September 23, 2021
DIARY OF BESSIE FULLER REEDER
Unedited excerpt from her diary regarding the trip from Hamilton, Montana to Whitepine
By the spring of 1901 the folks decided they did not care to stay in Hamilton. Uncle Mark and family had gone on to Whitepine and had written to the folks and told them there was a lot of vacant land around Whitepine. My dad decided to go down there and look around. The land was covered with timber from which they could make a living.
About the fourth of July we loaded up our things and started for Whitepine, cow, calf, an old hen and a brood of chickens and an old cat called Jimmy. I do not remember a camping place till we got to the Missoula orchards just this side of Evaro hill.
When we got to Evaro a guard stopped us and asked for my Dad’s gun and when he had sealed the gun he told us to not go near any Indians or let them come near us as there was small pox on the Reservation, and he let us go on our way again.
The old road did not go where it now does, it went around by Shleigh and did not cross Finley creek at all, we staid (stayed) on the wet side of Finley creek and crossed the Jocko below the railroad bridge at what is now Jocko. We had to ford it and when we drove into it, it was much deeper than what it looked to be as it nearly washed us downstream. We finally made it across and went on but when we got down the road aways we found we had lost our hen and chickens.
We stopped that night near the section house at McDonald. It was a ways beyond Dixon and beyond all those curves. There was a ferry before we got to where we camped for the night. We stopped that night near the section house at McDonald. We had been letting the at Jimmy out every evening and he had always staid around camp, but next morning Jimmy was no where to be found. We all looked for him till about 10 a.m.
We had to back track to the ferry and yell till the old Indian brought the ferry over for us. We loaded on and started across, each one of us holding our breath as the old ferry was a rickety old thing. The old cow made up her mind she could do better so when we got about thirty feet from the other shore, she jumped off the ferry and swam the ret of the way and beat us across.
At that time there was no road around where the Perma Curves are and we had to pull over a very steep hill, in fact it was so steep the team could not pull the wagon over the hill as we had it quite heavily loaded. The hill was so steep we had to put a rope on the horn of the saddle and on the end of the wagon tongue and help pull the wagon over the hill with the saddle horn. Once we got over we found ourselves near Dog Lake, that is what they used to all it but now they call it Rainbow Lake but it still is Dog Lake to me as I feel that is the name the Indians gave it. It was full of pretty water lilies We must have camped for the night somewhere near there.
Next day when we were going down the hill leading to Poverty Canyon another guard stopped us, examined dad’s gun and let us pass. By evening we found ourselves at Plains which is what it is called now but then it was Horse Plains, another Indian name. We pulled on through Plains and camped near the old Willis home.
Plains was in a very fertile Valley and they raised abundant crops.
That next night we camped near Eddy. The next night we were near Thompson Falls. There we found we had to cross on a ferry again and the river was much larger as the Flathead River which we had ferried a few nights before had joined with it at Paradise. Where we camped that night was at a small farm. The people who lived there were named Cameron. That place is all under water now caused by the reservoir back of the big Montana Power Dam at Thompson Falls. The people who run that ferry also lived on the opposite side of the river and we had to yell till we got them to bring the ferry across. Their names was Herman and they were old timers there.
We finally got across and this was our last day in a covered wagon. We reached my sister’s that night and glad to get to sleep in a good bed once more.
We staid there till fall and then moved to Thompson Falls so I could go to school as there was no schools at Whitepine.
That winter while we were in Thompson Falls my dad plastered the IOOF Hall and the Weber Building (now the Laundromat). In the spring he went to Whitepine and put up our house which was of lumber. After School was out we moved there and by that time there were children enough in that district that they could get a school started. There was eight children.
Reeder Gulch up Beaver Creek is named for these early settler. Along the way, someone spelled it Reader and that’s the spelling on maps now. It was actually Reeder, named after the family’s last name.