23. BOOM TO BUST
… the dreams of the boosters soured into bitter memories. From Montana, A History of Two Centuries
The year of 1917 closed out with a blessed event, the birth of Gaylord’s nephew; the Carnes family had a new baby. They named him Charles Frank, but they would call him Tod. He was born December 30, 1917, in Big Sandy. (The Pittis Genealogy gives the year as 1916, but Tod’s wife Bernice said his birth year was 1917 and that the birth didn’t get recorded until April 1918.)
Jane Worstell had been carefully documenting her absences from the homestead. She did not spend a lot of time in the homestead shack, as it didn’t take a full-time presence on the land to meet the requirements for residence. She frequently packed up a picnic to take to the shack and spent the night or the weekend. When evening came, she lit the lamp to enable others to see she was there. Jane was a notary public and may have had a job in town. Also, there were brothers and their families she could stay with in Big Sandy. Jane and Gaylord seemed to enjoy a special relationship. Through their lifetime, they always enjoyed visiting and telling stories while they drank their coffee, something all the Worstells enjoyed. Jane would later say about Gaylord, “He could see more out of one eye than most people could out of two.” Jane recognized a compassionate side of Gaylord and always admired him for his generosity.
August 20, 1917, Jane gave notice for publication her intention to make proof for her homestead of 80 acres. Date to appear before the US Commissioner with her witnesses was October 3. Her witnesses were O. C. Carpenter and William Pickell. Each gave the same account as has been described in this text: i.e., broke 55 acres in 1916 and planted winter wheat in the fall, and seeded 55 acres of winter wheat in the fall of 1917. No mention is made of harvesting the winter crop of wheat from the fall 1916 planting and the proof was rejected the next day for insufficient cultivation.
Jane returned to Pittsburgh and had an affidavit prepared and mailed on November 23 to the Havre Receiver explaining the situation and requesting a reduction of the amount of cultivation:
Wherefore affiant, having shown her intent and purpose in the effort she made to get the desired cultivation performed in the years and at the proper time, and failing in which she performed an amount far surpassing the required area, according to the law, and without question in her mind that it would suffice, and having shown her continued cultivation of the land she asks, that the reduction during the first two years of residence be excused, and that the gross amount of cultivation during the last year, and the continued cultivation of the land, be accepted as given in at the time of proof, and that her proof as offered be allowed by the Department.
The above affidavit was forwarded to the Chief of Field Division. The following fall, August 14, 1918, the examination of the homestead was made and the report forwarded to Washington. The Special Agent found that the entrywoman was in Pittsburgh and the shack abandoned. “There was, however, abundant evidence of previous occupancy,” said the report. The report included a description of the shack and the improvements as well as the cultivation. Concerning the lack of cultivation during 1915-16, he reported:
Elizabeth Jane Worstell received her Final Certificate dated December 6, 1918. Jane had acquired her homestead and it’s possible she never sold it. She later got land that had belonged to Ed and previously to Everett. Family members report that she and Mary inherited a homestead from Everett; however, this land deed has not been located. Jane always kept her interest in her Montana land, always paid the taxes, and made regular visits to the land and to the relatives.
In Pittsburgh, Jane was a secretary to a bank president. One day she and a friend went to Philadelphia to meet her friend’s boyfriend. As fortune would have it, the boyfriend had a friend. The young women went to meet the young men at the shipyards where they were working. A ship for the merchant marine was currently being built. The friend, Loyd Bradford, formerly from Kansas, was a chief engineer on the plumbing system for the ship. Jane and Loyd fell in love and were married May 4, 1922, in Pittsburgh. After they were married, they made their home in Kansas City, Missouri. The Bradfords had one daughter, Elizabeth (Betty) Jane, born January 20, 1928. Betty married Calvin Briney, and they made their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They have four girls.
Nineteen-fifteen and nineteen-sixteen were very good farm years. Ray Carnes got 19 bushels per acre in 1916, his first year. Nineteen-seventeen started a run of drought years that lasted nearly twenty-five years, with nineteen-eighteen being a particularly devastating year. Ray Carnes seeded 40 acres in 1917 and the crop “dried out.” Same thing in 1918. The years 1918 and 1919 were so dry that one family by the name of Schrouder dug up the beans and peas they had planted, took them to Missouri where they planted them the next year, and got a crop. Dry years aren’t necessarily “open” or mild in temperature. Severe blizzards can occur when the temperature is below zero and the little snow that does fall is picked up and blown by the wind, over and over again, hour after hour. People grow up hearing of family experiences in such weather. Dorothy Watson, whose family lived across the river from nearby Virgelle, remembers being told that when she was about to be born there was a terrible blizzard raging. Someone got her mother to Big Sandy and she was born “at Dr. Worstell’s home.”
As a whole, the community of Big Sandy still seemed optimistic. A new elevator was completed near the end of 1917. Gaylord had built an icehouse next to the hospital at one time, and he converted it into a business building in 1917. Richard Worstell was now a senior in the Big Sandy High School. Three girls graduated from the first class the previous May. Richard was the lone graduate in the class of 1918. Beautiful printed programs, each tied with blue and orange ribbon, embossed with a circlet of mother-of-pearl and Class 1918 in gold, were prepared for the guests. It read, “The Senior Class of the Big Sandy High School announces its Commencement Exercises – Wednesday evening, May twenty-second, Nineteen hundred eighteen – High School Auditorium.” The presentation consisted of music by Eva Smith, Invocation, selections by the Chorus, Oration by Richard A. Worstell, and Address by Dr. N. J. Lennes, followed by Presentation of Diplomas and Benediction. Richard chose the class colors, the Class Motto, which was “Conquering, Still to Conquer,” and the class flower, Lily of the Valley. Richard’s oration was reported to be a “well chosen and rather lengthily oration.”
Richard’s employment during the summer after graduation was working as a section hand on the railroad under Ole Blockhus. Wages for this job were 25 cents an hour. In September Richard entered Valparaiso University. The majority of his course work lay in the fields of science and mathematics.
The Carnes family was expecting another addition to the family; therefore, on the first of November they returned to Ohio for the winter. On November 16, 1918, just one week after Armistice Day, the twins were born: William Everett and Robert (Bob) Dias Carnes. The family did not return to Big Sandy, but stayed in Pittsburgh. Jane lived there and so did Ed and his family, as well as other family members. However, Ray Carnes returned to Big Sandy April 1, 1919, and immediately had the “notice of intention to make proof” on their homestead published. The improvements, including house, barn, fence, and breaking the land, were valued at $750. Affidavits were taken May 14, 1919, and his Final Certificate is dated May 16, 1919. In view of the previous dozen or so homesteads discussed, this is amazing. Ray returned to Ohio and for a time, the family made their home in Uhrichsville, Ohio, at 228 W 10th Street and then moved to Ravenna, Ohio, where they had a furniture store. Over the years, Mary’s eyes deteriorated such that by the time she died she was legally blind.
The Daily Times in New Philadelphia, Ohio, printed the following obituary:
Mrs. Mary Carnes, 66, wife of R.L. Carnes, former Uhrichsville residents, died at 6:20 last night at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Jay Peoples, 924 Bedford St., Canton, following an illness of two years.
Born in Tappan, July 15, 1883, she was a daughter of the late Thomas and Isabelle Crumley Worstell. She had been a resident of Uhrichsville until eight years ago when she moved to Canton. She was a member of the Uhrichsville Christian church and the Bethany Sunday school class of the Canton Christian church.
In addition to her husband she is survived by one daughter, at whose home she died, three sons, Charles F. Carnes, Oakland, Calif., and twin sons, William and Robert, Ravenna; one grandchild’ one sister, Mrs. L. P. Bradford, Kansas City, Mo.; two brothers, E.H. Worstell, St. Petersburg, Fla., and D.P. Worstell, Miami, Fla. Seven brothers are deceased. …
Ray Carnes moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he died, September 10, 1962.Their son Charles (Tod) married Bernice Ruth Lipkin and the family settled in California. In 1957 they were living at 672 Coventry Road, Berkeley, California, a city that was home to several Worstells. Tod died July 24, 1977, in Oakland, California.
