Washburn Co. WIGenWeb


Memories of My Childhood in the Old Days
at Minong, Wisconsin

Written by Emma M. (Goodwin) Smith

Donated by Pat Goodwin,
grandson of John (Johny) Lyman Goodwin

This is the note to Ricky Moore from her Aunt along with the following story:

As you can see the original of this paper was written in 1963 for the ones who were trying to fix up the history of Minong and it’s surroundings. There have been a lot of changes since then, but I copied it just the way I had it then, for the basic things are the same. Your Uncle Jack has since moved to Texas. Your uncle Clint lost his wife in 1966, and has since remarried, and lives in California. The old depot that is mentioned in here has gone the way of all old depots. The old Blackburn place has been deserted for years, and the buildings are all fallen down. It really is heart breaking to go around and see those old places, and see all the changes, I don’t think I’ll ever go again. Your dad maybe can fill in on some things you might want to know and think of asking about, and if there should be anything else that you’d like to ask, I’ll be so glad if I can answer you. The little cemetery that is spoken of being by the old school house has been cleared up, and a stone placque has been set up, with all the names of those buried there that they could find. I don’t know if your Dad would remember any of the names. The place where I told about spoiling the carpenters tools for a joke, your dad said we were paying him back for drowning our cat with her kittens, I guess that was it, too. - Aunt Emma


In trying to write the memories of my childhood things are a little hazy, at least until I was about six years old. My only excuse is that my childhood was so long ago.

I was born on July 6, 1887, at Cumberland, Wisconsin, and was only one year old when my parents moved to the area about seven miles east of Minong. We landed in a little settlement called Frog Creek. The name of the settlement came from the little creek that ran along the southern boundary of the settlement. Perhaps it should have been called a camp rather than a settlement, for most of the people were Indians. The very first thing I can remember about the settlement was the lack of white people. There were only two white families beside our own people, which consisted of our own immediate family and that of my grandparents, my Dad’s father and mother, and his three brothers. My parents were Johnny and Zina Goodwin, my grandparents were David and Martha Goodwin. His brothers were Bert, Dan and Ed. His two older brothers were Archie and David, who was called Pug. I don’t know why, for he was very tall arid thin, They were both married and lived at Withee, Wisconsin, a little town thirty or forty miles south of Minong. (I think).

I can vaguely remember living at the old mill-camp mentioned in the Memoirs of Hal Wolfe, and I know that for a little while Dad ran the mill there, which was very small, with only a few mill-hands. But this brings to mind one incident that happened there when I must have been very, very young. One of the mill workers, (and as it seems now it was Irv Wolfe, an older brother of Hal’s), in a moment of absent-mindedness, cut his hand very badly on the saw, and was laid up for quite a while. As in a dream I can still see him walking around the mill with his arm in a sling. He finally came back to work, and on the first day of his return one of his co-workers asked him how in the world the accident could have happened. He answered, “Well, you see, I had my hand on the log like this, and looked over there for just a minute, and it went right against the saw like this,” and the very same accident happened again, although as I remember it was not as serious as the first one.

It was about this tine that Dad started his logging operations. At first he was associated with a Mr. Sutton, also mentioned in Hal’s Memoirs, but Mr. Sutton soon retired, for I do not remember any more about him, except to hear his name mentioned casually once in a while.

Soon after this we moved from the mill-camp to a little log cabin further up the creek, and nearer to the home of John Chittamo, the only Indian there who lived in a house. He and his wife were childless, but loved children very much, arid were as good to we children as our own grandparents could be and spoiled us as much, too. I do not remember how long- we lived in the log cabin, but that was where my oldest brother, Percy, was born, and that is the first memory I have of tie Joe Davis family, the only white people there in those early days beside our own people and the Wolfe family.

It must have been at this time that Dad built our new frame house on up the creek only a few rods, and nearer to Grandpa Goodwin’s house. We had a comfortable home at last, with a big yard and two enormous big pine trees, one on either side of the path leading up to the road, Down a little path the other side of the road from our house was little Frog Creek, tinkling along it’s little crooked way to who knows where, In this same little creek we children spent many happy hours with my Uncle Bert, who was only a few years older than I. There were so many wonderful things of interest about that little creek, anyway to three little kids in a beautiful wilderness like ours. There were little green frogs along it’s banks. There were little snail trails to follow, little black water-bugs to try to catch, tiny minnows to chase, and bright little colored pebbles that we could see on the bottom through the clear waters. We could wade up around the bend, and there was Grandma Goodwin’s house, at the first bend beyond Grandma’s house was Dead Man’s Rock, a big flat rock jutting out into the water a couple inches below the surface. The center of the rock was a bright red, and the story was that a man had fallen from the log he was riding, had hit his head against the rock and had died. ‘Whether it was true or not who can say, but it gave us an excuse to creep carefully over to the rock, look at that big red stain, and scamper back through the water as though real ghosts were chasing us. I wonder if that old rock is still there?

