This page is a text version of the Beckoning Hills History Book. This is the story of the Turtle Mountain Area of Manitoba. You can get a PDF copy of the book on our full version page. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the full version. The full version also includes each image in the original book.

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In the year 1880 my father James Burgess came west from Bluevale, Ontario. He took up a homestead on section 22-2-20 approximately three-quarters of a mile north of Horton which used to be known as Old Desford.

In that same year he built a log house, bought a team of oxen, plough and wagon. He broke up some land, then in the fall he returned to Ontario, coming back again the next March in 1881 accompanied by Jim and William Patterson.

In July of the same year my mother and the family, four girls and two boys, came by train through Milwaukee and Chicago to Emerson where my father met us with a team of oxen and covered wagon. We headed for our new home, stopping at night, set up our tents, made our beds, and cooked our meals in the open, which we .did for two weeks. We arrived at the homestead July 20, 1881. Our nearest neighbor was my uncle, Joe Burgess, who lived a mile from us.

Most newcomers stopped at my father's home until they got a bit settled.

The first grain was seeded broadcast by hand, and was cut with a cradle, something like a scythe. It was tied by hand and threshed with a flail. It was a few years later before threshing machines were brought in. Our nearest market for wheat was Brandon which was a three day trip, and at the price given for grain after getting a few supplies there was very little money left.

There was a grist mill at Crystal City where my father used to get flour.

The first church services were held at my father's home, the minister being the Rev. Cameron. There was no school for several years. Richview was built and my youngest brother, Walter Burgess, attended. I was only eight years old when I came west, so by the time the school opened I thought I was too big to go to school, so I got very little schooling.

Mr. Nichol started a store a few years later on his farm about a mile and a half from Horton School. We were able to purchase most things needed which was not too much in those days.

My mother made her own soap by saving wood ashes and pouring water over them to get lye, mix with grease and make the soap. She made her own cheese also.

We went to the Turtle Mountains to pick raspberries, the only wild fruit I can remember growing at that time.

One thing that I remember well was when I was herding the cattle on the prairie. I happened to look up towards the west and there coming down the trail were a lot of red coated Mounted Police on their ponies. It gave me such a scare I SOon rounded up the cattle and hurried them home.