WILD ROSES AND PRAIRIE WOOL
Charles William Cox, the oldest of eleven children born to William and Alice Cox, and Sarah Bennett, the oldest of four daughters born to Walter and Ellen Bennett, spent their youth in the Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire, England. They were married in May 1903. Inez Rose, the first of their five daughters, was born in March 1904.
The following incidents are related by Inez Rose Sjøgren from the life of her parents.
We arrived first in Ontario where we spent a short time and Dad worked for a dairy farmer. In the spring of 1906, we arrived by immigrant train in Calgary and then on to Exshaw, where the men worked in the cement plant. Dad became ill and during this time Mother, being a true pioneer, rallied to the necessity – found work and was able to get by this trying time. The next move was back to Calgary where Dad worked for a construction company. We lived in a small tent with boards four feet high around the outside. Oh, how cold! The temperature dipped to 50 degrees below zero, an only a small wood stove. No running water (except perhaps running to the river for it). No floor covering, and wool blankets and warm clothing were scarce. In April, their second daughter, Lillian Stella (Richmond) was born in their tent home with the assistance of a midwife.
Hearing of greener fields and better pay to the north, Dad decided that was the place of better opportunities, so off we went with a pair of nondescript horses hitched to a rickety wagon loaded with our few possessions. Clever Bar was our destination. Dad worked with a bridge gang. Misfortune struck; our worldly goods were destroyed by fire. So again we drifted on. This time to a farm, because as Dad and Mother said, “a farm was a good place to raise a family”. In the spring of 1908 we settled on a homestead in the Rumsey-Scollard area.
Our first welcome was extended by Mr & Mrs Ronald McDonald and we spent some time with them while our first permanent home was built, from good old terra firma. Little by little, our first prairie farm took shape. Dad ploughed with oxen, holding the plough while Mother led the oxen. Mother used drive one ox to rake hay.
Twice a year we made a trip to Stenler for supplies, a two-day trip each way. Once when the supplies were unloaded we discovered the coal oil for the lamps and lantern was forgotten. Can you realise how long that winter of 1909 and 1910 seemed to be with no light during the long winter evenings?
In March 1912, the third daughter, Constance Ada (Attridge) arrived in the sod shack with Mrs Ronald McDonald as midwife. Soon after the sod house was replaced by a lumber house, which has been in constant use ever since. New Year’s Day, and sadness filled the new house, a fourth daughter, Clarice, lived only four days.
August 1914, war was declared and when Dad joined up we had a sale of our effects. In June 1915, a fifth daughter, Almedia Maude, Babe (Jackson), was born. Mother took the four young girls and lived in Calgary. Dad was wounded in the war and after being released from hospital in 1917, we returned to the farm in the Rumsey district.
Many good times were enjoyed by the people in this district. Our early neighbours were Mr & Mrs Walter Gould and Mr & Mrs Frank Morely (Miss Ethyl Gould).
For many years after the war, Christmas Eve was celebrated in our home. Mr & Mrs Jack Upton, Mr & Mrs Gordon Primrose and families, Dave Brown, Dick Lee, Jack Kyte, Ben Parker and John Johnson usually came. When the Christmas concerts and dances were held all the children were in attendance. The children would fall asleep and would be covered by coats on the benches. Surprise parties were popular. Everybody knew except the family who was surprised. One amusing remembrance; everybody was to arrive to surprise Dick Lee. Dick was not home, the door was locked but Gordon Primrose decided it would be alright to gain entry through the window. After he was inside he phoned the Jones family and Dick was there. By the time he arrived home, Mrs Primrose and the other ladies were busy frying ham and fixing the other good things they had brought for a midnight supper.
Dick Lee was a popular fellow at all parties as he played the flute. Both Mother and Dad had good singing voices and added much to the entertainment. We children loved to watch Mr & Mrs Carl Johnson dance the Hambo – a Swedish dance.
For two years, 1926 to 1928, Mother and Dad had a general store in Rumsey. In the fall of 1928 they moved to Calgary. The first dairy farm they purchased was directly across the road from where the Crossroads Motel is today. Later they bought a larger farm. This was the CK Ranch – on of the late Senator Patrick Burns’ early ranches. Here a large herd of registered Holstein cattle, known as the Gracelyn herd, produced milk for the Calgary market. Mother and Dad lived at Gracelyn Farms until their passing.
1953 they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at the home of their daughter, Mrs Stella Richmond. In 1958, their fifty-fifth anniversary was held in the Rumsey district at the home of their granddaughter, Mrs Stella Sengaus. In the evening, open house was held for their long-time friends.
Sarah (Bennett) Cox, born February 21 1880, passed away September 29 1962.
Charles William Cox, born December 7 1884, passed away June 2 1966.