These stories are derived from a taped interview with Paul Thompson.
She had eight children. The oldest, Ruth died.
Her children are Hazel, Dorothy, Helen, Ruby, Paul, Nancy and Georgielee.
You know, in some places women had it rough. When I lived in Oregon and when I lived in Washington and after I come to California, I don’t remember any women dying because of being worked so hard. That must have been way back years and years ago. But we did work hard just the same.
I read in this book, that they sent for men to go up in North Port Washington. They sent men from Joplin, Missouri. That’s where my dad was living at the time. My dad went out, and my mother’s oldest brother. She was the oldest, then Uncle Frank. They must of stuck with married men because Uncle Frank was married. I was four years old.
My mother’s maiden name was Taylor.
She was born Illinois. I don’t know the town? My grandmother Taylor was a Jones before she was married. When I was down at Rubys many years ago, the old lawyer in Alabama found the Indian. He found Jones or Taylor in his big book. He had shelves of them and there was a great big thick book. Why he looked things up for her. Then he died and his son taken over. My grandmother, she was Jones that was her parents.
My dad had a sister that caused all the trouble between him and my mother. She separated my dad from his first wife, and I think she was trying to do it with my dad and mother. But my mother died. The Lord took her away so she didn’t have put up with that. I could never figure out why his sister had so much influence over him. I thought there was only about two years between them, but then I found out from the family tree that there was six years difference in them. And dad never knew what it was to have a daddy because his dad died before he was born. It was from the civil war I think it was.
I dont know if his father fought on the north or the south. My mother was born in Ill. He must have been from there too. My mothers mother, Grandma Taylor said she always remembered how old she was cause she was thirteen when the war started. Thats the only way she could remember her age. She told me a story her husband told her. See he and his brother fought in the war. Evidently one on the south the other on the north. And see they was a fighting all over the fields and everywhere else around the houses. The brothers come around the corncrib both of them had the guns up then they recognized they were brothers and they couldnt shoot each other even if one was on the north and one on the south.
Grandma Taylor told me when she was a girl that there was a big battle. And when the guns stopped she went out to the battlefield with her mother to turn over the dead bodies to see if any of them was her brothers. She had seven brothers. I never heard my grandmother speak about any sisters.
My mother-in-law Virginia Thompson lived on a boat on the river.
One time it was going down the river and it broke loose and her husband was gone and a man said “you get off this thing”. He says “dont worry your husband will follow you, you just get away from this thing” and she did. She went home and he followed.
She said that she got sick on the boat. That some way or another it didn’t agree with her. She was never a big woman anyway she wasn’t but ninety pounds. She had to get off of the water she said they lived on that for about three years. Some kind of business he was doing. Buying and selling odds and ends.
Paul remembers his grandma Thompson telling him that once when she was a little girl going home, a panther was following her. She got to the corner of her home and she seen the thing then she ran up the to house. And it turned around and went away. He thought it was when she was a little kid living in what West Virginia.
I said, No! Not West Virginia. She was brought up in old Virginia. So was my dad – in Morgan County. My mother-laws maiden name was Bishop. I know they lived way out in the country. Thats what my Aunt Minnie told me. Her name wasn’t Minnie but that was her nickname.
My dad was the youngest in his family. I think there was four girls and two boys. His father was killed during the Civil War. Before he was born. Was it on the south side? Oh yeah, it bound to been on the south side because he was born in Virginia. Old Virginia. So that’s the south.
My grandmother Taylor had asthma. The doctor got her chewing tobacco when she was nine years old because of it. Then she just kept on chewing until it was the end of her life.
My dad’s mother was a Bishop before she was ever married. It was the Pennsylvania Dutch. People came – I know it’s in some history books – there was some kind of trouble in Holland and the people came to Pennsylvania and settled there. Some war or something – I don’t know what it was. And that’s the reason they call them the Pennsylvania Dutch. I’ve got a book, it’s kind of small print, that tells quite a bit about that. About people coming there from Holland. I guess I could read it with a magnifying glass.
The Scotch come in on my mother’s side. The Bishops was on my dad’s side. It must have been my grandmother Taylor’s which would be my mother’s mother. We’ve got Scotch, Irish, Dutch, English, and Cherokee Indian. Cherokee Indian comes from my mother’s side.
My Dad to come out from Joplin, Missouri to North Point Washington.
And in one of these books I found out why. Isn’t that something? There was up around – all through Stevens County was in real good shape then. That was 1902, must of been. So I found in this book that they sent for a whole carload of men from Joplin, Missouri. I remember hearing my Dad and Mom and them talking about things like that. My mother always told me she says, Keep your ears and your eyes open and your mouth closed and you’ll learn a lot, and I did. Hearing them talking. I wondered for a long time – I never thought about asking and I knew that they came out but I didn’t know why or how because when he came out they must of been just taking the married men, evidently at that time. This is because my mother’s the oldest of her family – My grandmother Taylor, she had four children, my mother was the oldest then her brother Frank was next and he was married at the time. And he came out the same time my dad did.
But I wondered for years, how come that. And here I found
out in the book that the company sent for them to come out. And I
wondered about the families. But it could of been that the company paid – and the men worked long enough, you know, to have something come in.
Or either they sent for them and let the men take it out of their pay
afterwards for sending for their families, I don’t know about that. But it was kind of odd in a way that all these years I never thought about asking my dad about it. Just too busy with my family, I guess. I told Dorothy, I says well looky there God answers prayers, even for finding that book that told things that I been wondering about for years.
