Memories of White Bluffs: Site of the First Organized LDS Branch on the River
Colaborador: vapiazza Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Memories of White Bluffs: Site of the First Organized LDS Branch on the River
by Stephen L. Rawlins
Many now living in the Tri-Cites with its huge LDS population are not aware of the fact that largest LDS congregation, and the first organized branch in the area was once at White Bluffs, about 20 miles upstream from here. Although the branch’s life was shortened by the coming of the Hanford atomic project, many of those early residents moved to the Tri-Cites, and provided leadership to the struggling church organization in the early 1940s. Most of the members making up the White Bluffs Branch were transplants from Cache Valley, Utah, and my family was among them.
Our family, consisting of, my mother and dad, Aerial and Dorothy Rawlins, me, 7, and my two brothers, Bruce, 10, and Claude, 4, packed up everything we owned onto Elmer Hendricks flatbed truck and headed north to White Bluffs in late May, 1939. We were among about twenty families from Lewiston, Cache County, Utah and vicinity to make this move. All of us were emerging from the Great Depression -- many, like us, with very little in the way of worldly goods. Elmer Hendricks, who had moved to White Bluffs earlier, came back with his truck to get us.
Lewiston had been homesteaded in the early 1870s by Mormon pioneers, but by 1939 the original farms had been subdivided to the point that many young families needed to find another place to make a living. Dad and Mom had lost a farm they were purchasing in Lewiston, and had survived on the milk from a cow, what they could grow in the garden, and the little income Dad was able to earn from small jobs he picked up wherever he could get them. My brother Bruce recalls, “I've had conversations and overheard conversations with my dad that give a little idea of what that depression was like. I remember him talking with some friends, and they were hoping to find jobs, and if they could find one they could get fifty cents a day and maybe even as much as a dollar. I remember one job Dad had for thirty dollars a month, but he was expected to be on duty six days a week, twenty four hours a day." They were looking for something better. In her history, Mom recalls: (See her autobiography. Her ID is KWZN-66Q)
“Anyway, things were not improving, and one year some salesman came from up here in Washington, and came to our place. I guess he thought he would recruit some Mormons to come up here to Washington, called the 'River Area'. That's when he talked some of them to coming up here to sort of homestead, I guess. There were some houses that the government had given the soldiers from World War I. They were little houses and they were comfortable places and they had a certain acreage that these soldiers were given. But anyway the soldiers lived there and produced fruit because it was a beautiful fruit raising country. But they didn't stay with it, and so those houses were left empty, and the orchards neglected. I think this Mr. Adams, who came from Washington, said, 'Well, I bet if we get a group of Mormons up here, they'll make it go.' He came down there and talked a lot of them into coming up here to see. In fact, there were seventeen families that moved from Cache Valley at that time. They were tempted to do something with the White Bluffs area. Of course, Aerial was excited about it, too. He came with his friends. I didn't want to come.”
As you see, the Priest Rapids Valley residents were aggressive in their efforts to promote their good, fertile, early producing land. They too had been through tough times during the Depression, but had organized a new irrigation company and were looking for people to fill up the abandoned farms. Cache Valley families began arriving to take up land in February of 1939.
I recall on the trip to White Bluffs that my brothers and I rode in the back of the truck with our furniture, some livestock, and every thing we had. We had Bruce's goat with us and I think perhaps a calf or two, partitioned off in a small part of the truck. Crawling down under the canvas cover among the furniture and other household belongings I recall finding the sewing machine. It was the old pedal kind with a large wheel that ran the belt for the sewing machine head. To while away the hours I sat down there and treadled that sewing machine, of course with the belt off, but at least I made the wheel go around and around. I could imagine myself making the truck go as we traveled the 600 or so miles from Lewiston to White Bluffs.