Across the creek on a little hill was a grove of maples that Grandpa called his “sugar—bush”, and the height of our joy in the early spring was to go with Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Dan and Ed to “help” them get the sap ready, and make maple sugar arid syrup. They would boil the sap in an enormous great big black iron kettle hung over an open wood-fire. To this day the smoky, pungent smell of an open wood-fire takes me back across the years to those happy, carefree hours. That, and the sweet odor of trailing-arbutus, the dainty little pink blossoms that crept along the ground, and we pretended they were trying to play hide-and-seek with us before we picked them for Grandma. The brave little tiny blossoms would almost poke their bright little faces through the snow in their eagerness to meet the spring. All of these hours seem now to have been happy and sunny and warm. Not one memory seems dark or dismal, though I am sure there must have been some dark days, too.

We were always with Uncle Bert, and followed where he led. There were miles and miles of solid woods without even a clearing of any sort, and one day Bert and my brother and I got lost in the woods. We wandered around for hours. There was supposed to be wolves and bears galore through those woods, too, and I’m sure they were there, but there were three of us, and I imagine with all our chattering they were glad to steer clear of us, and none of them were hungry this time of year. Finally Bert climbed on the high stump of a tree that had been burned to try and determine where we were. Sure enough he did see a land-mark that he recognized, but he was so glad and excited and relieved at finding he knew where we were that he failed to be careful in getting off the stump and he jumped, landing on the stubble of a green tree that had been broken off near the ground. He was lucky there were no bones broken, but the stubble went almost through his foot and we had a terrible time helping him out of the woods, and home. I remember too, that he walked on crutches for a long time, home-made crutches that Grandpa made out of two sturdy poplar trees. But it seems now that even that exciting, terrifying day was sunny and happy and warm.

This must have been about the time that Dad began his affiliation with Joe Irvine, and the logging firm of Goodwin and Irvine was formed, Dad built a big room on the east end of our house, which was some day to be a big kitchen for my mother, but this first year was to serve as a cook-shanty and mess-hall for the men working in the woods. Walter Cashman was the cook, and Mother helped him. The men slept in another building a few rods away. Many of them were Indians, many of them were transients, just taking any job for the time being. There was not much in the form of entertainment for anyone in those days, and I remember sometimes they would have the Indians entertain us all with some of their Indian dances before they would give them supper. It was all in fun, and as I remember they never had to be coaxed.

Dad also had quite a few horses that he worked in the woods. One group of men had their headquarters where we were living, others at a camp east of Gordon, and still another farther north towards where the town of Maple is now. It was Dad’s habit to visit all of his camps quite often. Of course he had his headquarters at the camp at home, where Mother did all the bookkeeping, but he would make regular visits to the other camps, too. He was at a camp east of Gordon one time when a terrible blizzard blew in. It was one of the worst they had ever had since they had been living there. Instead of lasting a day and a night as they usually did, it kept on and on for three or four days, and then turned bitterly cold. The men were running short of provisions, and also short of feed for the animals, and the drifts were so high they were afraid to try to get to town with the horses. Dad had his snowshoes with him, so he volunteered to go to Gordon and send provisions and feed back with the snow plow. I have no idea what kind of a snowplow they had in those days, but they were equipped in some way to “break” the roads open. Dad was young and strong and thought he could stand anything. He got to Gordon all right and told them what he wanted and they started immediately with the snowplow and all the things that were needed at camp. But poor Dad’s feet were frozen, his face was frozen in spots, and one hand was practically useless. For weeks they couldn’t be sure if his feet would ever be of use again, but luck was with him, and they apparently got all right. But in a real cold spell of weather they always bothered him. The very last letter I received from him before his death he asked if I could remember when he froze his feet and said they were still bothering him that winter, which had been unusually severe.

Dad undoubtedly had other camps beside the ones mentioned, but I do not remember. To a little six or seven year old girl that couldn’t be too important. What was important was the fact that among the horses was a beautiful little Indian pony that Dad gave to me, and taught me to ride. But as much as we were together, as much as I loved her, I cannot remember when we parted, or what became of her, or even what her name was. Loving her as I did, this seems incredible, but it is a fact. They say we remember only what we want to, and perhaps that is true.

The horses hadn’t much to do in the summer, except the pony team we used on the carriage, but when fall came Dad would send a crew of men and the horses to work in the harvest fields of Dakota. By the time they came back it was almost tine to take to the woods again.
My second brother Clinton, was born in this house, and we had another potential playmate, There were a few Indian children, but as a rule they were very shy and seemed backward about playing with us, but as we all got a little older they became bolder, and in time we all did have marry happy hours together.

