I am again excited to push out part 2 of Wayne Collier’s “The Story of Edler,” It will be available here for free, We will also publish it as a series in the Plainsman Herald.
We had a great response to part and Zoretta Ownbey fills in a little more of the story as she tells us, ” Wayne Collier was married to Joe’s aunt Blanche Ownbey. He and his father was struck by lightning which killed his father and Wannie evently went blind. He went on to college. He became a preacher. He pastored the Baptist Church in Campo, for several years later moving to Cortez and pastoring a church there.”
It also seems to be the kind of thing that would be good in a new book format compilation of Baca County History, but that is another conversation. I have my reasons for wanting to get to to folks in multiple formats. I won’t address that here, you can see a bit of that reasoning at my tech blog kentbrooks.com in the article “Are you ready for the Digital Dark Age?” I would again like to offer up a hearty “Thank You” to Arlan Hiner for providing us another item for our efforts to document Baca County History.
“This letter was written by Wayne Collier, October 27, 1969. Wayne Collier was born at Cherryvale, Kansas May 11, 1905 and died April 21, 1985 at Palisade, Colorado. Given to me at the Hiner family reunion in May 2018 by Opal Ketterman Brinkley, my oldest cousin.”
Arlan G. Hiner
Lakeview School, as I remember, was larger than most country schools of the time – I would judge its dimensions to be about twenty-four by forty feet. It had a dirt floor, which we children promptly ground into a fine dust an inch or two deep. We had dust storms within the building and noons and recesses, when the weather kept us in, long before the county had them outside. One time a mouse was found in our water cooler, and we had a lot of fun yelling, “mouse soup for sale” to each other. We had no desks. For a time, cement block left over from the construction were piled up and planks placed over them for seats. Other cement blocks were stacked higher and planks placed over them for a desk. My father, being a carpenter, eventually made a home-made desk for Andy and me. I saw that desk many years later at Springfield at a school fair. I wished afterwards that I had inquired about it and had taken steps to acquire it.
When school buildings were built for educational purposes, they also became community centers for recreational and religious purposes. Box suppers and pie suppers to raise money for the school became social and recreational events as well. For this reason we sometimes went to such events in other districts. I remember attending such a supper at the Sunnyside School about seven or eight miles northwest of Edler when it was just a shell of new lumber without either outer or inner finish. Many years later, Basil Slavens who grew up in that neighborhood and taught there, introduced me to the member of the school board there and I taught my first term of school there. That community had a Post Office called Setonburg and a little ahead of Edler and we got our mail for awhile at the Setonburg P.O. I am not sure of the spelling. It was named for Seton Brown, who lived in the community at that time.
Then literaries were organized in some schools. Our Lakeview Literary alternated in time with the Horseshoe Literary; so we could attend each other’s literaries. For those not acquainted with such entertainments, let me say that the programs could be put on by amateurs with a minimum of preparation – especially collective preparation. The programs included such things as recitations, readings, dialogues, songs, stunts, and there were regular features such as a literary paper made up of jokes on various members of the community submitted by other members of the community, and a literary debate – usually on some ridiculous question argued with more humor than logic. The Horseshoe School House was a half dugout building smaller than the Lakeview building.
The first year that Olaf Baldwin taught our school he invited the Horseshoe School to join us in last day of school activities. Part of the activities was a game of baseball between our two schools. Within our schools a spelling bee and a siphering match were often a last of the week means of relaxation. The last quarter of the day was often given over to such activity.
Baseball contests between communities was later developed as a Saturday afternoon form of recreation. I remember the younger Bosley boys, Claude, Dan, and Charly as being prominent in representing the Edler Community in this sport.
Then there were Fourth of July celebrations in the head of the canyons in which Reignier was located. Again, I’m not sure of the spelling. I believe the canyon was called Jones Canyon – but I am not sure of that. I remember such things on the program as a Fourth of July speech by someone – I remember Mr. Palmer, he had a long white beard, who lived two or three miles south of Lakeview as giving one such speech. One year Andy and I were asked to sing some of the songs which we sometimes sang at literary programs, and a collection of small change was taken up for us. There was a wrestling match one year between Mr. Caswell, probably in his forties, and a young man. Afterwards I heard the young man talking about the match and saying that Mr. Caswell was strong as a bull in his arms and shoulders but weak in his legs. This Mr. Caswell was an interesting character. He had a heavy black beard and was somewhat short and stocky in build. He had a wife but no children. He was called on every year to prepare the barbecue. He barbecued both beef and goat. I usually sampled both and at the time, liked both. People brought the rest of their food. Being somewhat of a mystery figure, Mr. Caswell was the subject of such rumors as the one about him coming to the country with gold coins between the two layers of a double bottom in his wagon box. Part of the Fourth of July program was a rodeo upon the flats above the head of the canyon, with, I believe, some horse racing.