White Bluffs was a beautiful place. It was out in the desert but had several fine orchards with cherries, apples, peaches, apricots and other soft fruits. The old town was built on the River and contained a small park and an old Grange hall. The new town was several miles away at the railroad terminal. We obtained a ten acre farm there for I think $500. The farm included two concrete dug wells and a house. In her history Mom describes the house in these words:
"It had two bedrooms, a nice front room and a kitchen. Nothing was finished. There was a place that was supposed to be a bathroom, but it had never been plumbed. In fact there was no water except for a tap that was in the kitchen, a tap of cold water. It was more luxury than we had had for a long time, and the people were so wonderful to us. We thought we had gone to Heaven."
In late April the group had made arrangements to meet for church in the Grange Hall, down by the boat dock in Old Town. John Hyer, who had moved from Lewiston to Cold Creek, driving his tractor, towing a grain thresher, was called as branch president. (I’ve often wondered how he got that contraption down the old Cabbage Hill road outside of Pendleton, Oregon.) My brother Bruce and I got the assignment to start the fire in the pot-belly stove to heat the hall prior to each Sunday meeting. We usually had to clean out the beer bottles and cigarette butts from the dance the night before.
The families making up the White Bluffs Branch included: Dan and Rhetta Brashear, Elmer and Eda Hendricks, Roland and Lucy Holden, Swen and Edna Hutterball, John and Maud Hyer, Clair Hyer, Eric and Eve Jorgensen, Leavitt and Ruth Karren, David and Rose Last, Thomas Last, Purse and Sara Kent, Jack and Sarah Miles, Hill Nelson, Jim and Louella Nelson, Boyd and Mamie Porter, Phil and Veda Purser, Aerial and Dorothy Rawlins, Alpheus and Mabel Rawlins, Horace and Arvilla Rawlins, Reed and Ethel Rawlins, Reuel and Alice Rawlins, Pat and Verna Smith, and Eldon and Leona Williams. We were related to several of the families. Horace Rawlins and Reed were Dad’s brothers, and Alpheus and Reuel were his cousins. David and Tom Last were Mom’s brothers, and we were shirttail relatives to about half of the remaining families.
The White Bluffs Branch members came from as far as Cold Creek, up stream, and from Ringold, across the river from Hanford, down stream. It was part of the Northwestern States Mission and the Yakima-Wenatchee District. A dependent Sunday school had been operating in the Kennewick-Pasco area under the leadership of Guy Morrison of Kennewick and Lyle Stringham of Pasco off and on since about 1933, but it was not organized into a branch until the early 1940s. Guy Morrison sold Watkins products, and frequently visited our community and attended meetings at White Bluffs. I remember Mom bought liniment and vanilla from him, in bottles that looked alike. One Sunday our dinner guests, two Mormon missionaries, shared gooseberry pie flavored with Watkins liniment. It was different.
We were fortunate to have missionaries assigned to us. Rollin Morford, best friend to my bother Bruce, was one of their converts. I especially remember Elder Jimmy Pope, partly because he baptized me in the Columbia River. But most of all because he played guitar and sang, frequently on the radio from Kennewick. Whenever we knew he would be singing, we’d gather around the radio to listen to his cowboy ballads, usually with the words modified to convey a gospel message. One I remember was Tumbling, Tumble Weed. The part that goes “I know when day is through . . .” was modified to “I know the gospel’s true . . Dad planted about a fourth of our 10 acres to peach trees and installed concrete pipe to irrigate them. The remainder of the land was vacant or was used for pasture for the few cows and two mules that we had acquired. Dad, Mom, Bruce and I found employment picking and packing fruit, and one winter Dad had to work in Nyssa, Oregon in the sugar beet factory to make ends meet. Perhaps the best job Dad had was helping in the construction of the Midway Substation upriver from Vernita. This was part of the Bonneville-Coulee Dam electric power line.
Mom found a group of women interested in music. She remembers:
“They had a little organization they called Pro Musica. Anyone who played any kind of an instrument, or sang, or had any musical ability at all was welcome to do that. You were expected to play a number or do something. You could perform when you went. They didn't keep minutes. They didn't want it to be like a club. They all served refreshments and boy, I met some of the best cooks I've ever known. It was just a fun time to get together and perform. I used to play the piano and I could play something for them or a duet with someone else, and it was always fun. We had it at our different homes.”