We went in and out of the Chittamo home almost as though it was our own. Mr. Chittamo made us little snow-shoes and little bows with their tiny arrows, and we thought we were pretty smart. They lived, slept and ate in the same room, but it was a very large room, very modern at that time for an Indian family, --but no system. Potatoes and flour and corn and salt-pork and clothing might be piled together on the bed or the table, tanned deer hides in the middle of the floor, but everything clean as a whistle. Unfortunately this could not be said of all the Indian women.

I think the name Chittamo means squirrel in the old Chippewa language, although I’m sure it has been corrupted a lot through spelling and a small matter of miss pronunciation. As I remember, it should be spelled a-gid-a-mo, but has been shortened and made easier by saying Chittamo.

Both mother and Dad were very good to the Indians, and in that way earned their undying devotion. If one is really kind and fair with an Indian they never forget, which is unlike some people of our own race and color. The Chittamos dearly loved children, but never had any of their own. Then one day when Mr. Chittamo was in town at the Parent Hotel, Mrs. Parent told him that she had a baby there that he could have if he wanted it. At that time tie Parent Hotel was the hotel and was run by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Parent. It was located directly behind the railroad station or depot at Minong, the same old depot that is still there. I believe a filling station is now on the site of the old hotel. Anyway, Mr. Chittamo went in and looked at the baby, picked it up, and without saying a word to anyone walked out of the hotel and straight home, tenderly carrying his precious little bundle the whole seven miles. I believe there were some officials who did some investigating afterwards, but at any rate they kept the baby, a little boy, born of an unwed mother.

Mrs. Chittamo had done Mother’s washing ever since we had been there, but the next day when we children went down to see the baby, she told us to tell my mother that she couldn’t wash for her this week unless I could come down and “shaken boy”. Mr. Chittamo had made a sort of hanging cradle that swung back and forth, and that was what I was supposed to do while she did the laundry. Sometimes I marvel at the ingenuity of those old pioneers, and of the Indians who were supposed to be so simple minded. The scientists of today would hold up their hands in horror if they could have seen some of those old inventions, but they worked, and very seldom broke down.

All of the other Indians lived in teepees, or wigwams, as they were also called, One Indian family lived in a tent, which I know was furnished them by my Dad. Any of them who were in need of anything, he could never refuse, especially if there were children involved. I remember when they came one day, the Indian woman and a little boy. She said her husband was away hunting, and they had nothing to eat or a place to stay. She asked if they could sleep on our kitchen floor, Dad would have let them do this, but Mother put her foot down and said no, for they most certainly were not the sort to be classified with Mrs. Chittamo. It was a cold, raw day, and Dad’s big, kind heart would not let him send them away empty handed, so he gave them one of the tents the men used in the spring when they went up the river to drive the logs down, They slept on the shore in the tents when necessary, but if it was not too cold or too wet they slept in the open. Mother gave the Indian woman enough food to last until her husband came home, and told her to come back if they needed more. She could speak very little English, and when Dad asked her what her name was she said it was the outside rim of a wagon wheel. From then on they were Mr. and Mrs. Tire and son Willie.

Our brother Clint was big enough now to tag us around~ and we had a time keeping track of him and keeping him out of trouble. He wasn’t mean at all, but was so full of life and energy, and so curious about everything, it was a problem for us, and of’ course any mischief the rest of us got into, he was right in the middle of it.

Dad had hired a carpenter by the name of Mr. Dunton. I don’t know if we ever knew his first name or not. He was building a huge room on the south side of our house, which was to be a family room. Mr. Dunton lived with oar family, so we felt entirely at home with him. One day we conceived the bright idea of playing a real funny joke on him, not realizing in the least who the joke would really he on. While they were having lunch we stole into the big room where all his tools were, and ‘practically ruined all of them that could possibly be ruined. We took all of the blades out of the planes and pounded them on the sharp edge with a hammer. We broke the glasses in the levels, and tried our best to bend all the teeth in the saws so he would be surprised when he tried to use them. And all the time we just intended to play a good joke on him, not realizing in the least the awful damage we were doing. I guess when people picture children as being little demons at heart they aren’t far wrong. He was surprised all right, but so were we. Unnoticed by us, he must have returned and saw that we were up to some kind of mischief. We were so busy and interested that we didn’t even think of anyone disturbing us, until here he came with both Mother and Dad, and the look on their faces made us begin to realize that what we were doing might not be such a good joke after all, I don’t remember the punishment meted out to us, but in a vague way I know it was sufficient to instill in us a healthy respect for any carpenter’s tools which we might find lying around. I know though, that it could not have been too severe, for Dad could not stand any of us kids getting spanked or punished in any way, hardly even scolded. He sometimes got very provoked at us but it never lasted very long, and never led to anything drastic. One day I distinctly remember because it was so humorous. When our big kitchen was built to be used first as a cook shanty, the floor was made of big wide boards, like planks, with quite wide cracks between them in places. Later we had a beautiful hardwood floor, but for a while it was the big boards. One evening just when it was beginning to get dark, Dad and the two boys were at the big table in the kitchen. Dad was trying to do his best to put something together for them, and Clint could not keep his little fingers out of things. Dad spoke real sharply to him a couple of times, but I guess it couldn’t have done much good for he kept on. Finally Dad told him if he had to speak to him again he would get a good spanking. But Clint forgot as usual, and Dad dropped what he was doing and started after him. Clint ran around the table like a deer, and Dad right behind him. Then he saw what he thought was a little switch lying on the floor. In the semi-darkness he stooped arid tried, and. tried, two or three times to pick it up before he realized it was a crack in the floor. It struck Dad as so very funny, thinking how ludicrous he must have looked, he had to sit down and laugh, then Clint started laughing, and then Mother, and the spanking was forgotten, as we all thought it would be. But that was the story of my dear old Dad. Kind and generous and tender hearted, easy going to a fault, and always taking the part of the under dog. Mother was kind and generous, too, but to her right was right and wrong was wrong, and if anyone deserved punishment they should be punished, even if it was us kids.

