FAMILY WELL DISPUTE: by George Chatham

By George Chatham

After my grandparents, Fred and Ethel Chatham, were married April 14, 1914, there was a “dug-out” build on Fred’s homestead; but exactly when it was built is in question. Apparently there was a well dispute and the couple lived for a time with her Father, Daniel Chenoweth, who was a widower. According to My Aunt Vela Chatham Frank, there was a well that my grandfather thought was on his homestead, but my great-uncle Ira Chenoweth (brother to Ethel), whose homestead bordered on the East with my Grandfather’s homestead, thought the well belonged to him. This dispute continued and there may have even been a law-suit over the well. But according to my Aunt Vela, Ethel’s father, Daniel Chenoweth said, “No daughter of mine is going to live without water.” So for that reason the family (or part of the family) lived for a while down two miles east on North Horse creek with my Great Grand-dad Daniel Chenoweth. (See Picture below)

Daniel McClain Chenoweth
Daniel McClain Chenoweth

We do know that my Uncle Oran Chatham (b. 1917) and Ola Chatham Schibblehut (b. 1919) were both born down at “Grand-dad Chenoweth’s place”. None of the living siblings know which place my Uncle Ray Chatham (b. 1916), the oldest sibling, was born. There eventually was a well dug up near the homestead “dug-out” that was later to provide ample water for the livestock and family. The family apparently moved back to the “dug-out” by 1921 where Vernon, my father was born on Fred’s homestead.

The “dug-out” was the typical “dug-out” of the time, built by digging a room about 10′ by 12′ (or so), about 4 or 5 feet into the ground, with about a two feet wall laid above the ground. The roof was basically flat with a slight slop, made with a ridge-pole and rafters with boards covered with a tar-paper roof sometimes over-laid with sod. By the time my Dad, Vernon, was born or shortly after, a small bed-room was added to the front of the “dug-out” and a living-room/kitchen added to the east side. I remember my Dad (Vernon) showing me where the Dug-out was located. By that time the “dug-out” part on Fred’s homestead was filled in, but the framed bed-room and living room/kitchen area was being used as a “granary” by Granddad Chatham (Fred) and is still standing the last time I was there.


Next Post: “Hand Dug Wells”

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