As school houses were built, nearly everyone of them, if not every one, became the meeting place of a Union Sunday School. There was seldom enough people of any one domination to have a Sunday School or church of a single domination at the beginning, and men of different dominations preached at these schools – usually on an occasional or intermittent or alternative basis. Mr. Palmer, a widower with two grown daughters and a grown son, who lived about two or three miles south of Lakeview, was a long Superintendent of the Union Sunday School at Lakeview. He was a moderately tall and moderately slender man who wore a white goatee. His son was drafted into the army in World War I and he did not return to live with his father after the war, but Mr. Palmer’s daughters were still living with him, I believe, when he left Baca County.
The Union Sunday School soon formed Sunday School Associations and set certain dates for meeting and fellowshipping with each other. In addition, our Sunday School occasionally had a picnic at the same site where the Fourth of July picnics were held.
Before the Union Sunday Schools was organized, my Mother conducted Sunday School lessons at our house with a neighbor girl, Mary Farley, who lived three or four miles east of Edler and a little north, and Andy and me as her class. Also, before there was a school house at Lakeview, a Church of Christ Minister, Rev. T. V. Nidey, preached in our house, even though my parents were Baptists. Later, on a still quiet night, when my Father was away working, Mother, Andy and I set out in our front yard and heard Rev. Nidey preach to Stinsons shearing crew at Number Nine three quarters of a mile to the east of us. He had a strong voice which carried well and the atmospheric conditions were just right to carry sounds extra well. At other times I have heard this beloved pioneer Minister, when preaching in small school building, invite everyone to come to the front so they could hear.
Well, T. V. as he called himself later preached a series of messages at Lakeview, and I was converted under his preaching. In the home discussions after the end of the meetings, Andy decided to present himself for Baptism also. We wanted our membership with our parents, and the nearest Baptist Church to us at that time, was meeting in the Sandy Soil Schoolhouse, which was then a half dugout. Rev. Tippit was the Pastor of the Baptist Church there and alternated with Rev. Nidey in preaching there. Both a Church of Christ and a Baptist Church meet in the same building. Most of each congregation, I believed, listened to the Pastor of the other. Andy and I were baptized in John Neal’s stock tank a mile or two to the northwest of the school house on a winter day, when the ice had to be broken off the tank. Later, when I was courting my wife we attended a debate at the Sandy Soil Schoolhouse, which was built on top of the ground. The debate was between Rev. T. V. Nidey and a Mr. Russell who was then Postmaster at Edler and claimed to be an atheist. Still later, I taught my last term of school at Sandy Soil.
Another man who occasionally preached at Lakeview was a Methodist preacher, Rev. Huffman, who with his wife lived about two miles east of Edler. There daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter lived about a half mile east of them. I can’t recall their names, just now, except that the little girl’s given name was Ruth. They and the Huffmans lived very close to the same place where Dr. Keyster and his family had lived. Now coming back to the subject of horses, we had no team, when we first settled in Baca County. Uncle Charly’s team, Max and Charly had to plow the required twenty acres on both Uncle Charly’s half section and on ours as well the first year. The next year my Dad went to Lamar for lengthy periods of time to earn money to buy a team and harness and wagon. On one of his trips home he walked all the way blistering his feet. Andy and I walked down to Uncle Charly’s place and met him walking to our place. He had shaved off his brown mustache and we didn’t know him and were afraid to come to him until we recognized his voice. He soon grew his mustache again. Eventually, he earned enough to bring home a team of mares equipped with harness and wagon. There was a fourteen hundred pound white mare called Bird and a twelve hundred pound brown mare called Babe. Andy and I could ride Babe to Lakeview to school, tie up her reins, turn her loose and she would go home. If it remained bad, Dad would ride one horse to school and lead the other for us boys to ride home.
