From the time I was twenty one years old until I was twenty five I was only a grown up boy, the only care I had in the world was for good clothes and a little money in my pocket and some place to go.
In the spring of eighty one I went to Denver, Colorado, got a job on a railroad grading crew, worked eight days and then went back to Denver, I fooled around till I was broke, then another fellow and I bought a job at an employment office, the job was at a saw mill forty-five miles west up the mountains, after paying our hotel bill we had five coppers between us, we pooled our cash and bought a schooner of beer and drank it and then started on our long hike on the railroad track, we expected to hop a freight eighteen miles up the road but we lost out and had to walk all the way, we had no lunch but we came to a section house about dark and the big hearted boss gave us a hand out.
The road ran up South Platt Canyon, it was narrow gage and hardly room for that, is was up grade ninety foot to the mile, we got very tired and sleepy and stopped to rest, my chum lay down with his head on the rail, I tried to make him get up but he wouldn't, instead he went to sleep, I sat with my back against the bank and dozed myself, the river made an awful roar and drowned all other noise, the first I knew there was a blinding flash and there was an engine almost on top of us, I grabbed my chum , shook him and tried to drag him out of the way, he got up fighting and came very near dragging me with him under the wheels but I managed to stagger to one side, we went on then and about noon the next day we got to where we were to ask directions to the sawmill eat and we were ready to eat, from there it was nine miles and all up hill, we were tired and lame but we got there that night, the bunk house was of single boards, walls, roof and floor, cracks an wide all over and not very much bedding. The next day the boss told us he went down the road and picked up his crew but he would give us two or three days work on a new road that he was building, we worked two and half days and then down the line for us.
Down on the railroad a man wanted to hire us and I hired to him but my chum went on and that is the last I ever saw of him. I worked there about a year, the work was cutting timber, I liked that kind of work, there was a picnic ground close in a bend of the river, the ground sloped from the mountain to the river with pine and spruce trees scattered, around, railroad Company built a large pavilion it was a nice place to picnic. In the summer there was an excursion up from Denver nearly every Sunday, one Sunday a german Society of some kind came up, they bought sixteen kegs of beer and there seemed to be plenty of whiskey also, being on Sunday we Mountain Rats turned out and down the track a little way wad a work train with about fifty men, they were mostly Irish, and they came too, it made a nicely mixed crowd and plenty to drink, along in the afternoon a fight started and soon it was a free for all but us local boys stayed out and watched the fun, Dutch and Irish had it, bloody heads black eyes, and skinned noses every where, one fat German that played the bass violin, when the fight started he laid the violin down and got into it, a little Irishman saw it, took a run and jump and landed in the middle of it with both feet.
The excursion left and after supper I went down to the boarding cars and was talking to some of the boys, and here came that Dutchman, he had a club about four feet long, he went from one car to another, he would stick his head in at the door and ask "Vill some of you gentlemen please show me der veller vat stepped on dot fiddle," but no one seemed to know, he had stayed over to settle with who ever smashed his fiddle but he didn't find him.
One time there was an excursion from Chicago of college graduates I think, some of the boys climbed up the mountain and started a big rock rolling, when the crowd heard it they started in every direction, the rock came right through the grounds, knocked a lemonade stand to bits and did a lot of other damage and rolled on into the river, us boys rolled some rocks ourselves but got broke of the habit, one Sunday we went way back about two miles, we rolled a big rock, it storped sooner than we thought it should, we went down to see and found it in the middle of a road that we didn't know was there, we couldn't budge it, we had to go back to camp and get tools arid powder and blast that rock, took us the better part of the afternoon, that was enough for us, there was a fine of $5.00 for rolling rocks. anyway.
I started to work by the day at first, then by piece, all this timber
cut on government land, I bought a man's right on a quarter section and
went to work for myself cutting ties, posts and cord wood, I owned forty
acres back in Michigan, my Uncle wrote and told me he had a buyer for it
at $200.00, a young man had a small span of mules, harness and wagon, he
wanted to sell them and go east on the train, he offered to sell for $200.00,
I bargained for them and he agreed to wait till I could get my money for
the land, I went to Denver and made out the deed and mailed it, then went
back and worked harder than ever and hired some, I had about $500.00 or
$600.00 if it was out to the railroad, I waited a long time, all the time
more timber, then my uncle wrote that a railroad company had surveyed across
the land and to get out of paying for right of way started a fight in regard
to title and the buyer had got cold feet and refused to buy, and there
I was with five or six hundred dollars worth of timber that had cost me
money about all I had and to hire it hauled out would cost we about all I would get for it on the cars. Well I got the blues, sold it for what I could get and went tack to Kansas.
Back in Kansas my old range and with my old chums, I bought a team and tools, rented land and farmed, bought everything on time, I went with the crowd to all the dances and everything else there was to go to. We would load into a wagon all it would hold and go to Hanover, a German town, they had a large hall and had a dance every week, they had a bar at one end where you could get everything you wanted to drink, we didn't have to be presented to get those German girls to dance, and after each dance we marched to the bar and called for "Swi Glass Beer", we never took the girls with us to these dances. There was often a fight at these dances, some German would pick on an American and that was enough to start it and it was most always a free for all, maybe the American was not always picked on he might just think he was however the result was just the same, often the fight was carried out to the street, the Germans would get into the yards and fire stove wood at us, we couldn't throw it all back, the result was in the morning a wagon going down the street would go "chug chug" over the stove wood. The Germans would always send for the city marshall as soon as the fight started, the city needed the money.
We always put our team in a barn kept by an American, an old neighbor of ours, we always left the harness on also we always picked on one man before we went into the hall to make a run for the team as soon as any trouble started and park on the corner and wait for us, one night or rather morning we were making a run for it from the ball to the corner where the wagon was waiting on the corner and the Dutch close after us, the marshall with another bunch was coming down the street from the other way and about to catch the team, the driver had to whip up and get out of the way, down hill across the railroad, we all made it to the wagon except Phil Roberts, he was twenty two years old, weighed about two hundred twenty five pounds, not much on the run, he was so far behind the wagon couldn't wait for him, the Dutch was closing in on him, he jumped over a yard fence and was making good time down hill till a clothes line caught him under the chin, down he went and knocked a hole in the ground but it didn't prove to be his grave, he got up and made it across the track and to the wagon but he carried a red streak half way around his neck for a long time, when any-one asked him what was the matter with his neck he would only grunt, but if I happened to be around I told them that the Dutch hung him.
I went to Hanover one day horse back by myself, I played pool all day and drank considerable beer, I was in a pool hall after night, some of the Dutch thought it was a good time to pick on me, start something and then call the marshal, there was about a dozen got around me and was crowding. a little too close, I had a long barreled thirty eight in my clothes, Ihad seen one man slip out, I knew what that meant, twenty five dollars or thirty days, I pulled the gun, not to shoot, but I used it as sort of a ward to sort of cast a spell on them, my pony was out in front, jumping up and down snorting, I worked around close to the door, watched my chance and slid out, the reins were tied in a slip knot, I lit in the saddle, slipped the knot and was off and not too soon either for I heard foot steps coming from the side walk on the run, I gave a yell and shot up in the air as I crossed the railroad tracks and out of town, I suppose those Dutch should of cleaned up on me and of course the marshal should of caught me but they didn't, I never have spent an hour inside a jail and I never paid but one fine of five dollars for fighting and that; was after I was old enough to know better.
I didn't go back to Hanover for a long time, in January 1885 I got married, I married a German girl and didn't have to go to Hanover to hunt a scrap, we have been married for about fifty years and I am going to write about some of the joys, sorrows, and trials we have shared.
The first sumner I broke prairie, we had a camp on a little creek close to my work and enjoyed ourselves, then we farmed two years, our first child, a girl was two years old, I learned her to such eggs, one day she went to the stable found a hens nest full of rotten sggs, she smeared herself all over with them, she came to the house with her hands spread out and crying dear, dear, pue, pue. Then her mother saw her, she went into the house and shut the door, told her to get out, I dont want you, go to your dad, he learned you to suck eggs. I took the poor kid down to the well, striped and washed her, and took her to her mother to be dressed. That broke her of sucking eggs, and it broke me of teaching kids to such eggs.
That fall my horses both died. My wifes father had moved to Arkansas and then back up to the Ncrtheast corner of the Indian Territory. We got letters from them, telling about that part of the Country. We were doing no good where we were, so made up our minds to go South. We had a few pigs and chickens. We sold them and went. I did not stop or bother to find out how much our tickets would cost. I was just that careless. I bought tickets to Kansas City, our destination was Baxter Springs, Kansas. At Kansas City, I found that I hadn't money enough. In desperation I shoved all the money I had except fifty cents through the window and told the agent to give me tickets as far as it would pay for. He gave us tickets to Lamar, MO. It was early morning and quite cold. We were in a strange town and only fifty cents in my pocket, and two babies and one only two months old. We went to a hotel, I told the propriator how I was fixed and where we wanted to go. I made a bargain with him for my family to stay there, while I went on to my father-in-laws, and sent money back or came back myself. So after breakfast I went down the road, they gave me a lunch and I had fifty cents in my pocket, it was fifty or sixty miles. I made it in two days. My father-in law had a little money, he hooked up his team and we drove to Baxter Springs, there I wrote a letter to my vilfe in care of the hotal and inclosed a money order for ten dollars and told her that; we would meet her at the Depot in Joplin, MO., then we drove to Joplin and waited. She didn't come the next day, nor the next; then I sent a telegram. We waited all the next day, and no wife and no word. The next day was Christmas, the railroad was giving round trip tickets for one way fare. We concluded I had best go so I went on the morning train. My wife and kids were all right, but had received no letter and no telegram. Well I put my family on the return train and I stayed over to get the letter with the money order in i:t. I thought to cash it and could ride the cushions, but no. I got the letter all right but the post master would not pay it to me. I asked him how I could get my money and he said I could get it where I mailed it. That evening as I was sitting in the hotel, a messenger boy came inquiring for my wife, he was referred to me. He offered me the telegram and wanted to collect on it. I told him I would make him a Christmas present of it. Next morning I went down the road, a foot and alone but I still had that fifty cents I went to Baxter Springs and got that ten dollars out of the Post Office. I still had ten miles to go. I spent a little of it. I got to the end of my hard tramp after dark one night tired, lame and sore. My boot soles were worn to my socks from contact with the cinders and gravel, but I was with my little family once more and happy. My father-in-law and the boys were doing a little work, a little wood cutting a few rails for the Indians. I turned in and helped them, my father-in-law was a veteran of the Civil War and received a small pension. He told me about Arkansas, the timber, water, and the ways of the people, it interested me. Being of a roving disposition himself, said we would go down there. It was mid winter and cold for that part of the Country. So we waited a little while, for the weat:er to moderate. Then seven of them four boys - one girl five years old and wife and I and tvo children eleven in all. They had some cows and calves, and two or three colts. The wagon was piled high with the plunder., of course the women and children had to ride, but the boys and I walked all the way and drove the stock. My wife walked part of the time. One boy had a job with a cattle outfit and stayed behind, that left ten of us. Oh yes and Johnnie the youngest boy about ten years old had a black and tan hound dog, named Queen and she went along. She wasn't a year old yet. We had a great time on that trip. The days were short and the roads bad. We camped in the woods all the way, it took about two hours to cook a meal over a camp fire. We all had good appetites. When we got into Arkansas I was greatly interested, the people, their houses, and farms, Some places the road ran up a narrow valley, houses on one side, fields on the other, not more than fifty yards wide. In some places and flint rock over all, but they raised the crops all kinds of vegetables, and corn and fodder for their stock. As we passed some of the houses there would be kids, pigs, and chickens in the road, the older people staring at us as we past, I know we were a sight. I was good at micmicing, could make an old hen ashamed of herself once or twice. After we were a little past the house I set up a squall and they all ran out but I got ashamed of that. After we were some distance down the road we heard a big racket and looking back we saw what looked like a white dog coming down the road and in the road behind was a woman waving a club and yelling. When the dog got close, we seen it was Queen. She was covered from one end to the other with milk and cream. It was plain she had been in the milk cellar, with her head in a vessel of cream and the woman landed on her. It turned soft weather, the roads were awful, the old mules were about played out,and so were the women and children, and we wanted to stop. We were told of two houses on government land that were empty. We went to them and took possession, both houses had fire places in them, that suited us fine as we had no stoves. The one I took was built of logs set in a clearing of four or five acres. We had no beding and no furniture, I made a bedstead, chairs and a table of native lumber. I went to work at anything I could find to do, fifty cents a day four bits and your dinner was the custom of tbe Country, but once in a while I got a job making rails or clap-boards-- shakes. I could work as I pleased and make more.
