Week 40: #52 Ancestors – Harvest
By Eilene Lyon
My great-grandfather, Charles Edward Smith, never had much success as a farmer. He began in Missouri, then moved to eastern Washington. The farm in Washington entailed dryland farming, because water was scarce.
Once the family moved to Moscow, Idaho, around 1910, he engaged in other businesses and began to earn a good living. First, he had a confectionary/ice cream shop downtown.
Later, Charles started a grocery delivery business. Given the poor quality of roads and the rural character of the region, this enterprise did well. He began with horse-drawn wagons and sleds, but as motor vehicles became available, he bought trucks and automobiles.
According to my grandfather, Laurence Smith, Charles did well in business until my great-grandmother, Mary Lila (Reams) Smith died of a heart attack in 1917 at the age of 45.
The photo above shows Mary Lila and Charles on the left. They would go to Lewiston each year, about 35 miles south, during the peach harvest and bring back a large load. Grandpa recalls the event:
The trip to Lewiston to pick peaches was an annual affair. I remember that we all got into the G.M.C. truck and headed out. In those days we went down the old grade, which was really twice removed from the present highway alignment. At the orchard south of Lewiston the folks would pick boxes of peaches and after a picnic lunch we would head back to Moscow.
We not only canned peaches but we made what was called peach butter. In the processing of the fruit everybody worked, male and female. Your gender was no excuse from kitchen duties. I remember standing on a chair and maneuvering a wooden paddle-like tool to stir the large batch of peach butter. It was necessary to keep the paddle moving so the fruit mixture would not scorch or stick to the bottom of the large container on top of the old-fashioned kitchen range.
He didn’t mention how long all this processing took, but judging from the quantity of fruit, I imagine it took more than a full day to do all that canning and cooking. Whew!
Feature image: The Smiths at the Lewiston peach orchard. Unknown boy on left, Mary Lila, Charles, Ada (Smith) Trout, and Callie (Trout) Smith. (Collection of the author)
Source: Memoirs by Laurence M. Smith and family photo collection.
Charles Edward Smith on Ancestry.com.