One time Uncle Charly traded his horse Charly to us for a week for the use of Bird. He wanted to make a freight trip to Lamar and didn’t think Charly was up to making the trip. He put him in our pasture, which was separated from his pasture by a partition fence. We wanted to use the horses for some small chore, so I rode Babe into the pasture to drive Charly to our house, but Charly had different ideas, and he was a logger-headed old horse. He thought he should go to Uncle Charly’s house instead of ours. When I was running Babe to circle him back towards our house, I got a little too close to Charly. He lifted up one of his long hind legs and planted a big hoof forcefully on my solar plexis, kicking me clear off Babe. The blow blinded me for a moment, and for the first time, I knew what it was to see nothing but stars. I hit the ground and rolled without seeing it – and I was sick, oh so very sick. I walked a little way at a time toward our house, and then would go down to rest and overcome the nausea. My Mother and Andy came running to meet me. They called Dr. Goodrich, an M. D. who had settled across the road from Ralph Fox a half west of our house. He lived with his wife and two grown daughters, Charlette and Elva. Whereas Dr. Keyster had worn a dark mustache, he wore a white goatee. He thought that all I needed was to take it easy for a while. We forgot what we needed Charly for, and he stayed in our pasture till Uncle Charly got home and exchanged Bird for him again.
Bird gave us a colt which we named Dick – later another named Shirley, Babe never had any colts. My Dad made a small barn with four stalls. It had a shed roof – and, incidentally, a number of pigeon houses around it. A pair of pigeons had come to us from we knew not where and began to multiple. One day when the colt, Dick, was behind the barn, a strong whirl wind came along and dumped the barn over on him, caved in the roof of the barn. When we got the barn turned right side up again, the colt seemed not to be seriously hurt.
After our house had burned down and Dad and Mr. Fox had built our second one, they completed the horse buying trip to the Welsh Ranch. Dad bought a bay colt – or maybe I should say young horse – which we named Snip. He bought another horse from someone else – a bay which we named Ned. About a week before July 17, 1917 he took note of the danger that some of our livestock were in by remaining near a barbed wire fence during an electrical storm. Mother had a dream in which she saw an angel lying in a black casket. On the afternoon July 17, 1917 my Father, Andy and I went to the field to work. As we passed through the gate, Dad seemed uneasy about the danger of lightning, for a small thunderhead was forming over head. We started to work. Dad was working Ned and Snip on a walking cultivator. Andy and I followed with a hoe apiece. If the cultivator missed a weed on my side of the row, I got it with my hoe. If it missed a weed on Andy’s side he got it with his hoe. The north half of our half section was then fenced off for a field, and the western two thirds of this area was now broken out.
We took up our work about thirty rows east of the west fence and had followed one half mile row to the north side of the place and had come back a quarter of a mile when it began to rain and hail a little bit. The young horse Snip, began to prance; so Dad went forward and caught him by the bit. Since we were even with Charly Bosley’s half dugout which was west of us just across the road, we decided to unhook the team and tie them to the cultivator; so the couldn’t run off with it. We planned to take shelter in Charly Bosley’s house during the storm, although he was not home. Settlers did not lock their houses in those days, and neighbors were free to enter in case of need. Andy started across toward the house, our dog, Crowder, following him. The last thing I heard my father say was to warn Andy not to remain near that fence – the one which we must cross to reach the Bosley house. I reached for the tug of the horse opposite the one my Dad held with the intention of unhooking him. I rememberd no more. It was evident I didn’t quite touch the tug which by that time was wet and a good conductor of electricity. The main bolt of the lightning struck the horse my Father was holding by the bit. The force of the bolt knocked both horses and my Father to the east and knocked me to the west.
Andy and Crowder were near enough to be shocked, but far enough away to avoid being knocked unconscious. Andy ran home to tell Mother that the lightning had struck killing the team and killing me, and that Daddy was dying. He had seen him patting and rubbing his throat. After Andy left, I began to regain consciousness. I became dimly aware that it was raining in my face. I could see nothing but the brightness of the sun as it come out from under the thunderhead and shined directly in my face even while it was also raining in my face. I thought I was having a nightmare and kept saying to myself. “This surely can’t be true. This surely can’t be true.” I didn’t know where I was or what had happened. After a while, I was dimly aware of men’s voices without understanding any thing that was said. I felt myself lifted up and leaned against the cultivator wheel which I gripped with my hands, and I felt a sensation in my legs of pins and needles as when an arm or leg is moved after it has gone to sleep. I didn’t know until twenty years later how I happened to be leaning against the cultivator wheel. Pete Marsh told me that he and another man came by in his buggy and found me wallowing in the mud. The stood me up by the cultivator wheel and then went on to Uncle Charly’s place for help. Pete was drilling a well for Uncle Charly at the time.
