Comings and Goings of Thomas Richard and Lora Ann Wood Jeffords Family
Written by Florence Jeffords Daugherty - 1979
Thomas R. Jeffords, born January 24, 1872, to William Vanburen
Jeffords and Mary Jane White Jeffords in Mt. Vernon, Lawrence
Lora Ann Woods was born November 30 ,1876, in Stone County, Missouri to William Page Woods and Loretta Pace Woods.
Mother and Father were married December 8, 1894, in Aurora, Missouri.
Mother the youngest in the family and her mother and father needed her so they objected to her getting married; also Uncle Doc objected. He used to hide in the cornfield and throw rocks at Father, or any other boyfriends so Uncle Bill and Aunt Minnie were to be married at Aurora and Mother and Father secretly joined them and had a double wedding.
They lived and farmed for nine years in Lawrence and Stone County, Missouri. In that nine years four children were born - William Page, October 2, 1895; Harry Talmage, December 19, 1896; Una Florence, August 20, 1898; Carl Theodore, February 26, 1902.
I remember a few things about our life in Missouri. I was only five when we left there. Father owned a large pair of mules, Pete and Jerry. He had them hitched to the wagon and I was standing behind the seat. They got scared and ran away. Luckily the end gate was out and I bounced out. The wagon was badly torn up, but I only got a bad cut on my head.
I remember two bad storms, one a hail storm. Page and Harry were playing in the barn when the storm came up. Mother folded a quilt to put over her head as the hail stones were as large as hen eggs to go find them. The other one was wind and rain. It sounded terrible. The grownups were afraid to go to bed. I remember being put to bed. Straw ticks were used instead of mattresses and the bed was so high I had to be lifted up.
Also, we played with large dry land turtles. They seemed to be everywhere so no problem to find turtles to play with. We went to Grandma's house across a railroad track and through a patch of timber in a wagon. Mother took us four kids to pick strawberries quite often, which we enjoyed. A lot of garden was planted just by digging a hole through the sad and putting the seed in, such as squash, melons, pumpkins, potatoes and corn.
Father got itchy feet, brought on by the glowing letters received from Mother's sister and brother. Also, her mother and father were in Oregon.
They had gone west a few years before. So Father, Mother and us
four children came by train, arriving August 20, 1903, in Baker,
Oregon. We went by horse drawn stage to Eagle Valley. It took two
days, where now it takes about one hour. When we arrived in Baker,
what is now Broadway was named Center Street. It was unpaved and a
muddy mess when wet. There weren't many buildings along it either.
When we left Baker on our way to Eagle Valley, there was a halfway
stage stop where we spent the night.
We lived in an unpainted house in the area called Sunnyslope for a few months, close to Grandpa and Grandma, Aunt Florence and Uncle Jim, and Uncle Doc, as he was called. His name was Fielden Justus.
I remember a real bad cloudburst or water spout that happened while we lived there. It was rather hilly, but the river ran close by so the water didn't do much damage. It washed a lot of dirt, sage brush and rocks into the river.
Mother's parents and brother just lived in Oregon two and a half years. They returned to Missouri near Marionville in Lawrence County. Grandma had cancer and passed away November 20, 1906. She was 73 years old.
We then moved to a place near Eagle Creek and spent a cold, lonesome winter there. The folks were homesick, but didn't have money to go back to Missouri.
Mother had arthritis or rheumatism and hurt so bad she would sit and cry. I stepped on a broken bottle and almost cut my toes off. Another brother was born here, Lawrence Vernon Jeffords, March 1, 1904. He was a pretty baby; was in a contest but came out second.
Father got a job working for Bill Gover on a farm. While here, Page, Harry and I went to school on Sunnyslope. We had to walk some three miles. We had no overshoes, but wrapped gunny sacks around our feet when it snowed. It was my first year of school. Out teacher's name was Rose Shelton. She taught all eight grades. I was the only pupil in the first grade.
From there we moved to Idaho. Mr. Gover had some cattle grazing land over there. We went to Robinette, a small place about ten miles from Eagle Valley, then crossed Snake River by row boat. There was a ferry boat farther on.
Robinette was on the bank of the river. They raised wonderful gardens and fruit there. Now that several dams had been built, water covers where the town was. At that time there were two ways to get out of Eagle Valley. A train came from Huntington as far as Robinette on the west side and a horse drawn stage traveled east over the "S" grade from Halfway through Sparta to Baker.
After we were rowed across the river we went inland a few miles on a not very good road. We lived in a two room unpainted house. It had a ladder up to the loft, which we used as a bedroom.
There was a dirt cellar in the side of the hill and a creek at the foot of the highest mountain I ever expect to see. Mr. Gover's cattle grazed up and down; their trails zigzagged back and forth. Page and Harry would cut stick horses and take them to the top of the mountain, pretending they were putting them out to pasture. They were just dark specks when they were on top, looking up from the house. We were told years after that some of their stick horses were still up there.
