MORROW, accompanied by brothers-in-law Alf CARTER and Elmer
COFFMAN and neighbour Walter GEE,
came from Mondamin, Harrison County, Iowa, USA in 1900. They
each bought a half section of land located on the Sharphead
Indian Reserve which had just been newly opened for settlement,
through the Indian Affairs Branch at Red Deer. Their land all
adjoined, but was partly in what became the Grand Meadow School
District, south of the Township line. Dan and Minnie (GARNER)
MORROW, with children Leslie and Eva, shipped in their effects in August 1901.
Shelter was the first order of the day and with good neighbourly
help the MORROW house was soon build, plastered, and made winter
snug. This house is a monument to the skill of these early carpenters,
for in 1916 it was moved with the help of neighbours and sixteen
teams of horses to its present location where it forms part
of the large home.
Pioneering days were not rosy ones. Small, meager crops on a
few hand-cleared acres of land; no markets and no money! There
was the day that Dad and Walter butchered three hogs in hopes
that they might be sold for cash or trade. By sled and team,
they took them to Lacombe where there was a butcher shop. One
dressed hog was sold for $2.50, and they returned all those
miles with the other two. From where the strength to stay and
dream their dream? Perhaps my dad did lose hope in the face
of all these hardships, because in July 1904, he called an auction
sale. The day of the sale came, but no buyers, so he was thwarted
in an attempted to leave the country. They did return to the
U.S. for a year, but Dec. 1905 saw them again with a carload
of settler's effects starting back to Canada. Mother and we
three children (Esther, the youngest, was born in Colorado in
April, 1905) arrived by train day-coach to stay at Walter GEE's
home until Dad came. (The A.J. CRAWFORDs were living in our
house during our absence).
Dad's journey, supposed to be about a week's time, had stretched
into twenty-one days of misery for him and the stock. Trains
were shunted onto sidings waiting for snowplows, which were
at times snowed in themselves. Feed ran out and stock had to
be unloaded and fed. Calgary was the last feeding place and
that is where Dad spent his Christmas day. Once the family was
sheltered, the men went to work to clear the land, often with
only a double-bitted axe, a team of oxen or horses, and that
old breaking plow. Grain was needed to add to the native grasses
for feed for the few animals that had been brought in.
The women tried to raise a few vegetables to supplement the
wild game and wild berries that were so plentiful then. Varieties
of grains and vegetables were not yet developed for early ripening,
and the settlers often saw their efforts destroyed by frost.
Perishable foods were not easily kept over the winter.
There was no central heating, so in spite of deep digging of
cellars and banking of foundations, there were many times we
ate frozen potatoes and cabbage, and saw jars of fruit burst
open with the frost. Those were days of hardship, but they were
days of closeness of people too. Homemade entertainment there
was aplenty: socials, house parties, dancing and skating. When
the temperature dipped to thirty degrees below zero, my dad
said "No" to us kids to take that half mile walk to the river
where the young people gathered beside a huge brush fire to
enjoy the weekly skating party. At social gatherings, I remember
Dad singing songs while Mothers chorded on the organ. In later
years, he recited his verses which often were about some incident
in which the neighbours were involved. These poems were published
in his book, "Homespun Rhymes", in 1948, and dedicated to the
Grand Meadow Local, United Farm Women of Alberta.
He was very active in the formation of the union of farmers,
when they simply banded together to buy coal and binder twine
in carload lots in order to get it more reasonably. Dad was
the first president of Grand Meadow U.F.A. Local of the United
Farmer Movement which was organized in 1911 to study matters
of concern to the farmer and to give him a voice in the setting
of fair prices for his products.
By the time the First World War broke out the pioneers were
fairly well settled and many were the fund-raising events of
our neighborhood. About this time, Mrs. Aro CRAWFORD and Mother
helped to organize a women's group. One of there objectives
was to open the Ladies' Rest Room in Ponoka, where women could
rest and feed the baby after a long treck into town by horse-drawn
sleigh or buggy. The first little room stood near the site of
the first post-office, and was later replaced by a modern building
with monies raised through teas and raffles. Now all the rural
districts are represented in keeping up this much needed service.
Dad held an auction sale in 1926 and we lived in the U.S. for
two years while renting the land to Bernard CISSELL. The family
returned to the farm, Dad took up auctioneering again, and Esther
and I resumed teaching in district schools.
Dan and Minnie (GARNER)
MORROW were both born in 1874 in Harrison County, Mondamin,
Iowa, USA and were married on the Garner Homestead there, in
1896. Minnie died at home, October 1933, and Dan followed in
October 1948. Although they passed in Alberta, both Minnie and
Daniel were buried in the Magnolia Cemetery, Mondamin, Iowa,
alongside their forefathers.
son, Leslie, was born in Harrison County, Iowa, USA, emigrated
with his parents to Canada, and educated in Ponoka district
schools. He served overseas with the American army, and died
in France, June 1918.
Their daughter, Eva, was also born in Harrison County, emigrated
to Canada, educated in the district and Ponoka High School,
took a business course in Edmonton, and finally graduated from
Camrose Normal School in 1924, along with her younger sister
Esther. She later married Roy SAUDER, had 2 sons, LeRoy and
David, and lived for many year in Vancouver and Chilliwack,
B.C. After her husband's death, Eva moved to Grande Prairie,
Alberta where she taught school and eventually retired. Eva
has since passed on.
Esther was born in Colorado, USA, was educated in Ponoka district
schools and became a teacher after graduating from Camrose Normal
School. She married Duncan McMILLAN
and they farmed the Morrow place.