Isabel, known as Belle, Worstell, died May 3, 1919. Information is unavailable as to where she was residing at the time. She had been unable to be very active for a number of years prior to her death. Her legs gave her considerable pain, since she had suffered from “milk leg” following several of her pregnancies, and had ulcerated varicose veins. She had borne 11 children, all healthy, and reared them to adulthood with her husband, Thomas. When Thomas died in 1895, Belle was left alone with 5 children under 20; Jane, at 10, was the youngest. Belle was 79 in 1919. Jane had been one of her main sources of care and support. Isabel also stayed with Ed and his wife Mae and their family in Pittsburgh. Isabel is buried next to Thomas in Feed Spring Cemetery.
In the spring of 1919, Frank, who resigned his postmaster’s job, was still mayor of Verona and still living in Virgelle. (Big Sandy’s first mayor resigned in March and was immediately replaced by an appointment.) Frank operated the elevator in Virgelle until the severe drought conditions forced its closure in July. On the 18th of July, he sold a lot to Charles W. and Cora T. Carnes, of Uhrichsville. These are Ray’s parents, Raymond Lee and Mary Tennessee Browning Carnes; they named their first girl, Corabelle, for the grandmothers. Then, as a growing number of people would do, Frank Worstell left Montana, expecting to be gone “indefinitely,” as he told his friends. He drove his one-ton Ford truck and headed for North Dakota and Iowa. On the way he drove through Glasgow, Montana, to visit his brother, Dias, who was now living there. (Dias’ wife may or may not have been living there with him. A couple of years later, 1921, she is recorded as being one of the two teachers in the Prairie Home country school outside of Big Sandy.)
On the 6th of October 1919, Frank bought back the property he had sold to Charles W. Carnes and his wife, Cora. The indenture was prepared in Uhrichsville, Tuscarawas County, Ohio.
Crops were a total failure in the year 1919; it was the driest year on record.The Clarence Edwards family was one family that was “starved out.” Clarence and his wife, Isabel, both homesteaded in the same Township as Mary Jones Dale. Isabel and her sister Sarah Jones came from Vermillion, South Dakota in 1912. Sarah returned to South Dakota in 1915 and deeded her homestead interest to Isabel. Isabel and Clarence lived on this homestead where they had two children, Wayne and Keith, before returning to South Dakota to farm. Unlike most who left Montana, they yearned to return, and did so in 1926.
Big Sandy survived and Gaylord remained. After nine years in Montana, Gaylord decided to take a break. In April 1919, he bought a brand new Ford from a local dealer, but he took the train for a trip east. His first destination was Atlantic City where he attended the American Medical Association convention. From there he went to Washington D.C. and visited with his many friends from his years at the Pensions Office and George Washington University as were still in the area. He returned home by way of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to visit Jane and Ed and Will. A post card dated June 19, 1919, addressed to his son Richard at 418 Sixth St., Room 309, Detroit, Mich., directed Dick to address mail to him in care of Dr. H. E. Worstell, Canton, Ohio, where he would visit his brother Emerson and wife Harriet, both favorites of his. He also wrote, “I have a return ticket over the B and O. I may run up to see you. Hope you are doing well. Very affectionately, Papa.” Ann Jean, Richard’s daughter, lacked sufficient interest in the activities of her father to learn more from her father than that he often talked about working on the assembly line for the Ford automobile company in Detroit. This was evidently during summer vacation from college. Pictures of the Ford Motor Company in Richard’s album seem to indicate this, as well. Indiana should have been on Gaylord’s list of stops as well, as he had two brothers, Alpheus and Addison, in Valparaiso. In Chicago he could have visited with Everett, and with his niece, Avis. Since he often spoke of family in Knoxville, Iowa, he may have also gone there. Or paid a call at the Cheyenne Agency in South Dakota, then stopped to see Dias in Glasgow, Montana. Now that would be a great trip!