Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday 218, 2014 March 8: Fenceless

We have Sepian Wendy Mathias to thank for our theme image this week. It is from a series of images showing the areas in Sydney affected by the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in 1900. Wendy suggests fences, back yards or bubonic plague as possible theme suggestions, but, as usual, the choice is ours to make.  So, I went with a feeling of desolation, eeriness, and  fenceless.


The Abandoned Michaelson Place, Hildebrand, Oregon
circa 1960
Courtesy of JGH and the Roots'n'Leaves Archives
We were in our twenties, when Doc and I moved to the ranch in Hungry Hollow.  In fact, the ranch was parts of three old time homesteads and ranches, but as newcomers, Doc and I just knew it as the ranch in Hungry Hollow. A few months ago, I wrote about the old ranch house in which we lived.  However, the old house in the above photograph, which our neighbors told us was the old Michaelson  place, always drew me to it, like an eerie magnetic field..  When we arrived in Hildebrand the old house was as you see it in this photo. Sage brush growing all around and right up to the front door. The fences around the house had been torn down and rolls of barbed wire hung on posts.  To me, there was always a sense of sadness and desolation about this old house, standing alone on the hillside.  Fenceless and defenseless.

 When we went up to the house, the door was hanging off of the hinges and you had to lift the door up to open it enough to squeeze through to spider webs,to be greeted by the odor and  remains of vermin and varmints.   As I remember it (and it has been a long time ago), there was a what appeared to be a screened porch, or possibly a washroom and a lean-to added on to the side.  Inside on the main floor there were two rooms -- not large rooms. The stairs to the upstairs sleeping area was very, very steep and the steps very narrow.  The walls had old newspapers as insulation, which my daughters found strange, but I was mesmerized.  The house was of the same vintage as our in the Hollow, but much smaller -- almost like a doll house.

Now that I think about it, I believe that my curiousity about the folks that lived in this house on the hillside drew me back to our many afternoons at the house.  How many folks were in this Michaelson family? Where did they come from?  Where did they go?  Now all of these years later and  with all of my genealogy tools, I have found that there were ten in the Michaelson family.  According to the 1920 Federal Census report for Hildebrand Precinct, Klamath County, Oregon, the family included, John,  58;  wife, Anna, 42: Oletta, 17; Minnie, 15; Anna, 12; Esther, 10; Hazel, 8; Edna, 5; Lillian, 3; and Vernon, 1.5.   I was surprised  that ten people lived in that tiny house.  John and Anna were born in Norway and came to the US in 1898. The older children were born in Minnesota, but ten year old Edna was the first born in Oregon, so the family might have lived in this house as early as 1915.  However by the 1930 Federal Census the family has left Hildebrand and moved to Klamath  Falls, Klamath County, Oregon  -- and another son, Franklin, has been born to the family.   

Our young daughters were fascinated by the Michaelson place, and found the old log fences between the Hollow and the Michaelson place a great place to play and make forts -- possibly like the Michaelson girls of long ago.  

Circa 1961, Hill girls playing on old log fence,
Hildebrand, Oregon
Courtesy of JGH and the Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Now wander over and see what is behind the fences and buildings of our fellow Sepians    

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications