Vernell II

Vernell and Warren 1917

Vernell and Warren 1917

Aunt Ester, Aunt Maud and Uncle Joe were going to school. I wanted to go too. Although I wouldn’t be six until April, they got permission from the teacher to let me come so I rode old Buck to school. Miss Pack was our teacher… The Stone Schoolhouse was built of boards and painted a gray-blue. It had two big rooms, grades to 5th in one and to 8th in the other. It had a belfry tower on top with a big bell that could be heard all over the valley.

The next year I started to school at Nelson. The building there was made of logs. The stovepipe was so close to the ridge pole it would catch on fire and we had to run out and get snow to throw on it. School had been going two weeks before my folks found out. When my Mom took me over, the teacher, Dora Sexton, tried to get me to catch up with the other kids. One day she had me up at her desk and I guess I wasn't doing so well with the questions she asked so she hit me with the long pointer stick. I decided I had to do something because my Dad had told me if I got a licking in school I’d get another when I got home! So the next day when I started to school, I camped out for a week before anyone knew of it. (instead of going to school).

Vernell on horse

I was the only one who rode a horse to school. All the other kids lived closer than two miles. I was envied by the others and some of the kids were always trying to figure out a way to get a ride on my horse. But, I wouldn't let them. Soon, they got to offering me things like fancy colored marbles. One time Johnny Palmer offered me a genuine wooden whistle. I didn’t know what a genuine wooden whistle was, but for a half mile ride up the road that genuine whistle could be mine.

It wasn't long before my Dad wanted to know where I was getting all those extra treasures. By this time the teacher had observed what I was doing and tried to make me stop. When I didn’t she called me into the little room where the girls hung their coats, and gave me a choice; I could stay one hour after school for a week or she would use a strap with a buckle on it on me. Well, I chose to stay in after school. I could explain that better than the marks a strap with a buckle on the end would make.

One day my Dad had me ride Mollie, a roan mare, to school. She was just a three year old and not completely broken. One of the kids offered me an enticement I couldn’t turn down. So, I got this kid on behind me and we immediately got bucked off. The teacher saw this and the next morning she said, “Now do you know what I mean?”

The kids were all outside when I untied and mounted my horse to ride home. They kept after me to let him run. They wanted to see how fast he would go, so I showed them. My horse had been standing all day and he wanted to see how fast he would go, so I showed them. My horse had been standing all day and he wanted to run. It soon got so he wouldn’t wait for me to get on He would start racing as soon as I raised off the ground and just as I got a foot in the stirrup. Then, I would pull myself up until I could let go of the saddle strings and grab hold of the saddle horn.

One day when this happened, Buck was racing down the road and I was hanging on the side of the saddle working my way up, when the mailman was driving up the road and saw a horse running with someone hanging on his side. He thought I was in trouble and pulled his team off the road. His plan was to jump from his buggy and stop the runaway. But, by the time I got to him I was up in the saddle, so I gave him a big wave as I went by. The next day he told my folks and that ended that.

Vernell on billy

Vernell on Billy 1917

Vernell and Warren Vanderhoof

Vernell and Warren

One summer, Uncle Jess, Dad’s older brother was short handed at the stock yards in Ogden. He sent a letter saying that if Dad would come and help him, he would return the favor and work for him later on, paying him back. It wasn’t a good deal because our plowing had to be done in the spring and early summer. Then it needed to be farmed, harrowed, weeded and then planted in the fall for a crop the following year. It took a lot of work.

Mom did her best to try to get him not to go, but Dad said that we boys could do the plowing and he would be back to help with the harvest. So, off to Ogden he went. I was about eight years old and Harold was six.

We did pretty good when Dad was there to harness the horses and keep the plow shears sharp.

Not long after he left, one of the horses decided that it did not want to be bridled. I could get the bit in her mouth, but I was too short to reach her ears and get the head stall over back of the ears. She would throw her head and knock me down. Mom came over and tried, but by then the horse knew she had us bluffed. This was a horse I had to work and I could do nothing until I could figure out how to get her bridled. If I didn’t go to work, then Harold wouldn’t. Harold had three horses that he worked on the small 14 inch plow while I had the larger 16 inch with four horses.

