Walter N Womack life story written by himself
Contributor: TreeClimber Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
To Whom it may Concern
I, Walter Nathaniel Womack, was born April 20, 1887 to William N & Etta Hansen Womack. At Soda Springs Idaho. Lived there and on a ranch six miles S.E. of Soda Springs until I was three years old. Then my parents moved out to Ten Mile Springs, afterwards named Starret. My Grand father owned a farm there and my father rented it for two years. My great Aunt Bertha & uncle Chris Christofferson lived about half mile from us. I was four and five years old at that time and I and my two older sisters, May and Mattie use to go out on the hills in the winter on skis, and coast down the hills on the crusted snow. In them days the snow used to get quite deep. From two to three and a half feet deep. As we had no small skis we would each take one ski and sit down on it, with both feet in one strap and of course we had no way guiding it so we went where the ski wanted to go. Into willows or fences or what ever came in the way.
In the spring of 1892 we moved out to Goose Lake about 25 miles from there. My uncle Ammon Hansen had filed on some land, and then gave it up and moved up to Montana. So he told my father he could have it if he wanted it and would prove up under the Desert or premphsun right which was legal them days. So we lived there about three years during which time Dad leased about 100 head of cattle from a widow woman named Whittier. He used to cut and put up hay on some swamp land that had natural grass on it.
The last winter we lived there was the first year that I went to school. We went up and staid with our Grand Parents my two sisters and I. Three of our uncles, Will, Charlie & George drove a team and sliegh about four miles and we road with them. There were about six or seven other children going too. The Elisons & me - ???.
In the spring 1895 my folkes moved to Snake river valley. To a place they called Tildon bottoms at that time but is now covered with water from the American Falls Dam. There was only about four or five ranches there at that time. I was only eight years old but I drove a team and we came down over the Lincoln Creek Road when we moved down.
That country was pretty wild and unsettled then. There was lots of bear along the river in the summer, they would come in from the lavabeds to get the wild currents, goose berries, and thimble berries that grew in abundance along the river. I remember there was an old man cutting logs to build his cabin, and he felled a tree out over the river, and was out on it cutting it off when a bear came out on it and they had a fight. Of course the bear nocked him off in the water. Of course he swam out an got away to saftey.
There were also a lot of wild horses running on the desert then. They used to come in every day or night to get water. One night I remember forty or fifty head came in and got down between the river and the fences and the bear stampeded them right throo the fences. Killed four or five of them as I remember and of course cut ten or twelve of them all to pieces, one stood out in our yard with the flesh cut from his legs and cut right through the belly.
We also had a school down there. About ten pupils. The teacher was Mr. Landon Rich, uncle to Roscoe & Walker Rich of Blackfoot, Idaho. I and my sisters atended that school for some time. Then my parents moved up to Presto.
Dad rented a little cabin that belonged to a Mrs. Jim Hutchinson afterwards known as the Chris Peterson place. My second cousin Ras Hansen and his wife Phoebe lived just half mile south of us on what is now nown as the Tue Place. After a short time my Grand Father and Grand Mother came from Salubria in western Ida. They stayed with us that winter 1895-96 . They had a grand son with them. He was about twelve or thirteen. He and I used to go hunting rabbits with his old 10 gauge muzzle loading shotgun. We also had a school that winter the four of us, I, my two sisters and cousin Will Simmons. He was the son of my fathers sister Ida. We walked 3 1/2 miles to the old log cabin school up on the Presto Bench which was about one half mile above the N.A. Just Place now known as the Rich Place. Our teachers name was Miss Riley. Times were very hard then us kids didn't have any over shoes so we would take burlap sacks and wrap our feet with them when it was snowy.
Dad got a job with Ras Hansen hauling wood for a man by the name of Jones who after several years was elected Sherriff of Bingham county. He was running a lymn kiln when they worked for him in what is known as Jones Canyon.
In april of 1896 my folkes moved out to Wieser Idaho starting about Apr. 6. It was quite wet and cold, Grand Pa & Grand Ma Womack going with us. Mother had a baby just a little one a year old. Dad had four good milk cows with six or seven month old calves. He sold them to Jim Just for $44.00 or $11.00 for each cow and calf. Mother driving one team some times I driving part time of course Dad driving his four horse team and Grand Pa drove his team. We started out Arco way thinking we would save miles going that way and past Hailey but when we reached the big Butte they told Dad he couldn't get through that way on acct of snow. So we stayed about a week at some lakes east of the Butte. Then we cut accross the desert to Tilden and stayed there another week while Dad done some horse trading and sold his saddle to get a little more money to travel on. I think he got about $30.00 in all. It wasn't much money to travel on with two familys to keep. Of course money was worth about 5 cent would equal about $1.00 now in buying power.
