In this third installment of her
manuscript, Elsie Crocker tells about some of Walter and Flora Underwood’s
experiences once they reached their destination. They had already traveled
halfway around the world, from England to the western United States, and were
finally going to meet Walter Hawkes, whose letters and promise of a sack of
tobacco had convinced them to make the journey.
Incidentally, Elsie gives their
place of residence as Idaho Falls, Idaho. However, both the 1900 and 1910
censuses give his residence as Hyde Park, in Cache County, Utah. While it is
conceivable that Elsie made an error in this claim—which would be
understandable considering that she was writing about events that occurred
before her own birth—there is also the possibility that the Hawkes family
indeed spent some time in Idaho Falls. It is certain that they did have some
connections to Idaho. Hyde Park itself is not far from the Idaho border.
Moreover, the 1900 census gives the birthplace of Walter Hawkes’ daughter Madia
Hawkes (born June 1888) as Idaho. And finally, the 1913 land owners directory
for Pocatello, Idaho includes Walter Hawkes of Hyde Park, Utah. By 1920 and
1930, the family is residing in Preston, Franklin, Idaho.
Finally they were
reaching their destination, Idaho Falls, Idaho. This was a much larger city
than some of the cities they had traveled thru.
Mother, at last was
relieved, to know she was going to stay put for a while. They were dead tired,
to freshen and to rest for a while would be welcomed. Up to now the journey
wasn’t anything to write home about. Mother was waiting to write to her folks, but
to tell them about their experiences, her folks wouldn’t understand. She was
afraid it would upset them. She was afraid they would want her to come back
home. Therefore not many passed between them.
In Idaho Falls, by
asking around they soon found Dads cousin. He was well known. His name was
Walter Hawks. Everyone was glad the journey was over.
The Hawks seemed so
happy the folks had arrived safe and sound. They were received with open arms.
They made a big fuss over my brother Walter. I was especially refreshing to get
a good bath.
After a while Walter
Hawks said “Gee, Walter, I must give you, your sack of tobacco, that I have
saved for you.” He handed my dad, a sack of tobacco, but it was a sack of Bull
Durm. In England a sack is 100 lbs. He had come all this way for a sack about
three inches by four inches and drawn at the top with a draw string. The sack
weight about three or four ounces. Mother said you “should have seen Dad’s
face, when he saw this tiny sack. This sack the men carried in their pockets,
when they went to work. They used to roll their own cigarettes.
I bet my poor dad
was disappointed, he had come all this way for a small sack of “Bull Drum”. I
do honestly think the promise of this sack of Bull Durm, brought my mom to
Dad made light of it
and joked about being such a fool. I’m sure it wasn’t the tobacco but the size
of the sack.
Dad’s cousin had an
upstair apartment ready for them. There were glad to have a place to stay, and
such nice people to visit with. This is the first time they had felt
comfortable since leaving England.
Dad worked odd jobs,
plowing, planting and building fences and so forth. He was happy and worked
hard, feeling he was doing things he hadn’t ever done before. Seeing the seed
he had planted growing into something to eat. He was doing something worth
He did things he
thought impossible, like plowing. A person ran behind a one horse plow or
sometimes a two horse. You would put the reins over your head and around your
neck. You held the two handle plow with both hands, to keep it right in the
furlough. The horse was hitched to the plough, infront. It was hard work
holding the plow in the furlough, keep it deep enough. After the plowing was
done, it had to be disced, that’s chopping up the clods, a harrow was used to
level it. Then the real work began, the handwork, making rows planting,
watering and hoeing the weeds sometimes thinning. If you thined the small
plants the others grew larger. Of course if the thin ones were large enough we
would cook them and eat them.
Dad always told us
“Where’s there a will there’s a way”
One day Dad’s cousin
gave Dad a 100 lb. sack of corn, (we used to call them a gunny sack). They were
insulted as in England corn was pig’s food. “What to do with it?” They decided
the only place they had was under the bed. So under the bed it went. They had
to hide so the cousins couldn’t see it when they came to the apartment. Mom and
Dad was afraid their cousins would think they didn’t appreciate their
In the meantime
Mother was learning to bake bread sew enough to mend their clothes. She was
baking bread real good.
Time went by, what’s
that smell? Well checking found it to be the corn under the bed. The corn was
spoiling. “Oh what to do” They couldn’t carry it doun the stairs, as those kind
people would see them. As time went by the smell got worse. So one night they
stayed up until midnight. It was dark and everyone in bed and hopefully asleep.
Dad very carefully carried that sack doun the stairs. No one saw him and no one
ever knew, what he did with it. Mother never asked him what he had done with
it. It was such a relief to get it from under the bed. They opened the windows
wide that night, something that wasn’t possible before They were afraid their
neighbors would smell it.
Dad has planted a
lot of corn since and had learned to like it. To bad Mother never asked how to
cook it, as I am sure they could have made good use of it. Especially when
money was so scarce. Mother always quoted “To waste is to sin”. Or “Waste not
is to want not”.
Now you can see fully why I have always loved the story of
how my great-grandparents came to America for a “sack of tobacco.” What a punch
line! By the way, in case you are confused by “Bull Durm,” that is Elsie’s
misspelling of the popular brand name “Bull Durham.”