My grandmother’s half brother was Frank Berry. But according to what
they brought out on the TV about the slaves is they had already been
given freedom. If they wanted to go they could, but if they stayed with him it must have been because he was so good to them. And I understand they stayed.
Well my Dad’s side was from old Virginia. Tennessee, yeah, that’s where my grandmother Taylor was and her family. It was the state of Tennessee. I think they lived out on a farm. You know some of those people that were relatives did have farms. Many years ago, why, they even had slaves.
My mother’s grandmother on her mother’s side was a little tiny woman. She was kind of dark. She was a little tiny thing. But that would be my grandmother’s mother. Yeah, my grandmother Taylor on my mother’s side. But she’d be the one that married a Berry. One thing, Berry was so well to do and wanted to take my mother and send her to school and educated her. Indian coming from out of my Mother’s side.
My son Paul says there’s a real skill to being a sawer. When he was up in the woods in the timber, they still used sawers. They had a special craft. They were skilled men that sawed. And they could look at that timber and tell how many boards they’re gonna get outta it.
My dad worked right in the sawmill. He was in there running the thing that sawed the logs and made lumber out of it. Paul told me they put sawers in a little cage. Because the work was so dangerous. But in the mill that him and Charley had, why he wasn’t in any cage. Well maybe later on they put them in cages – The saw band use to break and then it was real dangerous. But probably the one dad was running was all controlled by steam. But actually I couldn’t tell you what it was run by.
My brother Everett told me he was in with Charley. Everett said that down by Covelle that he had a mill of his own. He had a little mill of his own at Covelle, Washington.
I seen Haley’s comet in 1910. I was in Steven’s county, Washington up
on my Dad’s homestead. It didn’t look very big or very long in the sky. But according to what they said on the TV it was miles long and miles around. It looked like a ball of fire and a long tail. It wasn’t like you see a fire, you know, really burning in a stove or something like that but it was more of a light orange color in the sky. It was nineteen and ten when I saw that. Well, it’s supposed to be 76 years ago and that would be right.
In Washington we raised all kinds of things. We
raised wheat and corn. Sometimes I was in the kitchen with mama, yeah,
but I was out playing lots of times too. When we were on the homestead
my brother Frank and I, we use to go out horseback riding getting our
cows bringing our cows in.
I remember when my mother was dying,
dad was sitting there and holding her hand and her saying, “I wouldn’t
mind going if it wasn’t for leaving the children. ” And she said, “Lee
keep all the children together.” She just look like she was going to
sleep. Last words she said. Keep all the children together.
His name was James Jackson Lee but he went by the name of Lee.
Funny he had those names and they call him Lee. It was kind of hard
for him to keep the family together.
Back when we were on the homestead, Frank and I use to go out and
bring the cows in. They would be grazing out in the mountains, you know,
then we’d have to go get them. We’d ride our horses up.
One time we come up the path and the horse stopped at a log. Ordinarily
we’d get them to jump over the log. But neither one of the horses would
jump over that log. Frank got down to go over and see what was wrong.
Well he found out what was wrong. It was an old rattlesnake rattling
– just waiting to bite that horse or who ever went over there. See how
smart horses are.
Frank had a dog that would kill rattlesnakes, believe it or not. Well, they know how to do it, you see. Frank always had a dog until him and Catharine got married and for some reason she didn’t like a dog around
so he had to quit trying to have a dog. When he was growing up he always wanted a dog. He told me a drunk Indian give him this dog. It was a spotted dog.
It was a white dog with black spots on it.
I remember we headed over to McClintons- Frank and I was coming back from there one time. That’s when the McClintons were neighbors.
And we had the dog with us. And there was an old rattlesnake out there
and that dog killed that rattlesnake. We picked the snake up with a stick and
laid it on the fence.
There is a saying that you can’t exactly kill snakes, but after the sun goes
down they die. That’s what I heard. It sounds silly to me now. The snake
was on the other side over there with the cows.
After mother died, Frank and I stayed on the ranch and aunt Minnie
tried to starve us out. I heard that from a girl that was living there with her dad.
Minnie told my dad not to bring us anything to eat. That’s what this girl told
me. Sometimes Everett was with us.
My mother was still alive when we got lost and the horses led us back home.
We never found the cows. Mother never scolded us – or anything.
Course the cows use to come in by themselves.
Dad liked to trade. Though never seem like he’d get a good trade if he traded anything.
Seemed like he got the worst end of it. He traded something for this great big o’l cow.
She had big horns and boy, she was mean. We already had a little cow that mother
got when it was a calf. She was real gentle. Even after she was grown an
everything why us kids could lay down and we could waller all over her
while she was chewing her cud. You could milk her on either side.
Sometimes a cow won’t let ya milk them but only on the right side I
think it is. Mother had another one and, boy, you better milk her just
one way or she’d kick your bucket all over.
One time when we was riding the horses, a neighbor told us theres panther up on the hill.
So when you go after the cows you better be careful –I don’t know if you
heard this they say panthers scream like a woman. And if you hear that
thing screaming it would send chills straight through you.
We had Indian ponies. They used them a lot in the Civil War. They were
different colors. Sometimes they was what you call beige, yellow –
buckskins they called them. What makes horses mean is when their owners
are mean to them.
We raised them from colts. My oldest brother had a horse, Bessy was her name
– she was one of these gentle kind that you put children on with spurs up the neck
down to the tail and she wouldn’t buck em off. Dad had a beautiful white and
black colt and she’d let anyone ride her. But if you put your hand and bore down a
little bit on the back of that saddle she’d start to bucking.
