March 3, 2021

Pages 1404-1411
Whole Number 74


by M. Ward Wilson

(Editor's Note: In the Quarterly of March 1970, Whole No. 69 we published Mr. M. Ward Wilson 's account of the descendants of 42.1 Thomas and Mary (Howe) Sparks. One of their children was 42.1.4 James Freeman Sparks, born 23 July 1818, at Summit, New York, died June 1, 1902, at Nevins, Wisconsin. He married Sylvia Calkins on August 20, 1837. She was born September 5, 1813, and died January 23, 1871. One of the eight children of James Freeman and Sylvia (Calkins) Sparks was a daughter named Hannah Sparks, who was Mr. Wilson's grandmother, We here give Mr. Wilson's account of Hannah Sparks and her family, although we have had to condense it somewhat because of limited space.) Hannah Sparks, daughter of 42.1.4 James Freeman and Sylvia (Calkins) Sparks, was born May 18, 1848, in Sullivan County, New York, and died on January 1, 1917, at Crane, Montana. She married byron Potter Pickering on September 28, 1866, at either Great Bend or South Gibson, Pennsylvania. He was born December 31, 1840, at South Gibson, PA, and died on January 11, 1920, at Crane, Montana, His parents were Potter and Silona Pickering.

byron Pickering served in the Civil War with General Johnson's Division. He was wounded at Missionary Ridge and after recovering became Aide-de-Camp to the General. Among several old, interesting family letters given me by byron's son, Allen, is one to his mother while he was convalescing in the hospital at Chattanooga, Term. He was in Company A of the 11th Michigan Regiment.

byron and Hannah, with their first born, Edith (my mother), left Pennsylvania and, following the footsteps of Hannah ~s parents, migrated to Plainfield, Wisconsin, in 1869, In 1874 they moved to Sherwood Township, Clark County, Wisconsin, a distance of about 60 miles. It was new country with forest wilderness, sixteen miles southeast of Neillsville, the county seat. They moved to three different tracts of land in the same vicinity until they finally settled. This last place had been somewhat farmed with some partly cleared land, a log house, and other log farm buildings. About 1894, he built a large two-story house with a cupola on top. There were five large rooms downstairs and seven or eight nice size bedrooms upstairs, a full basement or cellar with a hot air furnace. It was the most modern farm house in the vicinity. It was the "haven" for many traveling horse and buggy salesmen of those days, no one was ever turned away. The teacher in the nearby dIstrict sohool. stayed there, and four of them became daughters-in-law. The ministers who came at stated intervals were welcome, and at times when there were revival meetings they stayed several days with free lodging for themselves and horses.

byron was postmaster of the Nevins Post Office, which served Sherwood Township.. There was a room built on one corner of the house for the Post Office. Mall was transported tri-weekly to and from Neillsville. The "stage," as it was called, consisted in summer of a single-seated light-weight wagon and in winter a similar type sleigh drawn by a very nice team of horses Joe James for many years was the operator, or driver. The next day, mail that was left for Dewhurst Post Office, a distance of about four miles, would be delivered by his daughter, Silona (Ona for short) by horse and buggy.

This locality was forested mainly with white pine, tamarack, maple, and some hard oak. The pine was mainly cut for general lumber use, the tamarack used for fence posts, the oak for building purposes and railroad ties As there were sugar maples, the settlers tapped these in the Spring to make maple syrup. To be tillable, this land had to be cleared by the settlers, which was a tough job. A saw rnill was nearby which aided the settlers, They could cut the trees into logs and sell them to the mill. During the Winter months, these settlers would hire-out to logging companies and thus supplement their cash, while in the Summer they would work on their own land. Some would work in the mill during the Summer, this being easier than clearing land. The trees, after being cut into logs, were brought out of the woods on hugh logging sleds on special roads called logging roads. These roads would be iced with water which would freeze and thus larger loads could be pulled. To do this icing, a large wooden water tank was carried on a heavy sled, and made so that the water coming out would ice only the sleigh runner tracks. To obtain water, the driver would have to find a pond or creek, cut a hole in the Ice and pump the water by hand into the tank, The mill would operate in the summer until all the logs were cut up. The lumber obtained was sold locally to settlers, transported by horses and wagons to nearby towns, or to the rail head about seven miles distant where it was shipped.

As the trees were cut, the stumps remained which had to be dug out before the land was tillable. This was the toughest job Mechanical devises were invented to do the work, but in the end it was burning or dynamite. There was considerable wild game in these woods which the settlers depended on for their meat. Small tribes of friendly Indians would camp and hunt in these woods. At one time they saved my Grand-dad's horse which was mired in a swamp. After it was no longer profitable for the mill to operate, it closed. During those lumbering years, byron operated a lumber camp. The operator was paid on the basis of board feet cut and delivered to the mill site. He had to keep a close check and fight for every penny as the mill owners would swindle you if they could.

After the closing of the mill, byron and his two sons, Myron and Dave, seeing there was still a need for a small mill, built a combination lumber, lath and shingle mill, The logs and lath and shingle boldts were obtained from their own land and also purchased from their neighbors. Some of the neighbors were employed, giving them a chance to supplement their meager farm income. In order to help the farmers with their dairying, for a while he operated a milk separator station, but discontinued it as a non-paying adventure.

Until my grandparents moved from Wisconsin, I spent my vacations on their farm. I would work, after the mill shut down for the day, cleaning saw dust from about the saws, and if the shingle mill was operating, I would pack shingles with my Aunt Jessie. One week I operated the mill engine. Thus I would take home some spending money. The mill closed in 1906, when they moved away.

The cupola on byron's house consisted of windows on its four sides. His daughter, my Aunt Ona, had a carpet weaving loom there. It was a nice place to watch her weave carpets when the weather was bad for playing outside, I would help her with the carpet rags.

In the Spring of 1903, Ona and her husband migrated to Omemee, North Dakota, to get rich with large wheat crops which never came, so ca. 1906 they moved to Fairview, Montana, settling on a homestead. Her brothers, Myron, Earl and Allie, followed. In 1906, byron and Hannah, with their youngest daughter, Jessie, left Nevins, shipping their household goods to Montana. However, byron took off for Florida where he stayed for two years. In the meantime, Grandma and Jessie stayed with my parents, and also Hannah's daughter, Helen Stockwell, In Marshfield, Wisconsin. In 1908, byron returned and they went to Fairview settling on a homestead. Their son David stayed In Wisconsin.

byron started the first Sherwood Sunday School, using the town hall. He was an active member of the school board and other township boards. He donated the land for the district school.

byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering were the parents of nine children: Edith Ethel Pickering, daughter of byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering, was born at Great Bend, PA, on September 11, 1867, and died on February 6, 1965, in Minneapolis. She married Marcus J. Wilson, on March 5, 1890, In her parents' home at Nevina He was born in Plainfleld, WIsc., on July 20, 1865, and died on September 18, 1918, in Minneapolis  Both are buried in Minneapolis Hillside Cemetery. He was a locomotive enginner for the Wisconsin Central Railroad, which later became the Soo Line. Four children were born to them: Marcus Ward Wilson (the writer of this sketch), born May 14, 1891, at Ashland, Wisconsin I attended public schools at Ashland, Chippewa Falls, and Minneapolis, graduating from Minneapolis East High School I entered the railway service wIth the Chicago & Northwestern Railway at Duluth, MN, later transferring to the Soo Line, thence to the Rock Island Lines in St. Paul, and was retired on May 31, 1956. I served In France with a U.S. Railway Engineers Unit during World War I I have been active in the Masonic Lodge and Osman Shrine in St. Paul  I married Ruth Kulaas in Minot, North Dakota, on October 27, 1917. She was born in Minot on September 22, 1896, the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. T. P. Kulaas, pioneers of Minot. We have two children: Thomas Marcus Wilson, born in Minot, N.D., September 20, 1918. He was graduated from St. Paul High School. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1941 and served through World War II and Korea, thence made it his life occupation. He married Camillia Deluciano of Hartford, Conn., in July 1945. They have one daughter, Cheryl Wilson, born November 12, 1946, and at present are living in Hartford, Conn. Helen Clarise Wilson, born in Minot on February, 2, 1920, She was graduated from the St. Paul public schools and has been working for the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. since 1941. She is unmarried. Blanche Wilson, born July 14, 1893, in her grandparents' log house at Nevins. She was graduated from Minneapolis public schools, studied and taught piano. She married Robert G. Stebbins June 6, 1917, at Red Wing, MN He was born May 23, 1892, at Winona, MN Bob served with the famed 151st Field Artillery of the Rainbow Division in World War I. The past several years he has been a representative for a Denver Construction Bulletin. They live in Mesa, Ariz. They had one daughter: Priscilla Stebbins, born February 12, 1921, in Minneapolis. She married Oliver Anderson on November 26, 1942, She died August 20, 1957, leaving four children: Susan Anderson, born September 7, 1943; Carol Anderson, born August 12, 1945; Judy Anderson, born December 1, 1947, and Robert Anderson, born May 8, 1953. Irene Wilson, born in Ashland, Wisconsin, November 26, 1895. She graduated from Minneapolis public schools and Winona State Normal School in 1916. She was teaching in the Everett School in Minneapolis, where she started to school, when she died on April 30, 1925. She was unmarried. James byron Wilson, born in Chippewa Falls, Wise., November 28, 1898. He married Ruth Ofloy in Minneapolis on December 31, 1924. She was born in Oslo, Norway. byron graduated from the Minneapolis public schools and the University of Minnesota. He was employed by the American Bridge Co. until it closed in 1962 and with others, put on pension. He is a draftsman and now works when he chooses to do so, They are the parents of five children" Eunice Wilson, born November 7, 1925; Barbara Wilson, born June 20, 1927; James Wilson, born September 26, 1929; David Wilson, born October 3, 1936; Ruth Wilson, born March 10, 1939. Helen Phoebe Pickering, the second child of Hannah and byron, was born August 10, 1869, at Plainfield, Wise. She died February 10, 1938, at Eau Claire, Wise. She was teaching school in her home district at Nevins, Wisconsin, when she married Cyrus Dewitt Stockwell on June 18, 1892. He was born October 17, 1870, at Onalaska, Wisconsin., and died January 15, 1953, at Eau Clarie. Cyrus as a boy started to work for what is now the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. When they were married, he was station agent at Granton, Wisconsin He was moved about from one job to another and when retired was General Superintendent at Eau Claire, Wisconsin. They had two children: Cyrus George Stockwell was born June 29, 1896, at Granton, Wisconsin. He married Gladys M. McIntosh of Superior, Wisconsin, on Sept, 5, 1921. She died September, 1965. There were no children. Mildred Bernice St.ockwell was born November 20, 1898, at Granton. She married Marvin Selvig on March 18, 1920; he was born December 27, 1885, and died February 23, 1969. They had three children: Marvin Dewitt Selvig, born February 20, 1921; George Alan Selvig, born October 1925; and Cyrus David Selvig, born January 11, 1928. Myron Potter Pickering, Jr., son of byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering, was born February 8, 1873, at Plainfield and died at Crane, Mont., on September 18, 1966. When he was a boy and young man, and until he was married, he lived on the farm with his parents at Nevins. He married Elizabeth Jane Borgers on April 27, 1897, at Neillsville. She had taught school at Nevins. After marrying they lived on my dad's farm at Granton. He did very little farming and lived there more for custodian purposes until It could be sold. The farm was just outside Granton, and he worked in the village. She died June 19, 1899. After her death, he moved back to his folks on their farm, There were no children by this marriage. He married Mary Borgers, the sister of Elizabeth, on July 30, 1902, as his second wife, She was also a teacher in the Nevins district school.. Myron built a home on a farm near that of his parents. He did very little farming, working mainly in the mill which his dad and brother operated. He also kept a few hives of bees as a hobby. He liked to roam through the woods, hunting and looking for wild bee nests in hollow trees and obtaining the honey. He and Mary left Nevins in 1905 for North Dakota, spending the winter with his sister Ona and her husband at Omemee. Thence in the spring of 1906 he moved to a claim near Berthold and that winter obtained work in nearby coal mines. That winter they lived in a cave dug in a hillside, The going was tough. In 1908, they moved to his dad's claim near Fairview, Montana, where he built a house. He worked mainly as a carpenter in nearby Sidney and Fairview. In 1911, Myron with his family moved to their home at Crane, Mont., where for a while he operated a. small, lumber mill. He soon gave this up and returned to his hobby, "bees," only making this a permanent job the rest of his life. Myron and Mary and family were very active in church work and built the first chapel of logs in Crane. Mary died October 11, 1960. They had five children: Edith Elizabeth ["Beth"] Pickering was born December 30, 1903, at Nevins, She married Glenn Snyder on September 27, 1927, at Crane. They had the following children: Glen Dale Snyder, born August 26, 1928; Donald Keith Snyder, born March 23, 1930; Beatrice Edith Snyder, born May 3, 1931; and Mary Alma Snyder, born August 15, 1934. Beatrice lone Pickering was born June 13, 1906, at Omemee., N.D. After finishing the public schools she studied to become a missionary. She married Arthur Earl Ritchie on May 9, 1939, in Brooklyn, NY He was born November 30, 1909, in Duluth, MN They are both missionaries for the Bible Christian Union in Brooklyn lone spent some time as a missionary in Lithuania. They have one son: Robert Myron Ritchie, born July 28, 1947. in Brooklyn. Freeman Dewitt Pickering was born August 21, 1908, at Fairview. He married Alice Lillie on July 22, 1934, at Crane, Mont. Like his dad, Freeman is in the apiary business. They have four children: Myron Dewitt Pickering, Kathy Irene Pickering, Timothy Wayne Pickering, and Darlene Pickering. David Myron Pickering was born October 12, 1909, at Fairview. He married Nellie Mae Lillie, a sister to Alice, in September 1932, They have one daughter, Dorothy Pickering. He is also in the honey business. Dorothea Phyllis Pickering was born July 26, 1924, at Sidney. She married Harry Lawrence Dempson on March 26, 1949. He was born March 21, 1921, at Poplar, Mont. Their children are: Joan Lee Dempson Phillip Lawrence Dempson Jacqueline Marie Dempson Pauline Grace Dempson Mark Stephen Dempson Christine lone Dempson Toni Jean Dempson Jessie Louise Dempson Sylvia Silona ["Ona"] Pickering was born April 14, 1875, at Nevins. She was named after both of her grandmothers. After her dad built their large house with the cupola, Ona obtained a rag carpet loom and used this cupola for her work shop. She wove many carpets for relatives and friends, they furnishing the rags and paying a small amount for her labor and carpet warp. She was my favorite Aunt and I enjoyed being there with her and would wind the rag strips on the shuttles. She married Ernest Watts on December 31, 1902. He was born April 14, 1876, in England and died on April 23, 1939, at Fairview In 1903, they moved to a farm in Omemee, N.D., hoping to cash in on the "big weat crops" that they had heard so much about, but which never came because of hail and drought. About 1906, they moved to a homestead in the hills near Fairview, Mont. Although prosperity was slow, he kept his head above water, adding to his acreage both in the hills and also in the Yellowstone River Valley nearby where there was irrigation, and he came out on top. He thus diversified his farming by raising live stock for market. After Em died, Ona, who was a hard working partner, with her son Allyn took over. Ona died in early 1966. Marcus Allyn Watts was born September 25, 1903, at Omemee, N.D. He finished his schooling at Fairview, then stayed with his parents assisting them with the farm work, He married Marjorie Treat on October 7, 1932, at Fairview, Mont She was born July 12, 1908, in Blooming Prairie, MN Their two sons are: James Watts, born December 10, 1933 George Watts, born January 31, 1946 David Leon Pickering, the fifth child of byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering, was born July 14, 1878, at Nevins. He attended the nearby district school and then stayed with his parents on the farm, although at intervals he would work in a lumber mill at Granton, Dave never cared for farming, but did like operating the mill which his dad, his brother and he had set up. He married Eda Ketel on July 30, 1902, at Neillsvifle, She had taught at the Nevins District School. After his marriage, he built a home on his dad's farm not too far from the mill. When his parents, sisters and brothers left for the West, Dave stayed with the mill Although he had gone West as far as the coast with them to look for a better homesite and economic conditions, he decided to stay in Wisconsin In 1906, he moved his mill and family to a wooded tract near Sheldon, Wisconsin, settling on the Little Jump River about three miles from town. The town consisted of a lumber mill, a general store, several saloons and a few shacks in a very small clearing in the woods. The Wisconsin Central Railway (now Soo Line) had just built into the town on its way to Duluth. Shortly thereafter, the mill in town closed as they had cut up the cream of the crop of logs and thus found it uneconomical to continue. Since Dave had the only mill in the vicinity, the farmers, when clearing land, would sell him the logs or haul them to be cut into lumber, paying him to do so. Dave expanded his operations and later moved into town where he started a building supply business. He became very successful Dave died on February 24, 1968. Eda was born May 13, 1880, and died in 1958. She was of considerable help in the business, The last few years their son Leon took over managing the business, but Dave would have to walk over a few times a day to see how things were and to keep in touch with his friends. The children of Dave and Eda were: Leon Clarence Pickering, born August 11, 1903. He married and had several children and at present is operating the lumber yard. Darthea Pickering, born November 20, 1904, She is unmarried. Lola Marie Pickering, born October 9, 1909. She married Glenn Eugene Romig on June 14, 1931. He was born January 7, 1906, at Petersburg, NE, They live in Gilman, Wisconsin, and are the parents of the following children: Theodore Arthur Romig, born December 14, 1933; Darrell James Romig, born June 22, 1936; Nancy Elaine Romig, born March 30, 1940; Marilyn Marie Romig, born July 12, 1946. Evelyn Pickering; she is married and there are children. Earl Wayne Pickering, son of byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering, was born February 28, 1881, at Nevins. He constantly lived with his parents and went west with them. After his parents gave up their homestead, he lived on the farm of his brother, Myron, in a small house. For a few years he also operated a lignite coal mine until unable to do so, thence assisted Myron's sons with their honey processing. He never married. His hobby has been and still is studying the Bible, of which he is a very good student, Pearl Pickering, Earl's twin sister, died at birth. Chester Allen Pickering, son of byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering, was born March 15, 1884, at Nevins, He stayed on the farm with his parents until they all went west. He married Doreas Borgers, sister of Mary, Myron's wife, who was also a teacher in the Nevins District School She continued to teach after marriage. They were married on August. 24, 1904, at Neillsville. She was born March 11, 1878, in Neillsville and died in 1967 at Wesley Gardens Home in Des Moines, Wash.. In 1905, they moved to Berthold, N.D., where the going was tough. Jobs were not plentiful and at times there was hardly enough food on which to live. Although he did photographic work, there was not enough work to make it pay. Later they moved to Sidney, Mont. Here he had a small photograph gallery. Sidney was a new western town, waiting for the railroad It consisted of one long main street bordered on both sides by shacks, one-story huts, a few small stores and tents, also a few garages and a school. This was in 1909 when I visited there. It was the county seat, located in the Yellowstone River Valley and at that time irrigation was being brought in. It was also the. headquarters for people to file on homestead claims. After the arrival of the railroad, the town began to shape up and today it is a prosperous place with all first class conveniences. Sugar beet, alfalfa and dairying are the main products in the valley, while on the prairie it is grain farming and raising beef cattle. After a few years, the family moved to Oregon, settling at Potlatch, Wash., in the lumbering district. Allie in his spare time was studying to become a minister and here that ambition was obtained in the Methodist Church. He is now retired and is living in a Methodist retirement home at Des Moines, Wash Allie and Dorcas were parents of the following children: Rex Albert Pickering, born May 16, 1905, at Nevins; he died on April 10, 1928, at Salem, Oregon. He never married. Chester Arthur Pickering, born January 31, 1907, at Berthold, N.D. He married Sybil Smith on September 11, 1927, in Salem, Oregon, There were two children James Arthur Pickering, born October 2, 1928, and died April 12, 1951; Robert Allen Pickering, born July 19, 1935. Marian Hannah Pickering, born December 27, 1908, at Fairview. She married Marion Frances Robbins on November 7, 1929, in Oroville, Wash. He was born June 27, 1905, at Hood River, Ore, They are the parents of three children: Leroy Marion Robbins, born October 8, 1930; Leslie William Robbins, born August 24, 1933; Lois Helen Robbins, born January 14, 1935. Eva Joy Pickering, born September 8, 1911, died October 27, 1911, at Sidney. Wayne Harold Pickering, born October 30, 1916, at Crane, Mont, He married Agnes Hansen on August 3, 1936, at Vancouver, Wash. She was born May 22, 1917, at Deepcreek, Wash. They have four children: Jeannette Kay Pickering, born December 13, 1936; Richard Wayne Pickering, born October 29, 1937; Phillip Allen Pickering, born May 27, 1942; Gerald Peter Pickering, born May 27, 1944. Jessie Eva Pickering, daughter of byron and Hannah (Sparks) Pickering, was born April 7, 1889, at Nevins. She attended the Nevins District School, then high school at Marshfield, Wisconsin, where she stayed with her sister, Helen For a while she and her mother lived with my parents in Minneapolis. She later joined her parents at Fairview and filed on a homestead claim adjoining theirs. In 1915 she married Earl Hull, a farmer in a nearby town and disposed of her claim and lived on his farm. They had one daughter born in 1916 who died in infancy. Later they adopted a daughter, Helen, born December 1, 1922 Earl, was born July 27, 1888, and died in 1926, Jessie carried on for awhile, then came to live with her sister Helen at Eau Claire, hoping to obtain work as a housekeeper She obtained such for Soph Hanson, a railway conductor at Spooner, Wisconsin He was a widower with one daughter. Later Jessie and Soph married and lived happily until their deaths. They died two weeks apart in the fall of 1955.

It was a sad day when the byron Pickering fami]y left Nevins. He was one of the "main stays" of the community. He was an active member of the local township and school boards, byron and Hannah were always ready to help their neighbors and relatives, always trying to make things better for them. Some of the families actually depended upon him for much of their livelihood, They lived on unprofitable farms with large families and thus having to have additional income, would work in byron's mill, They would also obtain a good free noon meal. If these families were short of food, byron would always help them out. They were always welcome at meal time and it was net unusual to have twelve or more at the table, The food was good and plain, but wholesome. Their vegetable garden was considerably larger than necessary, but the excess was for these neighbors and friends. When byron went to town for supplies, sixteen miles, it was not unusual for him to re turn with ten one hundred-pound sacks of flour and several of sugar, so if necessary to supply these neighbors if they could pay for it or not.

When the sons and daughters of these families finished the district school and could not afford to continue tn high school in town, and wanting for better things as soon as old enough, would leave home and seek work elsewhere. Thus, after byron left, several of these families also moved, some to Sidney, Mont,, and others to Oregon. Some of them abandoned farms which have again become woods, with hunting "game lodges."

Many incidents of interest could have been obtained if we of the younger generation had asked our parents and grandparents about their pioneer days.. I remember my dad and mother talking about incidents of long ago, but at the time these meant nothing to me. Too late, however, I learned they could since be valuable information concerning our ancestors. They are now lost. Mother did tell me that one Christmas, all the children received in their stockings was a bunch of raisins, and they were happy.

One winter, Mother cooked in her dad's logging camp, and in the spring when camp broke up, he gave her a twenty-dollar gold piece which was really something. She was about twenty years old, which was quite a job cooking for a group of loggers.

After Mother finished the district school, she started making dresses for people who could afford It. She was a good seamstress. In those days, yard dress material was purchased and you either did your own sewing or had a dress-maker do it, She sewed for people in Neillsville and would live with them until finished. Later she worked in a dressmaking shop in Chicago. After marrying and having a home and family to look after, although she did not make a practice of it, she did sew for a few friends. Sewing for my two sisters and herself kept her busy. In her spare time, she made beautiful drawn work consisting of table luncheon cloths, doilies and window curtains; she also made hooked rugs.