When Andy told Mother what had happened, they ran back to the field. On their way they passed Mr. Fox’s field, and he happened to be at that end of the field when they passed. They told him what had happened. He was using a riding cultivator which had knives like those later used on knife sleds, instead of cultivator shovels. He pulled the knives up out of the ground and drove his team in a gallop back to his house. He got his Model T which was the only car in the Edler Community at that time – the Rudolphs some seven or eight miles southeast of Edler had the only other car anywhere near there at that time, so far as I know. When Mother and Andy got to the scene I was dimly aware of someone crying. After a while Mother spoke directly to me and asking “Wannie, do you know that the lighting struck and killed Daddy and the team and nearly killed you?”
I answered, “I know it now,” and I said no more. I had no impulse for a week to initiate speech, responded only to give the briefest answer possible. I was conscious, but feelings were numb.
Ralph Fox had picked up Dr. Goodrich, who lived across the road from him, and he arrived in his car with Doctor, shortly after my mother and Andy got there. The Doctor pronounced my Father as already dead when he arrived. He and Mr. Fox used the cushion of the back seat in the car as a stretcher and put me in the car and took me to the house. A large crowd of neighbors assembled at the house almost as soon as we got there. I suppose this was the result of the word that Pete Marsh took to Uncle Charly’s house and perhaps on to Edler. A lot of conversation was going on which I did not follow for the most part. I didn’t know they were wondering whether I could see or not. Mother said my eyes were bugged out and full of mud when she got to the field. After a while one neighbor bent down low over me to look at me without having said anything yet. Someone asked me if I knew who was looking at me. I could see him dimly, but enough to recognize him. I said, “It is Mr. Charles.” They knew then that I could see some.
Someone brought a casket down from Springfield and placed Father’s body in it in our house preparatory to removing it to Springfield for the funeral and burial, with Rev. Huffman officiating. At a later time, my Mother said it was the same black casket that she saw a short time before in her dream. Two people one on either side of me, supported me and lead me to the casket to see my Father’s body before it was taken away. I saw him dimly and cried a little, but I did not experience the full grief of his going till my mind and feelings cleared up about a week later. Dr. Goodrich was quite worried about me during that week, but I didn’t know it then. He later said I would never be nearer death again without going on.
The Ralph Fox family planned to take a trip into Kansas shortly after I recovered. Mother sent Andy and me with them to stay with her sister in Wichita, my Aunt Myrtle. Her husband was Delbert Bolen and her son, Ray, and daughter, Elsie, completed their family at that time. After mother had straightened up necessary business affairs, she come on to Wichita and worked as a practical nurse and as a domestic, while Andy and I continued to live with Uncle Delbert and Aunt Myrtle and go to school – back in Lincoln Elementary School again.
In the spring, we returned to Baca County, and Mother got a job as a housekeeper and cook in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Stinson, who had moved to Springfield then. Andy and I lived with Mr. Palmer and his two daughters for a while, then Andy went to live with the Ralph Fox family, I went to live with the Coulters’ – Vernon and Floyd and their Mother and Floyd’s wife and baby. Vernon and Floyd’s houses were close enough that they could eat together and be together through the day. Once again Andy and I attended the Lakeview School which now had a fourth of the interior area covered by a board floor where our desks were located. Influenza epidemic of 1918 soon closed the school. One of my jobs at Coulters was to pick up dry cow chips and load them in a wagon box to be hauled to the house for fuel. We had sometimes used that kind of fuel at our house on the claim earlier. I also helped feed the cattle Russian Thistle hay. Crops had not done well so they had cut and cured and stacked the thistles which did do well. We use a hay knife – a long bladed knife with a wavy edge – to slice the hay from the stack with a sawing motion. It was a lot better than no feed at all. Later in eastern Baca County during dust bowl days I saw Bud and Alva Watson beat up soap weeds in a hammermill for cow feed.
This reminds me of other ways of planting and harvesting crops which are no longer in use. I saw Dr. Goodrich work day after day using a hand planter till he had planted a twenty acre field which cornered where our place was located and lay to the northwest. He would take a step, jab the planter into the ground pull the handle of the planter apart to release the seed, then repeat the performance for the next hill. I saw my Father plant a twenty acre field of cane by carrying the seed in bags suspended from his shoulders and scattering the seed broadcast by hand. I helped him harvest a twenty acre field of corn by using two corn knives. There were long bladed knives which broadened as they extended farther from the handle. We gathered the corn in our left arms as we chopped each stock with our right hands. When our left arms were full we added the armfuls to the shock we were building. Later Dad husked the corn and used the fodder for roughage. Sometimes I rode a horse for Ralph Fox while he rode on a sled with a knife on the side a few inches above the ground. We pulled the sled down a row of feed, and as the knife cut the stocks, Mr. Fox gathered them in his arms till they were full, then he shocked them.
