Kremlin Homesteader John Brumbaugh, 1910

This history of Kremlin Homesteader John Brumbaugh was written by his daughter, Sarah Williams.

Kremlin Homesteader John Brumbaugh was among the earliest arriving
Kremlin homesteaders in 1910.

John Aaron Brumbaugh, my father, filed on 320 acres of land in the Kremlin area in 1910. [S½ Section 23/Township 34-N, Range 11-E] He was a native of Pennsylvania but had emigrated to North Dakota in the late 1800's. The intriguing idea of free land resulted in emigrating on to Montana.

His family followed to Montana in 1911. The family consisted of his wife, Magnolia, and three children: Sarah, Henry, and Paul. We had a 12'X 14' homestead shack. Early days were challenging. Schools, church affiliations, and the business of making a living were some of the main items on the agenda.

My father was one of the first census takers in Hill County. He traveled many miles on horse back seeking out the homestead shacks from Sage Creek on the west, across the Milk River to the Canadian line, to the east to the Cottonwood area and south to the railroad track.

Church of the Brethren Begins

My father was a minister so of course the establishing of a church congregation was one of his interests. A cluster of members of the Church of the Brethren had also emigrated to this locality, so meeting services were soon established in the homes of this area.

Some of the members consisted of names well known to this country: Meeks, Wood, Miller, Stayer, Garver, Smith, Brubaker, Yoder, Nutter, Wolff, Phyzmer, Weaver, Rogers, Ullerys, Good, and Brumbaugh.

My father soon started a larger house and when completed, services were held here until a church building was erected about 1918. This group consisted of the community neighbors walking as far as five miles to Sunday School and Church.

Daily Living

I remember several things that were in the plan of daily living:

Our friends came from Minnesota to homestead, but they had to build before they could have a place to stay. They set up a tent along side of our homestead shack and we all ate together. My mother had a four hole laundry stove with the round oven in the stove pipe. This was the cooking area for about eleven of us. Mother baked bread for all of us in this oven.

We had to travel by team and wagon. I remember one time I went with my father to a neighbor's and we didn't come home till after dark. There were no fences or many roads either yet, just trails. My father got lost. He couldn't understand why the horses wanted to go the WRONG way, and tried to make them go a different way but finally he decided he was lost so he let the horses have their way and we arrived home.

The farming was a struggle in those days. The elements took their toll. 1916 was a good year but hail wiped out the crop. Temperature wise the weather played an important part. On some days 63 degrees below, we had frost inches thick on our shack's windows. Can you imagine taking a hot iron and melting a place to see out?

Speaking of this, my father used to hold the lantern to the window so we kids could see the "ferns" on the window. How he gave of himself on those cold nights, even for such little things as that, it was fun for us. This shows what ingenuity people had for entertainment. I remember of singing at night and Oh how grand it was when we got our Edison cylinder record phonograph.

We used our home talent to form a literary society. It was held in the Spring Coulee School east of our place. We had lots of enjoyment (and incidentally got educated too) at these Friday night get togethers.

Water Was a Problem

Water was another problem. Mr. Huber was a well driller in the 1915-1916 era. He was a very welcome man in our community. We had to drill to 298 feet for water. It wasn't good for cooking or drinking use, but we hauled water for those purposes from a shallow well that was dug by hand on our neighbors land, it was about 12 feet deep.

The shallow well was on the Vern Smith homestead was a modern time Jacobs well in this community. It was dug by hand by neighbors with windlass and bucket. Most wells in this area are rather deep, some as much as 200 feet.

People from miles around hauled water from the shallow well. It never seemed to give out. It was pumped dry but soon could get more. These wells (there were more in the area) were few but valued, as the deeper wells had too many minerals.

The Smallpox Epidemic of 1914

The diseases that were contracted was a serious thing for the early settlers. We all appreciated Dr. Husser from Hingham and Dr. Hopkins of Gildford.

The small pox epidemic in 1914 was a scary thing. Quarantine was necessary. Neighbors would come and do chores, and then leave any messages, milk, etc. at a designated place well away from the home of the sick.

A neighbor of ours who had had the small pox left her home and came and stayed with us, as my mother was one of those who had the disease the worst.

My baby brother William was born after this time and our neighbor just stayed on as she was a midwife also. These women were almost indispensable as we were too far from hospitals and doctors.

There was one fatality in our area during this epidemic, a school class mate. My father took care of the funeral arrangements.

Farming and "Cook Cars"

The harvesting and also the tilling of the soil posed a problem, but was alleviated when the big Rumely tractors with nine plows came upon the scene and the threshing machines with cook cars to take care of the harvest. The man of the community, after the grain was cut with binders would gather together with bundle teams to feed the separator.

That many men, 20 to 25 in number, necessitated a cook car, with a lady in charge and hopefully with a "flunky" to help out. You can imagine the early hours getting the teams ready and the men fed, but it was damp most mornings so they had time.This necessitated late hours at night for the cook.

Then came the header pulled with six horses and the header box, a wagon with a rack needed a loader too. We stacked the grain which helped too in the threshing. Now we have the combines.

My father was one of the many ministers who served in the days of the "Free Ministry". There were many occasions when he was called to do church related functions, and the church family came in and helped with farming and other duties that needed to be done, for which my father and his family were really appreciative.

The years 1918 and 1919 were dry years and caused many homesteaders to leave and either go "back home" or on west.

Two schools played an important part in the lives of the settlers: one called Dist. No. 35 and the other the Spring Coulee School.

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