Frantz family Pioneer life

Below is a portion of a story I’m transcribing. It was written by my uncle Ralph Frantz. This is the first of many articles I plan to type and attach in the appropriate place in Ancestry in my Lorraine Frantz Family Tree.

Ralph Harrison Frantz handwritten story almost as written. The transcriber (his niece) added a limited number of necessary punctuation. The entire twelve (12) page story is one long paragraph. To separate the narrative into paragraphs and add extensive punctuation would negate the charm of the reminisce. The transcriber has listed the principal people and places in bold.

My father, David Henry Frantz, was born in Pennsylvania in 1870 and was Penn Dutch and spoke only German until he was school age. He went to Illinois near Decatur and grew up there. My mother, Lydia Hannah Traxler, was born in Illinois in 1877 near Decatur where she grew up and married my father Jun 8, 1896 near Decatur. My father died in Modesto, California, Sep 1, 1949. My mother died in Modesto Jun 20, 1974. My sister, Anna May, [Frantz] was born in Illinois Feb. 19m 1900. My folks moved to Britt, Iowa, in 1901 and were farming and I was born Nov. 13, 1902 near Britt. My brother, Ivan [Frantz], was born Dec. 3, 1904 near Britt. After two cyclones had destroyed the farm buildings on the farm my folks were renting, they moved to a farm near Minot, North Dakota, in 1905 that they rented five miles South of Surrey so they could be in an area of The Church of the Brethren at Surrey. They were members and we went to Church there. In 1908 they bought a 160 acre farm one-and-one-half miles west of Surrey. Viola Mae [Frantz] was born there Dec. 12, 1908. In Spring of 1910 my father filed on a 160 acre claim in Saskatchewan, Canada, 60 miles south of Maple Creek in a new settlement of homesteaders from the United States at Battle Creek community area. We moved by train to Maple Creek and father hauled two loads of lumber to the claim to build a house. The Canadian Government had promised a railroad to Battle Creek but it was never put in. Before Father started building because of impure water in creek used for water supply a typhoid fever sickness caused deaths in the settlement because of no doctor within 60 miles. Father gave up the claim and sold lumber to other settlers. He went to Medicine Hat, Alberta, and bought a 160 acre farm 11 miles southwest of Medicine Hat at Bulls Head Station. Battle Creek and Bulls Head are no more settlements. Father built a covered wagon on our wide hay wagon and shipped our farm equipment and furniture in a boxcar to Bulls Head. Then we traveled the 65 miles Maple Creek to Bulls Head in covered wagon and grain wagon with feed and supplies for our cows and horses we led along behind the wagons. The covered wagon trip took six days thru country that had no roads but what wagon trails were available between farms and open sheep range. The sheepherders wanted no cows crossing their range and tried to stop us. One day after having no water for nearly two days we came to a stream and were filling our water barrels and watering horses and cows when two sheepherders came us to get cows away from stream and to empty water barrels. Father offered to pay for water. They wanted no pay–just turn around and go back. Father got his single shot 22 rifle and said we wouldn’t go back and they if they didn’t leave or started towards us as he was a Sharp Shooter only one of them would leave alive. They backed away and then got very friendly and said they were only trying to scare us. They then told us our map was wrong and best road was two miles north and good grazing area and good overnight camp about five miles. Father kept rifle pointed at them while they were marking the map Mother showed them. They wished us a safe trip and left. Mother asked if he would have shot. Father said he couldn’t as gun not loaded so maybe he should keep it loaded. I have the rifle as an heirloom. We followed sheepherders directions and got to a better road and good grazing spot. That evening while Anna and I were hunting Buffalo chips for our fire, Anna was half mile from camp when two coyotes started chasing her. She was screaming towards camp and Mother got to her before coyotes and she beat them off with a stick until Father got there with rifle. We had no more troubles on our covered wagon trip.

(Just a portion….) For me, this was brand-new information. My father never talked about his youth. The only detail: He left home as a teenager and deliberately created a life, and family, estranged from his parents and siblings. He rejected the family and the faith of his forefathers. I knew nothing of my Frantz family ancestry until 1987.

One comment on “Frantz family Pioneer life

  1. Deb says:

    What neat history.

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