There creek was quite a ways from the house down a hill. The water was real cold. Underbrush, trees and dogwood were quite dense. Dad built a box in the creek. We kept our butter, milk and sourdough there. Mother made the best sourdough biscuits you ever ate. We also had a small stove close by to heat water to do the washing out of doors.
There were lots of rattlesnakes, but they didn't seem to bother anyone. They just killed them and went on about their work. We had two gentle milk cows. Mother milked them when Dad was away. One night she killed two snakes while milking. She milked the cows out in the field without a corral, rope or hobbles. They would stand and let her milk them. A garden hoe was a good thing to have handy to kill snakes. A time or two a snake was found in bed so it paid to look before getting into bed.
We had a few neighbors two or three miles away. One family was named Dennis. They had several children. One little boy had a terrible craving for tobacco. He was only about three years old. They let him have it--said it was a birthmark. One neighbor had a watermelon patch. Mother and us kids went walking and had a watermelon on the way. While we were gone, Father cut Vernon's beautiful curls off. He had been wanting to cut them but Mother hated to part with them, they were so pretty. We had been told to stay out of the melon patch, so that was punishment.
There was a lot of cattle thieving going on at that time. Some men stayed several nights with us. They paid well for their stay and food. We didn't know until they were gone that they were cattle rustlers. They were caught soon after. The leader's name was Zibe Morris. They spent some time in jail. Father was called as a witness and had to appear at their trial in Huntington, Oregon. He rode horseback through the hills.
Page and Harry went to school some while we were there and rode horseback. I didn't go. We only stayed about six months over there.
We moved back to Eagle Valley for the winter, close to the Gover place, and went to school at Richland. During that winter we all had whooping cough and the smaller kids had measles.
Then we moved to another place on the bench above where the marina now is. Another brother was born here, Wendell Richard Jeffords, April 15, 1906. Father stacked hay for his neighbors. He was exceptionally good at building a well shaped stack of hay. They used a mower, a rake and derrick, horse drawn, and shocked it with a pitch fork. It was pitched by hand on a wagon and hauled to the derrick. He raised cabbage and made real good sauerkraut. Dad made it in a twenty gallon wooden barrel and sold the sauerkraut to stores and neighbors.
One of our neighbor women took a shine to Father. She would go visiting him while he was making kraut. Mother sent me down to stay with them, to discourage hanky panky. I was about nine years old.
Next Father bought a small place on Powder River from Charley Brooks. He was called "Short-Rick" Brooks. He sold wood by the rick and the ricks were most always short. There we had three rooms, an upstairs, cellar, barn, chicken house and milk house.
Father rented the neighbors' farm up on the hill, an elderly couple. They had an adopted boy named Edward. We called them Aunt Matty and Uncle David Allen. We milked cows, raised grain and hay. There was quite a bit of timber on the place, mostly cottonwood, which made good wood when cured several months. The river had two channels.
Father and Mother were good gardeners. The ground was rich and we raised about everything we needed but flour and sugar. We had some fruit trees and berries. Mother canned lots of vegetables and fruit.
Four more children were born here. Ruby Blanche, March 24, 1908; Alice Clara, May 30, 1910; Woodie Rhue, May 5, 1912, and Walter Lee, April 4, 1914. Alice was born on Decoration Day and I had to cook dinner for the doctor while the kids were outside playing. I remember I burned the bread and was so embarrassed. Afterwards we all went out to the orchard and found a swarm of bees. We scraped the cluster off the branch with a stick and ran like mad. The bees all went into one of the beehives Father had, just like they were supposed to and none of us were stung.
We still went to school at Richland, having about three miles to walk. Most of the time we cut through the fields, waded irrigation water, got chased by neighbors' cattle. We raised squash to feed hogs. Sure grew some big ones. We used to walk from one squash to the other until Father caught us. I liked to watch the hogs eat them. We also had to pull weeds to feed the hogs. We called them pig weeds. They grew faster than the vegetables.
There was a real good swimming hole on the river. The boys could all swim like fish. Sometimes twenty or more boys would come to swim. They never had bathing suits, so I wasn't allowed to go very near and I never learned to swim.
One winter we had more snow than usual so could skate and sleigh ride. A small boy was out skating on Eagle Creek. A cougar was seen following him. The cougar was shot and brought to town. All the school kids went to see it--we were so excited. That night brother Carl and I were sent down to the river to get some wood. It was about a quarter mile and pretty dark.
Harry slipped down where I couldn't see him. I screamed a time or two, dropped the wood and ran for the house. I was never so scared. Needless to say, Harry had to get the wood. Cougars were supposed to have been heard going down to the river at night.
Our city policeman's name was Cap Craig and the mailman's name was Frank Craig. He delivered mail all over the valley in a hack, drove two old horses and sometimes a mule. His horses got so good they stopped at every box. Frank slept between mail boxes and would wake up when the horses stopped.