After a while I took a couple of ham straps and made some additional holes in it, then put the bit onto the halter. I could put the halter on without touching the ears, so I was able to put it on her and snap it onto the cheek strap on the other side. (I hope you can understand what I am saying.) We missed a couple of days work while I figured that out, but then we got going again.

That same week John Hawks and Elsie had to leave on some kind of a business trip and left their five kids with us. They were Dora, William, Nellie, Ardon, Larwin. So Mom had them to be responsible for along with me, Harold, Edd, Jessie, Cleo and a new baby. The Hawk’s went on their merry way and those couple of days lasted three weeks. The children could not help, but they did hinder us a lot. They wanted to play.

Part of the 100 acres were plowed before Dad left, but we had the rest to get finished before Dad got home.

I would take our small wagon and go out into the sage brush ¼ mile from the house taking my ax and cup up enough to keep the cook stove going. If I could find dead dry sage, it wasn’t so bad, but the green sage was tough and hard to cut. The wagon was actually a toy, but it was big enough to haul all that two of us boys could pull. It was built like Dad’s big Studebaker wagon with the box we could take off just like his.

Meanwhile, the plow shears were starting to get dull and we were having a hard time making the blades plow. The land was getting too dry because of no rain. Most of the time we did all right, but sometimes we hit hard spots and the plow would jump out of the ground and go quite a ways just scraping the ground. It wasn’t a good job of plowing.

Finally, Ma and Pa Hawks came and took their kids. What a relief for Mom. A month had passed and no word or letter came from Dad. Several more weeks passed with still no word. Imagine what Mom was going through.

One day, Uncle Joe came. Grandma Lerona was worried, too. When Joe was getting ready to leave, Mom gave him some money to call one of his sisters. But, just a little later, we could hear someone coming down the road from the north. We couldn’t see anyone but Mom recognized Dad’s voice. She told me to get on my horse and see if I could catch Uncle Joe. I caught up with him and he rode back with me.

Dad had taken the train to Malad and then got a ride with someone from the valley.

One cold, winter day my Dad and I were driving a bunch of horses from one place to another where they could find more dry grass. We were about half way up a broad, steep, rocky ridge where most of the snow had blown off. We were leading our horses and driving the others very slowly up the hill. We could hear howling down in the canyon, on the other side of a patch of timber. From time to time we could hear answers from different places in the mountains above us. In a little while a gray form came over the ridge, then another and another; seven in all. Dad said they were wolves and evidently the one down in the timber had found something to eat and was calling the others to join him. They came on down the hill and passed within 20 feet of us and never even looked our way.

One night, about twilight, I was riding along the north shore of the ponds. There had been a band of sheep in there all summer. I felt one of my stirrups come loose. I got off my horse to fix it and found that the lacing that holds the stirrup leather had come untied and let the stirrup slip. I got it tightened and was about to knot it when I had a prickly feeling on the back of my neck. Without looking around I got back on the horse and leaned down to tie that lacing—and there, standing not three feet away from my boot tracks, was the biggest coyote, or wolf, I had ever see. I rode off without rechecking as I was suddenly in a big hurry. To this day I can’t tell you if it was a wild animal or a big dog, but it looked fierce enough to me to have been a mountain lion!


Dad was in a corral at the stockyards when a loco horse came running across the corral from behind, hitting him and knocking him half way across the corral. He was taken to a hospital, unconscious. He was in the hospital for three weeks and came home as soon as he could.

One of Dad's sisters was supposed to call and tell us. We didn’t have a phone, so they would have had to call the store ten miles away. If they did, we never got the message.

Uncle Jess came after the harvest and thrashing was over, just in time to help me get started on the grain drill. We would fill the grain drill box about twelve feet and go a couple of rounds then fill it again. He gave me a lecture on how I had to be the man of the place. He stayed three days and then he was gone.

The seed had to be treated in a fifty gallon barrel with water and blue viteral to kill the smut germs. If it wasn’t done, the kernels would turn to black powder (no good). Dad fixed a tripod over the barrel and fastened a block and tackle to the top, tie a small rope around top of a gunny sack, then let it soak for a few minutes, pull it out to let the water drain out. Then repeat it until all the grain was done. The following year I had to do this, treating the grain, as we called it, myself.