- Name: Mads Jonathan Madson
- Born: September 20, 1875 Salem, Utah,
- Died: July 18, 1930 Malad, Idaho
- Related through: Erin's grandfather James Madson
John (he always went by that name) was born to James Ephraim and Birgithe Jensen Madson on September 20, 1875 at Salem, Utah. He was the third son in a family of eight boys and one girl. They were James Ephraim Jr., Enoch Martines, Joseph Lorenzo, Ervin Erastus, Franklin Oliver, Bodilia Christine, William Hyrum and Elmer LeRoy. His parents were converts to the Mormon Church and came to Utah from Denmark. They met and married after coming to Utah.
John grew up in Salem and was active in the church until he and some of his brothers came to Idaho to find work. He always kept his strong testimony. The small farm in Salem was probably just not large enough to supply work and a living for the family. He freighted with a team and wagon for some time and often talked about the wheat he hauled to Corrine, Utah — the end of the road line. He would take such things as honey back to sell to the farmers on his way home and on north. In the spring of the year he would shear sheep and became quite an expert at this. After he was married he continued to shear sheep for awhile to get money to buy a farm and get established on it at Elkhorn (near Malad).
After coming to Idaho he married Ann Amelia Clark. They had eleven children. After about one year of marriage my parents moved with their baby son to the newly acquired dry farm near Malad, Idaho. With a great deal of hard work they cleared the land of sagebrush — not all that first year. It took years to get all the "grubbing sage" done. Wheat was to be the main crop. Planting was mostly in the fall in soil that had been plowed and harrowed in the spring and allowed to remain idle all summer. This was known as winter wheat. A little barley and spring wheat was planted in the spring. Some alfalfa was grown also, but it was difficult because of lack of water. The water right with the farm amounted mainly to the spring runoff from the canyon on the north.
We always had a few milk cows, a few pigs and chickens, sheep and range cattle. The sheep came from lambs left as "bums" (without mothers and unable to survive with the herd). Ours was the last farm where anyone lived all year on the way to the summer range. The sheep men would leave these lambs with us and we would bottle feed them until they could survive on grass and hay. Some years we tried to raise turkeys, but it was quite unsuccessful and Mother soon gave up on it.
|Mads Jonathan Madson family around 1920. Grandpa James is the young boy sitting on the chair.|
The outdoor work was naturally heaviest in summer. As soon as the snow was gone and the ground dried out a little (usually about April), the plowing began for fields harvested the fall before. After the plowing, the land was harrowed and allowed to rest until fall when it was planted into "winter wheat" to be harvested the next summer. Some days were spent in weeding this land with a garden hoe by us children. This was supposed to be boy's work, but sometimes the girls helped too. My strongest memories were of the days when my father decided to haul rocks. Anyone who could lift a five to thirty or so pound rock got in on the job. It was done with a team of horses and a wagon going back and forth over the plowed land. There seemed no end to the rocks every year turned up by the plow or washed down from the canyons north of the farm with the spring run off. We all helped load the wagon and then unload at the huge rock pile near the center of the field. I think that rock pile is still there in spite of efforts to give them away as building material. There just seems to be no end to them. We were super tired and dusty after a day of rock hauling.
The other job that took the girls out of the house was tromping hay as it was loaded onto the wagon and then leading the derrick horse as the hay was stacked or put into the barn loft. The hay was pulled up by means of a rope and pulley attached to a huge hay fork. A very steady and gentle horse was required for this work. Our job was to lead the horse out until the fork was tripped and then slowly back him up to get another forkful. Haying on the dry farm wasn't so bad. There was little water and little hay, often no second or third crop, but we had big hay crops after my parents bought the small farmed owned by my mother's parents. It was less than a mile west of our farm, but on lower ground and the St. John ditch with water rights ran through it. Grandpa Bake kept the home and garden spot. He was well known for his vegetables and especially for fine textured blue mechanock potatoes which he grew. The yield was small, but the potatoes were choice.
With this new farm we now had an orchard, mostly apples, and a garden space with water. It meant more work, but more good food too. We canned lots of string beans by a cold pack method. The filled jars were placed in the clothes boiler in water about an inch above the bottle tops and processed at least four hours. Beef and venison were done in the same manner. It took a lot of time and effort and kept the old stove going, but they kept well. Later the pressure cooker replaced the boiler, but not while I was living at home.
My other major outside chore was milking cows night and morning. During the summer the younger boys had the job of herding the cows. They were turned out to graze each morning on the rural roadside or nearby foothills. Thunder storms sometimes made this pretty scary business. They did ride a horse to do this work, but it was very boring and tiresome.
My father kept busy in winter repairing machinery or farm buildings and oiling and repairing harnesses for the horses. Besides this he read what books he could get hold of and spent endless hours reading the scriptures which he could explain with amazing clarity.
A once a year event was the chokecherry expedition of our family up John Evans Canyon in our white top buggy or wagon. The canyon was about five to eight miles west of our farm and it took all day. We all had to pick chokecherries from the tree like bushes as hard and fast as we could. Some of the smaller children would climb on the limbs and sit there to hold them down so we could reach the fruit. We were rewarded with a picnic lunch and several days of cooking and squeezing the juice out after we got home. The jelly tasted wonderful with hot bread and butter which we had at least every other day and with pancakes. We used no pectin or apple juice so the jelly was full flavor and pretty liquid. None of it ever went to waste.
The Fourth of July was a very special day. We would get up extra early to do chores and then head for town and the public square for the big celebration. Our allowance for that day went from ten cents to a quarter for candy and soda water. It was a rare treat to visit the refreshment stands, take part in the races and watch the ballgame. After Aunt Mabel moved to town her place was headquarters for a pot luck dinner and visiting. She lived just two blocks north of the square where the celebration took place.
Our Father died suddenly from a heart attack at home on July 18, 1930 at the age of 54. He had been suffering from chest pains for some time and over-exerted himself putting out a small fire in the motor of the combine-harvester he was running the day before his death.
This article is taken from information written and compiled by Hattie Madson Knight, 1976.