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Memories of Raley

by Oscar Carlson
Chief Mountain Country" pages 74 - 75

In 1910 a freight train leaving Lethbridge with a passenger coach attached took four hours to reach Raley. (God must have made this train as He made everything "that creepeth on the face of the earth"). That spring a post office was opened in a farm house. Southwest of Raley was an area known as "Gumbo Flats" where there were several sections of pasture land used for sheep grazing during these summers. Badgers were plentiful and farmers killed many.

A Presbyterian minister rode horseback from Cardston and held services in a farm house sitting room on Sunday afternoons. Different denominations took part. One Sunday it had to be held in a kitchen. A thunder storm came up and the hail made such a noise on the roof the service had to be cut short.

People drove over frozen lakes during winter in home-made cutters with heated rocks wrapped in blankets to keep their feet from freezing.

Men used horses for field work and some wives drove to Cardston to get the plough shares sharpened. Farmers did not have many granaries to store grain. Any empty space in the home was used. One home had wheat in a room and when seeding time came the fanning mill was put through the window and the seed cleaned in the bedroom.

During World War 1, farm help was difficult to get and sometimes as many as five different nationalities were working on the same farm. People did not have cars, radios, or telephones. It was a luxury to have a gramaphone.

Some of the people hauled water for their homes in a barrel covered with a sack kept in place by a metal band.

The following is a brief sketch of a few of the families in the early Raley district. Oscar Carlson was born August 21, 1902. Oscar and his mother Anna Charlotta Carlson immigrated to Raley, Alberta in 1905. They came to Spring Coulee station on the A.R. & I narrow track railway train, (Alberta Railway & Irrigation Co.) later taken over by the C.P.R. The end of the line was at the St. Mary River's edge northeast of Cardston. Later a railway bridge was built there. Passengers were taken from that point to Cardston by coach.

Mrs. Anna Carlson had a job housekeeping and cooking for L. H. Jelliff and hired help. Mr. Jelliff, who settled on section 15, acquired and had interest in some 6 sections of land. Later in the 1920's he became the U.F.A. member of parliament at Ottawa, and served in this capacity for 12 years.

The Raley school No. 2099 was built about 1910. Sam Carson did a great deal of the construction work. The school was built on the corner of the Earl Church land. N.W. I/4 9 T. 4 R. 24 W4-just east of the Raley elevators. The first pupils in the school were Elwood Church, Oscar Carlson, Florence Church, Marion Flock, Bernice Flock, Frances Cooper, and two other boys. The first teacher was Miss Annie Rooney. She was Irish and some of the students had trouble understanding her Irish brogue.

Alf Darby and his wife Fanny Kemp settled here in 1907. His sister Amy was here also. Alf and Fanny had two sons, Louis and Ralph.

There was Carl "Charlie" Clasen and his wife Emma. They started farming in 1911. They had two daughters, Lillian and Alberta.

Then there was the Robertson ranch. Doctor Robertson came from southern U.S.A. and settled some 3 miles west of Raley close to the St. Mary River. He had one son who died during World War 1. Dr. Robertson raised many cattle and had quite an operation there. The Hutterites came up from the Dakotas in 1915 or 16 and bought his ranch. They named their holdings the West Raley Colony.

Mr. Bob Latelife was on the trail of 1898 and carried a 200 pound pack on his back up to Yukon and Alaska. He struck gold there and collected considerable money. He took a boat that sailed down the coast and went to Seattle.

A family by the name of Church built and developed a nice farmstead in Raley. They were Presbyterians and raised a nice religious family-Elwood, Florence, Cecil and Clarence. One of the two younger boys, Cecil, ate some poison berries in the pasture and died. Mr. Church in time got his leg caught in a grain binder (about 1918 or 19) and died in the hospital.

Mr. and Mrs. H. J. "Butch" Flock and family- Marion, Bernice, Alberta, Stacia, Donald and Margaret were very religious Catholics. They farmed in Raley from 1909 to 1930. They were highly interested in community affairs. They later sold out and moved to Lethbridge.

H. A. Walter settled in Raley district in the early days. His family were: Herbert, Lloyd, Kenneth, Doris, and Hazel.

Joe Workman farmed in Raley district and also played the violin at the old time dances. He was called "fiddler Joe". He had three children-Oral, Geneva, and Ralph.

Then there was the Milligan Bros. who settled close to Raley-Bill, Maurice, Jim and Mike. They were big, huskey, hard-working fellows. They settled "Slabtown" called that because of the type of house construction in those days for low priced housing. Later on, this location was called Raley Farming Company.

Harry Sykes and his wife had a farm two or three miles west of Raley. They had one daughter.

Arthur Sykes and his wife lived a few miles southwest of Harry's place closer to Cardston, on the farm where Don McKay has lived since 1924 to date (1978).

Horace Brandham and wife and two boys-Roy and Merlin-lived on a farm close to the Harry Sykes locality.

In 1913-14 a Messina Sykes cooked and kept house for L. H. Jelliff and later had a millinery shop in Cardston .

Alex Dower Sr. built a small house and lived there for a short time. Alex and Sam Carson were brothers. Alex was killed in World War 1.

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Mary Tollestrup