Another incident came to mind, also involving Clint. We must have been very small, for I can still see Clint in his little flannel night shirt. We were spending a quiet evening, and we three children were sitting on the floor in. front of the fire. It seems there must have been a fire place, although I do not remember having one. Clint had a little stick and was poking it in the fire when all at once he screamed and jumped up, and that little flannel night shirt was all ablaze. It had flashed all over him in an instant, it seemed, and everyone was to shocked to move. Then Walter Cashman, who was staying with us as Dad’s cook, grabbed up Dad’s coat and caught Clint, who was screaming at the top of his voice and running from one side of the room to the other, and put the fire out in just a minute. It really all happened much faster than it has taken to tell it but we were all so frightened we could not move. There was not a sound or a movement, in that room except Clint’s screaming and Walter darting to catch him. He was not burned badly at all, and we could laugh at it afterwards, but it certainly was an incident to be remembered, and one that could so easily have been a tragedy, had it not been for Walter Cashman.

I am very poor at remembering dates, but this all must have been in the middle and late 1890’s. Bert was getting old enough now to seek the companionship of older boys, the Wolfe boys and Cashman boys and Davis boys. Too old to bother to play anymore with a bunch of little kids like us, but there were three of us now, playing together, happy and content. I was what one could call a regular, dyed-in-the-wool tomboy. Anything the boys could do I could do better, or die trying. I had no sisters, and all the kids near my age were boys, so it is no wonder. I had to be a tomboy to hold my own, much to mother and dad’s confusion. But generally the three of us were pretty much satisfied to find our own fun, and time passed quickly.

I suppose we had our childhood quarrels and differences, but that is the part I have forgotten, and I am glad. I’ve often wondered about the children of today with all their piles of modern toys. That would they think if they could have seen the little bit the children had to play with in that long ago time, and the simple ways we amused ourselves in our happy forest home, No toys at all that I can remember, except perhaps something that Grandpa or Dad had made for us, and of course our swing between the two big trees. We usually had a dog and a cat, and one day Bert brought home a little baby screech owl. We kept it and grew to love it, and it loved us. And by the way, that is what we named it, “It”. They said we might as well, for that is what everyone called it anyway. Mother used to tie a fish line around one of it’s legs, the other end around a rung of our old highchair. One day she found It untied, and was puzzled as to how It had gotten loose. She tied It up again, and once more found It untied. Then she watched, and the little rascal would pick and pick at that knot until it was untied, but never tried to get away. We kept the little owl for a long time, and then one day we came home from somewhere and found only a pitiful little pile of feathers. We had always been very careful, and made sure the cat was nowhere around when we left the house for any length of time, but this time someone slipped up and it was fatal for our poor little owl. We were all broken hearted, but it was a part of life, and of growing up. Like the time Grandpa killed a big black bear and he and Uncle Ed brought it home. We just could not understand how anyone could kill a beautiful creature like that. We thought he should have brought it home to us for a pet. My family was a family of hunters and still are, especially Clint. They hunted everything from chipmunks, gophers, squirrels and rabbits, to lynx, wolves, bear, deer, and sometimes wildcats and panthers. In fact, the biggest part of the meat problem for the woodsmen was solved by their ability. It was fortunate that we never saw all the deer they killed, or I suppose we would have thought them monsters. As it was, by the time we saw them they were just more pieces of meat that we, with the rest, thought delicious. Later on we had two little tame deer that Bert found and brought home. They had either been abandoned by their mother, which was doubtful, or she had been killed. For a while we had to feed them with baby bottles until they were old enough to eat by themselves. We kept them for over a year, then Mother had to sell them for they would eat everything in the garden, all the leaves off the fruit trees that they could reach, then start on the neighbors gardens. They really were a nuisance, but of course we kids could never see it that way, and could never understand why such a fuss should be made over such a little thing. We named one Fleet, the other Beauty, and put little bells on them, tied on with red ribbon so no one would hurt them. And they would come running whenever we called them if they were within hearing distance. But she sold them, to a man who had a private park somewhere in Iowa, and again our hearts were broken when we had to part with our beautiful pets. From that day to this I cannot endure the taste or smell of venison.

We had a dog, a dear little brown water spaniel, but I don’t remember her name. All she asked or expected of us was a little bit to eat, and our love, and she surely got both. Bert had two dogs, one as black as coal that we called Black Jack. He was old and slow, but so kind and good, and would have fought to his death for any one of us kids. Then there was Bruce, a shaggy faced, poodle-type dog, a kind of brindle and white, with one brown eye and one blue one, he was not much younger than Black Jack, but where Jack was a very serious, quiet dog, Bruce was still frisky arid ready at any time to play. They were our constant companions, and we loved each one of them as though they were members of the family. Then suddenly, again tragedy struck. Both Black Jack and Bruce died within a few days of each other, and then our little dog died. Dad said it was from lonesomeness and a broken heart. We buried them all in a little grave in a grove of young pines about half way between our house and Grandma’s. We all felt terrible and a torrent of tears were shed, but we did give them all lovely funerals, with flowers, and planted ferns around them, and even put a little cross at the head of the graves.
In spite of our little heartaches, which were very real to us at the time, it seems we could get a thrill out of everything, especially the very old Indian that they called “Old Chicog”. Chicog, I believe, means skunk in the Chippewa language, but that was the only name we ever knew him by. An old, very old Indian, who always walked straight as a ramrod, and yet always used a cane, he was always dressed in a fringed buck skin suit, wore beaded moccasins, and on his head a little black felt hat with one feather sticking up in it. He would glory in creeping up behind us as close as he could get and then saying in a loud, cracked voice, “Ti-yah”, without us seeing him first, and then laughing, toothlessly and soundlessly when. we ran like everything, pretending to be scared to death.

Frog Creek is a little narrow stream, in most places narrow enough to almost step across, but in the early spring it could be a raging torrent, and millions of feet of lumber has been sent down it’s swirling, tumbling waters. Frog Creek, the Totogatic River and St. Croix River were the main channels of Dad’s log drives. The town above Gordon was a little settlement called White Birch at that time. It is now Solon Springs, and in the summer time quite a vacation spot. Years ago the lake there was called Lake St. Croix before it was officially named, if it ever was. Perhaps that is still it’s name, I do not know. But I do know that there was an old Indian legend connected with the small island not far from the shore at Solon Springs. The legend is that years ago that region was the favorite hunting ground of the Chippewa’s, who were always being tormented by the Sioux Indians from the southeastern parts, and out Dakota way. The Sioux thought that if they tormented them enough perhaps they would move on and leave the rich country to them. Then the Sioux sent some Scouts to try and find out how many Chippewa there were, and if there could be a chance of over powering them. If in some way the Sioux could get possession of the rich hunting and fishing ground in the area where Gordon and Solon Springs now lie. But the Chippewa also had lookouts and scouts and the Sioux warriors were captured an stripped of their bows and arrows and wampum belts. They took the Sioux braves out to the little island and left them there, patrolling it with a solid line of canoes to prevent them from escaping by swimming. They left them there to starve and die, and th~ bows and arrows were sent back, broken, to the Sioux tribe, a warning as to what would happen to further trespassers. This was the legend, true or not, cruel or not, but when it was told to us it was claimed that human bones had been found on the island to prove the truth of the legend.

After the winter was past, the drive over, the logging all done for another year, Dad would get his money in a lump sum. He would pay the men off, and then he and Mother would take off for Superior and Duluth, and we would be left with Grandma. We didn’t mind, in fact, we looked forward to our stay with Grandpa and Grandma Goodwin. There were always so many interesting things to do. There was candy to make and popcorn to pop, and ground cherries to find along the little path running on the creek. There were picnics and fishing trips and rides on horses. Sometimes when mother and Dad came back we didn’t even want to go home, and would have to be bribed by them telling us of all the things they had brought back for us. One return home I remember distinctly, Uncle Ed had met their train at Minong, and we were waiting at home. Grandma knew how hard it was for them to get us home, so she thought it might make things easier if she took us home first, and besides would give us the thrill of waiting for them to come. She made the pretext of getting things ready at our house, so we walked the short distance from their house to ours. They arrived safely with the usual boxes and bundles, then Dad went back to the wagon and brought out a bicycle. I can still hear Grandma’s exclamation of wonder and surprise. Of course we had heard of bicycles, had even seen pictures of them, but never dreamed we would ever really see one. No one in the neighborhood had ever dared to express a wish that they could ever own one, and for the next few days our house was a show place for all the neighbors who came to see and try to ride the bicycle. They also brought back weird tales of what people were talking a bout in the city. For one thing, they were talking about some kind of a gadget they fastened to the wall, and you could talk to a person away in another town. This, of course, was taken with a grain of salt. And another machine was being made where you could turn a crank and music would come out. But the weirdest of all was the story that someone had invented a carriage that would run without horses, but of course that was all out of reason. Anyone with any common sense at all would know better than to even think of believing anything so far out. Only the crackpots could dream on anything so ridiculous.