And here this little one that Frank had – you could put all the kids
on her and she was just as gentle as she could be. I use to ride her and
go down to Bossburg to sell milk. Eight miles one way and five miles the
other. And I’d come back late when it was getting dark. If I could open
the gate, still on the horse I was okay. Boy if I got off that horse I
was afraid until I got back on. As long as I was on the horse I wasn’t
afraid. That was after it was getting dark.
My dad — he just couldn’t kill anything. He couldn’t even kill a chicken.
I remember when Thompsons went out to the homestead – Dad Thompson
– we called him Daddy Thompson. He’d get so mad at my dad because there
could be a deer in the woods but – instead of my dad shooting it, why a snake
come out and he shot the snake. One time there was a rattlesnake and he shot it.
But he wouldn’t even kill a chicken. My mother always had to kill the chickens.
He was kind to animals. So was Frank. Paul told me much as Frank loved
pork he couldnt kill a hog. Someone else had to kill it. Boy he didn’t
have nothing to do with killing.
I got a picture of the tree that fell down that was 1909 in the storm.
A great big tree fell. It was crazy my oldest brother thinking those horses could
pull that big tree. Now if they went out there and cut it up in smaller pieces but no – He
was a beating those horses and cursing them black and blue – trying to
get them to pull that big tree. Mother came out and she didn’t yell at
him. She talked nice to him. I never will forget that. I told that to my
daughter Dorothy. She said that the reason I didn’t have any use for my
older brother because he was a bully.
I told Aunt Maggie Uncle Bobs wife, I told her that one time. “Oh Ross?
Surely and undoubtedly he wasn’t a bully!” I said – well you didn’t know him. I’m glad he
changed. Maybe he had a wife what changed him I don’t know. Mother was
trying to get him to realize he was going to strain those horses. I
don’t remember whether he did or not. My dad wasn’t home. But my dad was
good to animals. He couldn’t mistreat anything that way. I remember that
so well. And Ross cursed Mother an told her to go back and shut – he
used a swear word. To my mother! She knew that he was liable to turn the
whip on her that time if she hadn’t a done it. Why of course he couldn’t
move it. But finally he give up.
Ross was 18 when mother died. And that was the year before – he may have been
17 then. Now Frank was always kind to animals. He had one little buckskin. I use to ride her.
And I got a picture of me on a little black horse. I think that one must
have had some mule in it. If it took a notion it wasn’t going to go it
wouldn’t go. I guess you could beat it to death and it wouldn’t go. Even
though my father was always trading – he had the black horse when I left
up there. I don’t know how long he had it.
Dont know why this is still embarrassing but Ross use to hook Frank and I up as his horses,
you know. I think we had a wagon or a thing they made with some old
wheels or something. He’d go in back of the house there and I don’t know
if he was suppose to be picking up pieces of chuck for fire or what. And
he had a whip that he would crack that over us and curse us and tell us
to get up and go. He treat us like we were his horses. Well it wasn’t a
big wagon you know. The whip didn’t hit us. But he was cursing us,
telling us to get up. I guess he must have tamed down. His wife must
have tamed him down. His first wife died, I think. I never met either
one of his wives.
They didn’t have churches or services up at
the homestead. Not around the homestead. They hadn’t any in Bossburg
either cause I guess there wasn’t enough people there to pay a pastor.
Last one I remember was congregational preacher – As I said there must
not of been enough people or enough people to care or didn’t have the
money to pay one so they just had one in, every once in a while and
that’s all. Paul said they use to call people that went into places like
that circus riders. You know they ride into town on horses. I don’t
think she rode in there on a horse.
I was four years old when we
went from Joplin Missouri to North Point Washington. There was mines and
saw mills- plenty of mines and saw mills. And the companies, I guess,
sent to Joplin for a whole carload of men. I remember Dad talking, when
he went out with my mothers brother she was the oldest then him. The
men all went. But the wives stayed home. I dont think the companies
sent for the families but they might have. Maybe the men took money from
their paychecks to pay the loan to send for the families. I do know the
companies paid their fares out. I dont think my Dad worked in the
mines. I have an idea that he worked in the sawmills. He was always
happy when he could get up there and take a log and make beautiful
lumber out of it.
I liked to hear my mother sing. She had a nice
voice. Dad was more the storyteller type. They were just funny
I don’t think we slept in late because my dad was up
early and we had to get up to get breakfast. Of course when school was
going on we had to go to school. I don’t think I even knowd what an
electric stove was and I don’t think they even had them then. The stove
wasn’t burning all night and of course it was my mother that got the
fire going. My brothers brought the wood in for her. Well I know they
drank coffee. We had eggs and biscuits. We had biscuit lots of times. My
mother even made her own bread. I like bread. We had cornbread too.
My mother milked the cows. I had a time trying to get her to teach me
how. Finally she did with a gentle cow we had.
My dad turned thanks at the table. I begged my mother for a long time before she
taught me how to milk. I begged her to let me sew on the sewing machine.
Of course she had a tough time when she was growing up and she wasn’t
going to let me have that kind of a time.
People smoked for
years and years. Perhaps I was so use to being around people smoking
that I don’t remember but a lot of people smoked. Men. I don’t remember
We ate opossum sometimes, yes, and chicken and
beef. When I was old enough and big enough I ask my mother to show me
how to wash dishes. Somehow or another I always liked to paddle around
in the water, I don’t know why. But then again, shame my brothers – they
tried so hard to teach me to swim in William’s lake and as soon as I
looked down and seen the deep water ooh it scared me. I began to sink
then. So I never did learn to swim.