The car that Mr. Fox bought wasn’t primarily for transportation. When he first stopped at our place as he was bringing it home, Andy and I ran out to examine it. We saw some metal pieces sticking out to the rear from the framework of the car. We spelled out the name Straud on the extensions. Then we ran in the house, where he was talking to Mother and said, “We know whose car it is.” He asked, “Whose?” We answered, “Mr. Stroud’s.” He was the Springfield merchant who first established a branch store at Number Nine.
Then Mr. Fox explained that it was his car with a Straud Make-a-tractor attachment. He had bought the Model T primarily to use as a tractor. He told me he would teach me to drive it in return for my working for him, if I wanted to do that. I did. He used it to pull a sulky plow in breaking sod. If the term is not familiar to some, let me explain that a sulky plow is a riding plow which has but one bottom, and gang plow has two or more bottoms.
Oh yes, about my eyes; one eye gradually went on out and the other improved; so that I had useable sight within a range of forty-five degrees for a number of years. Most people have a range of one hundred and eighty degrees. Cataracts developed as a delayed result of the electric shock and the one in the good eye – the right one, was removed in 1947, giving me usable sight for five more years. Then I lost all sight by a retinal separation.
Well, well, well, when I started this letter, I didn’t realize that such a flood of memories would arise to indicate how much life in this country as changed since homesteading days in Baca County. And even now more memories come flooding in. I don’t suppose that the type of incubator which Mother used is still in use anywhere. Her incubator was heated by a kerosene lamp which had a regulator to govern the amount of heat put out and keep the eggs from over heating or getting too cool. She put marks on the eggs when she loaded the incubator so she could properly turn the eggs once a day. One day the marks would be up and the next they would be down. Since she had no setting hen ready to take charge of the chicks when they hatched, Andy and I lead the chicks out each day and caught grasshoppers for them. They learned to respond to our call of. “Tiny, tiny, tiny” much as other chicks responded to the cluck, cluck, cluck of a hen. We learned to know the chicks so intimately that we gave them individual names.
Mother used to exchange a yeast starter with neighbor ladies. Each one put a bit of dough in a mason jar after her bread was through raising and added a little sugar for the yeast to feed on. Then she passed the starter on to another neighbor. By such means the yeast was kept alive and fresh.
We raised cane – not in anger – but for sorghum. When it was ready we topped the cane and stripped it of leaves and took the bare stocks to one of the several sorghum makers who then operated in the country. They had a device like a big clothes wringer turned up on end with the rollers in a vertical rather than a horizontal position. A long tongue was fastened to one of the rollers so that a horse could be hitched to it. As he walked he turned one of the rollers and its pressure against the other caused it to turn also. The sorghum maker ran the stocks between the rollers to squeeze out the juice. The juice was placed in large flat vats and a fire kept going under them to evaporate the moisture from the juice and thicken it into sorghum. The squeezed out stocks when dry, were used for fuel. Two kinds of cane were grown in our neighborhood at that time, orange and amber. The orange made the best sorghum. The sorghum maker kept a share of the sorghum and gave us a share.
Fruit was scarce and hard to come by at first. Mother, becoming fruit hungry, tried vinegar pie as an experiment. She made it like lemon pie, but substituted vinegar for lemon juice. It wasn’t a very satisfactory substitute for fruit. Later, Dad and Mother, and we boys went to Shannon’s Orchard and picked apples on the shares. We went south through the canyon in which Reignier was located, as I remember, then turned west and circled back north into another canyon where the orchard was located. We camped out while picking the apples. A number of other people were doing the same thing.
My Dad used to keep a camping bed and grub box ready for any long freighting trips or for trips to the Cedars as we called the canyons to the west of us. The Cedars were, for years, the chief source of fuel and of fence posts for the country. Both cedar and pine made good fuel, but only the cedar made good posts. Pine rotted out in the ground too soon. In our division of chores, it usually fell to me to saw the fire wood into stove lengths with a buck saw and to split it with our double bitted axe.
Speaking of the sorghum making equipment for squeezing out our cane juice as being like a big clothes wringer turned up on end reminds me of how Ralph Fox altered the remains of Mother’s clothes wringer for a new usage after it had gone through the fire which burned off all the rubber on the rollers.
