-- FUN PAGE --
This page is simply for fun. It has little to do with genealogy searches, but it will hopefully make your visit to our Fall River site more enjoyable.

If you are visiting this Fall River site just for enjoyment (and why else would you be on the FUN page) you might enjoy seeing early photographs of life in the various communities in Fall River County. Click: Fall River PixPage.

Those of us who have family or friends from the Fall River and Black Hills area have probably heard many humorous tales. I would like to share some of them here. If you have a tale to tell, please send it to me at FRstories@wrightprinting.com. If it is appropriate, I will include it on this page and credit your source. Let me start off the storytelling with a couple of my own. (NOTE: new entries will be added to the top)

- - - - - FUN STORIES & PIX - - - - -
I wasn't sure where on the Fall River site to put this, but I really enjoyed reading it, so I picked the "FUN PAGE." I hope you enjoy it to. This letter was sent to us by Frank Woodruff. Frank sent only scans of the letter, but they were such good scans, that I was able to OCR and convert it into plain text (much easier for all to read). I will include one picture of the first page scan. Then share the story. Letter was written by Frank's dad Leroy Woodruff. (see Frank's Inquiry on the Fall River Inquiry Page) -- Thanks Frank! -stu-

LeRoy was born in 1907. I estimated him to be in the area of Rumford maybe around 1911. The Allen P. Marcum was probably a relative of mine. My Grandmother was a Marcum. Those that ran the store were Marcum's also. It wasn't until the last few years that the Marcum's in Kansas knew that they had a Horse thief in the family and that was after they read this letter from my DAD. --Frank Woodruff--


Dearest Sweetheart Esther,

Whenever I have a few moments to spare. my thoughts always swing around you, and what a happy life we are having together. I was thinking this morning that maybe you would like to hear the story of my life and maybe understand a little more of how I became the "gentle person" you say I am. And then, on the other hand maybe you nor anyone else is particularly interested in my past, but anyway it will be fun to put it on tape, and we can always rub it out if it don't turn out good.

I am writing this down on paper, and will read it when I tape it because I couldn't think of everything if I just talked and besides, it might take all day or a week to think of a lot things.

Well, to begin with, I was--- born near a little town of Edgely. North Dakota. My Dad was working for a rancher by the name of Robertson. I don't remember anything that happened there, because I was less than a year old when we moved to near Lebanon, South Dakota. Dad also worked for a rancher -- in fact, there were two brothers named Bach that he worked for, and my Mother kept house for.

The first thing I remember about that place is that it seems they were having a house dance, and Fern and I were sitting on a bench looking on, I remember saying "I wish we could dance too." That's all I remember about that. It seems my Dad and the brothers were gone quite a bit because they done thrashing for other ranchers and would leave on the circuit and not come back until all the thrashing was over for miles around. Fern and I always looked forward to them coming home, because they would have a big get-together and have a dance and people would come from miles around and bring good things to eat. Also one or both of the brothers would go to Gettisburg and come back loaded with goodies, such an stick peanut candy and concord grapes. They tasted so good. because it was very little fresh fruit and store candy that we had in those days.

I guess the reason Fern and I are so close is because we spent so much time alone together without other children around and when some did show up, we and they were too shy that we didn't know how to play with each other.

Everything seemed to run pretty smooth at that place. Oh. of course we were into mischief and it seems Fern was the one that usually ended up getting hurt or getting a licking. One instance I remember we used to play in the tool shed a lot. She got into a tool box to hide from me, which was fastened to the wall, and when it fell to the floor with her under it.

My folks didn't seem to stay put very long at one place. because the next thing I knew we were in a Covered wagon headed for a piece of ground southwest of the Black Hills in South Dakota, where my Dad was going to stake out a claim. That sure was a barren piece of country, not a tree for three miles and we had to load the wagon with barrels and drive that three miles to a creek and dip water out of the creek for our drinking water and other purposes. Then they had barrels around the one-room tar paper shack to catch rainwater if it should rain.

My mother's sister, husband and daughter lived 5 or 6 miles from us, and my mother's sister died from the water and from worry over what her husband was doing. I found out later years that he and his brothers were horse rustlers. I remember a time or two when his brother rode by and wanted my mother to hide him, but she wouldn't and he had to keep on going. I wondered at the time why he wanted to hide. That sure was wild country at that time.

We used to go out and gather buffalo and cow chips and stack them like hay, so we would have fuel to burn in the cookstove. And snakes! The country was covered with rattlesnakes that was at least 6' long and would coil and strike twice the' length of themselves. My Mother one evening just about got bit by one when we were gathering cow chips, but my Dad seen it and shot it just in time.

