Clarence Curtis Coppin's
Remembrances

..........as told to Cathy Coppin French, Nov. 11, 1980 and June 12, 1981

I was born September 27, 1887, on the ranch in Pleasant Grove. Went to school there, and the schoolhouse was on the ranch. I remember going there when I was small; I must have been 7 or 8 years old when I started school. I remember our teacher, Oba Algeo. O. P. Payne was my first teacher. He was a strict teacher , that fella. That was when we were living in the old house. There was about 25-30 kids in school then. We wrote on blackboards that went all the way around the room. We had to clean them when we were bad. Had a pot-belly stove right in the middle of the room, 10 or 15 feet from the wall. Teacher got there early in the morning and made a fire. When we came in, we sat all around the stove and fooled around until time to start. Our desks were for two people. Had ink wells to stick the girl's pigtails in and get into mischief. One time when I first went to school, had a man teacher. Me and Howard Catlett, 1st cousin same age, we sat in two seats wide; he used to be awful trying to get me in trouble. He sat on the inside and I sat on the outside. When teacher wasn't looking, he would stick his foot up and shove me right in the aisle. Teacher caught him and grabbed him by the collar and then both of us had to stand up in the corner. He was always fooling around.

clarence1.gif (18999 bytes)In the wintertime when it was raining and storming, Dad would hitch a couple of horses to a sled and he would take us to school. Lots of time there would be 3 or 4 coming from different directions and we would meet at the corner and chew the rag before going to school. There were two girls that lived across the street from the school, Ruth and Lily Algeo; also their brothers, George and Wesley.

I went to school until 16 years old, 9 grades. I was a dummy; I had to take one year over again. 

Went one grade two years before graduating. Last teacher was my brother-in-law, Fred Shackelford. I hated it because my classmates got to graduate and I didn't. But I guess I fooled around too much. The first high school was where Stanley lives. He had a dry goods store right there and then the guy opened up the first high school. There was a post office that opened up there too. The post master, Mary Schrite, had little trinkets to sell to the kids and candy, also books. There used to be a skating rink on the side (north) of Dan Bell's, between there and the post office up there. Would have dances in there too. Across the street from Dan Bell's, there was a blacksmith shop, Fred Keys. There used to be, Henry Klemp, he used to have a few race horses and was quite a horseman. They built a race track just the other side of the post office. People would come with their horses and race them. Across from Dan Bell's used to be Charlie Jay who had a blacksmith shop where the Pleasant Grove store is now. Would have horses shod there before we went to the mountains. On down that street, way down there where the two story house is, a grain grinder was there. He was a relation to Keys. We used to have to haul all our grain to get it ground to feed our horses. Would wait for it to get ground then bring it back again in sacks. Used to take things to be fixed to the blacksmith. Didn't have welders so everything had to be done by hand.

clarence4.jpg (9443 bytes)The old hay balers were quite a sight. One guy traveled from place to place to bale their hay for them. First, we mowed and raked it, then shocked it . Then hauled hay to one big stack. Let it sit until cured. Then he would come in to the stack of hay and bale it for them. Two men had to be on a platform above the baler. Would derrick fork the hay and drop it on the table up high. Then have two men standing on the platform with pitchforks and pitch it into the baler. To press the hay, it had a big weight that went up and down, would come down then up, then the men would pitch in more hay. Had two horses on a track that went around until the bale was made. Two fellas stand below with a wire and big needles and would shove the needles under the hay then they would throw it around to hold the hay bale . They would put 4 wires around each bale. They then opened the two doors and pulled out the bale and piled it up in big piles. The bales weighed about 300 pounds each. The fellas pitching the hay in the baler would run through so many bales before they would change men and two others would get up there because it was hard work. When I was a kid I would ride the horse that pulled up the hay to the platform.. Went back and forth all day picking hay up in the big forks, moved forward to pick it up to the platform, tripped the forks to drop it, then backed up to drop the fork to get some more.

The first automobile I rode in was to lodge. This one fella had the only automobile. He would come by our place and pick us up to give us a ride. I was about 25 years old then, maybe 30. Everything was horse and buggy, main form of transportation. My first buggy was before I got married, 1910, and I had a rubber tired buggy. I took Grandma out in it. Had two black horses about 1000 pounds, made a nice team to pull the buggy. My brother made the harnesses for the horses. Took him quite a while. He made a harness for just one horse that he made himself too. Everybody thought the two horse team was pretty nice.

clarence2.gif (30344 bytes)When fall came we had hogs. We brought them in and fattened them up, then butchered them for meat for winter. Would butcher 4 or 5 at once. Would scald them. Had a scaffold where two men got up there and put hay hooks through the hog's front legs and dipped him in a big pot full of boiling water until the hair started coming off. Then we would scrape it with knives to get all the hair off. Then hang them up and my Dad would then open them out and clean them. Would leave them hanging over night, then would take them in the kitchen and cut them up. After cut, then he rubbed them with salt and then put them in a big barrel with a lot of salt to pickle them.