My sister, who is three
years younger than I to the day, boy it didn’t scare her a bit. She’d
just paddle along there on William’s lake until my mother’d have to tell
her to get out because she’d began to get blue, you know. Waters cold.
But it didn’t scare her a bit.
I begged my
mother a long time to let me wash clothes. I kept a asking my mother to
let me do some washing. I don’t know for some way or another I always
liked to dabble around in the water. So she gave me the old nasty dirty
handkerchiefs and the old nasty dirty socks. And I took my lovely time a
doing it. In my mind those things were not like that at all. I was
washing nice pretty clothes (laughing) in my imagination. And she let me
fool along there just as long as I wanted to.
She never got
after me or anything. As a matter of fact my mother never raised her
voice to any of us children. I don’t know where she could be so patient
and kind and understanding. Instead of coming at me and saying you’re
stupid and you can’t learn anything, she’d show me something, what ever
it was – I don’t remember the things exactly but whatever it t’was. Time
I had to do it over a couple of times or three times I usually learnt.
But she never raised her voice or said anything unkind or anything. I
often wonder how in the world could she have such calm lovely way with
her children. In her heart she must have really loved the Lord.
They were going to bury mother there in Bossburg. The families of the
that died and were buried there had gone away somewhere
and dont care. The cemetery is right on the bank of the Columbia River.
When I left there some of the graves looked like they’re just about
ready to fall off in the river. I put up a great battle with my mouth –
determined that my mother wasn’t going to be buried there.
As far as I know there wasn’t but one cemetery there in Bossburg. Coville
was twenty miles from the homestead. Which was quite a ways when you had
to drive with horse and buggy.
And after my mother died, the
papers about being Indian was around. I think Grandma Taylor probably
taken them with her. Even though she couldn’t read and write she could
get somebody else to do it, couldn’t she? I don’t know. All I know is
that mother got far enough that all she had to do was get the proof –
that proves that she did have Cherokee Indian blood in her and then she
would get 80 acres and each one of us children would have 80 acres. I
guess it would be down there in Oklahoma.
Paul said they may of got all this information from Washington DC. Well that
might be on in Indian Affairs if they keep a record of that far back.
I don’t know. My brother Frank told me that my dad looked all over trying to
find the papers ’cause he knew that she had got them. But see my
grandmother Taylor, mother’s mother was there and most likely even if
she couldn’t read nor write – if the papers wasn’t there well she
probably taken them, I don’t know. I didn’t know that for years and
years, you know, I mean it’s just dawned on me that she could of taken
them. As far as I know she never done anything about it ’cause she never
did get anything.
I think my grandmother lived up in Oregon
someplace. She lived in Baker Oregon for years it might have been maybe
she went back up there. It’s a small town.
I never liked Aunt Minnie. After my mother died Everett got sick and we went from the
homestead to the ranch. We had to carry water from the spring and heat
it up on the stove and of course it was a big old wash bucket. And dad
says to me – why don’t you get you something to sit on? He says give
Everett a bath and also be sure you put clean clothes on him. I did.
Then we went to aunt Minnies. And dog gone just the minute we got
into the house with that poor little sick kid, she had to heat up water
and put him the tub again. She took him and scrubbed him just like if
he’d been playing out in the mud puddle. And dad was shocked. And all
the time she was talking all about my mother. My mother was lazy and she
was – oh – I don’t blame you for anything because you was never taught
She say’s you’re mother was lazy. She was dirty and I
don’t know what all. Then Mable was – well I don’t know how old she was
but anyway she wasn’t walking yet. I was holding her on my lap and I
guess I yelled out, “You o’l liar you!” and she come in there and she
give me a whack right in my nose with her fist and made my nose
When she come in there Dad grabbed the baby up right away
just as quick as he could. And I got up and grabbed a chair and I would
have come down on her head but for the fact that he had the baby in arms
and he stepped in between me and her. If he hadn’t had the baby I would
have come down on him with that chair.
I was so shocked that he
wouldn’t say anything but he must of bawled her out plenty afterwards
though. I had a white blouse on and she told me come in here – they
didn’t had to bring the water down from the spring but they had some in
the wash basin. She said come in here and wash the blood off your face
but I didn’t. I still had it on my blouse. It must of been warm enough
weather maybe the last of April. I don’t remember but Frank was
We were staying with Aunt Minnie. Frank must of come
down to live with us. So he motioned for me to come outside. Just as
soon as I washed the blood off my face I run out and went over to the
river. And there was a rowboat there. I don’t remember if the hat was in
there or whether Frank had an old hat. And we got in that boat and we
rowed across the river. And that river’s all the time got an under
current you know. We went clear across the river.
Frank says you
put this hat on and scoot way down in the boat so they just can see the
top of your head and they’ll just think were a couple of Indians they
wouldn’t think anyone foolish enough to go down the river was in a row
boat. I didn’t care if I drown at that time or not. It didn’t make any
difference to me. But we could see dad – we knew it was him. He was
standing up in the buggy whipping the horses and going down ’cause he
knew where we was going ’cause one my mother brother’s and my oldest
brother Ross – Roscoe they were working down there.
They had a
place and he knew that’s probably where we were going and we did. We
ended up there. Dad didn’t come after me. He knew where Frank and I was
going I guess. Or had and idea- no were else we would go. He didn’t come
down after me though. I was so shocked, you know, of all the things Aunt
Minnie said about my mother and my dad didn’t say anything. I
guess he was shocked more than I was probably. Cause he knew it was all
lies and that what I yelled out and I said, “You liar you!” I don’t
think I got out of my mouth when she hit me. And I was holding the baby.