My family was also a family of walkers. We had a pair of beautiful ponies, a new two—seated carriage and bright, shiny harnesses, but Dad, and Grandpa too, would walk the seven miles to town like nothing. And the list of groceries always began the same way, from Grandma or Mother, bacon, salt, beans, sugar, salt pork and flour. They raised almost everything else themselves.

We were mingling more with our white neighbors now, as they were moving in faster. The youngsters were getting older, and we could visit back and forth. The Davis family were our nearest neighbors, now that the Wolfe family had moved to their new home a few miles away. A beautiful home, surrounded by great pine trees, right near the trout pond they were developing. It is still a beautiful place, and well worth visiting, although all of the Wolfe family have gone to their rest long ago. The little white schoolhouse had been built, and the Davis home was about half way between our house and the schoolhouse. The distance to the schoolhouse seemed a long way then, but I imagine it was only about a mile; and about the same distance north of the schoolhouse was the home of Louis DeRosiers, who had built a home near the lake that I believe still bears his name, though they too have been gore many years, and the place now is a sort of summer resort. I don’t believe there were evermore than a dozen children attending that little school at one time, and many times less than that number. At one time there were only Goodwin and DeRosier children. At a later date I’m sure the attendance was larger, but at that time it hard to understand why they thought it worth while to even keep a teacher, but they were faithful, and. so were the teachers. Immediately after the schoolhouse was built Aunt Sadie Wolfe, Hal’s mother, organized a Sunday School. We were too small at that time to go through the woods alone, so the older children would come and. take us to Sunday School. Bert thought he was way too big to go to Sunday School, or we could have gone with him.

Bert was one of the first pupils to enroll in the school, and we thought he was so grownup and important, and so did he. One night they had a program, at the school the very first one, I’m sure, and everyone went and took the children. And we were so surprised, so thrilled and proud when Bert got up in front of all those people, (there must have been all of fifteen or twenty), went to the blackboard and drew a picture of a little pig, all the time saying a poem to correspond with the picture he was drawing. We couldn’t wait until the program was over so we could show everyone that Bert belonged to us. The homage we gave him, and did he eat it up! Afterwards he taught us the poem, and to this day I remember every word:

“The body of piggy is shaped like a bean, except when he’s poor and uncommonly lean.
Then a bright little eye he must have without fail, and at the other end a short, curly tail.
Then give him two ears and a long handsome snout, for the last is so useful in rooting about.
Then give him four feet and you have a whole pig, who can run for his food be he little or big.”

There is also a small cemetery a few rods south of the schoolhouse, and I’ve wondered many times if there are even any markers to show the place that at one time meant so much to quite a few people.

We had known the Wolfe family since we could remember, and the two families were always very close friends, but the boys were all older than we were. I remember when Hal’s brother Roy died of diphtheria. Roy was then about thirteen or fourteen years old. Poor Aunt Sadie, as everyone called her, was so broken hearted that she could not let him go, so she and. Uncle Jim, Hal’s Dad, had him laid to rest in their back yard under the big pines. I’m sure that the remains were later moved to a cemetery when the place was sold. Either of my brothers would know more about that than I, for that part happened after I had left home. I remember well when Hal and his Myrtle were married. I was supposed to play for their wedding, but in some way I had picked up some kind of poison that completely covered my face, hands and arms, and it ‘was impossible for me to go. But I felt very such honored the afternoon of their busy wedding when they came to my home to see how I was feeling.

Hal was a really handsome boy, and a wonderful singer. Many times I have accompanied him on the organ or piano when he sang for church or some special program. Everyone liked him, but he was sort of a rascal. Not a bad boy, but he was always in the middle of everything, always cutting up in some way and keeping things mixed up in general, many times misunderstood, too.