Mom played the piano and her brother, Tom Last, played the violin at many social functions in the community, including dances and ice cream socials. The White Bluffs old timers couldn't have been more wonderful to us than they were. Mom remembers:
“It was fun and we got acquainted with everybody. Everybody was so nice to you. They'd say, “Now, have you got any cherries? Well, go over to my orchard and just help yourself, because I'm not going to pick them this year.’ And if you didn't go over and get them, they'd bring them to you. And other people would say, ‘Have you got tomatoes?' ‘and peaches?’ and, ‘would you like to go to Pasco to shop’? On the way to Pasco there was a little butcher shop in Richland, run by a German. As far as I know that building is still there now; it was a big cement block building. This German butcher had the best meat, and everybody that ever went to Pasco stopped at the Richland store to buy meat. They'd want to know if you'd want to go and if not, could they buy some for you? That's just the way it was. They were just really nice people.”
But, perhaps the greatest blessing to come into Mom’s life in White Bluffs was the birth of a little girl, Helen, in 1942. After the birth of three boys, hoping each time that one would be a girl, she truly thought she was in heaven. And the rest of us did too. I remember running home from school so that I could be first to take care of our new sister.
One of the attractions to a boy in White Bluffs was Chief John Buck and his band of Priest Rapid Indians who came each year and camped on the big bend in the river, upstream from old town. I remember they dried fish and other meat on racks surrounding their lodge. They seemed to be nice, but they certainly had different ways of doing things. One day Dad had a young steer die of bloat on some new alfalfa, and Johnny Buck and a couple of squaws came in a buckboard wagon pulled by a pair of pinto horses to get it. The women just hacked it into pieces with axes and threw it in the wagon. It was a different way to butcher. I suppose they dried it on the same racks they used to dry fish on. I remember the smell down wind from these racks was awful. I also remember them running from their steam huts and jumping into the river in the winter time. It didn't look too fun to me!
These were wonderful days in this little town with so many new LDS families there with young children pioneering this new area. Mom remembers:
“We were the closest little church group you ever saw. We rented the Grange hall there, and that's where we used to meet. Believe me, if we got there Sunday morning and somebody wasn't there, someone was right out to find out what was the matter with those people; to find out why they weren't there. Everyone felt the need to be there. We loved it. People were so nice. Always in the summer time we'd have a picnic. Some people came from long distance to come to church, from Hanford, Ringold, and also from Cold Creek, where our branch president, John Hyer lived. We used to all drive in quite a distance, so we'd all bring lunch and then we'd have a picnic out on the tables at the Grange hall. Oh, and that was fun and we had such a close church group. Some of the people that came from Lewiston that we had hardly known there became close to us in White Bluffs. Everybody was concerned about everybody else, and everyone was helping everyone else. It was a beautiful situation. I think we were closer to the Lord than we had ever been.”
The Branch Mutual organization was for everyone, young and old. One of their favorite activities was to put on plays. Mom states:
“Everybody used to come from miles around because it was too far to go to Pasco or Yakima for any kind of entertainment. So they would just load the house when we would have a show. It was just really a fun time.”
We developed close friends among several old-time residents like the Morford family. They had a rowboat which we used to row all over the river. I remember several families got together one night on a nearby island, built a large fire, and swam until we were exhausted, ate until we were stuffed, and then sat around and sang songs. Mom recalls:
“When I think back on it I think of it as the vacation time in our lives, because it was like a vacation. Somebody would call up, ‘We're going over to Barrett's Island tonight. We're going to go across and have a picnic. I've got some steaks, and they're delicious.’ Someone else would call. ‘Come over to the Black Sandbar tonight. Bring what ever you've got. I have a chocolate cake.’ So you know, we'd all figure out whatever we could take, either a big salad or anything we had.”