Dad grabbed the baby up.
I would have come down on her head but
Dad stepped in between me and her. Because he had the baby well if he
hadn’t had the baby why that chair would have come down on his head.
When I ran away that’s all the clothes I had. I just had on that bloody
blouse. It shocked my mind somehow. My brother Frank was outside and he
was just two years older than I was.
He must of come down with
us when we brought Everett down. But I was so dumb founded. Maybe that
my dad was just as shocked. Oh of course. But Frank must of been up to
aunt Minnies ranch and brought me down some clothes ’cause that’s all I
had was the clothes on my back. Then he come back and says, “Aunt Minnie
and dad had a falling out and he didn’t bring Mable back. So he kept
Mable up with him. But there was Geneva and Everett.
My dad must
of told her off. Especially running my mother down like she was. He knew
dog gone well my mother was not lazy and she wasn’t dirty. There wasn’t
a lazy bone in her body. Oh boy!
I can’t understand for the life
of me why in the world did she hate my mother so. Dad had been married
before and she broke that marriage up. She had one baby but it must have
left her, died, so she couldn’t have any more cause she was married many
times and didnt have any more.
But I don’t know why she had
this influence over my dad. He must of went after her good because
before I left Washington, we was down there for thanksgiving dinner –
went up to William’s Citing – Frank and I went up on the train and
stayed with some people by the name of Carpenter. I went to Oregon to my
Uncle Bob Taylor’s and grandma Taylor was living there too. But they
wasn’t living together. Uncle Bob and Aunt Maggie had a little baby girl
about the same age as Mable. I stayed with them.
And Frank must
of went and got me some clothes ’cause I didn’t have anything other than
what I had on. I think Dad bawled her out cause she hit me and because
he knew she was lying. He knew she was lying. And then she was nice just
as nice as pie when we were at her place at Thanksgiving. We had a
Chicken and pie and things like that. Some of the family couldn’t get
together because they lived too far apart.
After mother died,
Frank and me were up there on the homestead and we use to ride all over.
Down a ways where the road was a straight, we’d try to race with the
horses. One time we was just out riding around like a couple of kids, I
guess, and we come at a place and we couldn’t get the horses to go any
further. They just wouldn’t go any father and we had been going pretty
fast. Both of them stopped and refused go. Frank got down to see what
was happening and I got down too. No wonder they wouldn’t go we went
down and there was the Columbia river and real steep, rocky cliffs.
Those horses knew that. But we didn’t know it. It was the same as when
they knew about the log.
It’s amazing. One time we was out a
looking for the cows and I told Frank I says – we’re lost – Oh no, no,
no we’re not lost. Finally, he admitted that we were lost.
I heard that if you fed horses an take care of them and not treat them
mean or anything all you have to do is just leave the reins and
they’ll take you home. He wouldn’t admit it for a while. Finally, he
admitted we were really lost and we never did find the cows. And sure
enough we done what I said, we let go the reins and the horses took us
Well of course if you bought a horse and brought it
up and hadn’t take care of it and you treated it mean, I don’t know if
the horse would do it or not. But I know if you’re kind to them – that’s
one thing that my dad and Frank both was both very nice and kind to the
Now, my oldest brother – he was mean. I don’t know what
made him so dog gone mean but he was mean to the horses. We always had
at least two horses.
I was about 13 when I went down to California. A lot of people had cars.
I never seen a car until I left Washington and Oregon. My dad had a hack and
he had a wagon and he had a buggy.
After the death of my mother, I went down from William’s
Citing where I was staying at the time. I seen that in one of these
books about William’s Citing. There was a big mill there and there was
quite a lot of houses and they had a store and a post office and quite a
lot of people there that was working in this great big mill. That was
really something when I found in the book, just like it was. A lot of
things in there just like they were when I left. I went down – well I
had one of mother’s brothers, one of my uncles to come after me cause I
was afraid to ride on the train by myself. I went down to Baker, Oregon
where my grandmother Taylor and mother’s youngest brother Robert was
married and had a wife and little baby. I stayed with them for a
Then I stayed with my grandmother. I don’t know to this
day how come my brother Frank, who was two years older, how come him to
be down there unless he come later. I know he must of come later. I know
he didn’t go when I went. But then I had Joe Taylor one of mother’s
brothers that was a boilermaker at the railroad company and he came to
Carl, Nevada, where he was working on the railroad. And the town was
only about three thousand – very small railroad town and half of them
was Indians. And he got passes for grandmother and had her to say my
brother Frank and I was hers. He claimed we children was his younger
brother and sister. So he could get train passes for us.
But he was a fellow who seemed like he couldn’t stay on one job for very long.
So he left there and went from Carl, Nevada down into California –
Fresno – worked there and sent for us and we came and still pretended my
grandmother was our mother. Uncle Joe didn’t stay in Fresno too awful
long. Went from Fresno to Bakersfield. He went down got a job and got a
house for us to live in.
I was down there and answered an ad in
the paper for a woman that had a little three-year-old boy. She was a
dress maker and she wanted a young girl to come in and, you know, live
in for board and room and look after her little three year old boy. So I
answered the ad and got the job. I think it’s what they called old
Bakersfield, it use to be East Bakersfield. Well I think it had some
other name to it too. And that’s where my grandmother and my uncles were
living. I guess my brother Frank was still with them.
