The D.W. Hodgson homestead

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Dad chose my present home as his place to settle and built his first house in a rather improbably place, partly because it was more or less in sight and hollering distance of Grandad’s. Also, he said that the trees were so thick that it was hard to tell what the place looked like and the nearby gulch offered a certain promise of water which was never more than partially kept.

Dad had scarcely even felled a tree before he climbed the hill to build his house, but Grandad went along to give advice and moral — support and he managed to get the hang of it and knocked down with axe and crosscut enough trees of Varying sizes — fir and tamarack — to run up a very crude log house with a split shake roof that turned the water much better than the old tie camp building. One of the major difficulties with the house was that it was built on a hillside and the logs on the upper side had to be trenched down and, after the walls were up, he had to shovel the dirt from one corner to the opposite corner to level up the floor. The hastily laid floor, nailed on poles, settled; with the loose dirt in the lower corner, part of the floor had a pronounced slope. I was born in that log cabin in the spring of 1913 and the floor was never leveled up until the early 1920’s when we added the frame addition which is all of the building that now stands. The frame building was an old bunkhouse — bought cheap and re-assembled with variations. [Note: We were living in the ‘new’ house when Lelia was married in 1919 {1920} so my date is a little bit off.]

The log cabin became the kitchen and the north window was cut down into to an intermediate door. The water question and inertia was the chief reasons for not building somewhere else at that time. The well did provide water part of the time. Snow was melted nearly every winter and before roads were built, water was transported by hand in buckets — later in cream cans — slung across saddles and finally endlessly hauled by myself in sleds and wagons. Cattle and horses were taken to water. I finally got the water piped down in 1950 after the present house was built in 1941 and later, by the joint efforts of myself, Dad, Victor and Lester. Lester bought the new lumber and the old livery barn in old Kettle Falls for the rough framing materials.

Our first electricity was Lester’s idea and expense, and was a battery-powered 32 volt plant which was never very efficient. After several years we got REA {Rural Electrification Administration is now WWP {Washington Water Power Company}.

To get back to earlier events. Dad and Mom moved into the house In the middle of the winter and settled into adjusting to circumstances. Dad and Mom and five children crammed into one room — 3 beds — a cupboard and table of sorts — sundry boxes and a very small flat-topped cook stove.

I think I vaguely remember the cookstove myself… It was mostly cast iron — even the oven door which swung from side hinges was cast. One of Dad’s favorite stories was of how it arrived at their tie camp home that fall. He and Uncle Myron, who was then about 17, walked into Orient in the morning; Dad bought the stove and he and Uncle Myron, between them, carried it to what is now the foot of the hill near the railroad bridge across Boulder Creek, which at that time (and much later) was a long trestle. They got there at dark and, Uncle Myron having given out, they parked it for the ‘night and trudged the rest of the way home to supper.

[Note: Vera says that I could not have remembered the old cookstove as it was discarded for another before I was born and in view of the time lapse, it does seem probable. Her recollection of it was as to how awfully small it was. She says Mom had to bake bread in cans in order to utilize the oven space.

Dad got out very early the next morning and carried it the rest of the way home on his back. I never persuaded him to admit it, but he must have stripped the stove down to do it. The legs the lids and the oven door surely could have been removed. The stove had to be carried about half a mile to get to the old tie road and around a thousand feet of that was almost straight up and down hillside. I have been over the route many times. There was another half mile of flat land after he reached the road. It took lots of strength and determination. Dad bought one cow fairly early but did not get a horse for quite some time — no one would sell a horse for a reasonable price and there was the question of winter feed. His first horse was an old cow pony, received as a gift of trust from one Jack Kennedy, a bachelor who had seen enough of homesteading. The government man from the Land Office said he couldn’t hold the claim without a „long-haired partner’ and Kennedy, with very good logic, said he could not support one there. He said in somewhat different language that she would starve to death. The horse, Snowball, died before my time.

There were other horses — Ned, Lady, Kit, tow of Lady’s colts, King and, a number of years later, Lizzie, a red roan named Napoleon and, much later, two fair-sized work horses which Lloyd bought but later transferred to Dad, Bess and Molly. My last horse, several years dead, was Bingo.


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