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Amos Peterson and Estelle Peterson

Pinepound Reflections - A History of
Spring Coulee and District pages 306 - 307
by Clarence J. Peterson

In late 1903 or early 1904, my parents Amos and Estelle Peterson carne to Spring Coulee. That summer they lived in an old granary on the east side of the creek and on the north side of the old road. I remember later in 1918 there was a wooden bridge across the creek. Whether it was there at the time mother and dad came to Spring Coulee, l am not sure. It was in the old granary that my brother was born May 25, 1904. That fall they moved into a log house that stood on the east of the creek and south of the road. It was here while they were living in this house that mother had a very traumatic incident.

Mother, l believe was the first post mistress in Spring Coulee. During the days the mail came in. Mother was busy giving out mail, selling stamps and doing all the other duties that a post mistress has to do. My brother was three years old at the time and liked to wander around outside. The creek was nearby and running high as it was springtime so his wanderings concerned mother very much. When she was busy with the mail, mother would stake him out, so to speak. Dad fixed a little harness for him and mother would tie a little rope to the harness and to a post, to limit his travels and keep him where mother knew he was safe while she was busy. Some of the patrons would come early to get a little visiting while the mail was being sorted. One lovely spring day, mother had him staked out as usual but one of the more humane patrons turned him loose as he felt it was too confining for a little boy on such a lovely day. After the mail was sorted and the work caught up, mother looked out for him and he was nowhere to be seen. The rope was there but no little boy. Mother was frantic to say the least. She immediately asked all the people around if they had seen her little boy. A few people were still there visiting, including a few Indians. As soon as mother got the word out, all these individuals started to search up and down the creek. Mother said that every time she looked at the creek cold chills would run up and down her spine. It wasn't long however, that one of the Indian men found him asleep by some buck brush, oblivious to all the excitement around him. He hadn't gone too far, but had wandered up the creek and tiring, laid down to take a nap.

There was quite a bit of land broken up that the settlers were farming. All the fields that were farmed were fenced to keep out cattle that were grazing over the unfenced prairies. Two or three miles north of the "Coulee" ran the St. Mary River which was at this point the southern boundary of the Blood Reservation. A cattle company by the name of Gordon, Ferris and Ironsides had a large area of the reservation leased on which to graze their cattle that numbered up into the thousands.

Dad tells me that the winter of 1907/08 was really cold and had a lot of snow. Winter came early and stayed a long time it seemed. Dad and his brother Andrew Peterson were farming together and uncle Andrew lived with Dad and Mother. One day, Uncle and Dad decided to go down to the river to check on some cattle they had there. Dad said when they came up out of the coulee and turned north toward the Barrus Farm, it was snowing hard and there was a hard wind out of the north that was very cold. Uncle suggested that they just as well turn around and go back because the cattle were probably frozen to death and if they weren't, would be before they could get there. So they turned around and went back to Kelley's store to warm up. There was a large thermometer hanging on the front of the store which they checked on their way into the store and Dad said it was on fifty degrees below zero. Even in the house it didn't get too warm. Mother would put warm water in a quart jar for my brother to play with so he could keep his hands warm.

I remember being told that during the same winter in January 1908, a really bad blizzard came with a lot of snow and cold and wind, straight out of the north. Gordon Ferris and Ironsides' cattle crossed the ice on the river and they drifted into Spring Coulee. Here they started to hit the fences and small bunches of cattle would gather in the fence corners and stand there. Due to the intense cold, they would freeze to death standing up. The cold lasted for sometime but eventually the Chinook breezes started to blow and Dad said it was a strange sight indeed to see a few cattle standing so life-like and then suddenly crumple and fall to the ground.

Dad told me the names of the neighbors but very few I remember. I do remember one, a Mr. Thompson. I remember him probably more so as Dad couldn't say enough good things about him. He was always helping Dad and Uncle out. Dad tells, he and Uncle once had some pigs. I don't just remember how many but anyway they were running loose. They came up missing and Dad started to look for them. He went over to Thompson's to see of they had seem them. Mr. Thompson had and he also had them penned up and was feeding them. Dad apologized for letting them run and said he would take them home, but Mr Thompson said, "No, Amos just leave them here. It is very little trouble and I will just feed them till harvest is over which will be shortly and then you can get them." I think this speaks very well for the people in the Spring Coulee area. Dad and Uncle weren't the only young people that were just starting out and received help from the older established farmers.

In the spring of 1908, Dad and Uncle bought a farm four miles west of Magrath. It was here that I was born February 25, 1909. Mother, Dad and Uncle must have enjoyed the years that they lived in Spring Coulee as I remember hearing about the wonderful times they had and the wonderful people that they knew there.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup