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Lloyd and Mattie McClurg's Story

                   


THE COURTSHIP OF LLOYD AND MATTIE


As told by Lloyd and Mattie McClurg (Written by Mattie.) 


We school children patriotically wore the Cuban flag pins especially after Hobson sank the Maine. I remember thrilling to the romance of a Scranton young man who returned from the Spanish American War. His young bride walked beside him down main street while the band played and crowds cheered. The Illinois picnic was the annual big event for Green County. So many people of the community were natives of Illinois.

During high school years I worked for my room and board. I stayed in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Lewis of Scranton, Iowa as my mother had moved farther from town. While staying with Mrs. Lewis, a dedicated Methodist, I was coerced into joining the Methodist Church. (Years later, Lloyd would mention in passing that he was nearly thrown out of the Iowa McClurg clan for marrying a Methodist.)

The graduating class of Scranton High consisted of thirteen very sophisticated young people in 1905. My dress was of white silk mull -- very thin with a slip or rather corset cover and petticoat combined underneath. Shoulder straps of blue showed through the dress, a terribly bold arrangement in those days. I wore a blue ribbon on my graduation hat. I was proud of that hat. It was called a "shadow picture hat.

My high school diploma was 18 x 122 inches in size. Sometimes they were framed by proud parents and hung in the parlor. It was given to the graduate in a roll tied with class colored ribbons. Everyone was given one, but if grades were not satisfactory, it was not signed.

Having graduated from high school in June, by attending a ten day normal institute in July held in Jefferson, taking the examinations and passing them, I was eligible for a county certificate. However, because I was not yet 18 years old, only 16, they could not legally issue my certificate, but a school board could hire me. So I began teaching in September, 1905. I had twenty-six pupils at a salary of $26.00 a month for fall, winter and spring terms. After each term, a teacher either renewed her agreement or was not offered one. Among my pupils were my own brother, Clifford Rhoades and Alma Baker, who later married my brother Oscar. During our courtship, Lloyd trained two horses to follow the opposite of commands, whoa and giddy-up. This was to impress the audience. One day, he challenged a fellow to a race and when they got lined up ready to go, he yelled, Whoa! His horses started out fast while the opponents horses halted and Lloyd won the race.

He usually carried a little book together with a stub pencil, (in which he) sometime copied jokes or wise sayings. Sometime the small book became a diary. Once he was the clerk at a box supper. There in was his records of the sales of 20 young men vying to buy the prettiest girl's box. The lowest price paid was $.25 while the highest went for $2.85, paid by Charlie Raaz. Lloyd paid $1.62 for a box lunch. (She didn't say if it was her lunch.)         

The Chicago North Western Railroad went across a small tunnel built large enough for a horse and wagon to go underneath the railroad tracks. We called it the arch. It was built of carefully laid rock, some of which was placed there by Uncle Charlie Wright, the man who married Lloyd's sister. The arch became our favorite courting place. The bridge over the Coon River was also a favorite place with the free flowing water and tall trees.

In l908, (nine months before they married) Lloyd's brother wrote him of the many advantages to be found in relocating to Colorado. He was advised that all he would need to buy after arriving was two horses. In those days, some people were relinquishing their land and it could be bought at a reasonable price, such as 80 acres for $250.00.


Lloyd wrote a letter (to) the preacher for an appointment for he and I to be married. We thought we had to be married by a church of Christ preacher as Lloyd had been taught they were the only religious group that were certain to do the correct thing. The preacher, W. G. Roberts, wrote back saying he had an opening to see him after the third Sunday of September. We started early in the morning from home to drive to Rippley, about 15 miles. Dave, my brother, and mother rode with us in the McClurg surrey. When the marriage ceremony was performed, my brother Dave and my new brother-in-law L. G. Anderson signed the certificate. My wedding dress was white with a lace yoke in it. It required twelve yards of white linen, floor length, with long puffy sleeves, and cuffs and collar of lace to match. The skirt had 16 gores (sewed pleats). I later died it black to make a slip and lining for two little coats, one for each of my two daughters, Nedra and Inez. Lloyd's tie was white, his suit was brown, his shirt front was finely tucked or pleated. Charivari crowds of men and boys, only, came to mother's that night. After so much noise - in which my mother took part by banging the drop leaves of the dinning table against the table legs - Lloyd invited them in and passed cigars -- no candy. Many of them I never saw before. Even Lloyd did not know all of them. Mother cried terribly hard all during the wedding ceremony. The impression of that incident has never left me. Regrettably, I was still bound by my teaching certificate and from that eventful day, the twenty-third of September, Lloyd and I stayed in the parental McClurg home. We were planning to go to Colorado to make our home in the winter. Lloyd sold his horses, buggy, harness, corn and even his fur coat -- we wouldn't need it in so mild a climate. He had about a thousand dollars to start homemaking on.