One day I went over to see them and they were all gone. I never heard from them
and I never seen them, for a long time. I seen him my brother Frank
later on. But the rest of them I never seen them until years and years
later. Many years later. I was married and, let’s see I had Nancy my
sixth child. She was a baby – not a little baby, she was about two years
old, I guess. That’s when seen my grandmother again.
All of a sudden everybody left and I was left there alone.
Then I stayed there for over a year. These people that I was staying with they had
been from Canada and they went back to Canada and they wanted me to go
with them but I wouldn’t go. Even wanted to send for me after they went
up there but I wouldn’t.
I can see the woman as plain as can be yet I don’t remember her name or how
come her to take me in. She had a family of six boys. She didn’t have any
girls she had boys. When I was taking care of this little boy his mother
was so careful about him. She wouldn’t let a speck of dirt get on him.
And she done beautiful sewing and all. They use to dress up the little boys,
you know. I knew her to change the three-year-old at least three times a day.
Finally the little fellow got kind of sick. She took him to the doctor and the doctor says,
you put overalls on – it was getting in the fall of the year and winter,
you know, although we didn’t have snow there. She put a sweater and
overalls on him and let him go out and play in the dirt.
She didn’t want to lose him so that’s what she did. There was another house
or two and there was a lot there where the children played. I don’t know
why there was a hole dug down in there and I’d take the little fellow
there and let him play in the dirt. Other children would come along.
After they left I answered another ad where they wanted a maid.
This was also in Bakersfield. I remember that lady was up in the 400
club. I answered the ad and I told them I was older than what I was. I
told them I was 16 but I wasn’t 16. She was brought up very poor. She
married a man that was in business there. He was in automobile business,
repairing or something like that. She belonged to what they call the 400
club. They had a nice little place in the back were the servants was
suppose to be. It had a bathroom, toilet and bath in it and bedroom.
That’s where I stayed at first. I don’t remember exactly how long.
One day one of this ladys friends who was from the 400 club came
over and she give the lady one of the most bawlings out ever. The very
idea of putting a teenaged girl out there in the servants quarters. You
get that girl in the house here and keep her in here. Don’t treat her
like a servant. So the lady I worked for did that cause she wouldn’t
want that to get around this 400 club, you know.
Well the 400 club was not real high society. It was just some of the people like this
woman that was suppose to be well bred. I don’t think they were all like
her because from what I could understand from her background she was
really from a broken home. Her father and mother had separated and
divorced and seemed like he was German, full blooded old German, I
That woman’s dad lived there and her husband’s mother and
I couldn’t see how either one of them was causing any trouble. And he
had a brother who lived in Whitter. Why couldn’t the brother seen about
the mother. The time I kept house for her the brother never even come
over to see her or call her or anything else as far as I know. Still she
had a son in Whitter. He rented this place and give me a job as a
housekeeper for him. Oh I was really somebody. I was Miss Turner and I
could call in and order groceries and they’d bring the groceries out to
the house. (laughing) I was really somebody. I stayed there about six
months I think it was.
I guess the lady must of wanted to get
her husbands mother out of there but she wasn’t any trouble. She was
eighty years old. BUT she was old. Here I am 89 pretty soon. I
don’t seem old or don’t look old or don’t act old like they use to years
ago. Now it’s strange to me that the ladys husband had a brother who
lived in Whitter and all the time that I kept house for this lady they
never once – any of the family came to see her. I don’t know why, but it
was so strange.
I kept house for her – they had what was called
Blue Sunday while I lived there. Everything’s closed except the
churches. And the people that run it there was suppose to be in the area
where this lady lived. She was maybe two houses on the upper side. They
were talking about putting a road through when I lived there. I imagine
they did but I can’t remember the name of this street. I know that when
you go down to town you could walk through a little park. I got a
picture of a girl that lived across the street. Either I’m sitting on
the fence or I’m standing by the fence and that’s where the road was
going to be cut through.
I remember when we were up at Aunt
Minnie’s timber claim in 1913, I guess it was, why there was a snake a
crawling along there and Frank found out it wasn’t a rattle snake and he
couldn’t kill it. You know schoolteachers would come up there and theyd
take up a timber claim and teach in the country schools.
wasn’t a cruel man at all. He was gentle and kind to his animals. I
often wondered how come my brother’s so cruel? Evidently he must have
got over it. Maybe he learned it from his wife or somebody.
Before we were married my husband and I use to like to dance. I use
to like to dance the waltz with him. One time – this was before we were
married; we use to have dances out in the country. And the older women
would sit around and watch the young folks dance, I guess. They had what
they called the rag then and you wiggle your body as you’re dancing.
(laughing) And the floor manager give us a calling down. Said they’re
some ladies over there were complaining about the way we were dancing.
Well that’s the first time I ever remember dancing like that.
Then later he didn’t want our girls to dance. He was strict about
anything like that. He didn’t even seem to want to go to dances with
just him and I after we were married. I guess he didn’t want me to be
dancing with anybody else. I figured that’s the way it was. I don’t
know. You know how they dance now days? Have you seen them?
I remember there was twins – twin girls there in Bossburg. I guess they
were about 16 years old. My oldest brother was telling about the fellow
that danced with those girls. The only way they could tell the
difference – they couldn’t by just looking at them – was when they were
dancing with him one of them felt like she was just a little bit larger
than the other one.
