The End May be Near

While “The End May be Near” can be seen as a somewhat inflammatory title it might also be closer to the truth than I care to think, for the purposes of this website I mean. I feel as if someone nefarious is looking over my shoulder.

I continue to work on troubleshooting and problem solving this website, sklapsky.ca. I frequently receive dire warnings from my domain host about the problems my site is causing to others on the host, much like a bully in a schoolyard. Except I am not the bully, and the problems are not of my making (I don’t think).

The problems, whatever they are, have been putting excessive load on my domain host. They, the host, are the folks allowing you to see sklapsky.ca on the internet. The short answer is that if I cannot fix “the problem” I may have to delete this site, so it will no longer be on the ‘net. From that point I can quit and fold my hand, or I can find a way to rebuild and continue on. Please, wish me/us luck.

Other Stuff

On another note, I believe I mentioned I was helping another family member research her history. I talked a bit about it in Better Late than Never!. Tanya, the cousin somewhat removed, is looking for a connection to the Sluchinski family for her Father. He was adopted at a young age but his Mom was a ‘Sluckinski’, or ‘Sluchinski’, and Tanya would like to make sure he has the opportunity to know his kin. I want to help her in that regard as well.

She has found some potential cousins using the DNA feature of Ancestry (a genealogical program and website). I have attempted to assist by taking her information and using it to search for other possible connections, a tie-in to her Sluckinski/Sluchinski heritage.

So far we have a link to Roman Sluchinski but that’s where the trail runs cold from my perspective. I can’t find a connection to the other Sluchinski clan from there, and I’m sure there is one. In fact a booklet I received on a Sluchinski Family reunion mentions Roman and implies he is another son of Nicholas (Nickolas) Sluchinski but for the life of me I can’t find a genealogical connection. It will come, trust me.

Cole’s Notes

I will continue to attempt to resolve this website issue. The alternatives aren’t really palatable to me. Working with Tanya will continue as well and I’m optimistic we’ll find the “ties that bind us”. In the meantime take heart, when I say “The End May be Near” I may only mean the end of this post. Take care and we’ll chat soon.

Better Late than Never!

As time passes I am once again reminded that this site is waiting patiently for an update, something from me to ensure its life continues as a viable organism, a blog with some potential and purpose.

The title “Better Late than Never” just seemed to fit, but what’s that quote’s origin? This from a quick Google search…..

Geoffery Chaucer appears to have been the first person to have put the proverb into print, in The Yeoman’s Prologue and Tale, Canterbury Tales, circa 1386:

For bet than never is late. [Better than never is late.]

Now that said and out-of-the-way we can move on……

I have been persisting in the genealogy realm, almost every day and/or night I’ve been doing something in this regard. Often it’s collecting old photos of family near and far. It’s my passion (the photos) and while I can’t explain it I’ve fallen to its lure and succumbed to its pull.

Of course the other research is being done as well, but I will admit here in front of God and country I’m one of the laziest genealogists in that I’ve yet to leave my chair in search of a real story, the real deal of family history. It is my failing, or one of them, and I’ll own it.

In addition to the ongoing Sklapsky research I’ve been drawn into a quest for information on a line possibly connected to the Sluchinski family. Two of my Great/Grand Uncles married Sluchinski girls, thus my interest, and I love a great mystery.

To that end I was contacted by a lady who knows of that connection, and she is in search of information on her Father’s family. Her Dad was adopted and given the name ‘Sluckinski’ (close to Sluchinski). She is on a mission to find his real family before too much time passes. I’ve caught her inquisitive bug and now also want to find whatever connection there might be. Being that I have Sluchinski in my line I feel drawn to help.

On my own home front we have survived our move to Kelowna and have settled quite nicely. We both love it here and feel quite content in our new digs. We see the g-kids almost daily and have found ourselves going back to work, out of retirement, at the daycare the g-kids go to. Maureen teaches pre-k (pre-kindergarten) and I do the after school pickup of kids who come to the daycare after school. Not quite the life of leisure but a good life nonetheless.

So, here’s snapshot of Madden on his 5th birthday, I apologize for the ‘no edit’ status. Had to be done.

The next one’s of Ivy, hamming it up. Refusing to eat her hotdog and instead using it for a moustache.

To wrap this up I’ll say I truly enjoy the hunt, the look for info and any connections that might be made. Sometimes I just wish it was a bit more fruitful.

Take care, and I’ll (hopefully) talk to you within the year.

Update: Genealogy, DNA, Web issues

Some time has passed and I have a few things to offer, some snippets of interest or just plain updates:

Website changes

You may have noticed this site has changed looks over the last month or so, if you’ve been visiting. I’m trying to find “the look” I want. It’s still a work in progress but hey, that’s part of the fun.

DNA testing

On a whim I signed up for the Ancestry.com DNA exam. There were no rubber gloves involved, just a small vial of saliva to be sent back to their labs for analysis. I received the results the other day. Most interesting!

Much to my surprise (and I’m not sure why I’m surprised) but the results show my genetic make-up to be predominantly Scandinavian, 52% in fact. Being that my maternal grandfather was born and bred in Norway I guess that should come as no surprise however it did give me cause to think. As I’ve been somewhat predisposed to focus my family/genealogical search on the Sklapsky name and history, Bohemian or middle/western European, it is only a small (very small) part of my genetic make-up. No cause or reason to change direction from my current search direction, just a gentle prod that there are other family roots to take into consideration. As with all family structures we are all made up of the sum of our maternal and paternal ancestors genes.

Other percentages are

  • 19% Ireland
  • 17% Europe West
  • 4 Other regions – this includes:
    • Iberian Peninsula 6%
    • Great Britain 4%
    • Europe East 1%
    • Italy/Greece < 1%

So the real surprise for me, other than 52% Scandinavian, is the 19% Irish. Might explain why I always wanted to visit Ireland. There may be some subliminal draw there, a calling to my roots shall we say. They like beer, I like beer. They like Irish whiskey, I like Irish whiskey. Heck, I even married an Irish lass.

Apologies

An apology is in order. There have been a number of folk that have tried to sign up or enroll to gain access to private areas of this site. I didn’t realize that until today when I began looking at the “users” of the site and saw there were a number that hadn’t been approved. As of today you should be good to go. If I’ve deleted any applicants by mistake I apologize, please don’t hesitate to try again. If you prefer you can contact me directly and I’ll hook you up right away.

Website Family Tree (TNG)

The TNG Family Tree, found here on this site, and reached by using the ‘Family Tree’ menu item, is still enabling me to ‘learn’. For whatever reason my current challenge is getting family members photos to display, attached or linked to their appropriate person. The family members seem to be all in order, just displaying their photos is the issue. If you’d like access to the Ancestry tree, with photos, please let me know.

 

Family Tree – Update

For any of you have checked out the Family Tree lately you may have seen some unusual displays of family information. Through my learning curve with the new Family Tree software on this site (TNG) I’ve  broken and fixed the tree more than I care to admit.

The challenges I have experienced so far have had to do with the export of the family tree from Ancestry (Family Tree Maker 2014 to be exact) and the subsequent importing into the Family Tree software (TNG) used on this site (sklapsky.ca). In my attempts to privatize the information of living individuals I inadvertently saved over the database and lost some information altogether. Long story short I’m still adapting, trying to display as many family members as possible on an open family tree without showing too much private info.

A possible scenario to resolve this would just be to ensure anyone wanting access to the tree would have to log in. That’s not my preference but it may be the best solution in the long run. It would be an inconvenience but hey, life is full of inconveniences.

So after another attempt I may have it right. Check it out, and let me know if you see any information on the living. Remember, if you want to see the full tree you will have to register and get a login and password.

I’d truly be interested in any feedback. Please share your thoughts.

“As Sparks Fly Upward”, Ch. 23, -by Rex G. Krepps

A while ago I posted a writing by Lottie Sklapsky-Krepps (Frank J. Sklapsky article) in which I was lamenting not knowing the source of said writing. A copy of that article was also recently posted to the ‘Sklapsky Reunion’ group page on Facebook. I thought perhaps it had originally been seen in one of Rex Krepps books and to be sure someone from the group page would know.

Since then I have been told by a number of family members that the column in question had not been been in one of Rex’s books but had originally been published in a book titled “Memoirs of Hillsburgh”.

Well then, that would mean I must acquire a copy of said book. To that end I’ve ordered a copy and will be able to post any additional articles written that may interest ‘us’. Permission is available.

In the spirit of sharing I was also in touch with the Krepps family to see if sharing excerpts from Rex’s book “As Sparks Fly Upward” would be possible. Kindly it was, and thank you to Rex and family for that option.

So to cut to the chase here is Chapter 23 from Rex G. Krepps book “As Sparks Fly Upward”. It is a conversation had with his Father, and Mother, one in which they answer a number of questions he asks.

My comment on this and so many other family articles would be that the faith or the writers,  and their belief in God, was a powerful support for them and an impetus to take on whatever trials and tribulations they might encounter. It is likely something we might all learn.

Chapter Twenty-Three

“Rex, you asked me if I ever questioned why I came to the Saskatchewan prairie, and if I had any regrets about coming. The truth is, I have never questioned my decision; I have been content to live out here. In Michigan, I may have been a clerk in a store all of my life, or I may have been a farm labourer out for hire, tied to the soil that belonged to someone else. I could go no further than I did in school, which was grade ten, for there was no way to get further schooling. No one understood my desire for further education; they thought, and believed, that I had enough education. Oh, I tried, indeed I did try. I went to town and stayed with my uncle, once divorced then remarried, something disastrous at that time — to be divorced was to create a scandal. My uncle and his new wife were very good to me. She was a very good woman. It is said that she read right through her Bible seven times.

There was no where to go. There was a sort of depression on, even then, in the States. God knows I tried, I tried desperately, but there was nowhere else to turn.

I was an avid reader. I read everything that came to hand, including Newspaper advertisements. One day, while reading, I read that there was land available up in Canada, out on the prairie, for one dollar an acre. That set me to thinking. There was no future for me in Michigan; there was a future in Canada. The more I thought about having land of my own, the more convinced I became that I ought to look into it. I finally decided that I would enquire, knowing that if I didn’t venture anything, I didn’t gain anything. I did enquire, and I met several other people who were also enquiring, many of them right from around where I lived. The Sklapsky, the Wilcox, the Federspiel families, all were interested, so I knew I would not be entirely alone. I was so excited, exhilarated really — at the very thought of going to Canada and owning my own land.

No, I have no regrets, Rex, none at all. I met hundreds of people on the prairie. I always felt that God was near, no matter where I was at the time.”

For my dad, that was a long speech.

The conversation continued; I wanted to learn all I could learn about our parents. Their life had been such an interesting life, that I did not want to forget what I learned.

“But Dad, I’ve heard people tell about their hardships; you never mention the hardships, and I guess that is alright. But were there any happy days?”

“Most days were happy days, for there was some happiness in every day. The days I enjoyed in the community were the days when we pulled together and accomplished outstanding feats by our team efforts. We did volunteer work to establish the Fair Days, the Sports Days, the Ball Tournaments, and the Horse Races, and we built, or helped to build, one anothers churches, and the arena.

Men and women from the north, east, south and west of the village helped to build the community buildings and to establish the activities which you see today. We were the happiest when we were working together as a group, not as individuals. We needed one another. By working together as a group, we all benefited physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.

At times there were problems in the district. I remember the time when the Municipal Secretary was called a liar by one of the Municipal Councillors. The Secretary was furious and demanded a retraction of the statement. It was forthcoming, but it was slow in coming. The Secretary then went a step further and demanded a public apology, or else the man would be sued for libel. The public apology was to take the form of a written apology, and it was to be posted, on the public Notice Board, in the local Post Office, for all to read.

The Councillor wrote the bare apology and posted it on the Notice Board as demanded. You know son, that was the first time I ever knew that a person could be called to account for calling another person a liar. We certainly did not know that a public apology could be demanded. Then again, I don’t know the law about that public apology. I do hope the Municipal Secretary was not just bluffing the Councillor.” he said.

“Oh, here you go again, Rex, asking questions. There is never an end to your questions. Do I regret coming to Canada? No, I have not regretted coming to Canada, and I have no regrets. I dearly loved the State of Michigan with its tall trees, brooks, rivulets and rivers, and the green, green grass. I loved my aunts and uncles and my cousins; I was really close to them. But, I had a choice; I didn’t have to come to Canada. Even when I was in my early teens, my health was not good, and my parents were trying to make a decision whether or not I could stand the trip. I overheard their discussion and I was devastated. I loved my parents; how could they ever think of leaving me in Michigan? When they talked it over with me, informing me that I could stay with Uncle Johnny and his wife, I was adamant. I was going to Canada with them!

Now that I think about it, I realized even then that my parents did not have much money. If I did stay behind, I was afraid they wouldn’t have enough money to send for me later. No, no siree, I was not to be left behind; I would go where they would go.

No, I have no regrets. True enough, I often think of what might have been if I had stayed in Michigan, but I made my choice, and after all, I did meet your Dad up here, along with dozens of other bachelors! But your Dad was the man for me. The prairies had some draw backs, like flies and mosquitoes, that nearly drove us crazy, too much heat in thesummer time and too much cold in the winter time; but it has been the life for me.

I truly believe that Canada is a great and a wonderful coun try, with a great and a wonderful future. We have you six children, and my parents are still living. Except for Frank and Virgil, who went to the Peace River district to homestead, my sisters and brothers are near. Frank married Bernice and Virgil married Lily. I am going to see them all someday.

God has always been good to us. I have believed that He was with us at all times. He knew our happiness and our sorrow. My faith has been strengthened, and for that I am happy.

No, I have no regrets, I wouldn’t have it otherwise. It has been my whole life. I’ve learned to love the prairie, as has your lDad. God is good. ”Mother concluded as she spoke with feeling and great understanding.

“Mother was there ever anything humorous happening dur ing the early days and in the later years in this community?” Rex asked because he was interested in knowing.

“Why, yes, son, there were humorous incidents. One, that I recall, was not so humorous at the time, but since then, Bella and I have laughed over it many times, so I suppose you could call it a humorous incident.

We ladies liked to keep up with the modern day styles, both in our clothing and in our hair styles. We went through all the changes in clothing styles and hair styles. I’ll never forget the braids, the tight curls, the boys’ bob, the finger wave and now, the permanent wave.

Your Uncle Mal’s sister, Eva Huckaby, was a hair stylist. She worked in Brock as a hairdresser for several months. At one time Eva decided to put a “special” on the price of a “perm”, and most women went for the “bargain perm.”

Bella Melville was undecided. She was not certain if her straight, jet black hair, would take a perm. It was because of her uncertainty that she consulted me.

“Lottie,” Bella said in order to get my rapt attention. “What would you say if I was to get one of those perms? Do you think my hair would curl?” Bella had noticed the effect of the perm on many of the ladies in the district, and it did improve their appearance.

“Why, yes, Bella, I do think you should give it a try. I see no reason why your hair would not curl as well as anyone elses’ hair,” I gave my honest opinion.

The hairdresser, Miss Huckaby, did the job up great. Bella’s perm turned that straight black hair into curly black hair, very curly black hair. It was too curly to meet the satisfaction of Bella. When she arrived home from her hair appointment, her family must have been aghast, for the next thing we heard was that Bella was combing the curls out of her hair. Bella combed that curly hair with fury. Bella combed that curly hair with an unheard of zest. She wanted her straight black hair back again.

Never one to leave a riddle unsolved, I pointedly asked Bella what the problem was. It turned out that Bella had never had her hair curled before. When she looked in the mirror, after the permanent, she did not like the image she saw and she wanted her hair straight again.

I felt guilty about the permanent. I had been the one to en courage Bella to get her hair permed. I thought I owed her an apology, so I went to her and I humbly proceeded to beg her pardon.”

“Never mind, Lottie. It’s alright. I’ve got my hair straight again now, so don’t you worry.” and she changed the subject from permanents to the weather.

“Bella had combed, brushed and cut her hair until it was comparatively straight,” Mother concluded.

George and Lottie Sklapsky-Krepps

Krepps, Lottie-copy1-

Krepps, Lottie-copy

Krepps, George and Lottie-2-copy

Krepps, George and Lottie-2-copy--copy

Krepps, Don

 

New Photos in the Family Tree

I just updated the Family tree with new photos. If you can see them then I’m afraid you’ll have to register for this site, the tree is password protected to maintain privacy. If you’d like to join just drop me a line.

There is also a link to the tree on the “Sklapsky Reunion” facebook page. You will have to be a member there too if you wish to see the link unfortunately. All about keeping the info safe.

Joseph Sklapsky Family Descendents

I’ve updated the descendents of Joseph Sklapsky family tree using comments and changes passed on by family. You can check it out by signing on and looking under the “Genealogy” menu item, or if you are a member of the “Sklapsky Reunion” Facebook page you can get the link there.

 

Enjoy

The Walter Reeves Family – by Eleanor (Reeves) Renshaw

On my recent trip to Grimshaw for my Aunt Muriel’s funeral I was introduced to a book, titled “Neville – The Golden Years, 1900-1980. My cousin Beverly had seen it on my Aunt Joyce’s shelf with some other family history books. In it was this piece written by my Great-Aunt Eleanor (my paternal Grandmother’s sister) around 1979 or so. It ties in with Walter Reeves memoir, also on this site.

Enjoy!

The WALTER REEVES FAMILY

by Eleanor (Reeves) Renshaw

In the fall of 1909 my father, Walter Reeves, decided to go to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, to file on a homestead, W 1/2-s7-t-12-R11 w of 3rd, about three miles north and four miles east of where Neville now stands. In 1910 my mother and three children emigrated from Minnesota to Canada along with the Bradley family.

Mr. Bradley, and father shipped their household effects, cattle, a team of horses, two wagons and father’s 4000 feet of lumber in a freight car. Because they were emigrating to Canada they were allowed settler’s rates, which amounted to $73.00.

When father arrived, he hired Mr. Bradley to haul our household effects, lumber, etc. to our homestead site 35 miles southeast of Swift Current. To pay Mr. Bradley for the trip father gave him one of our milk cows.

Because our house was not yet built, Joe Bonner allowed us to stay in a small shack near his place, that belonged to a young man by the name of Bert Robinson, who had recently homesteaded the quarter just south of Joe Bonner’s and hadn’t come to live there yet.

Because there had been little rain recently, and there was danger of prairie fires and because the ground was too hard and dry to plow a furrow, father and mother managed to carefully burn quite a wide fireguard around the house and barn.

In about June of 1911 I can remember how pretty the prairie was. There must have been plenty of rain as the grass was green and luxuriant, crocuses made a purple carpet everywhere, and the wild prairie roses scented the air with their fragrant perfume. As we ran over the hills north-east of our place we found a small patch of double roses and we never found any anywhere else.

This spring of 1911 bright new shacks dotted the prairie in every direction. Sometime in the spring of 1912, my brother Bert and I began attending Daybreak school, about four miles west of us. We all walked to and from school every day, unless the weather was bad, and never seemed to get too tired.

About the beginning of 1914 our school district of Mosquito Creek was formed, and the school house built.

The highlight of the school year was the Christmas Concert. We always had a good one. There were plenty of children to take part, and a number of them had a real talent in acting, singing or reciting. Our teachers had the ability to choose material suitable to the talents of her pupils. The school house was usually full of interested parents and many visitors from other districts. A dance usually ended the evening’s entertainment.

In 1915 Uncle Clarence Reeves bought Allen Graham’s farm, house, machinery and stock. His younger children Grace, Beth and George who had come from North Dakota, and who had stayed a short time with us, now moved into a home of their own.

1919 was a very dry year, not even potatoes grew. Mother tried to serve beans or rice and how tired we were of such a restricted diet. Fortunately we had milk, butter and cream of our own.

Because of the crop failure, father went to the Regina area to work during the threshing season and mother cooked for the threshers in a cook car.

On December 1924, I, Eleanor Reeves, married Pearly Renshaw and we lived in the Neville area for four years. We moved to Northern Alberta. We had three boys and two girls. Through all these intervening years our sons and daughters have brought us much joy.

Pearl died in 1971. My sister Berniece and I decided we would live together. My brother Bert, who is retired, and his wife, Grace, also live in White Rock.

Wilbur and his wife, Dolores, have five children, all grown.

Laurel and her husband, Lee Hacker, are both retired and live north of Pasco, Washington, U.S.A..

Aurla and her husband Milton Magee live in Kent, Washington, U.S.A..

I am sure that when any of us, who are children of the early settlers of Neville, turn our memories back to those homesteading days of the early 1900’s, we think with pride and reverence of our parents, their strength of character, and perseverance through hardships, and disappointments, and the universal sense of caring for the welfare of others in surrounding neighborhoods.

Memoirs of Hillsburgh – Frank J. Sklapsky Family (1910)

(Note: subsequent to writing this I was made aware this article was taken from a book called “Memoirs of Hillsburgh”.  I’ve since sourced and purchased the book. Below is my original post.)

I found a photocopy of the following write-up in some genealogy files I was sorting through. I’m not sure where it was originally published but if you think you know please let me know. It was written by Mrs. George E. Krepps (Lottie Sklapsky), eldest daughter of Frank and Arletta Sklapsky.

———————————————————-

There are lots of things one could write about in those years with the Sklapsky family. It couldn’t be otherwise with a large family.

This is written by Mrs. George E. Krepps in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Sklapsky who have passed away,

“Gone from sight, but to memory dear”

Frank J. Sklapsky Family

Frank Sklapsky came to Canada in the spring of 1910, and worked at Stalwart, Sask., for his brother-in-law, Elmer Federspiel. That fall he filed on his homestead, the S.W. 17-28-19-W. 3rd, at the Saskatoon Land Office. He often told us of his trip to Brock, how the train travelled so slowly, that they could get off and throw stones at the gophers. He said there was a lady with her baby on the train, and the baby got hungry at Fiske, so he and another man got off the train. He milked a cow, the other man went to the store, got some ginger snaps and gave them to the baby. He said he never did see the milk strained, but the baby didn’t mind, at least it stopped its crying. I will never forget the stories he used to tell of that first year here in Canada. He went back to Merrill, Michigan, that fall, stayed all winter, and in the spring of 1911 he came back to Brock, broke up some land, and built a house, then worked for others. After harvest at Stalwart was over, he went back to Merrill to get his family ready to come to Canada. This was very exciting, what with leaving school, mother packing and storing things away till she could come back for them, which she never did. Early in the morning of March 22nd, 1912, we were on our way to the train by horses and sleigh. There were father, mother and eight children; (we didn’t call them “kids” then), Lottie, Hilda, Frank, George, Virgel, Thelma, Fritz and Norman, who was only three months old. We arrived at said station, family real happy but poor. Mother was not happy, as she had never been more than a mile from her folks all her life; it took all the courage she could muster. All at once there was a train whistle, and we made one mad dash out through the door, only to find it was a freight. Well, we settled back on those old benches again, as we didn’t dare to move. When father said “set”, he meant “set”. The next train was ours, and an aunt who was with us said, “Gosh! do I have to kiss you all again?” I said “No sir!” and got on the train. Mother hadn’t seen me, and of course she thought I had been left. The ride to Chicago was not bad, but the next train was for settlers, hard seats which made into beds at night. The first night was terrible, but the next night we were so tired we could have slept on the floor.

We kids kept looking for “the line“. Everybody kept saying, “when we cross the line” so naturally we thought there would be a line to see. We sure thought old people were funny, and they thought we were crazy to look for a real line. When we got almost to what the people called “The Horse Shoe”, there was a broken rail. There were thirteen cars on that train, and seven of them went down a forty foot embankment. You guessed it, we were in one of the cars that went down. It was early in the morning, and mother had taken Fritz to the wash room. As the first one in was the lucky one, the rest of us were asleep, when “bang” we were standing where our heads should have been. Poor dad was helping people out of the windows. When we couldn’t find mother, he sent me to look for her. On my way I saw a man caught in one of the sleepers, with just his head sticking out. It gave me such a scare that I forgot about mother, but dad got him out all right. There was no one killed, but some were hurt. My sister Hilda was picking glass out of her feet for a month afterwards. Hilda had found Norman all rolled up in a bundle, and when I got out of the window, there was Hilda fighting with a strange woman who was so excited she thought Norman was her baby. You can bet Hilda won the fight, she had lots of practice on me. We were stuck there for a day, then a train came and took us to Winnipeg, where we stayed for a week in a place for settlers. There were people of every nation there. We did our cooking on one of the big stoves in the kitchen. There again Hilda showed her pioneer spirit, as one had to watch one’s cooking, or else somebody would take your dinner, or your cooking pans. We arrived at Stalwart in April, where dad got together a car load of settlers’ effects, oxen, plow, wagon, feed and flax to seed his first crop in Canada. He shipped all his things to farm within that car from Stalwart to Brock. He and Frank, George, and George Krepps came with the car. Mother and the rest came by passenger train. Mother used to say that dad gave the government ten dollars to file on his land, but the boys said that the government just bet dad he would starve before the three years were over.

He hauled the lumber for the homestead from Craik with horses and stayed one night at Zelandia. The house was two storey, 16 x 24. The first barn was built with lumber he got in Brock.

Dad met mother and the family at the train with the oxen and wagon. Needless to say, the boys didn’t ride far, it was to slow for them, until the coyotes started to follow them. At first they thought they were dogs, but dad told them different.

The first crop was flax; it was beautiful. We kids tried to pick some of it for a bouquet, as we had never seen flax before. Also we missed the flowers so much, as we used to pick them wild in the States. Dad used to get up at four o’clock in the morning to work the oxen before the sun got too hot, then he would either pick stones, or if it were too hot he would play games with us, or just rest until four o’clock, when he would start to plow again. Fritz sure liked those oxen. He would lie down beside them and talk to them. Of course he was only three years old. One day mother heard him say to one of the oxen whose name was Patty, “Patty give me some of your gum. You don’t need to chew it all the time.”

The first year here was a lonesome one for my mother, as every Sunday we were at my Grandma Tester’s home. If not she would have a fit, so we always went in the middle of the week, and we were at dad’s people’s home too. It was an understood thing for all our relatives to gather at these homes. Things were sure changed for us, but both mother and dad seemed to know that, so they tried to make up for all the things we missed. Each Sunday one could see mother taking us for a walk over the prairie; even the ground seemed different to us.

Dad and Clarence Federspiel made the first road south of Brock. It sure was rough. It’s still rough. We had the first well, and it was dug by dad and Clarence Federspiel in 1912. People came for miles to get water, some with horses, some with oxen, and of course if it were anywhere near a meal time, dad always asked them in. We girls used to get mad as they were always men, but never a woman, and it got tiresome washing all those dishes. We figured we had enough of our own to do, but of course dear old dad never did hear us complaining. The first year dad did a lot of plowing for other people, also picking stones. It left the family alone a lot too. I remember one time my mother holding Fritz on her lap with her apron wrapped around him, crying for all she was worth. There was blood running down his neck, and all she could say was, “He cut his throat. He cut his throat,” and it sure looked like it too. Hilda grabbed the apron off him, and saw he had scratched his chin. Poor mother was sure there would be something happen to her kids in this wild and woolly west. When anything would happen to one of us she would say, “Oh why did I ever come, why did I ever listen to your dad’s stories of such a wonderful place where everybody has a chance to show how much a man can be a man. We will all die out here in this unholy land.” After the second year she never wanted to go back to the States. She used to say to us, “Your dad always says that no one ever gets killed out here by lightning. Good reason why. There is no one here to get killed.” You see, where we came from there were lots of electric storms, and it was nothing to see buildings burning after being struck by lightning.

We were very happy when Johnny Manion left his horse and buggy at our place when he was out working. Then dad and mother could go to town and not take all day, as it did with the oxen. I remember the first Brock fair. Dad loaded us all up in the wagon and took us. It was the first outing we had here, and we sure did enjoy it too. We won a hundred pounds of flour, (Robin Hood), for the biggest family at the fair. At that time there was one other family here that was larger, Mr. St. John’s, but they were not all at the fair as one had stayed home, so we got the flour. It was all so much fun for us.

Our chickens were not laying. One day Mrs. Clarence Federspiel come over to visit and she asked mother if the hens were laying. Mother said, “No, not yet.” Mrs. Federspiel said to one of the boys, “I guess you will just have to ride them on a rail.” She was always saying funny things like that, never meaning a word of it, but boys will be boys, and sure enough mother heard the chickens cackling like all get out. She thought a coyote was after them, but it was the two-legged kind. Frank and George were behind the barn, one on the barn, the other on the ground with a pole leaning on the barn, and they were sliding the hens up and down the pole. They were going to make the hens lay!

The first horse that dad got, he bought at Jim Tingey’s sale west of Brock. She was the most beautiful horse we ever saw; a bit bowed in the back, but an intelligent look in her eye, and don’t anyone say anything different, at least not to us kids. The first time I got on her back, she threw me into the rhubarb patch that George Krepps had planted upside down, so that he had nothing to laugh at either. But I thought I was killed.