(Written by Lloyd) My wife and I were influenced to journey westward both by my father's longing to know Colorado intimately and by the fact that my brother Bury liked the prospective future possibilities of the Western Slope of the Colorado in Agriculture.

It was beginning to be quite a competitive incident in Greene County, Iowa -- the corn and hog county of the nation -- for a young man to set up his own outfit for farming there. So after our marriage in September and the completion of my corn harvest, we set out to the west planning to take up land under the Gunnison Tunnel Project -- the first completed irrigation project under the newly enacted Reclamation Act.

Coming away from the rich black soil region of Iowa to the barren arid soil covered by spotty groups of sage brush, the prospect of future sustenance didn't look too rosy to my wife. In fact, she often said she was homesick -- for twenty-five years. I have frequently admitted there were times when I would have gone back to the midwest again.
Drinking water was hauled several miles in a large barrel, or sometimes, a milk can. Other water for domestic use was created by dipping the muddy water from the irrigation ditch and allowing it to settle before using. We arrived by train in Olathe, Colorado and were met by Bury and Bell on January 26, 1909. It had been raining and winter snows were melting. The mud was a gooey yellow gray adobe. There were no sidewalks, not even the usual cinder track-bed under foot as we stepped from the train. We had come that day from Salida, Colorado starting at 2:00 a.m. by Narrow Gage Train. 

As I remember, Narrow Gage Passenger trains were four and one half feet inside width. It required twelve hours to come over Marshall Pass with two engines on front pulling and two behind pushing. This pass was abandoned by the railway about ten years later, as also, did all the Narrow Gage railroads begin to leave the mountain scenes. I guess we were two wide-eyed youngsters as we viewed the mountains for the first time.


(In a postcard to his mother-in-law, Lloyd wrote:) September 9, 1909, Dear Mother, We are all well and doing fine. We are at Paonia, picking and packing peaches. Mattie is all right. She packed 110 boxes yesterday at .02 cents a box. I have worked most of the time at .25 cents per hour. We will go back home in about ten days. It is nice weather now, but has been raining and snowed in the mountains. I did not work today but Mattie is. I have a sore arm that bothers me some picking. Will commence in the morning again. Well, good-by. Lloyd. (A letter from Mattie to her mother.)July 9, 1910, Dear Momma,

Lloyd borrowed $60.00 from the Olathe Banking Company at 1% per month until maturity was paid and 10% attorneys fees if not paid at maturity. (Years later, Mattie made this entry in the McClurg family journal) This note was made to pay for a pretty team of buck skin mares. This team had worked on the highline canal but they were too small (so were sold). Lloyd and Lester had a considerable pasture for rent and the horses found themselves enjoying sweet clover and morning glories. The sweet clover proved fatal to one of the horses and it died the day after we bought the team. She died of impaction of the stomach. In December the other one died from drinking alkali water when too warm. Lloyd had sold Little Fay (their only other horse) for $175.00. That, of course, paid this note. We learned a very expensive lesson. Borrowed $100.00 from Olathe at 12% interest until paid. Bankers were very careful about loans, when there were so many new people in a new country. Taxes paid to County treasure was $2.25, on September 30, 1912. Paid $65.00 to Toothacre for a cow so small they called her a watch charm. (Author's note: Lloyd and Mattie McClurg had four children and remained in the Delta/Olathe area the rest of their lives. At their 50th Wedding anniversary celebration, Mattie proudly displayed their marriage certificate for all to see -- only to find the Preacher neglected to sign it.                              



