George Hugill: A Man On The Move

by

Tim Clow

 

Man is a curious creature. He has always wondered whatis across the next hill or river. Then man came face to face with the ocean.Some were contented to sit back and not cross the ocean because of theirbelief that if they sailed too far they might fall over the edge. But afew believed the world was round and were ready to prove their beliefs.Such a man was Christopher Columbus.

Little did this man realize that over 400 years later theland he discovered would be the most powerful in the world, the United States.Our country has a colorful history. Much of it is provided by the immigrantsthat came to the U.S. in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds. These peoplecame in search for a better life which they thought the United States mightoffer them.

One of these men was Joseph Hugill. He came from a townnamed Penrith in Cumberland County, England. His mother died when he wasyoung so he was raised by his Uncle Hodgins. His uncle owned some land soJoseph worked for him during his boyhood. In England at this time it wasvery unusual for a man such as Mr. Hodgins to own land because most of itwas still owned by the lords.

Joseph's dad had come to the U.S. during the Gold Rushin 1849 and he was never heard from again. Joseph crossed the ocean in 1833after he married the Scottish woman Mary Racheal Davidson. They settledin Chatam, Ontario and Joseph worked for a gas company. One of his jobswas to go around each night and light the gas street lamps. While the Hugillswere here their first child was born.

In 1885, Joseph and Mary were hired to work for EphramArnold. Mr. Arnold was a bachelor who lived one-half mile straight southof Orleans. Here Joseph stayed for a few years then he moved to sectioneight of Granville township then to section twenty four in Hampden townshipand finally he homesteaded some land in 1890.

On March 15, 1984, the era of George Hugill arrived. Fromhis birthplace in Richardville township, George moved five times in thirtyyears. First to Granville township section nineteen in 1901, then back toRichardville township section thirty in 1905, then to Hill township sectionfour in 1910, from there to St. Vincent township section twenty three in1920, and finally to Hampden township section thirty four in 1924.

During the days when he worked on his dad's farm, Georgegot up each morning at five o'clock with his five brothers, Joseph, Thomas,Percy, Robert, Ray, and his two sisters Rachel and Annie. There was thebarn to clean out and livestock to be fed and horses to be harnessed sothey were ready for field work.

In their leisure time they usually played baseball or horseshoes.In the winter they could not get very far so they stayed home and listenedto the phonograph. They also had some musical instruments to play. Josephcould play the accordion, violin, mandolin, and guitar. George's brotherBob could play the guitar, accordion, and violin.

During the winter the five brothers used their ponies tochase wolves. They usually killed thirty to forty wolves each winter andfrom their skins received some spending money.

All their farming was done with horses till about 1915when Joseph bought his first tractor a Rumly Oil Pull, next year Josephbought a smaller tractor called a Hubert. But even with the advent of tractors,horses were still used for spring work. The tractors were mostly used forplowing and harvesting. George also bought his first car (a Ford) in 1915.

The partnership between Joseph and his sons broke up in1920 when three of the boys were married. George was married on August 29,1920 to Amelia Diamond, three days later his dad passed away.

Between the years 1916 and 1924 George played semi-probaseball. He played for Humboldt first, then for Pembina, and even a fewgames for the Neche Internationals. They had this name because two of theirplayers were from Canada. Each player usually received ten dollars a gamebut this was sometimes conveniently forgotten. Some towns like Pembina hiredprofessional players for their teams. Vic Clow hired professional playersfor the Humboldt team once, it lasted till his dad found out Vic was payingthem with his money.

George even played one game against a recent Hall of Fameentree, Satchel Page. He said he was the only one on the team who got ahit off Satchel.

George played many positions during his career, catcher,first baseman, third baseman, and centerfield. He liked centerfield bestbecause there was a lot of room to move around out there. His baseball careerended in 1924 when he decided to devote his summers to farming.

He farmed on his farm northwest of Hallock from 1924-1934then he sold the crop while it was still in the field and went west. Theyleft in July of 1934 and arrived in the state of Washington just in timeto pick fruit. They picked fruit till October then bought a house and stayedtill March. They left in March because it was time to buy a new car licenseand George thought he might be able to get out of the state before he hadto buy the new license. But a patrolman stopped him just outside of Spokaneand made him buy the new license. Another hour he would have been in Idahoand home free. When George arrived back in this county he bought the farmhe was renting and he has farmed there till 1961.

While he was farming he served as a community committeemanfrom 1935-1948. He served as a county committeeman from 1948-1955. Duringthe years from 1938-1948 he worked part time for PMA (Production MarketingAssociation), from 1948-1955 he worked for PMA full time.

PMA is the same as the ASC office only it had a differenttitle. PMA made loans on grains, potatoes, and other such commodities. WhileGeorge was a committeeman for PMA, he wrote up a program for "stubblemulching." This was put on the national docket - the only one everto be put on the docket. Stubble mulching called for the farmer to cultivateor disc his land instead of plowing it so the soil would not blow away.

George has seen both good times and bad in the Red RiverValley. During the winters on his dad's farm they had to depend on meatthey could hunt for such as deer and moose until their dad started raisinglivestock. During the Depression George can remember one man and his familywho lived on macaroni. On one occasion when the farmers could not get enoughmoney for their grain they banded together and stopped the trucks that shippedthe grain out.

The Red River Valley has had an exciting history. It hasprovided many people with a living over the years. Others who have comehere could not make it and soon left, but each left their mark on the Valley'shistory. George has lived here all his life. He has seen people come andgo, but he has stayed on and helped to develop the valley to what it istoday.

Bibliography

Hugill, George Interviewed Dec. 29, 1970

Hugill, George Interviewed Jan. 24, 1971

Hugill, George Interviewed Feb. 10, 1971FONT SIZE=+1>Hugill, George Interviewed Jan. 24, 1971

Hugill, George Interviewed Feb. 10, 1971