MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
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Pioneering In Owendale

by Selma Hadfield
"Chief Mountain Country" pages 71 - 72

One early spring day in 1910 Mr. Rickmyer came rumbling into Cardston on a train. He had left his wife in Lethbridge for three days while he got things settled. He had two carloads of possessions, among them being 16 horses but no cattle. Mr. Henry Champney was with Mr. Rickmyer and he also had some things with him. They came from Cardston with horse and wagon for the train only came to Woolford once a month.

There were no fences except around the township. The only buildings in this township was the Owendale place, where Mr. Orene Hansen lives, and a small shack where John Carlson lives, Drake place. Mr. and Mrs. Rickmyer stayed with the Drakes while building a house.

Their new mansion was a 12' x 16' building, half of which was used for chickens. In their little house lived four people. Mr. and Mrs. Rickmyer, Mr. Champney. and their daughter Alice. Curtains hung to divide bedrooms, and mattresses placed about the floor were their sleeping places on a 12 x 8 floor.

The fuel they used for heat was cow chips. There was lots of them for cattle had roamed the prairie. In winter very poor coal was obtained from Kimball coal mine.

All the land was just prairie grass which they broke with a one furrow plow. It was a good, hard day's work to break two acres. They used six horses.

There were no schools. Mrs. Rickmyer taught her daughter for the first year. The following fall the little church on the corner was built. It was used for a school till 1912 when the little old Jefferson school was built right between Mr. Champney's and Brown's places. To this school went eight students, one girl and seven hoys. Alice Rickmyer and Jack Wright were two of the students. The old benches down in the United Church were used for student's desks. They had a board across the back for students to write on. They were nailed down so they wouldn't tip over.

In the same year (1910) Rob Dawson, Nays and Bill Roberts came to settle in Owendale. At that time their only way to travel was by horse and wagon after which the wealthiest got a democrat.

The lights were kerosene lamps and years later gas lamps. At night Mr. Rickmyer hung a lantern out so peo- ple traveling could tell where they were. There was a light over in Aetna that Mr. Rickmyer could see from his place.

The mail was brought from Cardston to Rickmyer where it was distributed to 16 families. Their cream was picked up and one person would head across the prairie to Cardston with it.

In 1914 the telephone helped communication, and as the years sped by things improved. The grain was hauled to Woolford for years. The main (road) trail went right past Rickmyers place as far as Del Bonita and to Woolford.

Around 1929 things really boomed. The Railroad came to Jefferson. Paul Beitz built a little store and post office. In 1930's tractors started coming into our district. In 1937 Mr. Rickmyer got his first tractor. Since then things have gradually become more modern and convenient.

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This article was written for the grade 5 & 6 class in the Jefferson school by Mrs. Rickmyer in 1960.

The little church on the corner of which she speaks was used for many years. After the United Church was built, right in Jefferson, the little church was bought by the Catholic Church and moved to Whiskey Gap where they used it for a few years. It still stands there but is no longer in use.

The old Jefferson school built in 1912 was purchased by Elmo Wolsey and moved to Jefferson where it was remodeled and used as their home, with a store and post office in the front. It was later purchased by Lynn Woodward where it continued to serve as their dwelling, store and post office. It has since been remodeled and is now their home.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup