Narrative History of
CHARLES L. ROBBINS and CLARA P. BROOKS
– circa 1925, son and daughter respectively
of Arlington, Iowa pioneers Lewis Edgar Robbins
who married Julia Lorena Barnes and of
Alfred Clark Brooks who married Frances Lenora Richards.
Written by Chas. Robbins.
[editorial changes in brackets]
Contributed by Dale Robbins
C. L. & Clara Brooks Robbins
Pioneers of Iowa,
Oklahoma, and Washington
In writing this sketch of ourselves I will leave comment on dispositions
and character to others who may care to add to this history. [I] Will
write of each of us separately until our marriage and thereafter the
writing will refer to both of us under the editorial we.
I was born Mar. 17, 1878 in a little board shanty about 14 x 16 feet,
unplastered, that sat about 5 rods from the road midway between Brush
Creek and Wadena on what was long know[n] as the Fish place. This shanty
was on a little piece of land (10 a) that my father had traded for and
soon after traded it off again. The little building had been built to
shave hoops in. It was the first school building in that neighborhood.
The first home I remember was the east 20 A. of the old Iowa home place.
The house was of logs about 20 x 20 and later had a board lean-to kitchen
8 x 20 built on the north side. There was a low upstairs or chamber next
[to] the roof where we 5 children always slept. This room upstairs was
separated with a curtain into two rooms. The gable ends had a window in
the East and West ends. The windows were six pane 6 x 10 windows of two
sashes each. This chamber was not plastered and our beds came to the roof
on the wall side and I remember we had to be pretty careful when we got up
or our heads got a good bump. During the first 10 years at this place we
had no barns or out buildings except those made of poles and straw
covered. The cellar was simply a hole dug under the house and bins were
made in it and covered with straw to keep the canned fruit and vegetables
from freezing. We had no well but carried water from a spring on the 20
just south of ours but 40 rods away.
There were trees all around the house and barn and heavy timber and
brush for miles around, in fact everywhere except where fields were
cleared or roads cut through. At first these roads went the shortest
routes between places and the settlers had hard times of it to get them
put on section lines instead of lengthwise of their farms. I remember such
a road went from the Northwest corner to the Southeast corner of fathers
farm and it almost took a law suit to get it put south by the house.
Father had his fences cut many times by prairie men who owned timber
tracts down that way.
I first went to school when I was 5 years old. The school was in the
little board shanty that I was born in. My first teacher was Sarah
Gladwin. About this time a school house was built 40 rods west of the
Antwine corners and was known as the Timber school. Later this name was
changed to the Maple Grove School. This school house was a frame building
16 by 24 feet with four windows on each side and no hall. This school was
a part of then Brush Creek school and was mostly run by directors who
lived in town.
I attended the Timber school every term till the fall. I was 16 years
old and at that age had never studied grammar because there had never been
a grammar class after I was old enough to take it. Among my teachers at
this school might be mentioned; Sarah Gladwin, Kate Huddy, Steve Brooks,
Lester Walrath, Etna Keith, Nora Newton, Elsie Newton, Elsie Allen, Nell
Newton, Myrtle Little, [and] Neva Richards.
Just a few words here as to how we boys at that time made our spending
money; and by that I mean all the money we had because all we ever spent
it for was clothes and school books and money spent on ourselves for
treats or entertainment was never known. When I was about 8 years old I
began to go into the woods to dig an herb called ginseng [sic]. All the
boys and girls of that part of the county did this. The root of this herb
sold at from 25 to 45Ë per pound green or about $2.50 per lb. When
washed and dried, it taking about 5 lbs. of green to make one of dry.
A good hustling boy 8 to 12 years old could gather about ½ lb. in a
day but a man could gather two or three lbs. We sold these roots to a
dealer, Wm. Seargant, who made his living dealing in
ginseng, pilings [? diff. to read] & hook-poles [or
hoop-poles?]. He lived at Wadena. Some of the time up till I was 16 I got
work on the farms hoeing corn or other crops or picking up potatoes or
driving horse on the hay forks. I usually got 25Ë per day.
I had lots of time for play and put in lots of time fishing, hunting,
skating, swimming and playing base ball. In other words up to the time I
was 16 I was an average kid living in the woods and didnt worry much
about clothes. As in summer we went bare-foot and overalls, shirt and
straw hat was all we needed. In winter of course my folks helped me get
together as good an outfit as they could afford.
At the age of 16 I began going to school at Arlington and [in] 1896
passed the common school exam and started in High School. During this time
I walked from home a distance of 3 miles except in extreme weather when I
staid [sic] with my sister Hattie Smith. In the spring of 1898 I graduated
from the High School and began work on a farm for J. S. Moore. My H. S.
teachers were Mr. Pressnall, Mr. Wellman and M. J. Goodrich.
In August 1898 I attended Normal Institute at West Union, was granted a
2nd Grade certificate to teach and secured the winter term of school at
the Kiple [sp.?} school 3 miles north of Wadena. I taught a 3 ½ month
term for $90, paid $1.50 per week for board and washing at Mr. Moores
where I had worked during the summer.
The next spring I did not apply for a school but attempted to canvass
for a home doctor book called the Cottage Physician. I worked
at this about two weeks around Stanley, Iowa but got homesick and gave it
up. The first spring that I worked for J. S. Moore I got $16 per month and
of course board. That was the year 1898. After the book agency failure I
again hired out to Mr. Moore at $23 per month. That year I joined the U.
B. Church at Arlington and later transferred to the Wadena Class as Mr.
Moore was pastor there.
In the fall of 1899 I was given the old home school, Maple Grove[,] on a
years contract at $30 per month. This year was up in June 1900 and during
the summer I worked out by the day during the vacation. Wages were then
1.00 per day.
In the winter of 1900-01 I taught the Wilcox school 4 miles east of
Arlington, 3 months at $22.50 per month, and again worked by the day
during the summer and fall. That fall I went with two cousins, Jim [&]
Will Crawford to southern Minnesota to work in harvesting. While there we
work[ed] with a steel gang at Mankato at $1.75 per day. This was the best
wages I had ever received. We boarded at a hotel at $4.50 per week.
In the winter of 1901-02 I again taught the Wilcox school at $25 per
month, four months. The school was out Feb. 25, 1902 and the day following
I started to Okla. Where my folks had moved the preceding fall. At the
same time Jesse Brooks, Clara Brooks and Grace Brooks started there[,] our
schools being out the same day. All our folks had moved there.
Clara Brooks was born on what is known as the John Culver place,
about 5 miles N. W. of Arlington, Ia. On the Fayette road. Her father A.
C. Brooks did not own this place but rented it of Jack McFarlane[,] his
brother-in-law. When she was 3 years old he bought a farm of this own
about a mile N.E. of there. The place like all other farms was mostly
timber which had to be cleared up.
The first school she ever attended was the Brooks school located about 2
miles towards Arlington. On account of deep snow she was unable to attend
school winters until she was at least 10 years old. This was the only
country school she ever attended. Among the teachers she remembers there
were Lavella Brooks, Julia Brooks, Lenora Huddy, Kate Huddy, Alfred Heath,
Jennie Little, Bess Newton, Lulu Hartson, Alfred Comstock, Myrt Comstock,
Orlando Brooks & Lissie Horton.
In the spring of 1895 she went to West Union and took teachers
examination and succeeded in obtaining a second grade certificate. Geo
Eckhart was hired to take her to West Union and her aunt
Neva Richards went along. She secured the Taylorsville School about 2
miles from Arlington. She received $18 per month and paid Uncle Ev.
Richards one dollar per week board. This was a 3 month term. She taught
the same school again the same fall and received $20 per month 2 months.
That fall A. C. Brooks sold out where they lived in the Brooks
neighborhood and bought out Pete Smith in the Maple Grove district. [Note:
as was common in those days she had been teaching school without having
attended even high school.]
The winter of 1895-96 she attended high school at Arlington with M. J.
Goodrich as principal and teacher. The spring of 1896 she taught
Taylorsville school 3 months at $20 per month.
In the fall of 1896 she secured the Maple Grove school for a year of 9
school months at $25 per month. She taught Maple Grove again the year
1897-98 at the same wages.
In the fall and winter of 1898-99 she taught the Corn Hill school on the
Fayette road two terms at $20 & $27.50.
In Spring of 1899 she taught at Mill Grove 3 months at $20.
She missed teaching a fall term that year and in the winter of 1899-1900
taught the Gundlach school out near Aurora about 14 miles from home.
In the spring , fall and winter of 1900-1901 she taught the Brooks
school at 27.50 per month. In year 1901-1902 she taught the Brooks another
year at 27.50 per month.
This brings her history up to Feb. 27, 1902 when she took the train for
Oklahoma with her brother Jesse, and cousins Grace Brooks and myself.
We had planned to be married as soon after we got to Oklahoma as we
could find a farm we could rent. My folks had been trying all winter to
find a place for us but up to our arrival had been unable to do so. After
we got there I tried to find a place but most of them wanted to sell or
rent for cash rent. We could do neither. At last my brother Wayne who was
to work fathers place let me in on the deal and we agreed to work it
together each taking one third of the crop raised. There were two houses
on the place; the original homestead stone shack and a new two room the
folks had built that almost joined the old one. They agreed to let us have
the small stone house to keep house in. It was not plastered inside and
was only 14 feet square but we had to do this or wait another year so we
decided to do it.
