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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One
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Though most of the family moved away from the Erickson district, they have always thought of this as "home", the community in which they grew up, and have enjoyed regular visits back to the scenes of their youth.
LEE, THEODORE AND EMMA
by the Family
Theodore (Ted) was eighteen years old the year he came with his family to Erickson from Minnesota. He, like his parents, had worked on the Barrett Ranch. As well as helping at home he got a job those first years on the crew building the railroad west to Rossburn. When Township 18-19 in the Harrison Municipality was opened up for homesteading in 1908 he filed on S.E. 12W. He liked to tell of the trip to Dauphin to the area Land Titles office. He and another fellow each had a horse which they hitched together to a cutter and drove by way of the Dauphin trail over the mountain. Arriving at the office, Ted went in first and when the other fellow's turn came he found they were filing on the same piece of land! By this quirk of fate Ted got his homestead which became the family home at the present junction of Highways No. 10 and No. 45.
During this time another young man from Minnesota, Ludwig Gusdal, had become Ted's close friend. In 1907, his sister Emma, eldest daughter of Matthias Gusdal of Benson, Minn., had come to Danvers to visit her brother and stayed on to keep house for him. Her humourous tale was that her father had bought her a return ticket to Erickson but had given her no money. As she had been helping at home for many years she felt like venturing out on her own. When she reached her destination she turned in her fare home for some ready cash and thus launched herself for the rest of her life. Cupid shot his arrows and Ted and Emma were married in 1908 in his parents' home.
The first winter they lived in the vacant buildings on N.W. 18-18-18W which her brother Oswald had now acquired and they were still there when their first child was born. The other seven children were born on their own farm. That summer they moved a log house from brother Ludwig's N.E. quarter and that became their first home with a lean-to kitchen added to it. The following years were busy ones. Ted often hired young immigrants from the neighbouring Ukrainian settlement to clear the land. As these men knew no English it was difficult for them to communicate. No doubt often lonely, they would play with the little ones and talk to them in their own language. One of these, when married, named his firstborn" John" after the little boy he had dangled on his knee. In this way John Lee learned a fair amount of Ukrainian that he still enjoys using. In the following years many of these folks came to Ted for help with business documents until they learned English.
The next ten years saw the acquisition of two more quarters of land, N.E. 12-18-19W and N.W. 7-18-18W. In 1913, the barn was built and still stands today with additions to both sides. They had a growing herd of Shorthorn cattle. Then at noon on December 31, 1919
they had the misfortune of losing their home by fire. Very little of the contents were saved so this was a severe blow. Emma and the four younger children, the youngest a baby of six weeks, spent the rest of the winter with her folks, the Mathias Gusdals. John and Ervin stayed at their uncle Peter Lee's in Erickson. They had been at tending Tales School but from this time on they all went to the Erickson School. Steve Speechly was working for Ted that winter and somehow they managed living in a granary as there were the chores to do. This was also the winter that the dread influenza epidemic flared up again though not as severe as the previous year. They put up a building which later became a hen house and the family lived in this until 1923 when the large new house was built.
Ted used to say he wanted to plan things so they would always be busy. With the growing family of five boys and three girls, hired men and a hired girl in summer, everyone was busy. Besides the grain farming, they milked several cows, had a flock of sheep as well as one of White Rock hens. Turkeys were there too. Ted also acquired a threshing outfit and did custom threshing as well as land breaking and road building in the ward. The "Rumely" also supplied the power for crushing the gravel when No. 45 Highway was built.
Emma was a thrifty homemaker and took pleasure in making as much of her household's needs as possible. Her sewing machine was no doubt her most prized possession. She had taken a sewing course in Benson years before and she put this training to good use in clothing her family. Their own wool made it possible for her to spin and knit many articles, both by hand and on a knitting machine. She was always grateful to Mary Kopeechuk (Soltys) for her help for five summers and they remained close friends. When the house was completed Emma spun yarn and knitted, crocheted and wove large and small rugs for the floors. Quilts and mattresses were filled with wool.
Social life centred around the church where all the children were baptized and confirmed and the family were active members in all activities. Ted was councillor for Ward six of the R.M. of Harrison for some years. Later when they lived in Erickson he served as Reeve of the R.M. of Clanwilliam, and after the incorporation of the village he was Mayor for a time. Always interested in the Co-operative movement he was a board member of the Farmer's Elevator, later the Pool Elevator, the Consumer's Co-op and the Erickson Credit Union of which he was the first Manager. He also served on the board of the Erickson District Hospital.
After Levi's marriage and with all the rest of the family away on their own, they moved to Erickson in 1946 and built a new home on Second St. S. where they lived until Emma's death in 1958. Ted remained in their home for a time until his failing health made it necessary to make a change. Most of his remaining years were spent on the home farm with Levi and Eileen until he was hospitalized in 1965 and he passed away that fall in Brandon.
John, born 1909. (refer to Lee, John and Harriet). Ervin, born 1911, remained at home after completing
his school years. He was never in very good health and