The first year they say is always the worst. At least that is what people would say to us, and I guess it is true. Before we got the well, we had to use slough water, and it was all right until the wigglers would get in it. Of course we always had to strain the water, but I never knew if it were the water or the strainer cloth I could taste. Mother tried to tell me it was my taster. It wasn’t long before we got a well though.

I always thought it took great courage for my father to bring such a large family to a strange land where there was not a doctor or a school. Well do I remember the time that two men came to our house to get dad to sign a paper for a school to be built in our district. They were Mr. Irwin Smith and Mr. Bill Smith. There were enough children in the district for it then. That was the beginning of the McCarthy School District. We had many a good time at the school, meeting all the settlers. We would be sure to see our friends there, everybody seemed to take part to make a go of it, games or what have you, it was all the same.

There were no roads, and only one house between Brock and our home, which was the Hyde house. The people from the south used to drive across our farm. They made a trail between our house and barn, and the mail carrier for Penkill would always stop here and rest his horses. Sometimes the Mounties would come in and rest on their way from Kindersley to Swift Current, or they would be just looking things over. We always found them so friendly. One time an older one came through and stopped. He looked at all us kids and said to mother, “You sure have a healthy lot of kiddies here haven’t you?” My sister Thelma thought he said “Kittens,” so she looked for the cats and couldn’t find them. She said, “These Canadians sure do tell lies, don’t they Lottie?”

Mother cooked on a little Gipsy Jewel stove with only two lids to cook on. There was on oven fixed in the pipe which looked like an oil drum, and it baked real well if one watched closely enough to keep things from burning. In later years I asked mother how she ever cooked for so many on such a little stove, and she said, “Well, when you haven’t much to cook, it does not take much room to cook it in.” I never did hear her complain about cooking for so many, as when we sat down to eat we were very seldom alone. There were sure to be others with us, mostly bachelors who liked mother’s cooking.

Bainard the youngest son bought the homestead, and is on the farm now. Frank, Fritz, and Norman are at Prince Rupert, B.C.; Hilda, Mrs. A. Hamilton lives at Burnaby, B.C.; Virgel is at Brock; Thelma, Mrs. Melvin Huckaby, passed away in Saskatoon. Pearl is Mrs. James Holben of Eston, and Lottie is Mrs. George Krepps of Brock. Bainard and Pearl were both born in Canada.

 

New “Old” Photos Added

Some progress has been made on the genealogy front with the addition of  new ‘old’ photos to the Photo Gallery. For those of you that are not aware of this feature you can click on the words “Photo Gallery” in the menu at the top of any of the website pages, in this case the Blog page. That will take you to the website location where all the photos are stored. There are Madden photos as well as Genealogy photos. As with the blog and website in general it is a dynamic site, that is the photos may change a bit over time, if I do some cataloging or adjustments to the pictures.

As I’ve mentioned before I got many photos from family that I’ve scanned and begun organizing. In some cases I’m not really sure who the family is in the picture, with that I’d like some help and feedback. Also some of the photos seen in this post may not (or may) be seen in the Photo Gallery yet.

In this case I know who this is in the photo below. I always have a warm feeling looking at old pics. Where the picture was taken I’m not sure.

Bernice (Grandma) Sklapsky and her sister Aunt Eleanor
Bernice (Grandma) Sklapsky and her sister, my Great-Aunt Eleanor (Renshaw)

Another photo I like is:

Sklapsky Family
Sklapsky Family – left to right: Audrey, Verla, George, Bernice, Lou, Dallas, and Gene kneeling

These folks I know. Unfortunately Aunt Muriel (Gale) is absent.

(Grandpa) Frank Sklapsky and ??
(Grandpa) Frank Sklapsky and ??

This one above is of course my Grandfather Frank, my Dad’s dad. I’m not sure who the young girl is.

I’ll put a few more in a collage below. Just click on the photos to enlarge.

This was only a fraction of the photos I’ve scanned. I will continue to add and update. I should also add I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on updating the family tree which includes Sklapsky, Reeves, Olsen and a number of others. I’m not sure how wide I’ll go at this time. This research is done and recorded online on a site called Ancestry.ca. I’m not sure at this time how visible the site is to those who aren’t members of Ancestry.ca. I’ll look into making it more widely visible.

As always any comments are appreciated.