Sunday Stories - Memories of B.C. Huffman, Part 3

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

Taken from “Stuckey and Huffman Cousins” By Opal Streiff

Good and Bad Saddles

B.C.’s first saddle was a Cogshell made with no swells. He sold it to Walter Bricker, a cousin. Second, he bought a three quarter rig Cogshell. He sure didn’t like THAT thing and sold it. Third – he bought a Mueller saddle with a Tipton Tree. This one he liked so well that as the leather gave way, he had the tree recovered twice, using this saddle until he quit riding a horse. This saddle is now in the Tri-State Old Cowboys Museum at Gordon, Nebraska, where he placed it along with other regalia.

Purchases 1909

The records show that B.C. bought a Top Buggy. He had a team and harness. Ira used it more than B.C. did. Then Frank and Edmund got to driving around the country so the ranch just bought it along with the team and harness.

The ranch bought a cook stove, meat grinder, lard press and a big black kettle all for $32.12. They bough three O.K. Windmills for $100.00. In 1910 they paid Howard Pinkerton $20.50 for butter which they had gotten from him during the spring, summer and winter up to February.

March 6, 1914 the ranch bought a new South Bend Cook Stove from Derryberry and Forbes in North Platte for $62.00. They used it in the sod house at Lamunyon Flats until B.C. got his home built in 1917 when he bought it from the ranch, using it until 1940.

From Ledger

(Kept by Ed Huffman beginning 1909)

Bird C. Huffman was working for $30 a month and with this he bought during 1909, a slicker for $3.00, overalls $1.25, Odd Fellow dues $1.00, Montgomery Ward bill $11.21, Hyers for boots $7.59, watch from Montgomery Ward $9.60, and a team that he bought from the company. In 1910 he paid $10.20 for his calf coat, rope $.60, boots $8.09 and some corn for his team. During haying he drew for the work of his team as well as wages.

“Mill Camp”

The Huffmans leased Mill Camp from Russell Fowles in February 1907 and held the lease for six years. He lived in North Platte and in 1911 he offered to sell the land to them for $25,000. Ed and Ira’s went to Broken Bow to see about buying the land and instead came home with around $4,000 worth of horses. Bird and Ira E. were plum disgusted that they used the amount of the down payment for horses. They could see the value of Mill Camp to their operations, but of course they were just kids and their ideas didn’t carry much weight with the elders.

The company bought mules costing within a range of $70 to $140 each. Some were shipped to Iowa and sold. On February 18, 1913 they sold two carloads of horses, mules and colts which netted them $3782.50, the place of sale was farm, Knoxville, Iowa (60 head).

Fleas and More Fleas

At Baldy Valley, Edmund built sod house, barn, chicken house and a cooling house with a double wall all around. The fleas were so thick the kids would roll up their pan legs, walk into the barn and a few minutes our legs would be black with fleas. They would kill them by the hundreds but there were millions left.

B.C. said the fleas were even in the grass miles from people or livestock. After the water table raised over most of the Sandhills and lakes were formed, the fleas seemed to just disappear.

Telephone Lines

In May, 1907, Huffmans built a line between the Swan Lake place and Lamunyon Flats Ranch. Several of the people living along the sixteen mile distance wanted to hook on the line as the years wen tby. Harry Pinkerton was one of the first to do so.

In 1910, the Kinkaid Line from Sutherland to the Foster place was built. A switch was put in at Fosters. This connected the Huffman line and the branch that went to Eclipse at the Tucker Ranch, to Sutherland. The next year, 1911, the people north and west of Eclipse Post Office wanted the line extended to them and go on north to Hecla. So a goodly amount of material was figured, ordered and shipped in to Helca. Getting this material hauled and the line built took a lot of labor. Shares were sold in the line then an additional assessment was made to complete the project.

Weather Signs

My father, Edmund, always watched the wind on March 18, 19 and 20th and on September 18, 19 and 20th to see what the next six months weather would be. Father said the dry year of 1890, he watched the March days. In the morning the wind would be in the south and would stay there until the middle of the afternoon and there would be some clouds come up in the northwest looking like we were going to get some rain. Then the wind would shift into the west and the clouds would be alo gone. All three days it did this and the same pattern all of the summer, in a southerly direction.

Another sign to watch is – Wherever the wind is on the first day of January, that’s were it will prevail the next 40 days, and won’t be out of that direction over 24 hours at one time. This has proved out this winter (1964). I watched it to see.

John Streiff told me about a fog sign that an elderly friend in Elm Creek had told him. Whenever there is a fog, in 103 days you will have moisture. I kept track of that last winter (1962-63) and run that thing over this summer and I marked it out when we were to have these rains and it hit almost on the dot. Sometimes it would be a day ahead and sometimes a day behind that we would have rain. This was the first time I had ever particularly checked on it to see.

If it rains in February, it will be a dry summer.

END – March 12, 1964
B.C. Huffman speaking on tape


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