I guess we were pretty hard put, because my Dad went to work on the railroad (which run through there), as a section hand. He had a swell foreman, a Jap by the name of Tom Lamaguchi. He was always getting trinkets from Japan and giving them to Fern and I. I had a hand for years with an American and a Jap flag on it. I wonder what ever become of it.

I lived 8 or 10 miles from a store, and the depot was named Rumford, So. Dakota. My uncle, my Mother's brother owned this store, and my Mother and Dad would get on a railroad handcar and ride to Rumford to get their groceries. One time when they were coming home, a train slipped up behind them on a bridge and they just made it across and got off the tracks when the train whizzed by. I don't remember anyone staying with Fern when they made these trips. Other times we went with them on a bigger hand-car. It sure was fun.

My Aunt, who was married to my Dad's brother sent some horses up to us from Nebraska and every one of them died, so my Dad just deeded the place over to her and we left to go back to Lebanon again. Afterwards I heard she struck coal on the place. which was in great demand in that country.

The only thing that stands out in my mind the second time back near Lebanon was that my Dad just got through putting up a section of hay into stacks when the lightening struck and everything burned for ten miles in each direction. So the next morning we all loaded up in a spring wagon and a tent and headed for Minnesota.

That trip sure was fun. It took a month. We even camped near the Sioux Indians one night, and my Dad and Mother didn't sleep because they didn't know what the Indians might try. There wasn't such a thing as a road map at that time. In fact, there wasn't very many roads up there. We just took off across the country and lived off the land as we went. We would pass through places where there was corn and potatoes, etc. and would stock up on them to last until we hit another place where there was something to eat. Also my Dad would kill animals and fowl for our meat. The horses always had plenty to eat along the way because my Dad would picket them out on a long rope with an iron stake in the ground so they could eat in the evening and morning. Water was the hardest to get at times and we had barrels to stock up on water to last but a couple of times we ran pretty low due to no water available or bad tasting water..

My Dad did have a land map and would try to hit a town where we had to cross a river or lake. At one place we drove up onto a flat car with what seemed like 1.000 of other people and the train took us across the river. At another place we went over on a ferry.

I'll never forget the time we went through the Black Hills as at one place we all walked behind the wagon on account of such a narrow road up the mountain.

Well, we finally got to the place In Minnesota that we were headed for which was twenty miles east of Aitken. It was a beautiful country, timber and lakes everywhere. My grandmother had 40 acres of real good ground and about 10 acres cleared. She wanted to go to Sioux City, Iowa where my Mother's brother lived so she deeded the place to my Mother. I don't know how my folks felt about it. but I liked living there better than anywhere I'd lived, and I want to go back some day to see it again. My folks didn't have much money, but didn't really need much because didn't anyone else have much either. They would sell logs to a log mill for buying flour etc. but the rest we would raise and Pop and the neighbors would hunt and kill a deer and rabbits for our meat. Whenever they killed a deer they would dress it and hang it onto a tree to keep it away from the bears. Then whoever wanted some could out off some to take home. It would keep all winter because it would freeze and stay that way until used. Then the women would can some for summer use.

That is where I started to school. Fern and I would walk across the lake to school and it got so cold the ice would crack and you could hear it cracking with a roar from clear across the lake. It was a wonderful place to live and I think my folks would have gladly stayed there if my Dad's dad hadn't got sick and wanted my Dad to come to Laurel, Nebraska, to help out in the grocery store for a year or two. My Dad was planning on going back after that year or two, but never did get to. I guess it was partly due to the fact that the first World War started about that time and my Dad was making good money and thought money could get the things to make them happier and also Fern got Polio at about that time and they were needing to get her back on her feet again.

It seems like that is where we come to have troubles. Either that or I was getting old enough to notice them. I had to grow up fast at the age of 10 because Fern needed me to empty her slop jar and take care of her after school was out in the evening and everyone had gone home. I didn't mind it a bit, and would do It again for her if I had to, but still we both missed a lot of childhood playing etc.

Then on Saturdays I would work in the store and deliver groceries. Also help my Dad with counting eggs and testing cream. Oh we did have good times there, but I think we all missed Minnesota.

My Mother finally deeded the farm to her brother for taking care of my graduation, and he sold it.

We just stayed at Laurel. Nebraska six years and my folks decided to go to California. We went by way of Topeka, Kansas to see my mother's brother and just stayed. I didn't leave there for 26 years.

My folks bought a 10-acre tract and was going to make lots of money on chickens, garden vegetables and fruit. I thought at the time although I was just 13. "how could anyone make a lot of money on such a small piece of ground unless you had the whole place covered with chickens, which I knew my Dad couldn't afford to do." Well. he had to go to work for other farmers and finally for a rock crusher. I was growing up fast at that time and was quite a worry to my Mother. I didn't do anything bad, but would stay out late and she would lose a lot of sleep.