I met George Roy Thompson when we lived up
in Bossburg. My mother boarded me with the Thompsons for a couple of
months so I wouldnt miss school on the homestead cause the teachers
said it would have been a shame to keep me out of school. Virginia
Thompson use to see all us kids off to school and it kind of appeared to
her that we would get married someday. I remember telling mother
Thompson me marry him, yak! His sister Myrtle and I would have a nice
time. Years ago kids didnt have much to play with, you know, and wed
go out on the ground and mark off a place in the dirt that was our
bedroom and front room and so on. We dressed up sticks or most likely
corncobs. Give them hair out of that fuzzy looking stuff. Well, her
brother Roy come along and just tear up our things. Just for onryness I
guess. Dorothy couldnt believe that about her father. Shed believe if
shed seen it. Just teasing thats all. Maybe hed come along and pull
Long before that, back along many years ago, back
along in 1920, yeah 1920, I guess it was. They took out one of my
ovaries. We lived in Oregon when I was married and then we lived in West
Virginia. Grandma Thompson delivered my first baby. Before they came out
from West Virginia to Washington she was a licensed midwife. A lot of
babies she delivered by herself and lots of them she helped doctors
I never asked my husband Roy how he come to be interested
in wrestling. But he was trained under the best trainer in the West
Coast. Sometimes I’m sorry I talked him out of it. He had been
interested in wrestling when we got married But I was afraid he’d get
hurt. So I talked him out of it. I never saw him wrestle. I never seen
him train for wrestling. He had his training long before him and I was
married. But, he wrestled a bear. He traveled around in those shows-
Paul told me him and Margie went into a shopping center and they had
this big bear there and they were giving the guys a kind of a prize if
they went in there and stayed. And a lot of young guys went in the ring
with that bear. Some of them just figured they’d take the bear you know.
That bear just let them fool around a little bit and put his paw all
over them and put them down – push them right down to the ground – the
bear wouldn’t let them up. It was real funny. They wouldn’t last too
long. Sometimes the bear would let them have a little play with them, a
little bit, then let them go. Nobody could wrestle the bear. There was a
bunch of them I don’t know how many then they gave them a little
He said he thought about his Dad when he seen that bear –
the guys trying to wrestle with the bear. The men had stuff on the hands
you know, and the bear had a kind of glove like on so he couldn’t hurt
Roy was in good health until he went to Hawaii. He pretty
near died over there. I don’t know what happen to him. He never was the
same afterwards as far as health was concerned. In the bay area he had a
real good name. Everybody in the typewriter business knew him.
I use to get these awful spells. Oh those things were terrible. I had that
the year after Roy passed away. He never did know about it. He tried to
help out a little bit when we were on Figero and York Boulevard in Los
Angeles. One night when I had one of them spells. He tried his best to
help me. He give me just a teaspoon full – what was it – he told me what
it was. It wasn’t whiskey. It was gin. THAT’S ALL IT WAS – I SWEAR TO IT
-JUST A TEASPOON FULL.
I was lying on Pauls bed. I said, Paul
you wash up and get yourself clean enough to suit me. And when Roy come
in there Paul come back to get in bed Roy says, Leave your mother alone,
she’s tired. She’s gonna lay there and rest. That’s when he gave me the
gin. Just a teaspoon – I know that’s all there was. And I couldn’t even
get off of there. He had to get me off of the bed and after he got me
into our bedroom, I couldn’t even undress myself. I wore a corset those
days and did for years. And I was singing and so happy – like to scare
the daylights out of me and I got to thinking about it the next morning.
Cause we were having a pretty tough time financially and things like
that. I’m so glad it did frighten me. People make mistakes like that.
They try to booze all their troubles away.
It just frightened me
near to death, I thought, my goodness – and you know I wouldn’t take a
dog gone thing from him after that – all those years afterwards. I says
you give me that on purpose, didn’t you? NOOOO he said – Because I got
mad at him.
Something about – well, I been given stuff to knock
me out, you know, when I was operated on. It just takes so quick though.
Just seems like – how am I gonna explain it – well, when I was operated
on they put that thing over your nose and give you gas to put you to
My dad died in the hospital. Oh he must of had some kind
of kidney trouble. Catherine, Franks wife told me one time they found
out he had diabetes. I guess that goes along with the kidneys, I don’t
Roy had a concordance. I don’t know what ever happened to
that concordance unless Ruby got it. It was a song about the volunteers
that one of the Turners wrote during the war about the volunteers. I
forget how it went. It was in Roy’s concordance and I don’t know what
happened to it.
I remember when we were on Pearl Street in
Alameda I use to go down in the basement washing clothes with a scrub
brush. Scrub scrub scrub – up and down – up and down.
When Thompsons came out to Bossburg they came highway 6 from West Virginia to
Bossburg, Washington. Only this was out on the homestead. The Thompson
had a homestead in Oregon. That place is still there. I dont know how
many peoples had it since. Theres a high fence and theres an orchard
there an apple orchard. And way back up theres a spring. Someone from
Spokane bought it. They built a nice house.
Roy was saved after our little girl died. I recall him going to church before that.
See the children had Diphtheria. And all three of them was sick. We
just had the three girls then, Ruth and Hazel and Dorothy. And all three
of them got Diphtheria at school. And all had bad tonsils. The school
nurse tried her best to get Roy to have their tonsils removed. But he
couldn’t see it that way. And the doctors said that if Ruth’s tonsils
hadn’t been so bad why they felt they could have saved her. The
ambulance took all three of them to the old hospital in San Diego. They
went on the same stretcher. The oldest one didn’t pull through. She was
six years and six months.
They went in on Friday night and Ruth died Sunday afternoon.