Lloyd wrote a letter (to) the preacher for an appointment for he and I to be married. We thought we had to be married by a church of Christ preacher as Lloyd had been taught they were the only religious group that were certain to do the correct thing. The preacher, W. G. Roberts, wrote back saying he had an opening to see him after the third Sunday of September. We started early in the morning from home to drive to Rippley, about 15 miles. Dave, my brother, and mother rode with us in the McClurg surrey. When the marriage ceremony was performed, my brother Dave and my new brother-in-law L. G. Anderson signed the certificate. My wedding dress was white with a lace yoke in it. It required twelve yards of white linen, floor length, with long puffy sleeves, and cuffs and collar of lace to match. The skirt had 16 gores (sewed pleats). I later died it black to make a slip and lining for two little coats, one for each of my two daughters, Nedra and Inez. Lloyd's tie was white, his suit was brown, his shirt front was finely tucked or pleated. Charivari crowds of men and boys, only, came to mother's that night. After so much noise - in which my mother took part by banging the drop leaves of the dinning table against the table legs - Lloyd invited them in and passed cigars -- no candy. Many of them I never saw before. Even Lloyd did not know all of them. Mother cried terribly hard all during the wedding ceremony. The impression of that incident has never left me. Regrettably, I was still bound by my teaching certificate and from that eventful day, the twenty-third of September, Lloyd and I stayed in the parental McClurg home. We were planning to go to Colorado to make our home in the winter. Lloyd sold his horses, buggy, harness, corn and even his fur coat -- we wouldn't need it in so mild a climate. He had about a thousand dollars to start homemaking on.

(Written by Lloyd) My wife and I were influenced to journey westward both by my father's longing to know Colorado intimately and by the fact that my brother Bury liked the prospective future possibilities of the Western Slope of the Colorado in Agriculture.

It was beginning to be quite a competitive incident in Greene County, Iowa -- the corn and hog county of the nation -- for a young man to set up his own outfit for farming there. So after our marriage in September and the completion of my corn harvest, we set out to the west planning to take up land under the Gunnison Tunnel Project -- the first completed irrigation project under the newly enacted Reclamation Act.

Coming away from the rich black soil region of Iowa to the barren arid soil covered by spotty groups of sage brush, the prospect of future sustenance didn't look too rosy to my wife. In fact, she often said she was homesick -- for twenty-five years. I have frequently admitted there were times when I would have gone back to the midwest again.
Drinking water was hauled several miles in a large barrel, or sometimes, a milk can. Other water for domestic use was created by dipping the muddy water from the irrigation ditch and allowing it to settle before using. We arrived by train in Olathe, Colorado and were met by Bury and Bell on January 26, 1909. It had been raining and winter snows were melting. The mud was a gooey yellow gray adobe. There were no sidewalks, not even the usual cinder track-bed under foot as we stepped from the train. We had come that day from Salida, Colorado starting at 2:00 a.m. by Narrow Gage Train. 

As I remember, Narrow Gage Passenger trains were four and one half feet inside width. It required twelve hours to come over Marshall Pass with two engines on front pulling and two behind pushing. This pass was abandoned by the railway about ten years later, as also, did all the Narrow Gage railroads begin to leave the mountain scenes. I guess we were two wide-eyed youngsters as we viewed the mountains for the first time.


(In a postcard to his mother-in-law, Lloyd wrote:) September 9, 1909, Dear Mother, We are all well and doing fine. We are at Paonia, picking and packing peaches. Mattie is all right. She packed 110 boxes yesterday at .02 cents a box. I have worked most of the time at .25 cents per hour. We will go back home in about ten days. It is nice weather now, but has been raining and snowed in the mountains. I did not work today but Mattie is. I have a sore arm that bothers me some picking. Will commence in the morning again. Well, good-by. Lloyd. (A letter from Mattie to her mother.)July 9, 1910, Dear Momma,

Lloyd borrowed $60.00 from the Olathe Banking Company at 1% per month until maturity was paid and 10% attorneys fees if not paid at maturity. (Years later, Mattie made this entry in the McClurg family journal) This note was made to pay for a pretty team of buck skin mares. This team had worked on the highline canal but they were too small (so were sold). Lloyd and Lester had a considerable pasture for rent and the horses found themselves enjoying sweet clover and morning glories. The sweet clover proved fatal to one of the horses and it died the day after we bought the team. She died of impaction of the stomach. In December the other one died from drinking alkali water when too warm. Lloyd had sold Little Fay (their only other horse) for $175.00. That, of course, paid this note. We learned a very expensive lesson. Borrowed $100.00 from Olathe at 12% interest until paid. Bankers were very careful about loans, when there were so many new people in a new country. Taxes paid to County treasure was $2.25, on September 30, 1912. Paid $65.00 to Toothacre for a cow so small they called her a watch charm. (Author's note: Lloyd and Mattie McClurg had four children and remained in the Delta/Olathe area the rest of their lives. At their 50th Wedding anniversary celebration, Mattie proudly displayed their marriage certificate for all to see -- only to find the Preacher neglected to sign it. 
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