I remember the summer I was eight years old that I was working for President Hyer driving a team of horses hauling hay from the field to be stacked. Bruce had left our house early in the morning to come to Cold Creek to bring our team of mules. It began to get dark and still he had not arrived. I remember how concerned everyone was. It was a hot day and we knew he didn't have much food or water with him. Finally he arrived. He had apparently become unsure of himself and turned back to the river to follow it up to Vernita because he knew he could find his way from there. This took him a long way from the direct route. I recall how happy we all were to get a call from the person at the Vernita Pump Station that he was there. Carma Dean, President Hyer’s daughter, was driven to the pump station and rode one of the mules with Bruce back to the farm. It was a happy day.
Bruce and I worked hard for President Hyer, but enjoyed ourselves, particularly as young boys being treated as men. One time when John Hyer's family was in Utah for a visit only President Hyer and I were on the farm. We were threshing barley and the mechanism that drove the pulley on the tractor that ran the long belt to the threshing machine broke down. The closest place to get it repaired was Yakima, which was a day's drive away on the tractor. It was necessary for him to stay overnight, so he gave me instructions for taking care of the animals, showed me where the food was and left me in charge of the farm. I felt pretty good about being in charge and being there alone until it began to get dark. In feeding the pigs that evening I had to get into their pen to tip their trough back over, and before I could get out, one of the hogs grabbed me by the pant leg and dragged me down. Fortunately I got out without any injury but it frightened me. I didn't feel very secure as I got ready for bed that night. Fortunately we had a telephone so I called home. As I heard my mother's voice the tears began to run and I said, "Momma, I'm homesick.” There was not much she could do about it. We had no automobile, but she consoled me a little bit and I got through the night all right. Late the next day President Hyer returned with his tractor and we continued to thresh the barley.
During this time alone with President Hyer he used to lie on the floor in the evening and have me walk up and down his back to get the kinks out. He would talk to me about the things he thought were important. I recall one time when I was getting his sheep out of the corral to take them out into the sagebrush to graze that he explained to me the difference between a shepherd and a sheepherder. The shepherd would walk out in front, and the sheep would follow because they knew from experience that he would take them to clear water and green grass. But the sheepherder would follow along in the dust behind, not being able to see in front, and would send his dogs after any sheep that got out of line. It was clear that I fell into the sheepherder category. I've thought a lot about this as an analogy of the difference between a leader and a manager.
During the winter we boys used to enjoy going jackrabbit hunting. Jackrabbits were always plentiful and their hides brought in a little cash -- I think about 10 cents each when stretched and dried. In wandering around the desert with our mule, Jack, and Rollin Morford’s Cayuse mare, we found some old buggies and buckboards at abandoned farmsteads. We assembled enough parts to put together a buggy and several other contraptions that were mixtures between buckboards and buggies. We really enjoyed ourselves wandering out through the desert, shooting rabbits and exploring. One Saturday I recall we went a little further than we had anticipated. We didn't have any food and we were getting hungry. There was some snow on the ground so we found an old tin can and boiled one of the rabbits in melted snow. This was the first time I realized how important salt is to meat. By the time we got all this cooking done it was beginning to get dark and by the time we got home it was dark. Of course my mother was worried, as she usually was. But I admire her for allowing us to be on our own. I doubt that she had any idea what we did, which was probably just as well.
All of us look back at White Bluffs as a real haven; the time when our financial problems, though by no means absent, were less critical than they had been in my earlier memory. But, unfortunately it did not last. I particularly remember a Sunday when Uncle Tom Last came over to visit with us that we heard the disturbing words from President Roosevelt that "the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor, and that a state of war now exists between our two nations." Little did we know at this time how much this war would disrupt our peaceful lives at White Bluffs. Of course our young men were taken into the service, but we had no idea that it would have such a devastating impact on our little community. The March 11, 1943, issue of the Kennewick Courier-Reporter carried the headlines:
“RICHLAND, WHITE BLUFFS AND HANFORD AREA TO BE TAKEN BY HUGE WAR INDUSTRY. MASS MEETING CALLED AT RICHLAND TO EXPLAIN THE WAR PROJECTS TO RESIDENTS.”
