within the next four years she would return to Finley for the funerals of her two sisters, Anna and Harriet, both of whom died of the kidney disorder during pregnancy.

Marie returned to Montana, her entire family now gone. She went to summer school, took correspondence courses, and finished Dillon Normal in 1927. She taught school during the winters and attended school in the summers.

On September 13, 1929, she married George Gray, who died of pneumonia in December 1929. Marie now went to the University of Missoula and graduated in 1937 with a BA degree. Marie was teaching near Rosebud, Montana when friends told Chester where she was. He visited her in 1940. She hadn't seen him for 20 years. They were married on April 11, 1942. He had developed arthritis, which gradually became worse each year. They lived in Montana until 1951, when they moved to Arizona, hoping it would help his arthritis.

Chester was CAREFUL with his money, but not with hers, one day she came home from school to find he had sold her silver thimble and some of her dishes. She was VERY unhappy over it.

Marie taught at a Government Indian School on the desert near Parker, Arizona, for 2 or 3 years. The school was moved into Parker and she taught there until retirement age. In Parker, she choose to teach the slower, or backward first graders, usually having classes of 30 to 32. She called them her "darling slowpokes!" If someone needed a pair of  shoes, she bought them some.

She was very "proper", used good grammar; and didn't use slang or swear, except for one pet phrase, "He/She is mean as HELL!"

When she was about 60, she taught all day and took care of Chester and the house. Some of his friends came to stay, and stayed longer than she wished. One day as she got home from school, the woman guest held out a bowl of cold boiled potatoes and said "What shall I do with these?" Marie replied, "If you don't know what to do with them, throw them out!" She went to her bedroom and let supper take care of itself.

I didn't meet "Aunt Mary" as we called Marie, until 1936 when Casey and I went to the West Coast and looked her up in Forsythe, Montana, where she lived with friends and drove to Rosebud to teach school. She had written to me and to my sister Frances, and sent gifts now and then, throughout the years. After we became acquainted, she became a frequent visitor to our home. The first time she came was in the summer of 1938.

She came again in the summer of 1940, before Ann was born. She and Chester came in 1945 (you couldn't travel during WWII - no gasoline) as we prepared to start building a new house. She was upset because the baby, Karen, cried at night, and our alkali water gave her dysentery. They left earlier than planned. I don't remember another visit until 1950, when they visited us in Spearfish the first summer we lived there. She wasn't feeling well and was cross. We took Chester to the Passion Play, but she thought it sacrilegious and wouldn't  go.

In 1954 or 1955, they came to see us in Sturgis. Chester was very crippled by then, and since they couldn't drive onto Minnesota, they had Frances come to our house to see them. As Chester became more crippled, he wasn't always as cooperative as she would have liked. One day he got her goat, so she simply tipped him in his wheelchair, on his back, and told him she would set it upright when he decided to behave. They came again in 1956. I had just had surgery and I don't remember any special incidents. We moved to the country in 1957 and they visited us 2 or 3 times, the last time the summer before Chester died. Frances, Wendel, Bill, Janet, and Alice and husband and child, all came to see her.

Chester died March 3, 1963. Marie retired, moved to Phoenix, but was called back to Parker one year to be a substitute teacher. She had had enough though, and moved her trailer back to Phoenix where she lived until she moved to Sturgis, S.D. in 1971.

Aunt Mary came alone several times and was here the fall we moved back to Dupree, 1969. She came to Dupree in 1971, stayed until September when she took Scott and Steve to Colorado to meet Don. She flew on to Fairbanks to stay with Ann for 9 weeks, until Todd was born. Aunt Marie told Ann that the best way to iron your linens was to fold them and put them under the cushions of the couch. After people have sat on them for a few days, they are as smooth as can be. Another time at Ann's, Teena dropped her coat on the floor as she came in from playing outdoors. Ann told her to pick it up, and Teena replied "I can't reach anyplace to hang it!" Aunt Marie, without saying a word to anyone, went to the garage, got a huge nail, and pounded it into the living room wall just at the height for a five year old. Problem solved!

She became ill that winter in Arizona, but didn't tell me. She just said she would like to move to Sturgis. In February of 1972, she came to Dupree and stayed until late spring, when she bought a trailer, moved to Sturgis, and waited for us to move back. She visited us often and we brought Christmas dinner to her. We took her to Rapid City with us when we went, and talked often on the phone, especially after the 1972 flood. In 1969 I drove her to Finley where I met relatives, visited the cemetery and saw my "roots".

In the spring of 1973, Frances and Aunt Mary (Marie) came to Dupree as we packed to move back to Sturgis. They went to Finley. By mid-May, we were half moved. Karen had moved a trailer house into our Sturgis yard and we gradually "came  home"; Aunt Mary kept insisting Karen go to Fairbanks with her, and it was finally decided they would go in July 1973. Two days after they arrived; Marie had a massive coronary attack and died. She is buried in Sturgis Cemetery.

 Marie Birkland Butler

Gen Miller and Marie Butler, 1964


Chester Butler, Marie's husband, and Karen Miller  1949


Gen's Ancestry:

Marie H.  Kalve    1923

 Harriet and Anna in School.  


Kristin Birkland (b about 1859 to 1912) and Maria Kalve, (1867 to1913), both from Denmark, were the parents of Gen's mother, Christiana (Anna) Birkland, (3-17-1897 to 1912), who married Andrew Miller Olson (8-3-1895 to 1977).   They had two daughters, Genevieve, born in 1918, and Frances, born in 1919.    Genevieve married Walter (Casey) C. Miller, Jr.  

Gen - 1918 - 2011

Casey - 1910 - 2007.

Andrew Miller Olson's parents raised Gen and Frances when their mother died in childbirth.   They were

Christopher Olson, (2-24-1890 to 1938) born in Somsoy, Denmark and Ingeborg Paulson Olson, born (12-4-1870 to 1939) in Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark.

Lewis T. "Cully" Miller Family
Fred Nelson Miller
Eunice Miller Baker Family
Hazel Miller Potter Family
Inez Miller Boettcher Leighty
Donald Miller Family
Casey Miller Book
Delbert W. Miller Family
Verna Flick









USS Dennis

USS Fogg 


Fowler Menu


Don's Army Service

Delbert Miller

POW  WWII  Ancestors   "It All Began"  
La Veta, CO  Pottery  Lefse  "....And an Electric Chair"

No individual, facebook page, pinterest or any other group, nor website, blog, or any other entity
has permission to post any intellectual property from
Email us for inquiry regarding publishing our material.

Put Website in Subject Line