Week 49: #52 Ancestors – Winter
By Eilene Lyon
Well into the 20th century, my ancestors relied on horse power. The real thing. Here are a few images from the “archives.”
This photo shows Chet Painter (a Halse cousin) on the Guy Halse farm in Dexter Township, Codington County, South Dakota. Though it’s cold enough that there are icicles hanging from the wagon, Chet isn’t even wearing gloves! His jacket and hat don’t look particularly warm, either. It looks to me like what he’s sitting on is a large metal trough. What do you think? I just love the draft horses. So sturdy and noble.
This picture comes from Moscow, Idaho. My great-grandfather, Charles E. Smith, had a grocery delivery business in the 1910s and early 1920s. Though he later bought trucks, originally all the hauling was done by horse-drawn wagon – or once it snowed, by sleigh!
This watercolor painting depicts a family legend, a dairy delivery horse named Napoleon. The Clear Lake Dairy was started by my dad’s uncle, Lloyd Halse. He and his wife, Berdyne, raised Jersey cows on their farm. Napoleon would get hitched to the delivery wagon (an old mail truck), and set out for the dairy in town – with no one at the reins!
The gentle horse knew the entire route by heart. The dairy man would jump from the wagon at each house, get the order, then put the bottles of milk inside the house. At the end of the day, Napoleon would be told to go back to the farm, and off he would go – again, without a driver. He knew to stop at the railroad tracks before crossing, too.
I like how the milk wagon is pulling a kid on a sled. According to my great-aunt, Shirley, “…kids would come out to ride on the wagon a ways and even our own kids would crawl up [Napoleon’s] legs and he would just stand there and let them.”
Napoleon worked the dairy route until his death in 1949. That was the end of horse-drawn dairy deliveries, and a sad time, in Clear Lake, South Dakota.
Feature image: Watercolor of the Clear Lake Dairy wagon (Courtesy of Clear Lake Historical Society)