This history of Kremlin Homesteader Frank Barden was part of a group of histories of early Kremlin Homesteaders based on interviews and compiled in 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial.
Kremlin Homesteader Frank Barden was among the earliest arriving
Kremlin homesteaders on March 19, 1910.
Alfred Barden married Lucinda Bombarger. They lived near Massillon, Ohio. They had several children, one of them whose name was Frank. Frank was born on December 21, 1867.
Frank Barden married Lena Moelhman of Lafayette, Indiana on January 15, 1896. She was the daughter of Herman and Gertrude Moelhman.
To this union was born Alfred John Barden on December 22, 1898 at Lafayette Indiana. Alfred was baptized in St. Boniface Catholic Church of Lafayette. Frank and Lena also raised a niece, Maud Hetzner.
On March 19, 1910, the Frank Barden family arrived in Kremlin, Montana and settled on their homestead 4½ miles northwest of Kremlin. [E½ Section 14/Township 33-N, Range 12-E]
Several other families arrived about the same time. One family was Edward and Ida Templeman. Mr. Barden helped the Templemans build their house. Then the Templemans asked the Bardens to live with them in their new home until Mr. Barden could get the Barden house built.
The Templemans had 5 children, Delbert, Laverne, Ethel, Jess and Levita. It was rather crowded but they managed to get along. Each family helped the other as to food, work and equipment which was scarce.
After the Bardens got their house built they moved furniture from Illinois where they formerly lived. In those days beans were the main food. There was no butter for quite awhile. There were rocks to take off the fields. They built a stone boat and used horses to pull that.
When fall came there were no school buses to haul the children, so they either walked or rode bikes. Earl McNight gave Alfred his bike. When it got too stormy the children didn't go to school. At that time people had to be rugged to survive.
Alfred John Barden continued to live on the Kremlin ranch after his parents were both gone. On October 5, 1953 he married Evalyn Hood from Crown Point, Indiana at Springfield, Tennessee. They lived on the ranch until March 10, 1957, when they moved to one mile south of Florence, Montana on a small ranch.
This history of Kremlin Homesteader Frank Barden was written by his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Alfred J. Barden. It was in the form of a letter sent to Mrs. Joe Hollingshead, who was working with other Kremlin folks putting together a Kremlin History for the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976.
Florence, Montana, September 6, 1976
Dear Ms. Hollingshead,
Since I last wrote you my husband, Alfred J. Barden died on April 16, 1976, so now all he knew about the Kremlin area back in those early days has gone except some things he has told me. I'll try and remember them and tell you a few.
Yes, we both know Roy Good, Harry Cadys, Laurel Wrights, the Brumbaughs and many more. The James Laughnan family was a close neighbor just west of the Barden ranch. Norton Johnson family lived just east and the Haugen families on the north. The Bardens owned the ranch now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dean Hanson.
March 10, 1910, Frank and Lena Barden arrived at the ranch just north and west of Kremlin about ½ miles. They shipped furniture from Indiana.
With them were their son Alfred John Barden and a niece of Mr. Bardens whose name was Maud Hetzner. Maud later married Ben Kenney and then moved to Hemet, California. Alfred J. married a widow, Evelyn Hood from Crown Point, Indiana on October 5, 1953. On March 10, 1957, he and his wife moved to Florence, Montana.
About the time the Barden family moved to Kremlin there wasn't many there. The Barden ranch didn't have any buildings so Mr. Barden helped the Templeman family to get their cabin built then both families lived together until Bardens got their cabin built. The families were rather crowded as the cabins in those days were not large. Good old beans was one of the foods they had plenty of.
One problem was where to get good water. Bardens had to haul water from a coulee south of the house. Then they built a cistern and hauled water from Kremlin. Later they put down a deep well that produced soda water but it was usable.
It was a very hard life. All plowing was done with horses and walking behind plows. Lots of sore feet that had to be soaked at night. Mother (Lena) Barden did all she could to help. Put out a big garden and canned and dried food for the winter. There was times during the winter all were snow bound for days.
Frank Barden and son Alfred got jobs on railroad. Alfred was a fireman until 1929, when he went back to the ranch. But those years of work helped them get started with milk cows and machinery.
In the early days the priest used to have several churches they had to serve so traveled by train. The priest came to Kremlin and there the Bardens attended church.
Jim Casey carried mail when the roads were passable. Many times the Bardens would have to go and get him out of snow drifts. Mail was delivered by horse and sled in the winter. Many times Jim walked and carried the mail. In those days letters were scarce. No papers so news only got around when someone would go to Havre and bring back the news.
Well, maybe this isn't much news for you but hope I've helped some. Frank and Lena Barden are both buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Havre and Alfred is buried in Hebron, Indiana. Maud Kenney is buried in Hemet, California. Lena Barden died May 5,1953. Frank Barden died on October 8, 1941. Frank and Lena were born in Ohio and Indiana.
Mrs. Alfred J Barden