He set the cogs in a board so that when you turned the crank it turned three cogs at once whose shortened shaft extended through the board. He attached hooks to the ends of the shaft which came through the board. He also shaped another board so that the upper end of it had three notches – one on the top and one on each side. The part of the board that extended down, he shaped into a handle. Then he threaded binder twine from the hooks through the notches and back to the hooks in such a way that he had three multiple stands of twine between the two contraptions. One person would hold the notched board while another turned the crank and twisted strands of twine. When they were tightly twisted and removed from the notched board the three twisted strands twisted themselves into a rope. By using more or less twine he could make any size rope he needed.
Before we had any horses of our own, and before we had a cistern, we had a single wooden water barrel for water storage. Of course, we could do with less water storage when we had nothing but a few chickens to water besides taking care of our minimal domestic needs. We had to depend on neighbors, who had horses, to haul water to maintain and supply the storage capacity of our barrel.
On one winter day, when the ground was covered with snow, Ralph Fox was bringing us a barrel of water on a sled pulled by one horse. He and Andy were riding the sled in front of the barrel, and I was riding behind the barrel. When we were within about a hundred yards, or so, from our house, the wire which fastened the single tree to the sled broke and the sled stopped suddenly. The barrel didn’t stop. It turned over forward and dumped its contents on Andy drenching him from head to foot. Mr. Fox caught Andy up in his arms and ran on to the house and the warm fire with him.
We had to conserve our water supply in every way we could. One way of doing that was to make use of the little wagon our parents had bought as a Christmas present for Andy and me, while we were yet in Wichita. With the little wagon, we hauled our laundry down to Uncle Charly’s place to wash near the Number Nine water supply.
We also used the little wagon to haul other things back and forth. It also served our needs to transport cow chips when we went out over the prairie to collect them. We gathered them in gunny sacks and loaded the sacks on the wagon, sometimes several sacks high.
One day when Andy and I were making a trip to Uncle Charly’s place with the little wagon, a snake came gliding from the north toward us. He was traveling at an unusually high speed for a snake. He seemed to have no fear of approaching us, Andy left the wagon and ran toward to south. The snake followed after him. As he ran, Andy circled back to the east toward Uncle Charly’s place. The snake circled with him until he was going about straight east, then the snake broke off following him and went on south. We didn’t know what kind of a snake it was. I have never seen another snake travel as fast as that one did.
Several of us saw a small rattle snake with a single button. He was on the northwest corner of our place. Some of the men teased him with a stick or stalks. In writhing about he covered his body with dust. Finally he struck and bit a part of his own body. I do not know whether it was because he was flustered or because he mistook the dust – covered part of his body for something else that threatened him. In a little while he turned his stomach up to the sky and died.
When my Father took me to the Cedars with him for a load of posts, we heard a snake rattling off to the north of us as we traveled toward the setting sun. We looked about and saw him coiling and uncoiling near the opening of a prairie dog hole. When we neared him we saw that he had a prairie dog, which was about three-fourths grown, about half swallowed. My father chopped off the snake’s head. The same stroke also cut off the prairie dog’s head, leaving it in the snake’s body.
Beside snakes, Prairie Owls also lived in prairie dog holes. It was common to hear them at night. During the evening hours the sound of the night hawks was common through the summer. During the day, one often heard the turtle dove, the meadow lark, the curlew, and the killdeer. Chicken hawks and buzzards were common sights. Once we saw a road runner.
We were close enough to the buffalo days that buffalo wallows still remained. One was a short distance north of Uncle Charly’s house. Many cattle trails over the prairie made by cattle following each other single file were in existence on the plains. Some of these may have originally been buffalo trails. My Father found a pair of buffalo horns still undecayed, although they were weathered checked. He cut off the pointed end of one so he could blow the horn as you blow a trumpet. One quiet night when sound carried well, he went out doors and blew the horn a while. After a while, someone off to the south answered by blowing another horn. We never knew who it was.
Uncle Charly, Aunt Gertie, son Paul and daughter Esther Collier moved from the Edler Community in 1935, to Canon City, Colorado. Uncle Charly, Aunt Gertie and their son Paul are all buried at Canon City. Esther is married to Mr. Ed Kachenko and lives in Denver.
I always felt a tug toward the ministry, but hesitated to go into it. There came a day when fading eyesight, resulting from the stroke of lightning, closed all other doors to me, but left open the door to theological training. Now, I am a semi-retired minister doing pulpit supply work and writing a column for several local newspapers. My training for teaching history, politics and the other social sciences and my training in theology both enter into the writing of my column.
By W. W. Collier