There was no question about it. Everyone had to move. By March much of the investment in the new crops had been made, but few of the farmers would be able to stay long enough to recoup this investment. Originally it was hoped that the schools could finish their normal year in mid-May, but they had to close in mid-April. Everyone had to be out of White Bluffs by May 31st. It was a sad time. In District Conference held April 18th, President Hyer reported that the White Bluffs Branch had been disbanded.
The contractor arranging for the evacuation and building of the new plant was DuPont. I can remember their officials came around with armbands with an oval-shaped "DuPont" emblem. They reminded me of the Nazi armbands with the swastika. Their appraisers condemned all of the land, including our farm, for which they paid us $1,100, including $400 worth of concrete irrigation pipe which was stacked and ready to install. They would not allow us to return it to the pipe plant in Pasco. It was a dreadful blow for our family not only because the sum was too small to begin again anywhere else, but it was not paid for several months after we were evicted. Our orchard was young and non-bearing but many of the neighbors who had cherries would have collected more from their cherries had they been able to stay through June and pick them than they collected from their entire farm.
What a sad day that was as we prepared ourselves to move, Everything we had collected over the many years we had been together seemed to be included on the appraiser's list of things that could not be moved. Not included were our buggies and buckboards. I will never forget a few days before we left we hauled them all down to the river and set them on fire. It was a bitter day and we didn't understand why we had to be uprooted and displaced from our friends. It was not until after the first atomic bomb fell on Japan that we realized that it was the Hanford atomic energy works that had created the plutonium for the atomic bomb.
Recalling this time, Mom states:
“So that was a tragic time for all of us; that was really sad, because everybody just had to get out and go. We kept in touch with many of them for a long time. Many of them went to Sunnyside, Yakima and that area; and some to Pasco, and some went back to Cache Valley. John Hyer did. Aerial's brother Horace and his wife went back too. Well, I thought about it and I said you know, when we came out here and we were in Walla Walla I said, ‘If we ever have to leave White Bluffs, will you promise me we can come back to Walla Walla.’ I felt that close to Walla Walla. Aerial said, ‘Sure' because he had no intention of ever leaving White Bluffs. He was going to live there for the rest of his life. This is what happened, and so I reminded him of his promise. And he said, ‘Well, I guess we'd be as well there as anywhere.’ “
We were fortunate to be offered the basement of a home on a large farm that had been taken over to make a farm labor camp in Walla Walla. We had room for our cows, my sheep, and our mule in the pasture, and a barn to keep them in. We also had a place for a garden. And, for another brief period of time we had a house with indoor plumbing.
We began life anew with very little except the clothes on our back and each other. Dad was able to work in the canneries and in the pea harvest and Mom was able to work also in a food processing plant. After about a year, after receiving the payment for White Bluffs, Mom and Dad were able to put a down payment on a small farm again. But this time, not only did it not have running water, it also had no electricity.
We all went through high school in Walla Walla, and since then have gone our separate ways. Mom and Dad stayed on their little farm until they moved to Bellevue in the early 1980s for a few years and then returned to Kennewick. Here they spent the rest of their lives, participating in Church at the Kennewick 9th Ward. Mother passed away in March of 1991 at the age of 87, and Dad passed away this past July, nearly 95 years old.
Of the four children, only Claude and I made it back to the Tri-Cities. Claude was called as the first missionary from the Walla Walla Ward, married Vergie Mathews from Pasco, lived in Utah and California, and returned with his family to Richland in the early 1980s. I married Carol Jean Carter at BYU, lived in Connecticut, California and Maryland, and finally Carol and I returned in 1992 -- joining Claude and Dad in the 9th Ward of the Kennewick Stake. Bruce married Bonnie Hansen of Walla Walla, lived in Spokane and Michigan, and now lives with his family in Medford, Oregon. Helen Married James Knopf of Walla Walla, attended BYU, and settled with their family first in Bellevue, and now in Redmond, Washington.
I've often thought about our family’s short sojourn in White Bluffs, and the blessings we received from it. But I also realize that some of the blessings we have enjoyed since then may not have come about had we continued to stay there. Mother wrote the following in her history about a District Conference in Yakima that may explain a lot of things about White Bluffs:
“One of the Church authorities said he welcomed all the people who had come from Utah at this time. And he said, what a nice thing it was, what a growing experience it was for us, that we were learning many things by coming out here instead of staying in Utah. . . But he said that it was when we got out of Utah that we really began to grow many of us needed to get out and to realize that the Mormon Church was not a Utah Church. Utah was not the only place for the Mormons. He told us too, ‘You people, you think you have come out here to make homes, but that isn't the purpose you came for. You came to help spread the gospel.’ I thought, what a ridiculous thing to say. That was exactly what we came out for was to make a home. All of us had come for that reason. We planned to make our homes here and I couldn't understand why he said such a thing. I don't know whether he could have known that in the next year we would be moved out completely moved out of that area. But he must have understood something that I didn't.”
Perhaps the Lord’s hand was involved in our experience more than we know. White Bluffs may simply have been the Lord’s staging area -- a place to prepare us, to help us grow close to each other and to the Lord, and then to be sent out among other communities to spread this wonderful Gospel.
Memories of White Bluffs by Maud Petersen (Hyer)
Colaborador: vapiazza Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
[I copied this portion of her history detailing her experiences from her complete history on her personal page.]
During the winter of 1938, John became ill and spent part of the winter in the Veterans Hospital. The Doctor advised him to go to a warmer place where there was not so much winter. At that time, there seemed to be quite an interest in land in Washington, so in January of 1939, Ira and Valera Hyer, Cecil and Iva Beecher and John and I made a trip out to White Bluffs, Washington and purchased land. In February of 1939, John, our son Garold, William Johnson, John Miles and Tom Last equipped a rubber tired hay wagon with a canvas cover and loaded it with supplies such as food, bedding, seeds and some implements, and drawn by a tractor, and made the trip to White Bluffs, Washington. One of the newspapers in Washington took a picture and wrote an article entitled "Mormons on the Move, Again". There was no water on the land that had been purchased so they rented land at Cold Creek and started farming. John, Garold, and William Johnson operated one farm and the others rented different places.
The Sunday School was organized on April 9, 1939 under the direction of Elders Davis and Arthur Van Orden. John was sustained as Superintendent with Dan Brashier as 1st Counselor and Elden Hendricks as 2nd Counselor. When school was out in the spring of 1939, Viva, Clare, Eileen, Karma and I went out to help and be with them. We traveled about 16 miles to Church from Cold Creek to White Bluffs and usually took our lunch and had "pot luck" with the other members of the Branch. We all had a job in the Church, teaching or music. This was another pioneering event.
The home in Cold Creek was one room which had been used as a granary. We nicknamed it "The Castle". Tents were put up for sleeping quarters. They had wooden floors and tent tops. There was no electricity or culinary water on the place. 'We had to carry water from an artesian well about 1/2 block away. The water was 72 degrees so it didn't make for very pleasant drinking, but it didn't have to be heated much for a bath, and was also used for irrigation. The stove was an old wood burning range and the men were not always around to cut the wood. We had no refrigeration and the washing equipment consisted of a tin tub and a wash board. We did our ironing with the old flat irons heated on the stove. We could get warmed up twice, first cutting the wood and second doing the ironing. The temperature in the summer hovered around 120 degrees, and when cooking, canning and ironing with a fire going in the kitchen, it was much warmer. The wind blew a great deal, especially in the spring of the year, and usually lasted about 3 days at a time. Each night before going to bed we would have to shake all the bedding to remove the sand, scorpions and black widow spiders, so we would feel we were in a bed instead of a sand pile.
