L.J. Braasch

Mr. and Mrs. L.J. Braasch

Mr. L.J. Braasch related his story of coming to Gate Township for publication in the Golden Jubilee book, published in 1967. This is his story, modified to use the third-person tense and, in some cases, for clarity.

L.J. Braasch arrived at Wimbeldon in an emigrant car from Chicago on March 2, 1911. He was born and raised in the Chicago area, and had farmed there for a few years.

With him on the emigrant car he brought four horses, some old machinery, and some household goods, and set up farming near the farms of his two older brothers.

When the Reservation land opened for homesteading in 1912, he and his brother, Martin, traveled to Minot to register for homesteads. Both were fortunate enough to get claims.

That fall, he hired another emigrant car to carry his few belongings, and shipped them to Makoti, arriving in mid-October. He arrived on the night of a big blizzard, and had to put his horses up in Dick Turner’s livery barn, and he lived in the emigrant car for a week or more.

Once the weather cleared so that he could start off for his claim, sixteen miles from Makoti, he loaded a 125-bu. grain tank with lumber, provisions, and things from the emigrant car, such as bedding, a tent, and a kerosene stove, and started out with his four-horse team.

He recalled that it was about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon before he got started, the sun was very bright, and the snow was melting. It was a slow start, and the horses began to tire after they had gone only a few miles. He spied a set of small buildings a mile or two farther on, and managed to get there. It was the homestead of the Willis Delaforce family, who put him and his horses up for the night, and they had a great visit.

After a good breakfast the next morning, he started out again, only to find the roads getting worse and worse. About four miles along the trail, he came to the E.O. Anderson farm, and visited a while with them.

He continued on, and finally got to his claim, although it wasn’t easy to figure out exactly where his land was. When he found the corner stakes, he stood on top of the load and looked in all directions, not finding so much as a fence post anywhere; no buildings and no windmills. It seemed to him that he was lord of all.

He had no time to lose, as darkness was coming quickly, and he had to get his tent unloaded and set up while there was still light. By 9:00 o’clock at night, he had his horses in the tent, had found a water hole in the snow, and had had a bite to eat.

He dozed off and on during the night, but did not sleep well. At daylight, he fed the horses and had his own breakfast. He went outside the tent to find two large, hungry-looking grey timber wolves only a few rods away. He got his 12-gauge shotgun and scared them off.

His next tasks were to take inventory of his goods, and to decide where to unload the lumber for building his shack, which was going to be 18x18x7-foot, plus a 2-foot center pitch. He was no carpenter, he asserts, but it was a matter of building it or freezing. He knew that the first thing he had to do was to find some fuel to burn for heat, so he hunted until he found some lignite.

Once he began building his shack, he was surprised to find that he knew more about it than he thought he did. He even made his own doors and window frames. The sides of the home were made of rought boards, tarpaper, and shiplap. Within a couple of weeks, the shack was enclosed and he had made a fence and shelter for his horses.

He had to make a trip into town for more lumber, and found that his pocket book was getting awfully flat. So when H.L. Glazer, the grocer in Makoti, offered him a chance to live on his homestead, close to town, for the winter, he jumped at the idea, thinking that he could earn a few dollars hauling supplies to other homesteaders. He made several trips that winter.

The following spring, his brother, Martin, who had filed on the quarter next to his, came out, driving a herd of horses and cattle from Wimbeldon. His mother, Emilie Braasch, his two sisters, and younger brother, came too. His 18x18-foot shack housed them all for a while. He built a 12x18-foot lean-to onto the house, and a 28x40-foot barn that spring, hiring some help to complete it. They had a five or six bushel crop that first year.

As time went on, many interesting things happened, including some hardships. One difficult job that he recalls involved getting fuel. They would have to drive as far as twenty-five miles each way, then dig lignite and load it. There were times when he left home at 2:00 o’clock in the morning with a four-horse team, and didn’t get back until midnight.

In later years, he butchered cattle and sold beef to the threshing rigs during harvest time, butchering in the evenings after working in the harvest fields all day, cutting the meat in the early morning, after sleeping only a few hours, then peddling the meat to the cook cars, and to the Indians.

In 1915, more of the Coal Lands were opened to homesteaders. A pretty young lady from Minot was unable to get a homestead, so she bought the relinquishment on a place five miles south of his R.J. Braasch’s place. Over the next couple of years, he made several trips south and, in November of 1917, Miss Borghild Christopherson became his wife.

Mr. and Mrs. Braasch had five children: Elmer, Alfred, Wallace, Carmi, and Esther (Mrs. Jerry Salveson). When Mr. Braasch  retired from farming, his son, Wallace, farmed and lived on the homestead, while Carmi farmed a few miles north of Minot.

Mrs. Braasch passed away in June of 1965 and, when the Golden Jubilee book was published in 1967, Mr. Braasch was still alive.