Roy went over there more than once. He
went out to the old isolated hospital they called them when you had some
kind of catchy disease, you know. And he tried all day Sunday
practically to tell me they didn’t expect her to live. But I didn’t know
anything about it until some man come knocked on the door and I went to
the door and he says, Where do you want us to bring your little girls
body? – That’s the way I was approached.
Roy was quiet. Grief
affects people in different ways. He didnt start going to church right
away. Then he went to the Baptist church.
We moved around a lot
after that. They didn’t have any buses until years and years later so we
had an old car and sometimes we took the train. They had bunks on some
of these trains – sleepers. That’s the way they were. One here one there
and so on.
Well, it pleased me they had good highways going up
to the homestead this time. Better than the other two times Dorothy and
I were up there. They just had the old highway in. But clear on up –
well we were just about 4 miles to the Canadian line. Even up there
where Hazel and Dick lives why they had a good highway. And some of the
roads out in the country wasn’t right bad. I guess we got on a couple of
roads that were bad.
The road that went out to the homestead was
just the same old road just full of weeds and just barely wide enough
for a car to go around. It hadn’t changed. I was surprised that they
hadn’t done something to that road. I never seen a car when I was up
there. You always had to drive a buggy or wagon.
When we went on
the trains, they didnt stop a lot. We never ate on the diner. When we
traveled we took our food with us. Or either stopped along somewhere and
got off, you know.
We went from Columbus, Ohio to Springfield,
Missouri and stayed all night. Then we stopped in Alton and rode with
the fellow that carried the mail. My uncle, my dad’s brother that’s two
years older than him – he had a dress mill. They must have had the post
office there then. Or why would be riding a mail car. It was just a
little ford car. He was living miles from a town by the name of Alton.
It’s on the map. They brought the mail out to my uncle.
We picked up my sister Mable. My aunt Minnie had died. We wanted to take
her when she was only four years old, when Roy and I got married. Then
we left my uncle and took the train from Sarah, Missouri. That’s right
on the border of Arkansas.
We went to L.A. and stayed all night
and then went into San Diego. Then we spent a little over four years in
San Diego before we went to Los Angeles.
Roy worked for a fellow
that had a repair shop. The owner went away. It was supposed to be just
a couple of weeks and I’d have to figure back how many years Roy worked
for that company. He repaired not only typewriters he repaired all kinds
of office machinery. We didn’t live far from the ocean.
When you have a timber claim you have to clear off so much timber, you know,
before you can run up on the place and then it belongs to you. You get a
deed to it. There was a fellow lived near my aunt’s timber claim and he
had a mill on there. He had four children. His wife died. The oldest
girl told me how aunt Minnie treated my sister, Mable. Made her bring
water from the spring and wash clothes until about 15 minutes before
Nobody helped before she walked to school. Then give her
a whipping’ when she got back if she was late to school. Oh, my sister
went through an awful lot. Mable said when she’d get mad at her – Aunt
Minnie would say, You’re just like your mother. I said, Why didn’t you
tell her, thank you that’s a compliment? She said well, I didn’t know
that much about my mother.
Mother wanted me to be a girl so bad that my interest was inside the house, you know, helping her. Geneva was a tomboy.
I got married September 1914. We eloped. Roys mother knew that we were going to, but the rest of the family didn’t. We were suppose to go up to Enterprise to see if he could get a job. We were there about two years.
We lived in West Virginia for six years. First in Coalfield and then in Bloomfield. When we left for California, we stopped first and picked up Mable. It was cold in West Virginia. It was January when we went to Coalfield. Ohh so cold! I couldn’t get a fire going! Just had a small cookstove for eating. I never was good about building a fire using coal. You have to have kennel [kindling], kennel wood.
One day he come home and I was in bed with the baby crying. A five month
old baby, Ruth the oldest one.
Roy didnt scold me or say arent you ashamed of yourself. He was so kind and sweet. He got the coal can and walks I dont know how far it was might have been a half a mile might not of. He got the coal oil so he could get a fire started.
I wanted to go back. If I waited one more day I wouldn’t have been able to cause a storm blew in. There was just a small train that run from Enterprise down to Le Grand. Then you had to get another train if you were going anywhere else.
We had an awful fire. I had the flu a month after Dorothy was born. It always settles in the weakest part of you when youre sick. Naturally after childbirth it would be the female organs. The doctor come in one day and said arent you the lady that didnt want any more children? I says I got three little girls at home and I want three little boys. I only got one. Paul had seven girls and one boy.
I had just got out of bed for the first time after I got home from the hospital and the doctor told my husband not to leave me alone. Of course he had to go to his job. So he hired a lady that wasn’t too bright. And if Hazel had been home, well, she was always bad about getting a hold of matches, just loved to get matches from those old style match boxes. She’d just strike one and watch it burn. She would have been the one to be accused of the fire, but her grandma Thompson took her home with her.
And we burnt coal near the house. There must have been near a quarter ton of it. Plus there was a pile of pine pitch for starting the fire. Inside the house we had straw beds. They were in something like pillow cases. When the children wet the beds the straw could be taken out and case washed and new straw put back in.
Well, it was Ruth that got a hold of the matches. Shes the one that started the fire. I went out with the hired lady to get water and the lady said Mrs. Thompson so you know your house is on fire?
I went and looked and had this spell. I was having convulsions then. The people next door had a phone and called Roy. They said Mr. Thompson your house is on fire. He said, the hell with the fire, where are my wife and kids!? He told me he didnt know how he got there so quick.
Ruth run out of the house. But Dorothy was a toddler and she walked out with flames coming up over her flames as she trotted out the door. To think Ruth escaped the fire only to die of diphtheria in San Diego a year later.