Our family had only been there a short time when the large barn blew down and Clare went home to see to things. A threshing machine was brought from home to thresh alfalfa seed for the people at Cold Creek. Alfalfa, grain and potatoes were grown on the farm. Great care had to be taken in harvesting the potatoes. It was necessary to pick up the potatoes as soon as they were plowed or they would sun scald. Shelters had to be constructed in which to sort the potatoes and to protect them from the hot winds and sun. Then they would have to be hauled to market after sundown.
In the fall of 1939, we went out to Portland and down the coast to San Francisco to visit my sister, Ettie, Will and family and visited the World's Fair on Treasure Island. Will had tuned the pianos for the Fair. We continued on home and spent that winter in Lewiston, except Gary and Viva who stopped in Yuba City, California until January of 1940 when they returned to Lewiston.
In April of 1940, John went back to Cold Creek. The White Bluffs Branch was organized on May 19, 1940 by J. E. Cobbley and Ivan Anderson. John was made Branch President with Alpheus Rawlins as 1st Counselor, Horace Rawlins as 2nd Counselor and Aerial Rawlins as Branch Clerk. After school was out, Clare, Eileen, Karma and I returned to Cold Creek. John had purchased 300 head of sheep and there was quite a lot of succulent feed in the desert around us so John would get up at 4:00 a.m. and take the sheep out, herd them for a couple of hours, then bring them in and work in the fields until 5:00 p.m., then take them out, again, for another 2 hours or more. One Sunday, while John was in conference in Yakima, and I was in Utah, the sheep broke the corral fence down and got into a bin of grain and 60 head foundered and died. This was quite a set back as well as a lot of unpleasant work with dead sheep all over the place that had to be pelted and disposed of. Karma and I also herded sheep part of the time and some got in the alfalfa and bloated, which upset us very much.
We built one room onto the house and piped the cold water in and installed a sink. Karma and her neighbor girlfriend, Shirley McGee, just about lived in the water. She had long thick braids which were hardly ever dry. They swam in a Sump, a concrete tank about 8 x 10 feet wide and 6 feet deep where artesian well water flowed on its way to the irrigation pipes and flumes. We all enjoyed a swim in its warm water.
In the fall of 1940, Clare returned to Lewiston to finish High School and Eileen and Karma stayed and went to school in Washington, Karma at the little one-room school in Vernita and Eileen at the High School in White Bluffs. In December, Gary and Viva returned to Cold Creek. Lambing sheds were constructed on the place but the old ewes were allowed to run out in the field. At night, during the lambing season, spring of 1941, the temperature would drop considerably and if there was a cold wind blowing, the little lambs born outside would die if they were not brought in and cleaned up. So the men would take turns and go out every hour during the night to bring in the little lambs and their mothers and put them in the sheds. After a time, John became ill and Gary was exhausted so Eileen and I had to take over and make the rounds every hour, something I thought I could never do. It was a rather eerie feeling with the lantern casting its shadows, the sudden howl of a coyote and the bark of a dog or the hoot of an owl. Two missionaries, Elders Hedenstrom and Butler came to our rescue and helped for a few nights, and we were very grateful to them. Because of the summer heat and no summer range, we discontinued sheep raising and went more to hogs.
Gary, Viva and Linda went to Yakima, then to Ogden in the fall. In the fall of 1941 Eileen went to Lewiston to stay with Aunt Seneth and go to North Cache High School so she could graduate from there in the spring. On December 7, 1941, Brother and Sister Alpheus and Mable Rawlins from White Bluffs and Brother and Sister Cobbley of the District Presidency from Yakima were eating dinner with us when our neighbor, Chet McGee, came and said, "The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor." Of course, this was rather upsetting to all of us.