My brother Jack was born in January 1896, in the same old house at Frog Creek, It was just about this time that the Blackburn murder was committed. I had really forgotten about it until I was reminded by reading Hal’s memoirs. I was still a very small child, but I remembered it well after it was recalled to my mind. I also remember that Dad’s name was linked to it, and also Uncle Jim Wolfe’s. I remember hearing Dad telling Mother about it, and Uncle Jim coming over to talk it over with Dad. They vowed to find the ones who had taken their accounts, for they felt sure it had been done deliberately to throw suspicion on them. I had known Mr. Blackburn, but remember very little about him. I do know that he was a very kind man. He loved his wife deeply, and when she died he had a little house built near his own, large enough so he could go and sit with her for a while each day. He buried her there, and left a place beside her for himself, and when he was killed, they did indeed lay him beside her. Later though, when the place was sold, the bodies were removed to a cemetery near Gordon. Then the little white house was moved to Wascott by Ben Kreiner, whose mother and step-father had bought the Blackburn place. Ben and his wife moved to Minneapolis and there home at Wascott burned, but the little white Blackburn house is still there, as far as I know.

I remember also a poor half-witted, half-Indian boy named Joe Brown. I cannot remember where he first came from, if I ever knew, but Mr. Blackburn took him in and gave him a home, Joe Brown was a poor, simple, friendly person, ;who loved to play the violin, which was a gift from Mr. Blackburn after he learned how much he wanted, one. He knew only tunes he had picked up himself, and would visit my Grandfather arid they would play their violins together. I’ve wondered many times what became of Joe, He loved Mr. Blackburn with a burning loyalty, and he loved my Grandfather, whom he called Uncle Dave, Grandpa felt sorry for him, and knowing how he loved music he tried to help him however arid whenever he could. The majority of the people were very kind to Joe, but some would play jokes on him, some of them very cruel. Some of the jokes were also very humorous, Joe and his violin were at the hotel in Minong one day, when some one asked him if he wanted to know the name of the latest tune. Of course Joe said yes, and they said, “Spittoon!” Joe thought that was a wonderful joke, and said he would have to tell it to Uncle Dave. The next time he saw Grandpa he had the slyest look on his face as he asked him the same question, if he had heard the name of the latest tune. Grandpa said no, what was it, and Joe said “Spitbox,” and then wondered why Grandpa didn’t get the joke.

Getting back to Chittamo, when we were real small he would have us sit on the floor in front of him, and he would tell us stories of his younger days, about battles he had fought, different things he had done, and all the experiences he had gone through. Some of them were really gruesome for a bunch of little kids like us to hear, but he seemed to think it was good for us, and I guess it didn’t hurt us any. He told us one terrible story about when he was a very young man. He had picked out a favorite plot of land to build a real house on for the beautiful Indian girl who had promised to be his wife. Then a white man came and showed him a paper that he said was from the Great White Father in Washington. He said the paper proved that the land belonged to him, and Chittamo would have to find another spot. Chittamo tried to reason with him, but the white man wouldn’t listen, and called him all kinds of mean names, and a dirty dog of an Indian, so he had to kill him in order to keep the land he felt was rightfully his.

He told us this story as casually as though it had been the story of the Three Bears and looking back now it seems that we took it just as casually. He told us also of marrying his beautiful Indian sweetheart, but they had only been married a short time, when she died. This, he said, took all of Manitou’s sunshine from his life for many long months, or moons. Then to take away some of the loneliness he married again, but she was no good so he “trowed it away.” So his present wife was his third wife. She was a good, wonderful woman, but she knew his heart was buried with his first love, as was hers with the brave young husband who had fallen to an enemy’s arrow many years before. I wish I could remember all the stories he told us. There were beautiful ones and happy ones, as well as sad and scary ones. I believe the Indians are the most romantic people on earth, and the kindest. If you are his friend he will share his last drop of water and his last crust of bread with you. We grew up with them, and we know, of course there are rascals in any way, shape or manner, but aren’t there the same sort of people in every race? And if it was boiled down to fine the proportion I wouldn’t he surprised if some of the other races would suffer in comparison.

Poor Mr. and Mrs. Chittamo were not happy with their little foster son for very long, for the poor little thing only lived a few weeks. Whether it had been neglected at birth or whether it had not been fed right, whether poor Mrs. Chittamo did not understand how to care for babies, or whether it had some ailment no one seemed to know, but I do know it was not for lack of love and care. They were broken hearted at it’s death, and they too buried their treasure in their front yard, only a few feet from their door. They built a little house over his tiny grave, and painted it white, and put a tiny white picket fence, about six inches high around the house. When it rained she would cover the little house with a deer hide, and in the winter she would put blankets over it, and sometimes leave a lighted lantern at the door.