In the spring we lost our baby she died of membranous croup. She died
in my arms. A kind neighbor made a coffin of native lumber and we
burried her on the hill back of the house. That was our first sorrow
and it hit us awrful hard, but we must work and provide for the living.
I walked three miles on the flint rock, night and morning and made rails
for a Cow. I was so tired when I got home. I would sometimes
go to bed without supper. I made rails for a man that owned a water
grist mill. It was five miles to the rnill. I took my pay in flour
and carried it home on my back. My wifes oldest brother was kicked
by a horse an and absess started in his side, at one time we thought he
would never get well, when he did take a turn for the better. He
could only eat soup or broth at first. I was making rails up on the
ridge, my father-in-law and two youngest boys came to me, they had the
old shot gun and was along. They wanted a squirrel for the sick boy
I had seen one go in a hollow stub and told them we would get that.
had pluged the hole and intended to get him, when I went home at night. I chafed the stub down and started to cut a hole in it. Queen jumped in under the axe, I told Johnnie to hold her back. He straddled her, grabed both ears and rared back. The dog opened the bawl, her eyes stuck out an inch. Oh how she did want to get hold of that squirrel. I got a hole cut right over his back and told Johnnie, turn her loose. She jumped and grabed him by the back and pulled him out and he curled up and bit her nose. she rared back on her tail and bawled. He didn't taste good to her. She turned him loose and he ran up another tree. They had to shoot him after all. Here is another one of Queens exploits. My father-in-law came down to cultivate a little in my garden and Queen came along. My wife had a dutch oven full of biscuits. They were cooked and she pulled them out on the hearth and removed the lid, stepped out and around the corner of the house to call her Dad to dinner, when she went back, there was Queen.
She would grab a hot biscuit, swallow it whole, let. out a bawl and grab another. Well, dinner was not quite ready. Wife had to mix another batch of biscuits, and damn that dog. Dad and I had a good laugh when we were out in the field. That summer we got Maleria- chills - fever - boils and Carbuncles. I had boils on my arms, legs and other places too numerous to mention. The natives told me every boil was worth a cow. I told them I would trade all of mine for one lousy calf. They also told me that it was the poison in my blood, that I would be all right when I climated, but by that time I had made up my mind that I didn't want to get climated. We came very near loosing our oldest child, mostly by my own carelessness. She would follow me every place I would let her I took my axe and went to cutt a deadened tree in the field. The child went with me. I stood on one side and chopped. She was on the other side. I thought the tree would fall south, but it went north, the child was safe if she stood still, but I told her to run, and she started to run under the tree. She was going to certain death . I didn't have time to go around the stump, the tree was at about forty five degrees angle. I ducked under the tree, grabed the child and rolled out of the way, and a large limb broke and ran into the ground where I grabed her from. Then I got scared. I went to the house with her in my arms and my wife asked what was the matter, and I couldn't tell her for a few minutes. I planted 1 1/2 acres of tobacco, that spring, and potatoes, corn and garden. I traded the cow for a good poney and tended my truck with him. We had our minds made up to get out of there. I traded my crop for another poney and an old wagon. I had a stack of clap boards- shakes. I traded them for an old set of harness minus lines. Wife raised a lot of chickens. I tied their legs together in bunches. Slung them across the poneys back and led him five miles to the store and sold them. I got ten cents a piece for them. They were about two pound fryers. It took three trips. I traded it all out except $1.00 cash I bought a sack of flour, a few pounds of pork, a box of axle grease, a few yards of five cent muslin for a wagon sheet. Small rope enough for 1ines. At that time and that place rope lines were very common. I cut hickory sarlings to make wagon bows. We loaded our few belongings and our selves. We had a boy three months old. It was about September 10th. We headed North West, and I was the proudest man you ever saw, when I left Arkansas.
R. E. McIntire
77 years of age
Rufus E. McIntire
P.O. Box 215