On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1941, we moved into White Bluffs into the Williams Home which was an improvement over Cold Creek. Here we had electricity, washing machine, refrigerator and an electric iron. l thought I was in heaven. During the time we spent in White Bluffs, I served as Primary President, taught a class, was a Sunday School teacher and also served as Relief Society President for one year. In the spring of 1942, we began to clear 80 acres of land that we had purchased. We installed a pump to pump water from the Columbia River onto the land. We also installed a small pump for culinary purposes and water for the hogs and cattle. We also had 22 acres of land in Hanford. The weather had been around 18 degrees and we suddenly got a Chinook wind that brought the temperature from 18 degrees to 10 degrees in about 12 hours. Twenty-four hours later, it was 16 degrees below with a 30 mph wind blowing. It froze up all of our culinary water including the pump. We had to haul water from the Columbia River for the hogs and then drive the cattle down to the river to drink. One old cow that had short sharp horns walked up and down the river bank refusing to let the rest of the cattle drink. Dad, standing there in the cold wind, picked up a rock about the size of a hen's egg and threw it hitting her in the center of the head. She dropped like she had been shot. She had to be rolled onto a panel and dragged by a team of horses up to the barn to keep her from freezing to death. She was alive, but couldn't stand up. The next day we butchered her because it was evident that she wasn't going to get better, so we had beef.
After school was out, Eileen graduated from North Cache and came back for the summer. The heat was so intense and some of the brood sows succumbed to the heat. John then installed a sprinkler for the pigs to go under and cool off and we didn't lose any more from the heat. One old sow got into the river and swam out of sight and we thought she was gone. Then she swam to shore, got out and came back.
Corn and potatoes were planted, the potatoes being planted the 1st of July. It rained and moistened the ground so the potatoes could be planted, but we were advised not to turn irrigation water on the potatoes before they came up or they would scald in the ground and wouldn't come up. The potato beetles were bad and they expected to spray for them but because of the intense heat, the bugs died on the vines and the spray wasn't necessary. We raised an enormous crop of good potatoes and corn, the corn growing to an unbelievable height of 14 feet. In the late afternoons and evenings, there was a black sand bar at the bend in the Columbia River where the water was quite warm. Clare, Eileen, Karma and others who lived close enjoyed swimming there. One Saturday, Karma and one of her girlfriends rowed across the Columbia River in a row boat. She came back with blisters to prove it.
It was quite an undertaking. In September of 1942, Eileen returned to Logan where she took her nurses training at the old Budge Memorial Hospital. On December 24, 1942, Christmas Eve, again, we moved into a large home adjoining our land called The Taylor Place. This was really nice. The County Extension Officials came and wanted to make an experiment farm of ours as it was the largest farm under cultivation on the bank of the Columbia River where plenty of water was available at any and all times. This proposition was agreed to and the place was surveyed, all plans made and trees ordered for an 8- acre orchard. We purchased part of the material for a home and felt that everything was going along well and we would soon be on top of the world.
Then in the spring of 1943, the U.S. Government stepped in and said they had to have the land in that area for war purposes. They also said that there were only two places in the U.S. with water, land, minerals and power to suit their purpose and ours was the best, so the land in that area (White Bluffs and Hanford) was condemned and we were ordered to move. So everyone had to move. It was quite an exodus. The worse part of it was that they were not paying anything to speak of for the land. Real estate values came up so much in the surrounding places that what we were offered for our land wouldn't make a down payment elsewhere. Elderly couples and widows were so upset that some of them really lost their minds and were sent to hospitals. The Government took over and built an atomic bomb plant on our farm. Because of so many people having to move, there were a lot of cattle, machinery and others things to be disposed of that it was hard to sell anything, especially for what it was worth. We had not sold our farm and home in Lewiston so decided to move back. Therefore, a lot of things were trucked back to Lewiston. So many things being rationed, it was awfully hard to get tires and gas to move back. The only tires we could get for the rear of our car were knobby snow tires. So the mournful noise they made was an accompaniment to our feelings.
We arrived in Lewiston in June of 1943 and began to run our own farm again and live in our own home, which I enjoyed very much. In the fall of 1943, Clare volunteered for service in the Navy. They sent him to school at the University of Washington and then on a destroyer to the North Pacific. Garold was serving in the Army in Europe at the same time.