Jim Weaver Interview with Gay Robertson Part 3 of 3
ROBERTSON: Do you remember any stories or any impressions you had of the real old timers. For instance, the Purples, the Margerums, the Maxwells, etc?
WEAVER: Well, yes. O.P. Maxwell, up at the Maxwell place, came in there in the early days. He was a Tennesseean. And you talk about a… not necessarily a mountain man, but a tough old homesteader or rancher. I can remember as a kid, that he would carry that cream down and keep filling up the can at Stehekin, till it was time to ship it out, and it was probably sour by then. But he would carry that cream down on his back nine miles from up there on that place. And he cleared, with a stump puller, dynamite, and horses, he cleared probably more land than any other person other than Harry Buckner’s father. Harry Buckner’s father on that orchard.
But Maxwell up there, working mainly alone, cleared an enormous amount of land for a settler. And he was really a rough, tough man. Hearty. If there ever was one. And my dad, going and coming to the trap lines, would stay overnight, he’d go up the valley and stay with Mack, as he was known, and then go on. And he set down and figured up what he made per year, the income on that place up there. And I can’t remember what it was, but it was ridiculous, or pathetic, the amount of work that he had done. He literally killed himself on that place up there. And then the brothers came in and they had a whirl at it for a little while, then it passed on. Of the homesteaders that did simply an enourmous amount of work with no return, I don’t suppose that Mack probably had over two or three hundred dollars in the bank. I think of my folks in the early days. And they were workers, you asked about what we did. My dad worked for the Forest Service, as I repeated, and that pack train business. They porbably didn’t handle, and trapping in the winter, two or three hundred dollars a year.
And the boat bill, if you ask of an impression, when Tuttles run the boat company, they would get the freight up, through the year. And in the fall, this was a ritual. Tom Tuttle would come over to our house and have supper, and after supper they’d clear off the table, and get the boat bills out, and go through those boat bills, this is my memory. Mom and Dad and Tom Tuttle, and they’d thrash that out, of what they owed him, and give him a check if they had the money. That was a ritual for… I can remember it just like it was yesterday. ‘Well, no, look here, you’ve got this two or three places, and we never got this…’ ‘Okay, maybe Chet made a mistake, mark that off’. And that’s about the way they did business. (laughter). How they ever made any money, I don’t know. Hubbard, down at Moore’s Inn, had a new boat that they build, and the engine went back. And the Wisconsin Motor Company shipped him a new motor to put in this boat. This was a… probably a thirty foot boat, a nice boat. And the engine didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come. And Hubbard raised cain, he was a lawyer. And he finally ran it down. And the engine had been shipped, and it had been shipped to Chelan, and they finally ran it down, that it had been put on Tuttle’s freight boat. And they pinned him down. ‘Well, you know, that was a funny thing, but we got down there in the wind, and the engine slid off into the lake!’ So they raked up another engine! That’s the way the did business! (laughter). That’s an absolute fact. Their descendants wouldn’t admit it. If something didn’t show up at Stehekin, after a reasonable six months or a year, you’d pin ‘em down, it might’ve slid off those boats into the lake. Paul does better today, much better. (laughter).
ROBERTSON: What about some other old timers? How about the Purples?
WEAVER: Yeah. My people were very close friends. And in world War I, my dad and mother went over there by Stratford and Wilson Creek to wheat ranch, and the Purples loaned them the money. Purples had a little resort of some sort at Soap Lake. Soap Lake was quite a resort deal. The water hadn’t become diluted by then. And Purples financed them on this wheat ranching, and one year he lost the crop, the next year I thin he broke even. And when my folks sold flooding rights on the place, they paid the Purples back two or three or four hundred dollars, whatever they lost, because the were a lot older. It was a gamble. And they had that Purple Point Inn, although I don’t remember really anything about it. I don’t remember them as people. And I gave a picture of the Purple Point and Mrs. Purple to Hobbie (Morehead). Time to pass some of these pictures on. But to remember the people real well, I don’t. Except I thin his name was Winfield. And when she’d round him up to do the chores, he said, ‘mother, I haven’t had time to read yet today’. (laughter). She was the going concern. So even in those days, you know.. and Margerum, I can’t remember… the stories about the old boy were not of the best. He had kind of a shady reputation.
ROBERTSON: Do you remember those stories?
WEAVER: No, not in detail, or what he was supposed to have died of.
WEAVER: Uh… not… And I don’t remember where the man came from, he lived up there for a time. Bill Buzzard on the Buckner place was another one of the old timers. But you see, those people… Laurence would remember better than I do. By the time that we came along, we were into the days of Jack Blankenship, the first ranger, and the Purples some. And Maxwell upvalley.