Tuesday 1 April 2014

Old Homes and Homesteads – Part 7 – Kansas, Oklahoma and Oregon, USA and Alberta, Canada

My maternal grandfather, Edwin Miller, was born in Grant Township, Riley County, Manhattan, Kansas, on February 17, 1870. He spent his formative years in that state but moved around quite a bit over his lifetime. In 1894, together with his father, Isaac, he acquired the title for a quarter section homestead near Yukon, Canadian County, Oklahoma (Southeast of Section 11, Township 12 North, Range 5 West). On May 30, 1895 he married Martha Alwilda Jane McDaniel who had come to the area from Virginia with other family members the preceding year. I mentioned in the last post that she had been born in Lee County, Virginia.

Ed and Mattie had three children between 1896 and 1902 while living at the Yukon County farm. There was apparently some disagreement between Ed and his father as to who would ultimately own the property and, around 1903, Ed moved his family back to Kansas. They had one child while living near Grenola, Elk County, Kansas and another when they were back in Oklahoma near Verden, Grady County. The Yukon farm eventually ended up being owned by Ed’s sister, Mable Ivy Pontius.

I was fortunate to be able to visit the farm in 2005. Today it has a modern farmhouse and outbuildings on it. None of the original buildings remain. There is one concrete silo that may have been built by Ed’s father and sister.

Panoramic view of the Southeast quarter of Section 11, Township 12, Range 5 West, near Yukon, Oklahoma
Ed and Mattie learned of lands opening up in the Pacific Northwest and left by train for a new adventure there in March 1914. My mother was born in 1917 while they were in Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon. Ed was shown as a farmer there. By 1920 they were farming on another property in Deschutes County, Oregon. The census of that year says they were on homestead lands but I have not yet found documentation to confirm that.

In 1928 Ed and Mattie apparently heard from her sister in Alberta, Canada that farm lands were opening up through the Canadian Pacific Railway. Ed purchased a quarter section of land from the railway (Southeast of Section 5, Township 28, Range 26, West of the 4th Meridian) near Irricana, Alberta, and leased another quarter just to the east. He later built a small home on the property.

Ed farmed the Irricana property until his death on November 2, 1953. Mattie died just over two years later, on February 4, 1956. The farm is still fondly remembered as a place where we grandchildren spent parts of many summer vacations.

Ed, Mattie and daughter Norma at the Irricana home in 1933. Exterior was not yet finished and had just a tar paper cover.
Ed and Mattie, on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, celebrated at their Irricana home, shown with the family of Norma, Bill, Lynn and Sharon Shepheard. The author was born just six months later. Ed had added a window to the front of the home by then and the exterior was finished with clapboard siding.
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.