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Rivard, John T. / Triple centennial jubilee souvenir book : Somerset

Chapter III: life in the Apple River settlement,   pp. 14-15

Page 15

For sleeping quarters our pioneers built wooden bunks two
high. They threw some straw on the boards. The beds im,
proved later - they took out the boards and used bands of
canvas for more give. For entertainment they would deem it
a great time just to visit and let the children play with the
neighbor's gang. Cards were played often. If a violonneux
(fiddler) was present the chairs and table in the kitchen were
taken out and a jolly dance caree (square dance) shook the
house to its foundation. Sunday Mass was not only their visit
with le bon Dieu, but also their only chance to hear les nouvelles
(news), and strike a good bargain with the voisen (neighbor) for
an ox or a horse. Winter restricted them pretty well to home,
but the sleigh and cutter brought visitors for a dance, a taffy
pull or just an evening of talking.
When the sun went down, did our ancestors go to bed?
They did not. They had lights. Not electric, ,not gas lamps,
not kerosene lamps -  but candles.  Periodically they made
their supply of candles. First there was une cuve de suif (tub
of grease) and a tub of cold water. Les meches (wicks) of
twisted string were prepared and four or five were tied to a
stick. Plonge ci, plonge la - dip here and dip there! The
wicks were lowered in the boiling grease and then quickly dipped
in the cold water which hardened the grease and back into the
grease.  When this operation was repeated several times the
candle took on the thickness you wanted.  Chandelle al'eau
(water candles) they called them. They were not even or
beautiful and they gave off a red light and a lot of smoke -
but that's all they had and were glad. Placing the candle in a
tin box with an open front or some glass and they had a fanal
(lantern) to go to the barn with to take a last look at the cows
and horses.
They took the candles to church to be blessed. And when
someone was near death's door they lit the candle to light his
way into eternity. They lit it too when a storm came up.
Later the Moules (molds) came along and they" had better
tallow. But when the kerosene lamp came, joy was without
limit. "They have gone about as far as they can go" was the
word when the gas light came on the market with its beautifully
colored glass shades decorated with glass bubbles, and its multi-
Soon the lot of the habitant (farmer) became easier. La
moisonneause (reaper) and the 'binder were a Godsend to his
aching back. La batteuse (threshing machine) and the steam
engine revolutionized the wheat harvest. La tasserie (hay loft),
le poulailler (chicken coop), l'ecurie (stable) were small and
drafty, but, for the children, fun to play in. Let us not for a
Mesdames et Mademoiselles
1st Row: Joan Martell, Candice Sutherland, Marie Raymond. 2nd
Row: Henrietta Germain, Melina Cloutier, Emma Dufresne, Marcella
Sutterland, Bessie Breault, Elmire Parnell. 3rd Row: Cele Plourde,
Donaldo LaGrandeur, Pearl Olson, Delores Belisle, Helen Plourde,
Rita Voigt. 4th Row: Lucille Stoner, Odelie Harvieux, Marcella
Bierbrauer, Beatrice Martell, Eleanor Vanasse, Esther Berube.
moment pity our forefathers with their large families and small
quarters.  Happiness consists in being content with what you
have where you are. Not knowing, and therefore, not missing,
something that others consider a necessity can often be a blessing.
Our grandparents not only got along but they paved the way of
life for the generations to come. They handed down to us a
heritage of land, civil institutions of home rule, roads, schools,
churches and religion, character, family virtue, love of work and
pride in doing things for others.
Harvieux Brothers Threshing Machine
The Big Crop of 1 895 is often mentioned by the old
timers. That year the proportion of rain, warm weather and
sunshine was near perfect. The pastures were high with luscious
grass. The corn, wheat, potatoes, rye, hay and oats were the
best ever grown.   When it came time to harvest the reapers
rolled at a slow pace. They would clog up with the thick
grain.  The oats were as high as an elephant's eye.      One
farmer states that after the oats were shocked he hardly had
room to walk between the shocks! Another goes so far as to
say that the pasture grass was so high that he couldn't find his
heifers in his forty acre pasture until fall! It is a fact, however,
that oats sold for 1 3c a bushel that year.
The first settlers also had to contend with wild fowl and
animals. Flocks of thousands of wild geese would invade the
grain fields and inflict considerable damage. Prairie chickens,
wolves, fox, skunks, weasels and mink would raid thte fields and
barnyards.  Farmers protected themselves with dogs and guns
against these marauders.
"Who said I couldn't be in the parade?" "DIG THIS BUGGY!'"

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