Father had rheumatism one winter for three months and was bedfast most of the time. That was a cold, damp winter. The house was made of rough lumber and was loaded with bedbugs. Mother, with our help, fought them every summer but never could win. The house burned after we moved away. I got such a satisfied feeling when I hear that. What a great way for a bedbug to go--"cremation!"
When I was about ten years old, Halley's Comet could be seen in 1908. We used to watch it every night out of our bedroom window. A lot of wild stories were told about the world coming to an end on account of it.
Father's cousin, Bill Youngblood, lived with us for several years. He worked in hay fields or wherever he could find work. He drank too much. Mother hated drinking. One time he and George Jackson got drunk. They stayed all night in the barn. Next morning Mother took a broom and went to the barn to sweep up some scattered grain for the chickens. They saw her coming and thought she was after them. They were working for Mr. Brooks across the river. They ran across the river, waist deep, and it was cold. One day he asked me to hold the light so he could see himself in the mirror. He could play the French harp real well. Aunt Lennie, Dad's sister, came from Missouri and stayed all summer with us. We all loved her and were so unhappy when she left. Dad and I drove her to Robinette to catch the train back to Missouri. Grandma Jeffords got sick. Dad made one trip back to Missouri. She got better and lived several years after that. She pulled her wedding ring off and sent it to me. It still have it. That was the only time Dad was back until 1960.
There were four gates to open from our place out to the main road, which was very unhandy--one was on the side of the hill. The boys were always riding horseback, but I had to walk. I was a girl and guess that made the difference. We had just traded for a real gentle sorrel mare. Mother wanted something from town, so I begged so hard to ride instead of walk, that mother gave in. She didn't have any money, so put two dozen eggs in a bucket and I was on my way. Everything was fine until I reached the edge of town. I met two boys, Donald Duffey and I forget the other one's name. They were driving one horse hitched to a cart. Thinking to scare me, they drove toward me. I hugged the fence as close as I could, which was a woven wire fence, maybe five feet high. They ran the cart shaft into the mare's flank. About eighteen inches broke off. I grabbed the fence post and held onto the fence. Some people close by caught the mare. We took her to the veterinarian just down the street, a Dr. St. John. I walked home crying and told the bad news. Father, Page and Harry hurried to town to help take the piece of wood out, but the mare died. The boys' father paid for the horse. I was about eleven years old.
I loved to stop at the neighbor's house and play on the way home from school. Mother kept telling me to come on home. I didn't listen. Mother met me one night with a keen little switch. My daughter Barbara had the same trouble.
Another year when there was more snow than usual, the whole place flooded. Only the house was dry as it was higher than the rest. We lived here ten years. Father got tired of opening gates and being flooded with water.
He traded for a shack on Little Lookout from Mike Brown. He didn't get much, but it was high out of the water.
Another brother was born here, Harland Gilbert, July 10, 1916. There was no doctor, only a midwife as they called them, a Mrs. Slincolm. When the time came, Dad saddled a horse and went over to Lawrence Creek after her. I saddled Jane and went the other direction for our neighbor, Mrs. Miller. The other children and I stayed in a tent out in the yard until the baby was born. While Mother was in bed, Woodie got in trouble for shaking the bed. She went and hid and wouldn't come out until someone gave her a nickel. As Father took Mrs. Slincolm home, she propositioned him, but he managed to resist her.
One day Dad was getting ready to butcher hogs. He had a large vat of hot water ready. There was a deep ditch or wash between the vat of hot water with a plank across it. We heard a scream. Everyone ran, but Walter had just fallen off the plank into the ditch, which didn't have much water in it. What a scare! We thought he fell into the hot water.
Then Father bought the place joining ours, got a better house, some more cattle, a bunch of horses and a small band of sheep. They sold the horses and sheep soon after. He bought the place from Rufus Bunch. The house was built of red stone dug from a hillside not far away. We had a good garden spot, orchard, some hay and grain land. Father built a large barn soon after we got moved. There was lots of snow in winter, drifts eight and ten feet high. They would get crusted and hard until we could walk on them. We made sleds out of barrel staves and coasted down hill on a special place close to the house. The kids packed water, poured on it and let it freeze. Sure was fun. We even coasted by moonlight. There were quite a few neighbors up there. We had dances in the homes and in Timber Canyon Mine cookhouse. We danced all night. We never tried to go home until morning as the roads weren't good. Most everyone rode horseback.
We had several gentle horses. Their names were Tufty, Jane and Queen. The workhorses were Daisy, Flora, Pete, King and Bess. Flora died while we were in Lookout, a beautiful sorrel. Dad was offered $500 for the team just before she died.
We had to ride nine or ten miles to get our mail. We went about once a week. We bought groceries either in Richland or Baker. We usually bought sugar, flour, coffee, enough to last several months. One of our neighbors, Jess Sinclair, had a small flour mill. We took a sack of wheat and had it ground. It made the best muffins. This was during the first World War in 1918. We were only allowed a small amount of white flour. We only had white bread for Sunday.