After our lay over there we started on about April 30th following the Snake River down to American Falls then following the Railroad down across the desert, which was a real desert at that time. There was no water any place except at the railroad tanks about every 40 or 50 miles apart. Traveling a day or two at a time between rain storms, we reached Boise about May 4th or 5th. Boise was not a very large town at that time. About five or six thousand population. They had some street car lines and pulled the cars with horses. We camped out on the bench while at Boise, about where the railroad depot now stands, of course that was all covered with sage brush at that time. We stayed there several days, as one of Dads mares had a young colt and she ran off and went back towards her old home. Dad never did find her any more. We then traveled down the Boise river to Caldwell then across to Payette valley coming in about ten miles above Payette. Then on down to Weiser, arriving there about May the 15th, 1896.
That country wasn't settled up very much, there was some farms and ranches up along Marion ? creek and a creek called Moser? creek. The Weiser valley was mostly settled. But there was no work to speak of. There was some freighting up to the Seven Devil and Warrens mines, but Dad didn't have wagons strong enough for that. So Dad, Mother and family and Grandpa moved up in the timber north east of Weiser about fifteen miles and made a summer camp and cut stove wood and hauled it to town and sold it to make a living. A man with a team could make $1.25 a day.
That fall we moved back to Weiser. Dad rented a house, us kids started to school and tended it for about 6 or 7 months alternatley, during which time Dad continued hauling wood. My youngest brother was born that fall. Right after that Mother taken sick and they sent her to the hospital where she stayed until April of 1897. Leaving us kids alone most of the time as Dad was gone most of the time working. Dad bought a small place that spring, up in the hills about 15 miles on Monroe creek. We lived there three and a half years. Except about four months when our house burned down.
That was the most happy time of my kid life, however I had to work very hard as I had to take a mans place. At about 10 to 13 years old, I and my brother he was three years younger than I. In the winter we useta cut wood Dad and I. Then in the summers Roy and I would take a team and haul it to town and sell it, camping out on the road as it was to far to make it in one day. Dad traded one of his old light wagons for a heavyer one and done some freighting up to the mines. And he also worked hauling logs for a sawmill. My third sister Grace was born there in May 1898.
That summer Dad raised some grain hay and cut it with a sythe and raked it by hand. I helped him haul and stack it, two quite large stacks. Then my Grandmother Womack took sick, the folkes went to town where they lived and stayed about ten days until she died leaving I, Roy and two of uncle Pierces boys in charge of the places, which were about one and a half miles apart. While they were gone our hay all burned up and that winter just before Christmas our house burned down and nearly all of our clothes and bedding too. We saved only the cook stove sewing machine and an old trunk. Of course that left us without a home. So Dad rented a house five miles from there and we moved to that.
The people were all so nice, they gave us some furniture, bedding, clothes and quite a lot of food which we sure needed. By moving there it gave us kids a chance to go to school, which we did as long as we stayed. We walked about three miles to school. In April the folkes went up home. We had no house so we lived in a tent that summer. Dad worked at a sawmill that summer and in the fall of 1899 he built another new house 4 rooms two down and two up stares. That summer I and my bro. Roy hauled wood and sold it in Weiser and made the living for the family. We also hauled wood the next summer.
In the fall of 1900 Dad got discouraged and sold our home or gave it away, $150.00 is all he got. Then we moved back to Blackfoot. Was ten days that trip. Of course during our stay in the Weiser country the country settled up an affual lot. There was lots of farms and ranches along the way. We kids had a lot of fun camping along the road. We went by way of Camas Prairie and Hailey over by and through what is now called Craters of the Moon, then over to the big butte then on to Blackfoot, landing there about Sept. 20th, 1900.
Things had changed a lot since we left 4 and a half years earlier. All of the Riverside, Thomas, Morland and Groveland areas were settled, and they had built several canals. Blackfoot had also changed. Where everything was on the east side of the Railroad except the old brown stone bank, which belonged to a man named Bunting, now there were about three blocks on the west side and the streets were full of 4-6-8 and 10 horse freight teams, that were hauling supplies out to the Mackey and Challis mines.
There was always a double daily stage that run to and from Blackfoot to Mackey. We lived right close to where the Snake River bridge is now. In the spring of 1901 the company built the first railroad bridge on the Mackey road. Us kids use to go out and watch the men work. They drove thier piling with a horse drawn pile driver.
Us kids went to Groveland to school that winter. Dad and a man named Elige or Bawldie Allen they called him, worked on a canal called the Skeems ditch now known as the Aberdeen canal. That year was when our President Mckinley was assasinated and there was a great stew about it. That summer Dad rented two farms near Riverside, after farming there summer he rented a farm at Thomas, belonging to a man named George Stowell. He run a small store at Riverside and one in Blackfoot. That summer he sold his Blackfoot store and started one with a saloon attached out at Howe. I and Dad done his freighting for him. Dad and I stayed out there taking care of the store and saloon the latter part of that winter coming home about the first of March. There wasn't any snow at Howe but by the time we reached Midway or Atomic City as it is now nown, the snow was up to the axle of the old buggy, which was about two feet. It was very cold the night we camped roathog (?) station. 42 below zero. Some wild horses was close to our camp and one of them froze to death as we nearly done ourselves. The Railroad was finished that year and of course that stopped the freighting and also the stage. By the way old man Powell, father to our old George Powell, Anna Balls father was running that stage line.
