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Daniel Crookston

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and
Surrounding Districts, Pages 306
by Lisadore (Brown Crookston) Harker

The original Daniel Crookston family came to Canada in the spring of 1898 from Logan, Utah. They first went to Cardston. There Grant Crookston was born on September 25, 1899.

The family then moved to Magrath, built a home, and settled there. The home still stands and is a beauty spot in the town.

Some years after they settled they took out a homestead in Del Bonita. They had to live on this land in order to prove up on it and make it their own. This they did for many years. Dan the oldest son, and Grant spent many years on this land. They always spoke of it as the lease. The land was situated next to the Ed Newton home. The Daltons later bought this land. All eight of the Crookston family have now passed on. 1, Lisadore Brown Crookston, Grant's wife, will try to pass on some of the stories about the wonderful and exciting days spent on the Lease.

The summers were full of activity and work, haying, gardening and caring for the animals. They built a cabin for a summer home. They had a wonderful garden, and planted trees and shrubs to beautify the place. There was a good cold water spring close to the house. They boxed in the spring and used it as a cooling house for the milk, cream and butter. It also supplied water for the home and animals.

These were the horse and buggy days. The journeys back and forth from Magrath were always to be remembered. Many friends accompanied them and enjoyed the life on the lease. The winters were lonesome and the nights long as they listened to the howling of the wolves.

Grant often said that as a young man if he was alone, he didn't dare sleep with his back to the door. Those cold winter nights seemed to make the howl of the wolves more piercing and frightening.

Dan made a really big deal out of hunting wolves. He had traps and hounds and he used to sell the wolf hides. They tanned some and made rugs for their cabin. These wolf stories still live very vividly in the minds of his children. A grandson who is an artist, has painted a beautiful picture, a night scene of a little log cabin down in a snow covered valley, a light in the window, and three wolves with their noses in the air. One can almost hear the howl; a vivid picture in his mind.

In the year of 1920 or there about, Zelpha Harris (Dow) was teaching school at Lens. She was a leader in that community. She and Grant were both from Magrath. They grew up together. They surely enjoyed each other's company. Grant used to go over to the school house after school. He would play his guitar and Zelpha the piano and they would sing. Grant had a good tenor voice and loved to sing. All of his life he sang at our entertainments in Magrath.

Doris Head was also teaching at Del Bonita at that same time. They often went to the Crookston cabin for fun evenings. The girls both rode horseback. While at the school house Zelpha taught Grant how to dance. They had lots of fun. He became the best dancer on the ballroom floor, thanks to Zelpha. I enjoyed many happy and enjoyable years dancing with my husband.

I remember Grant telling me how he enjoyed the Newtons as neighbors. He had many good meals there. He told me how Mrs. Newton used to bake bread. It seemed to him she baked dozens of loaves at a time in many different pans. If she ran out of pans she would use other round utensils and tall cans. He loved to land at her home at bread making time. He always took some home with him. They were wonderful neighbors.

Also he talked about the dances, the all night ones where the ladies brought cakes and all kinds of food for a midnight feast. The babies would sleep on the benches while the grown ups enjoyed their dancing; good old days.

Then there was the half way house, McClains, where Crookston boys were always welcomed, warmed and fed. These were days of real hospitality, when people had time to visit and to enjoy one another.

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Mary Tollestrup