Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 38

          Farming in Colorado was not quite the same as in Michigan. Irrigation made the great difference, but my brother Thomas and I were willing to take a chance at it and learn the new methods. For the present we continued our jobs with the hay, and on one of my trips to Denver I was present when two beautiful bells were received from St. Louis for religious purposes in Denver. One of these bells was for the Catholic church and is now in use at Holy Ghost church there. It was a fine bell and in the clear atmosphere of that day it was heard at places on the mountain slppes [slopes] 14 miles away. The other was for the Sisters’ Convent of Loretto and is still used in their new academy to call the hours and exercises for the Sisters. I recall that it cost $505 to bring them from St. Louis to Denver. They reached Denver by ox wagon. Father Machebeuf was too ill to bless the bells, so that ceremony was performed by Father Raverdy assisted by Father Thomas A Smith, pastor of Central City, who also preached on the occasion. Two of my brothers, Martin and James, built a crib of logs about ten feet high in front of the church and upon this the big bell was installed and remained until the church was enlarged and a tower built some 4 years later.

          When ready to move to our ranch home I hitched four of our horses to a wagon and loading it with hay started to Denver, intending to go by the way of the ranch, unload my hay and leave two of the horses on pasture until wanted. The way was new to me and not much traveled but the general direction was plain. It happened that on the day before my going the expected supply of provisions failed to arrive, and all I could find for my journey was four small biscuits. If you recall the story of the man who ate “sixteen biscuits all but four” at one meal you will have an idea of the supply of provender. The first day I did not meet a house, and at night I camped beside a small river (the Big Thompson) secured my horses, ate two of my biscuits and slept under my load. Early the next morning I harnessed my horses, ate my two remaining biscuits and set out on my way.

          Several miles farther on I came to a house, but seeing no one, and not being very hungry, I kept on, expecting to get breakfast at some other house. The other house, however, did not appear until long in the afternoon when my hunger had passed away and I was in sight of my destination. At the ranch I did not make known my plight but accepted a watermelon which I did not eat, but unloaded my hay and proceeded to Denver, eight miles away, arriving with a headache about six o’clock, where my mother made me a good cup of tea and I went to bed, slept well and woke up the next morning fit as a fiddle.

          That year the crops on the farms had been destroyed by the early grasshoppers and a crop of rank weeds had grown up on all plowed land. These were mostly the tumble weed, and it had grown to a size of about three feet and shaped like a ball of that size. When my brother Tom and I took the farm the first thing we had to do was to clear the fields of these weeds. They dried up early and, being held by a single root, were easily pulled, so we set to work with rakes to gather them together for burning. It was slow work until one night when a high wind came, and the next morning our field was

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