I had to have some sort of a farming team and as I only had $145 saved
from all my work and teaching school it was quite a problem how to make it
reach for all I had to have. The folks had all necessary farm tools that
they had brought with them and in their deal with Wayne he was to use
their team. I found a team of 800 lb. mules that I bought of Irvin Polson
for $135 including a chain tug harness. I paid him $100 down and gave a
note for the balance for one year. I bought an old low wheeled wagon for
$10 on time. Fathers place was covered with cockle burs every where
it had been in cultivation and the old ridges where the last years Kaffir
corn had been listed in were still in the fields. Our first work was to
drag down these weeds and burs and plow this ground as we were planning on
putting the whole place into corn.
Claras folks lived about six miles from mine on the Pawnee road.
We were married on April 16, 1902. Had a wedding at her home and had the
Iowa Colony there as guests. We drove home after the wedding behind our
mule team in my $10 wagon. We had no time to honeymoon as it was late to
put in the crops and we wanted to do some repairing on the house so we
could begin house keeping by ourselves.
We did not raise very big crops that year because the place was run down
and we did not understand dry farming. It rained all the time till June
1st, then it quit and didnt rain again until fall.
Nothing of importance happened that summer. Aunt Phoebe Rawson visited
our folks and we all had fine times fishing on the Arkansas River which
was only four miles away. The men of the neighborhood formed a company and
had a 210 foot seine made and as it rained most of the time so we could
not work we put in our time fishing. We caught fish weighing up to 65 lbs.
Three kinds of cat fish, carp, shad, perch, sturgeon, drumheads, buffalo
and other kinds I have forgotten. We raised a nice garden and all together
spent a pleasant summer. My third of the crops made me lots of rough feed
so we decided to buy some stock. We had bought a cow of Mr. Bruny [sp.
?] for our milk and had let her run in the home pasture.
In the fall of 1902 Claras father offered to sell us 80 A. of a
second place he had bought and as he had between four and five hundred
dollars of her money that she had saved from teaching and offered to take
that as first payment we decided to take it. Clara also had sufficient
money to buy most of our first housekeeping furniture. We gave $1800 for
the 80 acres on a contract to be deeded when full payments were made. The
place had a good orchard, well, barn and a nice stone house and cave or
outside cellar, but only about six acres of broke[n] land the balance
being in fine pasture.
We moved to this place late in the fall and having bought two cows and
two yearlings of Will Penny I had to put in most of the winter hauling
fodder from our other place six miles away. I had traded Wayne a bicycle
for a sow and when she got pigs it gave us a good start in live stock.
We spent a very happy year at this place but because of the small amount
of work land on the farm we were unable to pay more than the interest and
so late that fall we sold the place back to Claras father for $2000
thereby making enough to leave us our stock and about $700 cash.
May 29 of that year our first baby came. We named him Aaron Lorimer.
This was 1903.
That same fall we bought of Fred Beaver 80 acres 1 ½ miles farther
N.E. making it about 7 miles from Pawnee. This place cost us $1135, $700
of which we paid leaving a mortgage of $435 at 7%.
We moved there during the winter of 1903-04. The place had 35 acres of
plowed up land but poor sandy soil. Sand rock cropped out everywhere and
the balance of the land was pasture poorly fenced. The house was a two
roomed box affair built by putting the boards up and down vertically with
no frame. It was divided into 2 12x12 rooms. There was a big spring close
by covered over with a stone building and a good drilled well near the
house. The barns were poorly built box sheds. In the fall I had traded the
mules to Jesse Brooks for a team of horses, Mike and Gray and with this
team I prepared and put the whole 35 A. into corn because an Iowa man dont
know anything but corn.
In May 1904 a R.F.D. examination was given in Pawnee and two new routes
were to be established and as I had got all the farming I could stand I
took this examination as also did my brother-in-law L. D. Kern. When the
appointments came he and I had been successful in getting the two routes
at $60 per month [--] we to furnish our teams & mail hack.
This work started July 1-1904 and we had just got our corn land by for
the season. We had only 3 days to get ready our outfits, sell off our
stock, rent a house in town and move in. In our haste we almost gave our
stock away and gave big prices for driving horses. I gave $120 for a span
of ponies and ordered a regular Studebaker mail hack which cost $75.