When we went to the mountains, 1912, we bought the place up there in the mountains along with some cows. Bought about 30 acres, Weber Lake, north of Truckee about 25 miles. We would start in the morning and would drive about 15 miles a day, took 6 days to get there, driving cattle up there. When we got there, we milked the cows then made butter and put it in kegs that held about 25-30 pounds.

bunkhouse.jpg (47839 bytes)
HOME, MILK HOUSE & BUNK HOUSE
AT COPPIN'S MEADOWS

Had a butter house to put them in until fall. House was made out of logs so it kept pretty cool. We would stay up there all summer from June to October. When we came out in the fall, we had this covered wagon that the kids rode in (Grandma and Bethyl, Ruby and Chester). It was snowing when we left. It started snowing so had to take it pretty easy coming out. Would usually come home after the first snow which wasn't too bad. Two fellas would ride on horses to keep the cattle together when bringing them home.

When I bought the ranch, I only paid $12,000 for 320 acres, approximately 1940. I sold it in 1974 for $206,000.

The Dog Wheel

We boys made the dog wheel; had an older person on it too. It was made out of wood. It was a big wheel, about 12 feet high and 3 feet wide, one or two dogs would get in side by side, more weight. Every time the big wheel went around the pump would go up and down three times to pump water. No one else around had one . We used the water pumped by the dog wheel to water the stock. When the dogs heard the rattling of harnesses from the horses coming in, they would mosey out and jump into the wheel and start running up the wheel to start it and keep running around and around there pumping water for the stock. Don was sure a good dog , he finally died from arthritis. Most of the time if you wanted water, you would have to whistle and he would come.

clarence5.jpg (13136 bytes)It was built when I was a kid, must have been 1900. Sometimes us kids would get in there and pump water instead of the dogs. Would take two on the side to get it rocking. Every half turn of the wheel it would pump water. We wore one wheel out and had to build the second one. The boards got rotten and got loose so we had to build another one. We broke two dogs for it, one was a collie dog and Don was a short-haired hound. In the summertime we would take a five gallon can, put a lot of holes in the bottom of it and hang it from the shaft that went through there. We would take and put it there so it would go around the shaft inside and it would just hang there with water in it and it would sprinkle on the dogs to keep them cool while they were running around pumping water for the stock.

More people stopped and looked at that damn wheel. Nobody else built one.

In the summertime when it was so hot and no wind, a windmill wouldn't pump enough water. It saved a lot of labor. When we had to pump water by hand we would sometimes scare the horses away so we wouldn't have to pump more water by hand. Tried to put a goat in the wheel to pump water, but he was too smart. The second dog we tried to teach to go in there, we put the old one in there first and have him teach the new dog what to do. If they weren't careful, he might get caught between the spokes and kill them. They built it high enough on the sides so they couldn't jump out too easily.

The Pigeon House

George McWilliam and Arthur Coppin, my brother, raised pigeons. About 3000 pigeons. Every two weeks they sent crates with squabs in it and sent them to San Francisco. The barn had air holes. After the San Francisco earthquake and fire, the market wasn't any good. The barn was across the street from the old house. They built one for their grandparents to take care of. When grandfather died, Wray and I stayed with grandmother and went to school from there. Every Saturday we had to bathe one another in the tub. Grandmother would make us take a bath every Saturday night. Must have been 8-10 years old then. The pigeon house was torn down after the San Francisco earthquake and fire. They sent a couple of teams down to San Francisco to help clean up. My brother Jim took one team down and another fella went down and took a team that helped clean up.

The Tornado

The tornado went through here about 1900. That was a bunch of scared kids. Everybody came with wagons, buggies to get the kids just after they heard about it. Nobody got hurt. Maybe it was in the 1900's because I was still in school. It tore the pump off, it just unscrewed the pump right off. One kid was hollering, "Now was the time to make darts" because the shingles were flying. Another kid was outside and the suction was so strong it drug him along with it and got caught in the fence, in between two boards that kept him there. I forget who it was. Scared the wits out of us. We didn't sleep at night for a long while after that. Quite a rumble to it. I remember I couldn't sleep at night. When you stood out there after the first one, it started forming right above our heads. Teacher said, go out in that grain field and lay down, it was about waist high. How we went through the wet grain like a bunch of drowned rats to lay down in the grain. Then several people came toward the school and came after their kids. It was the only one we ever had. It came clear down to the ground.


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[ Clarence Curtis Coppin's Remembrances ]
[ Letter to Robert & Catherine Coppin 12/24/1854 ]
[ Letter to Robert & Catherine Coppin 10/28/1855 ]

 

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