Time went by. My mother and father had troubles and misunderstandings, and eventually parted. We left our dear home by little old Frog Creek, and moved to a place over near the Totogatic River, and our happy, carefree sheltered childhood was over. Our wonderful Grandma Goodwin died, and Dad and Bert went to Canada. Uncle Dan and Uncle Ed both married and lived in Minong for awhile, but eventually Dan followed Dad to Canada, although he worked in the States for many years after that. One happy event came about soon after we moved, and that was the arrival of Mothers’ youngest sister and her family, Aunt Laura Sawyer. We became very close to the cousins in this family, but here it happened again. All that were near my own age were boys, and that didn’t help Mother’s concern over my tom-boyishness. But as we began to get older, we became more quiet and a little more sensible, and at last we were all like normal young people. I went away to school and when I returned my first try at teaching was in a small school near Gilmore Lake, west of Minong. Incidentally, Earl and Ernest Link, father and Uncle of the Minong Link Brothers, were among my pupils. That Christmas of 1906 I came to Cloquet, Minnesota, to visit a friend during vacation, and fell into a wonderful bookkeeping position at the Brooke Scanlon Lumber Company department store. I resigned my position as teacher, and stayed here. That spring of 1907, dear old Grandpa Goodwin left us, and that fall, in December, 1907, I married, and have lived here ever since. My oldest brother Percy lives in Helena, Montana and is engaged in some kind of mining business. My brother Clinton has a home in Spooner, Wisconsin and a summer cottage at Wascott, He is a retired railroad man, as is my brother Jack, who lives in a beautiful home on the eastern edge of Minong, I will relate a coincidence concerning this home. It wasn’t such a beautiful place when he bought the big rambling house, but he and his wife worked hard, and have turned it into a really beautiful home. Then they decided to look over the abstract of the acres there, and away, back on the list, back in the past somewhere, they found our father’s name. It had been in the Goodwin family years ago, had been sold and resold, and once again was in the Goodwin family.

Mother passed away at Wascott in 1936, and she sleeps in the beautiful little cemetery west of there, beside so many of her friends she had known and loved for years. Ed had died a few years before, and he lies beside Grandpa and Grandma Goodwin in the old cemetery at Minong. Bert was killed in a hunting accident in Canada in the early l940’s. Dad passed away in the fall of l953, also in Canada, and Dan followed him only a week later. Uncle Sam lived until a year or so ago, then he died in Seattle, Washington, the last one of either family to leave us.

A few years ago we heard they had found the remains of an old Wagon near Hayward. We were thrilled, for we thought surely it must be the remains of one of Dad’s Wagons. He had one on Frog Creek, another one on one of the other rivers where he had his log drives, we weren’t sure where, and as far as we knew he was the only one in that part of the country who had used them. The report said that the old wagon must have floated there in high water, and then been stranded when the water went down. They were trying to save it and repair it for there annual Woodmen’s show at Hayward. We couldn’t wait until we got there to see what we were sure must be one of Dad’s old wagons, hoping against hope there would be some sign, even some old board with a name on, so we could be sure. When we got there they told us that when they had tried to move the wagon it had fallen all apart. They had saved the floor and built on it, but it was no more like a wagon than my kitchen table. It had been so many years in the past, and of course none of them had ever seen a real wagon, and really knew nothing of how they should look. They had destroyed the old boards, or perhaps they too bad been so old and soft they fell apart, so we could not know if there was a name, or anything we might have recognized. We were terribly disappointed.

I have been back a few times but the face of the country has changed completely. There is a railroad across the Chittamo place, but there is a station they call Chittamo, and it must he not far from the spot where there home once stood. Across the creek where Grandpa’s sugar bush was, a house is standing. Where once our beautiful pine forests stood are broad open fields. Gone are the cool, leafy birch and maple groves. A wide road runs over the little path up the creek where we went with Grandma to dig for ground cherries. Our old house is gone, the home where we spent so many happy hours, arid the site where it stood is almost in the center of a field, with nothing to commemorate the pulsing life that at one time filled that beautiful spot. Only a few miles north of where our old home stood was Totogatic Falls, a beautiful, breath taking, thundering cataract, held in on each side by huge piles of rocks. On top of one of the rocks was the perfect imprint of a moccasin foot, as though someone had stepped deeply into the stone while it was still soft. People came for miles to visit the falls and to see arid marvel at the footprint. The thunder of those beautiful falls has been silenced, the footprint crashed onto limbo with a blast of dynamite, and a dam has been built over the river at that point.

We have eaten picnic lunches at Pattison’s Park on the Manitou River, over looking the dancing, rainbow Manitou Falls, before there was even a thought of having a park there. It is a beautiful spot now, but cannot compare with the wild beauty that was there before the hand of man took over.

My brothers and I sometimes go and visit the old places, we find DeRosiers Lake and the place where the little old school house stood. The schoolhouse is gone with a larger, more modern school building across the road, but strangely enough, the old yard looks almost the same. We go eastward a little way and find Grandpa’ s corn field, that was long enough to have a garden at one end, and room at one side where the kids could play ball. We find the little creek, that is even smaller and narrower than we remember. We find where our old home stood, where Grandpa and Grandma lived, and we find where Grandpa’s little path ran up the creek, and we come away with an empty, homesick feeling that nothing or nobody can ever change.

You can’t hold back progress. You can’t bring back the past. And way down deep, I wonder if there is anyone who would really want to.
Cloquet, Minnesota - April 1963


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