We lived in Pawnee 5 years. While there Frances was born. During that
time I drove the Rural Route. My salary built up from $60 to $75 per
month. On this we had to furnish our own outfit. While living in Pawnee we
bot vacant lots 1 & 2, block 52 and built our own home. We finally
sold this to Harley Davis for $800.
In May 1909 I took Civil Service examination for City Letter carrier at
Stillwater, Okla., [and] was successful in securing a position. So we
moved there to begin work July 1, 1909. My salary was $50 per month with
nothing to furnish. This seemed a small salary but at that time was
considered good pay.
In the fall after we moved to Stillwater we bought a home at 1205 Lowry
St. for $800. Here Ormonde [note: his name usually seen w/o the e]
In July 4, 1910 I was transferred from the City Carrier force to the
General Delivery Window and worked in the Post Office 10 years excepting
what time I was Letter Carrier.
After living at 1205 Lowry about 4 years we bought 5 acres of Fred
Stallard one mile east of Stillwater and built a house and put other
improvements thereon. We lived there only one year, in the meanwhile
renting the house on Lowry Street at $8.00 per month.
In 1914 we traded our place east of town to Walter Starry for a property
at 405 Duncan St. We moved to this home and lived here until we moved to
Washington in 1919.
In the meanwhile we had sold the Pawnee property and the one at 1205
Lowry St. at $800 each. Wayne [named for his uncle] was born at
405 Duncan St.
Jan. 1, 1919 we rented our house for $20 per month and sold our
household goods ready to move West. We had brother Wayne rent us a farm in
Yakima Co. near Sunnyside where he lived.
When we went to Wash., we went by Thayer, Kansas and stopped there to
visit Claras parents. While there Ormonde had a relapse of flu which
ran into pneumonia. He was very sick and we almost lost him. He got better
and we came on arriving at Sunnyside Mar. 5, 1919.
Before the first year was up we sold our home in Okla. For $2000.
We lived one year on the Widow Brown place S.W. of Sunnyside. There was
only 11 acres tillable soil on this ranch. We farmed that and all of us
worked for the Cascade Fruit Co. We sold over $500 worth of prunes. In the
fall of that year Jesse Brooks and family came from Montana to live in
Wash. He got work in the Cascade orchards. They lived with us that fall
and winter and in the spring of 1920 we moved to a 10 acre place N.E. of
Sunnyside that we had bot for $3250. We paid $1500 cash and gave security
for the balance. We lived there during 1920. I [was]working in the
Cascade orchards. The boys and Clara did the farming on the 10 acres.
In the spring of 1921 I was employed by the Reclamation Service as
patrolman and stationed at Prosser, Wash. The work consisted in patrolling
the laterals and canals of a certain section of territory and keeping
records as to the amount of water delivered to ranchers. We lived in a
government house for which a rental of $10 per month was charged. My
salary was $125 per month, I being required to furnish my own
transportation. I used a horse & buggy. While living here we sold our
Sunnyside home for $3500 which after commissions were paid left us our
original investment. Land was dropping in value very fast. We were glad to
get our money out of it.
While living at Prosser [Aaron] Lorimer started to college at
Washington State College at Pullman, Wn.
In the spring of 1922 we were transferred to what is known as 40 mile
beat, 4 ½ miles east of Sunnyside. This was an auto beat and paid
$140 per month. The work just the same as at Prosser only there was a nice
little tract of 7 acres [note: + house] which went with the job.
In 1923 Clara and I both made visits in Okla. Frances had graduated from
Sunnyside High School.
In 1924-25 Lorimer worked in architects offices in Seattle, Tacoma &
Yakima. Francis did a years service in the U. S. Coast Guard on Puget
Up to July 1-1925 all [the] same as usual, Jesse Brooks moved to
Yakima. Lorimer [is] working at Eugene, Oregon, planning on
attending college there. Francis [is] home. Aug. 1, 1925 we bought
new Ford car. Price $503 equipped with balloon tires. Salary now $150
gross. Wayne [bro. Of C.L.R.] living at Rathdrum, Idaho.
C. L. Robbinss History stops here. C.L.R. retired with a
government pension April 1, 1941 and that same year bought and moved to a
home in Sunnyside (1013 S. 13th St.) where he lived almost until his death
January 27, 1978. Clara died July 8, 1974. Both are buried at Sunnyside,
of Taylorsville, Iowa
(Fairfield Township) School Register - 1864 - 1871
The Story of Salon Barnes
NOTE: For genealogies of any Robbins, Brooks, Barnes, or Richards family
member of the pioneering days in northeastern Iowa or elsewhere contact
Dale Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org .
He has many old photos,
clipping, obituaries, biographies and documents pertaining to many of
these people. He will be happy to send copies for no charge except
expenses. Let him know what you might be looking for.]