In the spring of 1903 Dad rented a farm at Riverside. I went pretty much on my own from then on. I worked out for several farmers, ranchers and stockmen that summer. I got $25.00 or $30.00 a month or one dollar a day, which wasn't t bad then. That fall I started to school the 1st of Dec and attended school until March 1st then the folkes moved up to Presto. I continued working out most of the time, coming home once in a while to help Dad in the hay and harvest. Some of us boys formed a baseball team at Presto and made a ball diomond up on the Presto bench just above the old Fred Bennet place. And we would play the Shelley, Basalt, Wappelo (Hardscrable it was called then), and the Fort Hall Indian boys as they had a pretty good team. We would have horse races and bucking contests also shooting matches after the ball games.
In the winter I and two or three of my buddies rented the upper Presto school house and give dances every Friday night. We would charge 50 cents a ticket to pay for the rent and musicians. Sim, Jim and Fred Cristofferson also Carl Potter and Ross Habse some times would play. In the fall of 1906 I met my wife Julia Teeples and in the fall of 1907 I started keeping company with her steady. During the winter 1907 & 1908 I and Sim Chritofferson batched togather on his place at lower Presto. We tended lots of dances at Shelley, Baysalt, Presto, Kimble and Wappello and had what we thought lots of fun.
In that spring I rented Grandma Teeples farm and in May 16th 1908 I and my wife were married and spent our hunny moon farming. In the fall that year, Dec. I think it was, we, Sim Christofferson and his wife, as he had got married about a month before, and a friend Alex Vaughn and his wife who had also just gotten married that year, moved up to the Blackfoot Dam. Alex and his wife took over and run the government cook house and I and my wife and Sim and his wife moved on to the Harrold Dinshen ranch house about five miles up the river. Sim and I started to work at common labor, $2.25 per eight hour day. Worked for about two weeks then I got a raise to $2.75 running an old style steam burly drill in the tunnel. We went to our work on skis as we couldn't keep the shore roads open in the snow.
About June the first of that year, 1909, I Dad and uncle Joe Hansen started hauling wool from Grays Lake to Soda Springs with our horse teams and trail wagons. About July 15th we moved back to the valley and I and Dad got a job hauling sand stone to build the Upper Presto school house.
In November 1909 My wife and I moved out to Sedro Wooley, Wash., with great aunt Ida Shoemaker and her son Ed. I going with what they called an immagrant car on the trains and shipping our horses and a cow and other personal things. My wife went with aunt Ida on the passenger train. I was about ten days on the trip, arriving in Sedro Wooley on about the morning of the 10th of November. And as we were unloading our horses a man came running up and said the railroad bridge had just washed out. We had crossed it about thirty minutes before.
We lived on a farm that winter and the next summer and Elmer was born in June of that year, 1910. That fall we moved down to Big Lake about 10 miles south of Sedro Wooley and I worked for the Day Lumber Co. They gave me a foremans job over from 15 to 35 men. The fall of 1912 Don was born about Oct 29th. And on Jan 29th, 1913 we sold our furniture and I sold my team and buggy and all the tools including a large power drag saw and land clearing donkey that we had bought in the mean time.
In the summer of 1912 I and a young Scothman leased a small steam donkey engine, about 250 horse power and done some contract logging and clearing land. After selling everything or giving it away we had about $100.00 left after paying our bills. So my wife and I took the train and went back to Blackfoot, arriving there with about $10.00 and two kids. That year 1913 I leased a farm and started farming. In April 15th 1915 I filed a homestead on Grave creek. We went up there that summer for a month and I planted some fall wheat. Then in the fall, Nov. 4th Darrell was born. We used to move back and forth every winter for a while. I lost two crops during that time, one from hail in 1918 and one from drouth in 1919. We lived up there steady for about six years winter and summer and farmed during which time we got a school started, holding it in a small homestead cabin, 14' X 20'. In 1922 we built a nice little school house 20' X 32'. I managed it with a lot of help from nabors of the community. We had school there until the spring of 1927.
Royal, Aulene and Bud and Darlo were born during that time. But times were quite hard then and I had bought a lot of horses and machinery, on time mostly. Rezult we had to put a mortgage on the place and couldn't pay it off, so in the spring of 1927 we gave it up and went up to Yellowstone park that summer. I worked for the park service running a road patrol. Elmer working for the service too. That fall we moved down to Marysville and wintered