I quit school after I got out of the 8th grade. so I could start making my fortune at working -- so I thought.

My folks finally sold the 10 acres and moved to Topeka and he sold Rawleigh Products. I met my first wife while we lived there and she lived in the next block. Her folks and mine were quite chummy and really liked Vida and I to go together but then something happened and they became enemies. so her mother would preach to Vida about not going with me any more and then we would meet somewhere and do things we never thought of before. So we decided to do something so we would have to get married, which we did. But our marriage probably was not to be a success on account of differences of our parents.

Then the depression hit which didn't help us any and things got worse all the time and finally in 1950 she and I called it quits and each went our own way. The only thing that we done and had that was worth while was our three boys. They grew up to be a credit to our country so I guess our life together wasn't completely wasted.

Together with the fact that I am quite a deep thinker and a worrier, I had a breakdown and pneumonia in February, 1951 -- just about went over the hill, but made it back in time to have more troubles. I'm one that don't like to be alone too much so I met a woman and she appeared to be O.K. so I jumped in and married her.

Wall, it turned out that she wanted to completely dominate me and to keep me from my own children so after six unhappy years with her we finally split up for the 6th time and made it permanent.

Maybe I needed that six years to get ready for the wonderful woman I met on Jan. 3 of 1958 by the name of Esther Johnson. We have spent every idle moment since that moment with each other and know each other like a book that we have read and reread. We've had a very happy and contented 20 months together, and I'm going to make her Mrs. Woodruff the last part of Sept.

So, Esther, that's about all I can think of to say about my past and I can't say anything about our future outside of stating I know more than I've ever known anything else that this is going to be a happy marriage. I'm the most fortunate man on earth to have lived long enough to have you for my own.

Hope you enjoyed hearing this and I'll see you as soon as I possibly can get there after getting off from work or wherever I am

Bye For Now

Frank also sent this scan from the back of a Provo postcard. It details the Postmasters who served there from 1893 until 1922.


Cheap Antifreeze: Hot Springs is named for the hot-thermal waters which flow up from deep within the earth. The village of Hot Springs has one of the larger hot springs flowing through town and down the "crick" (Fall River), eventually emptying into the Cheyenne River (see map). During the winter, this creek does not freeze for the first few miles (obviously, due to the warm water temperature). In the early years, when Evan's Plunge was popular for it's therapeutic powers, many easterners would arrive for a healthy "spa," even in the winter months. When a particularly gullible easterner would drive up in his Model A, needing antifreeze, he might be told to just use some water from the Fall river, which as he could see did not freeze. Some would be so excited at this cheap source of magical antifreeze that they would also bottle up an extra supply to take back and sell to others.
- Stu Marty -


Old Gold: For those unfamiliar with the Black Hills, I need to explain that in many places the soil is rich with Mica flakes. Mica is a mineral which can resemble glass and comes in many different forms. It is basically quartz, and in the soil around the Black Hills it is in the form of very tiny flakes which sparkle. If you garden, your hands appear like you have been working on a craft project -- all covered with glitter. When an "easterner" would ask an "old-timer" what it was that made the ground sparkle so, he was sometimes told it was gold dust which had been in the sun too long. The Black Hills are well known for their gold deposits. Often the easterner, with no appreciation for western humor, would scoop some up dirt and take it home. The Black Hills Forestry Service has asked that we stop telling this story as the Hills are only about half as tall as they were in the Days of '76. <grin>.
- Stu Marty -

Porcupine Eggs: My Father in Law Earl Tanner born 1885 worked at Wind Cave as a young man. This was way back when the cave was just starting to attract attention. He and his fellow employees sold pine cones to the tourist and told them they were "porkey pine eggs." Made some money at it too.
-Jeanie Tanner -

Skipping to the Plunge: I grew up in Newcastle and nothing we liked better than to go to Hot Springs swimming. (Evans Plunge, for those who don't know) One April Fools day a bunch of us skipped school and went over only to find when we arrived the place was packed with Newcastle kids including my brother. The next day at school as we went into the office with our self written notes we were all sent into the same room. When we were all there in came the principal and gave us all 18 hours to make up after school. Love that plunge!!!!!
- Jeanie Tanner -


Ok, it is your turn - please share one you know by contacting me (click below).
Stewart "Stu" Marty, County Coordinator - volunteer


Some other "FUN" links

Fall River County Old Picture Page

Fall River County Teachers in 1913
(a list of all the county's teachers in 1913)

A neat picture of the Smithwick Schoolhouse in 1911

Black Hills Internet Gateway - Pahasapa.com


RETURN to the Serious Pages

Fall River Main Page
or enjoy visiting one of these other Fall River pages

Directory  History  Inquiries  Links  LookUps  Send Query

  FUN  News  History  Fall River MAP


May, 1998

usgenweb logo