20. MINGLED YARN
Life is just one damned thing after another. Frank Ward O’Malley/ Elbert Hubbard
HOSPITAL WILL OPEN MONDAY
New Institution is a Credit to this Place and Deserves Patronage
One of the best assets to Big Sandy, The City Hospital, will throw open its doors to the public next Monday morning when the finishing touches will be placed on the building and interior. The building is of concrete, is thoroughly modern in every way and everything arranged to keep things in the most sanitary condition.
Four years ago Dr. Gaylord Worstell located in Big Sandy. The first move he made was to purchase the lot where the hospital is located with a view to erecting such a place should the town grow to the extent that he thought it would pay him to build. Last summer he decided the time was ripe for construction and the results are the pride of the city.
Miss Bernice Ogle has been secured and will have authority as head nurse. She was formerly connected with the hospital at Colorado Springs, Colo., and last several years connected with prominent institutions of this kind.
The hospital has a kitchen, operating room, bathroom, and can accommodate fifteen patients.
The opening reported on January 29, 1914, was undoubtedly a joyous event, but life is full of sunshine and shadow, as demonstrated by the next item, which appeared the same day in the Mountaineer:
News was received from Mrs. Dr. Worstell the first of the week from Hays, Kansas, where she was called some time ago on account of the serious illness of her mother, that her mother, Mrs. Mary J. Dale, had died at her home in that city on the 28th of last month at the age of 69. Mrs. Worstell accompanied the remains to Ackley, Iowa, where internment was made last Friday. Mrs. Dale it will be remembered, has a claim on the prairie and was in Big Sandy vicinity the larger part of last year.
Mary had earned her rest. Elsie would later say that Mary was rational the last month of her life, but that at the time of her death, she, Elsie, was in Kansas City — for reasons unknown. Ackley, Iowa, is near Iowa Falls, and was the Dale home for most of their lives. The Eldora, Hardin County, newspaper obituary read as follows:
Mrs. Mary Jones Dale a former resident of this county died at her home in Hays, Kansas last Wednesday January 28th. The remains were brought to Ackley for burial and were accompanied by all the children surviving, namely Mrs. A. S. Hale, Kansas, Mrs. Gaylord Worstell of Big Sandy, Montana and John R. Dale M. D. of Hobart, Oklahoma. The interment was made last Friday at Ackley in the lot adjoining her father and mother, her husband having been buried in the National Cemetery in Milwaukee. Mrs. Dale was a woman of brilliant intellectuality, and was a teacher for many years and a lecturer of pronounced ability. She will be remembered by many friends in this county where she taught for several years.
The obituary in the Iowa Falls Sentinel read the same.
Later in the spring the following notice appeared in the Big Sandy paper, along with a picture of the hospital.
Big Sandy can now boast of having one of the best equipped and most up-to-date hospital buildings in the northern part of the state. It has been given the name “The City Hospital” and while an infant in Big Sandy business circles, yet with the cooperation of her constituents a good chance of making one of the strongest institutions in the county.
The doctor, Gaylord Worstell, M.D., who is in charge, has taken a great deal of interest in the erection and equipment of the building and is ready to serve you with the best in medical care and surgery.
Electricity arrived in Big Sandy the previous year, 1913, just in time for a modern hospital.
By the end of the first year another nurse arrived from Washington, D. C., named Miss Simpson. Miss Ogle either had some help or she had moved on. Eventually a young woman named Annie went to work for Dr. Worstell. Annie came from Minnesota and got her nursing degree there. She moved first to Great Falls, then to Big Sandy after answering Gaylord’s advertisement for a nurse. Leah Dixon, Annie’s daughter-in-law, was librarian in Big Sandy in 1990 when she related a little bit about her. Annie was a nurse and midwife. She worked for Dr. Worstell until about 1917, when she married Mr. Dixon. Annie Dixon quit working for Gaylord after she got married, but continued to help when needed and to work as a midwife. She was called upon to deliver many babies. Leah Dixon remembered that Dr. Worstell used to open the windows and get the room cold for patients with pneumonia. “He knew that way back then, and they do that now,” she said.
Before the grand opening of the hospital, on January 5th, Dias’ notice to make final proof got published for a second time, testimony to be taken on January 12th. In his testimony on the 12th, he identified himself and reviewed his work on the homestead. In answer to the question, “Have you any personal property of any kind elsewhere than on this land?” he said he had “... personal property and household effects in a rental in town.” Final Proof was not completed when advertised; witness Christopher Jung was deposed on February 14, and witness Henry Mudd on the 17th. Dias had to make a deposition before Mr. Flint, U.S. Commissioner, to explain.
I, Dias Worstell ... say ... that final proof ... was not completed upon the day advertised for the following reasons:
One witness, Christopher Jung, was confined to his bed and his evidence was taken late, the other witness, Henry I. Mudd, was unaware of the exact date of proof and it was necessary to go after him. The day proof was [to be] made a blizzard was in progress and since that time he was unable to get to the commissioner’s office until the date stated in his testimony.
The state of Montana has great extremes in its weather. Seasonal differences in temperature may vary from winter temperatures of -70° on the continental divide, even -50° or -60° near Havre, to 117° during the summer on the plains and around Havre. Extremes in temperatures and wind can vary greatly across short distances and from minute to minute in the same place. While Havre, Chinook, and Harlem are shivering in subzero weather, ranchers from the Bear Paws, a small range of mountains near Havre and Big Sandy, might come into town and tell of thawing temperatures and “water running everywhere.” It is the Chinook winds that moderate the climate and make north central Montana livable. The Chinook is a type of warm, dry wind that develops where long mountain ranges lie at right angles to the prevailing winds blowing in from an ocean. Havre recorded a temperature rise of 43° in 15 minutes, from -6° to a balmy 37°. Also observed in Havre was a rise of 26° in 45 seconds from 16° to 42°. At Great Falls on January 11, 1980, the temperature rose from -32° to 15° in seven minutes. Havre once experienced four Chinooks in five days. The warm dry air takes the snow directly into the air without leaving water or mud. It is then that housewives can get their clothes dry, and people suffering from isolation and cabin fever can get to town. On the other hand, the farmer needs good snow cover for moisture content and protection for his crops, and the children just have to have snow for sledding. When the Chinook doesn’t come, the subzero weather can hang on for days. In the late 1900s, Havre had 40 successive days that the temperature never rose above zero and the nighttime temperatures were 40 below. It will probably snow someplace in Montana every month of the year, July and August included; not to be confused with hail, the farmers’ great fear. Montana housewives describe Montana as “nine months of winter and three months of tourists.” Still, it has 120 to 135 frost-free days a year and lots of sunshine.
On February 20, 1914, Dias received his Certificate to Receive Patent for his land. On receipt of a patent, a homesteader could sell the land or mortgage it. That appeared to be the successful conclusion to the first Worstell homestead. Except that Dias had paid the necessary fees twice for having to apply for Final Proof twice, and he wanted a refund. Commission’s fee of $6.00 and Testimony fee of $2.25 were paid in 1913 and again in 1914. He applied to the Department of Interior, General Land Office in Washington, DC, which concurred, and in August the Department instructed the Receiver in Havre to return $6.00. He may have gotten his $6.00 but he didn’t receive his patent, and he wrote Havre to ask why not. His reply from Havre a year later, on February 2, 1915, was answered by a letter dated February 9 and delivered to Dias on March 10, and simply said they didn’t know, write Washington. On March 24, Schmidt Bros. & Greely, Inc., Farm Loans, wrote Washington saying they had an interest in (part of) this land and what is delaying the issuance of the patent? Washington replied they had issued the patent March 6, 1915, and mailed it to the Havre office on March 10th and that in order to secure the patents they, Schmidt Bros., should apply to the R & R at Havre. Presumably they did apply, because sometime over a year after Dias received the “certificate to receive the patent,” the loan office received the patent. Confusion may have arisen between the Certificate to Receive Patent and the Patent. The Havre land office may have been backlogged, or a little bureaucracy may have gotten in the way. Dias later sold his homestead to Dr. Everett Worstell, who sold it to Frank Worstell in February 1919.
Dias had a confectionery and evidently the Arbutus Pool Hall, as he sold these in January to Mr. A. C. Temple. He also advertised a relinquishment for sale. Information concerning the acquisition of this farm is not available. Dias and Bertha had each purchased residential lots in Big Sandy during 1913. During 1914, Dias added to these land holdings by purchasing a lot near the railroad water tank and one near the school. He also started construction on an implement shed for his business.
Frank’s progress toward his certificate to acquire patent went pretty much unimpeded. On April 4, 1914, he gave notice of intent to make proof. He gave the usual information and explained that he showed no residence for his wife since she had refused to reside in Big Sandy, and that she was self-supporting. He said his absences were to earn money to improve his claim, and that in 1914 he broke 12 acres, planted 20 acres of oats, 1 acre of potatoes and garden truck. Improvements were house 12' x 16', corral, stable, 3-wire fence with posts, hog house, chicken house 8' x 12'. He had purchased lumber for 16' x 32' house with basement, and 16' x 80' barn, and started a cistern. Gaylord testified on his behalf and said, “I have been back and forth past his place several times each month and have always seen him at home. I should say at least 50 times each year.” Frank promptly received his Certificate to Receive Patent dated the same day as the above testimony, May 16, 1914!
Frank had his heart in Verona and it seemed to have the makings of a nice little town. Frank’s homestead included railroad right-of-way and the town was platted next to the railroad on the homestead property. On July 2 the paper wrote about it.
Starting a new town is a responsibility that few people realize, who have never been connected with such affairs how much planning and work is connected with and such is the case with Frank Worstell who is this week having a town site laid out at Verona by ex County Surveyor Merrifield.
In speaking of the new town Mr. Worstell said “We do not expect to make a city out of Verona but just a nice little town or trading point. It is only a matter of a little time until the post office will be established. We have an elevator all ready to build and several calls for business lots and I am very much pleased with the outlook for the new town.”
Frank is very enthusiastic over the proposed new town and he no doubt will be rewarded in a measure for his labors. He is at present in the falls looking after the interests of the proposed infant town.
Frank took out a quarter-page advertisement showing the plat of the town and offering business lots for $100 and up and residence lots for $25 and up. In another edition he advertised, “Residential Lots 50 x 140, will trade for cow.” In September the paper announced, “The Verona post office will be open for business on the first day of October so all who wish, can get their mail on that day by notifying Postmaster Worstell.” In November — “Frank Worstell was up from Verona last Monday and reports business progressing nicely in that city. He has the post office building completed, a small stock of goods in and is figuring on a great many other conveniences for his many patrons.” At that time, a postmaster was required to buy the equipment, the boxes, the scales, and the whole works. The town had a school, too, and the paper reported, “A dance and box social is to be given in the new Verona school house, Saturday evening. Miss Rachel Farthing and pupils have moved to the new school. Only two pupils attended school last Monday due to it being very cold.” The year 1914 was one very early cold winter. Frank was also nominated for position of “Justice,” for the township. This office is not to be confused with “Justice of the Peace,” as others were nominated for that office. The primary election was held in August.
Dr. Worstell was seldom active in politics but did serve on the city council and was elected to the school board by a write-in ballot campaign. Gaylord ran for Coroner on the Republican ticket about this time, but it’s unknown if he was successful. If we knew where the Republican Party stood on prostitution, we might know if Gaylord had been successful in his campaign, if we knew where Gaylord stood on prostitution. You will get the gist of this sentence with a little history of the prostitution business, or “the flesh pots of Big Sandy,” as called by some. Lou Lawrence writes in Pioneer Days, “The more conservative and religious business people, and settlers with wives and children didn’t look upon the turning of a card, the selling of sexual favors, or the dispensing of alcohol as legitimate professions.” He continues:
Prior to 1913 it [the Red Light District] had been located in town, but May 15, 1913 a mass meeting of the citizens, called at the insistence of their wives, was held to ascertain what should be done about the district. There had been considerable agitation for some time to do something about it, as the town was gradually growing to the east and lots in the restricted area were unsaleable.
The question was quite generally debated at the meeting and it was finally decided by a majority of the citizens to have the proprietor of the house in which they were located move the business over the hill about a half mile from town and place a high board fence around the property.
Even after the district was moved out of town it remained a controversial issue for years, especially after the town was incorporated. Prospective candidates for the town council were elected or defeated on the stand they took on the issue, Republicans and Democrats were on opposing sides, Big Sandy’s two newspapers, The Bear Paw Mountaineer, and The Big Sandy Booster, were on opposite sides. The district was a reliable source of funds for the town as old court records reveal that the women were fined $50.00 and cost every two weeks, regularly.
Dr. Worstell treated the residents of the red light district, or “ladies of the night,” as he did the rest of the townspeople. A few members of the community as well as some members of his own family thought that he took some of his pay in trade. (“Since he could no longer have sex with his wife,” some descendants said.) Not that the ladies couldn’t have paid the bills, as they were some of the town’s biggest spenders.
Gaylord made no distinction in quality of care among those he treated, whether prostitutes, sod busters, Indians, citizens, or non-citizens. Mr. Lawrence in his story above made it clear that “citizens” did not include wives, yet this time in 1914 was only months away from the time when Montana would grant full suffrage to women. The woman’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution did not become law nation-wide until 1920. September 5, 1915, Big Sandy had its first all woman jury for a case before the Justice of the Peace. Montana elected the first woman to the United States Congress in 1916. The newspaper pointed out at the time that all women registering to vote would be required to give their correct ages, “which will without a doubt, for a while work somewhat a hardship on the fair sex.” A year or so later the court in Havre would prosecute the first offender of the “lazy husband law.” The man was convicted and given a “6 day suspended sentence and told it would be healthy for him to go to work and support his wife and children.” The ups and downs of the woman’s rights movement were already well underway.
Montana always had relatively liberal laws regarding rights of women. The following is from the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911:
Elsie and Bertha Worstell were exercising their rights when they purchased Big Sandy property.
A variety of other business establishments continued to open in Big Sandy. Sales agent J.S. Palmer recommended Indian motorcycles for use in commuting to the claim. A ladies’ shop opened next door to the hospital carrying, among other ladies wear, pantaloon petticoats “especially adapted for the narrow or tight fitting outside skirt.” There was at least one show house and one garage as we learn from the report of Commissioner Flint. Mr. Flint said he was on his way from the show house to the garage with his automobile, when he “met H.G. Bollinger with a buggy load of ladies. The team became frightened, turned down the side of the railroad crossing, tipping out all the occupants but one lady who stayed until the buggy completely upset. There were no serious injuries.” Mr. Gurskey was doing blacksmithing on his claim and telephones had arrived; three or four neighbors in the Chamberlain school district were connected by telephone; the town system would be completed the following year. Keith Edwards, Big Sandy resident, was a young employee of the telephone company in the early 1930s, when the community telephone system could still be considered in its infancy. Keith was paid board and room and slept by the switchboard, the nerve center of Big Sandy, where he listened to all the calls that promised to be interesting. Mr. Edwards tells the following:
In those years, Dr. Cooper lived in a house under the city water tank. He had the regular old oak wall-telephone. Mrs. Cooper wouldn’t put the receiver back on the hook after a call. If we tried the number, we’d know when that happened, and I’d run up there and put the receiver on the hook.
Since my boss, Mrs. Mitchell, was usually home, I could [leave the office to] go to any home in town and notify them of a telephone call; lots of folks had no phone. I made a lot of such errands to “ladies of the evening.”
Jane Godfrey, one of the three women homesteaders on the Worstell farm, lived back of the telephone office. She was dying of cancer in 1932, and was under Dr. Worstell’s care. My boss lady often sent me over with hot meals. The morphine smell was strong.
In March, Gaylord felt he should follow up on the lack of progress being made in the case of Oak Dale’s final proof. He wrote the following letter:
U.S. Land Office,
Some time ago I furnished evidence to the U.S. Land Office in Havre that I had authority from all my family to make final proof on the homestead entry of my deceased brother, Oak F. Dale, serial No. 019987 for E1/2 NE1/4 & E1/2 SE1/4 Sec 27, T28W, R12E Mont. M. After a long time the proof was rejected and a draft for $6.00 returned to me. My husband had recently been to Havre to learn about the delay in the case and was told by a man in charge that I, as sister, would have to be appointed administratrix of my brother’s estate even if there was only a shack on the claim, then I myself furnish a copy of the public record of my administratrix appointment before I could prove up his claim.
I thereupon sent affidavits to my brother and sister, the only members of my family now living beside myself, and sent them to the Hon. Judge John W. Tattan of this judicial district. He informs me that an administrator does not prove up on a claim of deceased but that it must be proved up by a relative.
I am at a loss to know what to do. I can not get a clear idea of what is necessary for me to furnish to satisfy the Land Office.
The claim has been duly advertised and evidence furnished showing cultivation and all requirements, that I am a sister of deceased and that all other members of my family are willing that I should prove up.
May I ask your honorable department to tell me just what evidence I must furnish.
Mrs. Elsie D. Worstell
Publication of the notice to make three-year proof as heir of Oak’s homestead was made on August 20, 1914. The hearing was still scheduled for September 8th.
The March letter was answered by way of a letter dated Aug. 21, 1914 and addressed to the Register and Receiver of the Havre Land Office. It reviewed the status of Oak’s homestead, noting the Havre office had rejected Elsie’s proof on the ground that, “no evidence of authority to offer proof had been furnished.” The D.C. office accepted the letter from Mrs. Worstell as an informal appeal. They believe that Mary Jones Dale is still living and point out that the laws of Montana make the parents the heirs in preference to brothers and sisters. Even so the letter states, “The improvements placed on the entry were but slight, being valued at $104, but it would appear that the requirements of the homestead law have been met,” and directs Havre R & R to allow Mrs. Dale 30 days to furnish final homestead affidavit and if forthcoming to issue the final certificate in favor of the heirs. Mrs. Dale was further allowed to swear to the affidavit in Kansas, assuming she was living.
On August 29th Elsie made her deposition to the Register and Receiver for her identification regarding Oak’s homestead and identifying her brother and sister and explaining that their mother Mary J. Dale was deceased. Fees of $6.25 were mailed to the office of the R & R. The check and affidavit were returned by return mail; receipt made out to “Ellen.” It seems the office had gotten Oak Dale’s homestead mixed up with Mary J. Dale’s! Elsie returned their letter and the check with a note to that effect, “... Kindly notify where affidavits are lacking and we will comply.” A check was included.
On the 24th, Havre wrote to acknowledge the error in confusing Oak’s and Mary’s homestead fees.
Oak’s account was credited with the fees. Havre also wrote Washington D.C. that Mary’s death notice was made, but state they notified the parties in Hays, Kansas, about the rejection and the time to make appeal and that the “letter was received.” When Worstells received this information, Worstells wrote the U.S. Commissioner in Washington, D.C. requesting relief from resubmitting new proof since all the information regarding Oak Dale’s homestead was the same. They included another check for $6.25.
The following letter was sent from the office in Washington D. C. to the Register and Receiver in Havre.
Receiver’s check No. 454, transmitted with the papers, is returned herewith.
Gaylord and Elsie received an early Christmas present; they received the Certificate to receive Patent on Oak’s homestead that was dated December 11, 1914. The land later passed to John Dale and he sold it to Florence and Elsie in 1915; Elsie purchased her sister’s half in 1917. Elsie willed this farm to her son, Richard. Richard clearly disposed of the farm, but when or to whom is not known by the author.
THE HEIR TO AUSTRIAN THRONE ASSASSINATED was the headline of the Los Angeles Times and across America on Monday morning, June 29, 1914. By August, Germany was invading France. This event would ultimately affect everyone in the United States, but some more than others. Not many of the Worstell family served in the military. Not many were eligible by age and few volunteered.
The Mountaineer reported that Richard “completed the course offered at the local schools” in the spring of 1914 and would be attending Great Falls High School in the fall. Grace was home from GFHS and got a job teaching in a near by country school. Country schools often offered the summer term for the children who were unable to attend during the severe winter months. “The law at that time required that all children between the ages of 8 to 14 attend school for at least 3 months in any calendar year,” wrote Richard in a letter. Grace’s transportation into town was by horseback, and it was reported that “though not used to it said she enjoyed it thoroughly.” Grace Worstell is recorded as one of the three regular teachers at Eagle Creek country school for the 1914 school term.
Emery D. Harnden had become a frequent visitor to the Worstell home. He reminded the Worstells of earlier days. Elsie thought of all her Wisconsin relatives and her visits to Wisconsin. Gaylord enjoyed discussing the local politics and world affairs. More and more their conversations were shortened as Emery and Gracie’s conversations grew longer. Gaylord did not think too highly of any of the local young men as a prospective son-in-law. How fortuitous that their daughter Grace was interested in this young man with his charm and intellect! Their relationship developed into a romance. It must have been like an answer to prayer for Elsie and Gaylord. By the end of summer, love had blossomed and they planned a fall wedding. While Dr. Worstell may have had the usual parental concerns such as, do they truly love each other, will they be compatible, et cetera, the prospects for these two young people looked bright. Within a few months, the Mary J. Dale contested homestead suit would hold Emory’s interest and the prospects for his legal career would look pretty bright, also.
On September 24, Emery D. Harnden and Grace Worstell received a marriage license in Fort Benton. The paper made note of it, of course:
... the happy event will take place next Saturday evening at the home of the bride’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Gaylord Worstell. Both young people are very prominent here, the bride to be, being a charming and talented young lady and Mr. Harnden being a very promising attorney. They will make their home in the Joe Miller residence, and after the ceremony will receive congratulations from a large coterie of friends.
The following week, October 1st, the paper reported as follows:
From seven-thirty to nine in the evening the parents of the bride gave a reception at their home to the many friends in the city and surrounding country and a delicious luncheon consisting of ice cream and cake and sherbet was served. About 160 guests attended the reception and extended congratulations and best wishes to the happy young couple.
They will make their home in the Joe Miller residence in the very near future and will be at home to their many friends after the 15th of October. The Mountaineer joins the large number in the community extending them best wishes.
Summer is wonderful in Montana. During the early months the land is green and yellow with the prairie grass, yellow clover, and lupine. People look forward to the long evenings, when they can enjoy the dusk until 10 o’clock. When the days heat up and the dry heat becomes oppressive, people look forward to sunset, for as soon as the sun goes down the air will cool and they will find themselves reaching for a blanket for the night. Sometime during these long days, when eyes come to rest on the distant mountains, a longing for a trip to those mountains becomes overwhelming. It’s a trip that must be taken. The Worstell family took such a trip 25 miles east to the mountains by car to spend the day “enjoying the first real outing the physician has had since coming to Big Sandy over four years ago,” reported the Mountaineer. Elsie and Grace had enjoyed the mountains on a previous occasion, also. It is difficult to imagine a family of 6 in the small Brush automobile, or even one of a later vintage; maybe they utilized another mode of transportation. In any case, it was on a trip like this that the doctor lost his medicine case out of his car and had to advertise a reward for its return.
Those with vision to see the mountains far to the west answered that longing in a more dramatic way. Glacier National Park was established in 1910, thanks in part to the efforts of James J. Hill and the Great Northern Railway. Louis Hill, son of James Hill, became president of the Great Northern in 1907. It was he that had the passion and the vision for a system of roads, trails, chalets, and major hotels to serve the tourists — tourists who would be traveling by train. In 1912, the railway was given permission from the federal government to purchase land on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation just outside the park at the east entrance. Glacier Park Lodge, the third national park lodge and the first in Glacier Park, opened at Glacier Park Station in 1913. It is the most majestic of the Great Lodges of the West. The bark-covered colonnades came from the trunks of Douglas firs 48 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter. They caused the Indians to call it Big Tree Lodge. The Indians had never seen trees that large because the logs didn’t come from Montana; they came from the Pacific Northwest.
On the west side of the park is Lake McDonald. Homesteaders settled on the shores of Lake McDonald in the 1890s. George Snyder built the Snyder Hotel in 1895. A businessman from Columbia Falls, Montana, named John Lewis, acquired the property. When the park formed in 1910, he determined to build a lodge, if not as large as Glacier Park Hotel, at least with as much style. He moved the old hotel and prepared the site to be accessed from the lake. Travelers would arrive by train at Belton station, and then be ferried by steamboat to the lodge. Concrete and foundation work were completed before the winter of 1913. The lodge opened in June 1914. It is of Swiss chalet design, with a three-story lobby, bark-covered columns, and Indian and western decor.
Richard Worstell was employed to work at the Lake McDonald Lodge sometime during its construction. In later years, arriving by car with his family, he would park and walk around to the back, to what had formerly been the entrance. Standing and looking out over the lake, he would describe the arrival of the boats, laden with the logs, the lumber, and every type of material needed. “Every nail had to be shipped in,” he would say. It would be to Glacier Park that Richard took his family when he felt that longing for a trip to the mountains. Richard was only 13 when the lodge was built. The law making 16 the minimum age for employment in the mines passed in Montana in 1904. Other industries, such as manufacturing, were added in 1907. No age limit was applied to farm labor and other work that was limited to non-school hours. Age 14 remained the national norm for entering the labor force in non-mining and non-manufacturing industries until 1938.
August is fair time — first the counties and then the state fair. Farm produce, livestock and poultry, are submitted for judging. Examples of the domestic arts of every kind are exhibited and judged: a great variety of baked goods and canned goods, examples of sewing and the related arts and crafts, flowers and arrangements. There are contests of every sort, from rodeos to spelling bees and other academic competitions. Ribbons and monetary awards were given for the top exhibitors. Elsie Worstell was very talented in the arts and crafts and her art work was recognized at the State Fair:
Mrs. Gaylord Worstell received a check from the state fair board this week for $21.00 awards received for first prizes in fancy work and paintings. Mrs. Worstell’s exhibits at the state fair attracted a great deal of attention and she is ranked among the first class artists of the state. The list of articles below was on exhibition at the fair. Best Snow scene, water color; Best Marine scene, water color; Best Flowers from Nature, water color; Best Fruit painting from nature, water color; Best Fruit painting from copy, water color; Best Landscape, pastel; Best Marine, pastel; Best Snow scene, pastel; Best Flower Painting, pastel; on which first premiums were awarded. She also took original painting, pastel; Best figure painting, pastel; Best collections of drawings, pastel.
Two of Elsie’s paintings hung in the Richard Worstell home in Great Falls for many years. After Mr. and Mrs. Richard Worstell died, the scene of a house by a body of water went to Richard Cameron Worstell, and a winter village scene that Elsie called the “little brown church in the vale,” went to Ann Jean Cloonan.
In 2001, Ann Jean acquired two of Elsie’s pastel scenes. While working on the draft of Happiness Was Born A Twin, she had a telephone conversation with a Big Sandy resident about her project, who passed the word on to another Big Sandy resident. In due time a package arrived at the Cloonan residence unannounced. It contained two pastel paintings by Elsie Worstell. The owner no longer had a need for them and thought it would be nice if the paintings “returned home.”
“Each year there was always a Spelling Bee held down town in the Oliver C. Tingley Opera House which stood where the Geibel Garage and Machinery Co. of recent years now stands. I was the winner of the Spelling Bee in 1911,” wrote Richard. Richard Worstell and Arthur Jung had captured awards as the best spellers in the county in 1914. They represented Chouteau County at the state spelling contest held during the state fair in Great Falls. Richard no doubt won the county bee more than once; however, he also didn’t have the time anchors to remember incidents that most of us had. For example, his letter said, “When I was in fifth grade Mr. Christy thought I read too good for a 5th grader so he put me in the 7th grade. The result was that I spent but a single term for the 5, 6, and 7, grades.” Yet he graduated in the expected year for his age. Was he two years in 8th grade perhaps, or home schooled?
The details of a certain family story are long since forgotten, but the following event became such an inside joke that only its mention was enough to cause laughter between Gaylord and Richard. The hospital was across the street from a popular business for the owners of horses and wagons. Gaylord did not have a garage at the hospital and liked to park his car in front. Exasperated with a team and wagon that often parked there, as it was on this day, he went upstairs. There he got a bedspring and he and Richard carried it out onto the upstairs porch and released it over the hapless horses, which bolted down the street.
By fall, Grace was married and teaching, and Richard was attending Great Falls High School. Elizabeth Jane Worstell, who had not made any improvements on her homestead, returned from Ohio and established residence on her claim September 7, 1914. The shack description reads “12 x 14 x 12 x 16,” each time it is written. One might assume this is a two-room shack and that Jane’s mother, Isabel, will be living with her. In December, Jane gave notice to be absent for five months working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. No other work was done on the claim in 1914.
Earlier in the year, May 14, the Worstells had turned their attention to Mary Jones Dale’s homestead. Elsie filed a new Notice of Intention to make proof as “...Elsie D. Worstell, one and for the heirs of Mary J. Dale (Deceased)...” The witnesses remained the same but testimony had to be taken anew. This time they were a little more precise in their statements, for example: “My claim was a mile and a half from her place and during the time she was there I saw her occasionally,” from Mr. Comer, and “I saw her there three times each week during her period of residence.” Public notice was printed that proof would be made before L.E. Flint on September 8th. So on September 8th, Mr. Silvernail, Mr. Comer and Elsie Worstell all presented their testimony anew on the final proof for Mary J. Dale’s homestead, since Elsie must now file in her own name as heir to the homestead.
On September 18 Elsie’s claim for Mary’s homestead was again rejected. This time for “the reason that the land has not been cultivated by the heirs, for such period as added to the actual residence of entryman will make three years. For the further reason that no money has been received.”
The Worstells mailed a check for $8.25 to the Havre office for Mary Dale’s homestead fees as per Havre’s letter. These fees, which might have paid room rent for 2 weeks or more, were not insignificant.
After having sent the fees for Mary’s homestead proof, the Worstells wrote their congressman, Rep. Tom Stout. The congressman forwarded the letter to Clay Tallman, Commissioner of the General Land Office. Rep. Stout requested they answer the Worstell letter and then return the letter to him. Along with the letter from the Commissioner, GLO, was a letter to Rep. Stout as follows:
My dear Mr. Stout:
I am in receipt of your favor of the 23rd instant with which you inclose a letter addressed to you by Mrs. Elsie D. Worstell, of Big Sandy, Montana, relating to the supposed rejection of the proof submitted by her on homestead entry 013669, Havre, made by her mother, Mary J. Dale, now deceased. It appears that at the date of her communication she had received no notice of the rejection, but only a return of the final commission by check of the Receiver of the Havre office.
I have this day called on the local officers for a report in the matter, and when same has been received, you will be fully advised.
Mrs. Worstell’s letter is returned. Very respectfully, Asst. Com.
The following communication was mailed on Nov. 28, 1914 from the Dept. of the Int., Gen Off. Washington DC to Register and Receiver, Havre, Montana:
Sirs: On October 21, 1911, Mary J. Dale made homestead entry 013669. I am now in receipt of a communication from Mrs. Elsie D. Worstell, of Big Sandy, Montana, from which it appears that she recently as heir of the entrywoman submitted proof on the entry mentioned, also, that, up to November 17, 1914, the date of her letter, she had not received any formal notice of rejection of the proof, but only a return of the final commissions by check of the Receiver.
Report promptly as to the status of this case, including the reasons for rejection of the proof if it was actually rejected; also promptly send formal notice of your action to the claimant, if this has not been done since the date of her letter to this office.
To which the Havre office replied:
Sir: In reply to your letter “C” of Nov. 28, 1914, we have the honor to report the status as regards final proof of H. E. 013669. Mary J. Dale, as follows:
The records of this office show, that on May 6, 1913, notice for final three year proof was filed. Aug. 11, 1913 notice for final three year proof was issued. Proof before L. E. Flint, U. S. Commissioner at Big Sandy, Mont. on Sept. 17, 1913. Published in “Bear Paw Mountaineer,” Big Sandy, Mont.; Sept. 29, 1913 proof was filed. This proof was submitted by Elsie D. Worstell as guardian, setting up insanity of entrywoman. Proof was suspended for affidavit that Fred J. Silvernail and Homer E. Comer, were the same persons advertised as Fred Silvernail and M. E. Comer, also for record evidence of judgment of insanity and appointment of guardian.
Oct. 6, 1913, notice of suspension was mailed. Nov. 20, 1913, proof was rejected, because no record evidence of insanity and appointment of guardian was filed. Nov 21, 1913 notice of rejection by registered mail.
From a personal interview about this time with Mr. Gaylord Worstell, husband of Elsie D. Worstell, and a certificate of the physician attending Mrs. Dale, it appeared that Mrs. Dale was not insane but was very feeble physically. The physician’s certificate above mentioned was appended to the proof.
Jan 9, 1914, no appeal being filed, the case was closed. Papers transmitted with January returns 1914.
Jan 30, 1914, Gaylord Worstell filed notice of death of entrywoman.
May 19, 1914, Elsie D. Worstell, as heir, filed notice for final three year proof.
Aug. 4, 1914, notice for final proof issued; proof before L. E. Flint, U. S. commissioner at Big Sandy, Mont. on Sept 8, 1914. Publication in Bear Paw Mountaineer Big Sandy, Mont.
Sept. 10, 1914, proof was filed. Rejected because no money was paid, also because the land had not been cultivated by the heirs for such period as when added to the actual residence of the entrywoman will make three years.
Sept. 18. 1914, notice of rejection mailed by registered mail. Notice was received Sept. 20, 1914.
Oct 1, 1914. Fees paid, $8.25. Receipt No. 1459768.
Oct 26, 1914. No appeal being filed, case was closed. Papers transmitted to the C.G.O. with October 1914 returns. Proof of service appended to proof papers.
Copy of this letter sent to Elsie D. Worstell of even date herewith. Very respectfully, M.W. Hutchinson, Reg. Jane A Mayer Rec.
The ‘proof of service’ that was appended to the papers was proof of Mr. Dale’s military service.
In a letter hand-written by Gaylord and signed by Elsie, the Worstells made their appeal for Mary’s homestead to the General Land Office in Washington. In his letter, the Doctor reviews the letter received from the Havre office and adds the information concerning the military service of Mr. Dale as follows:
The `proof of service’ mentioned above, included the certificate of discharge of William Dale, husband of entrywoman, Mary J. Dale, who served in Co. C 31 Wis Inf from Aug 13, 1862 to June 9, 1865 and was honorably discharged. The land (20 A) has been cultivated one year and this added to the Civil War service of claimants husband entitles proof to be accepted as three years proof, as I understand the matter. I therefore appeal from the decision of the Havre Land Office and pray that the one year’s cultivation of 20 A. on the homestead 013669 be accepted as three years proof. If this is not correct, I request to be advised of any further requirement.
Very respectfully, Elsie Dale Worstell
Emery D. Harnden, Esq., arrived at a more efficient method of acquiring land. On October 30, Emery purchased a homestead at auction formerly belonging to Lula Fowler, the SE4 Sec 14 T29, R9, about 21 miles west of Big Sandy. He paid $3,000. One homesteader would say years later, “The smart ones proved up their land, then took their $2,000 and left.” Emery also commuted his homestead for $200. This homestead property was about 10 miles northeast of Big Sandy. Frank Barney and George Campbell witnessed for him. Mr. Harnden had 12 acres broken and sown to flax that yielded about 2 bushels per acre. His shack was valued at $125-135 and barn at $25-30. He had strung two-wire fence around the east quarter of the claim, valued at $75-80. Personal property consisted of his office furniture and books that were kept in Big Sandy. Mr. and Mrs. Emery Harnden were “well fixed” newlyweds.
A couple of years later, Emery filed on a 40-acre homestead adjoining his original homestead. A couple of years after that, the same land appears under the name Ziban Harnden. A notation beside the date of June 16, 1917 references an original homestead NW4 Sec 18 T41 R18 Warsaw, Wisconsin 1893 – 5 year-proof. A good guess would be that Ziban is Emery’s father. Perry Hagan, who also had land adjoining these 40 acres, also filed for it. Both cases were rejected and closed. The map in the Gathering of Memories indicates the land was in the name of the Great Northern Railroad, the only 40-acre piece of land so designated in the book.
Homestead concerns were put aside as Christmas approached. Dr. Worstell and Attny. E. D. Harnden extended their season’s greetings to the community with advertisements in the Mountaineer. Gifts exchanged in the Worstell household were not of a frivolous nature, but of a practical nature, such as ties, socks, mittens, and scarves. Possibly there might be something from Elsie’s hand, such as crocheted dress collars, embroidered antimacassars, or knitted mittens. For others, the businesses in the community offered buyers a wide variety of choices for the Christmas season; items for the home such as lamps and crockery, silverware and china, and toys for the young people such as sleds, skis, skates, and dolls, and jewelry and watches for the ladies and gentlemen. Nineteen fourteen had been a pretty good year.