As pioneers in eastern Washington

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

Kennedy’s claim was on eighty acres of what is now the Lakin place — Harry Martin took over after he left. The Martins did not starve but left after acquiring title. The homesteader had only two choices — live off his timber or find an outside job. Dad used both methods, but the outside job with regular pay was by far the most dependable.

At this point I had better explain that none of the first settlers here had any real legal status. They took the land on a first-come, first-served basis, and their only claim was the tradition of squatter’s rights. The Homestead Act was passed in 1862, but this region had never been surveyed and officially opened for settlement. The Forest Service was founded in 1905 during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, and most of this region was thrown into the Colville National Forest; government survey was speeded up and the squatters were checked out to some degree as to the reasonableness of their claims. Most long-settled families were approved but a bachelor was not considered a ‘hardship case’.

Dad filed his claim officially on June 28, 1917. The claim was advertised in a newspaper called the Marcus Messenger on August 16, and he received his deed signed by Woodrow Wilson through his secretary on May 15, 1918. He probably filed a statement of intent five years earlier. There would have been ample time and he probably would not have been credited with his period of unofficial occupancy. There was a ‘prove-up’ fee in excess of a hundred dollars; Dad managed to borrow the money from someone, a storekeeper, I think, he was a bit short at the time.

By that time there were ten of us that sat around the long rectangular table in the old log house — the amount of sugar, flour and lard consumed was really something. The house had been expanded by a rude board lean-to with its own stove for winter.

The family settled in Ferry County, northwest of Spokane and bordering on Canada. The land wasn’t anything like Iowa!

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