Chapter Twelve: Early Families of Tofield “M”
Maxwell p. 280
McCauley p. 283
McHeffey p. 288
McGinitie p. 290
McMullen p. 291
Mitchell p. 293
Moos p. 296
Morton p. 297
Note Re: BIOGRAPHIES OF PIONEER FAMILIES
The committee responsible for the compilation of this book felt that for practical reasons the accounts of pioneer families should be limited to those families who were in this area by 1910. After this date, a large influx of immigrants entered the Tofield district; the pioneer era was over.
Members of the pioneer families were asked to submit their family histories. If direct contact was impossible friends of the family were consulted.
Since the excellent history of the Bardo district, “Pioneers of Bardo, Alberta” by Ragna Steen and Magda Hendriksen contains biographies of the families in that district, no attempt has been made to duplicate this material. We are well aware, however, of the invaluable contribution made to Tofield area by the Bardo pioneers.
Those submitting biographies were encouraged to record family legends and experiences as well as the relevant statistics and dates. While this anecdotal approach has enlarged the book, thereby increasing its cost, we feel that the spirit of the pioneer era has been accurately presented for future generations.
MR. A.S. MAXWELL
A half-century ago, when Tofield was incorporated as a town, Mr. Aquilla Smith Maxwell was a member of the town council. Although, later living near Edson, Alberta, he continued a keen interest in Tofield, partly for old times’ sake and partly because it was the home of his son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Bev. Maxwell and their four sons, James, Douglas, Keith and Murray.
Aquilla Smith Maxwell was born in 1874 in Tennessee and always spoke with a faint southern accent. After some time spent in Arkansas, Mr. Maxwell felt the attraction of the Northwest and came to what is now Alberta, in 1901. High River, the centre of the ranching country became the home of the man from Tennessee. Here he worked at what his grandsons no doubt regard as a glamorous occupation – that of a cowboy riding the range.
After a few years, Mr. Maxwell moved north to the pioneer town of Vegreville, Alberta. Here he ran a livery stable and then became manager of what is now the Prince Edward Hotel.
In 1908 he married Miss Helen Grosland of Bittern Lake and, in the fall of that year moved to Tofield. He became manager of Ed Kallal’s poolroom in which Lem Abbott had his barber shop on the present site of Harold Ferguson’s house.
The association was the beginning of an enduring friendship between the Abbotts and the Maxwells. Whenever the Maxwells visited Tofield in later years, they renewed their former acquaintance with the Abbotts and many happy hours of the “Remember when?” variety were shared.
The two families lived side by side for a year just east of the present site of Mrs. Hosler’s house. Soon the Maxwell – Abbott team decided to move the poolroom and barber shop to Railway Avenue to the present site of the Federal Grain Co.’s house. The move was accomplished in typically pioneer fashion. The poolroom remained open until midnight; it was again open for business as usual in the morning.
In 1909, Mr. Maxwell was one of the members of the council when it decided to perpetuate the name of Dr. Tofield by naming the town after him and became incorporated as a town. In the minutes of the Council meetings of that important year, we find that he was an interested and capable member of the Health and Relief Committee of the Council. The records show his interest in laying the foundations of good health laws for the new town. A Medical Health Officer was secured, collection of garbage arranged for and land bought for a nuisance ground.
In lighter vein, Mr. Maxwell is remembered around Tofield for the pet black bear, “Ole” by name, owned in partnership with Ed. Kallal. He was trained to dance, thereby greatly amusing the local small fry and probably their elders, too. It is said that “Ole” danced especially well to the strains of Lem Abbott’s violin. Unfortunately, “Ole” was teased too much by the railway construction workers and became so cross that he had to be destroyed.
Mr. Maxwell had one unforgettable experience. At one time, Robert Logan had a boat on Beaverhill Lake on which he took passengers for pleasure rides. Once when Mr. Maxwell was on board, a severe storm arose. The passengers were mightily alarmed as the ship was making straight for the rocks on the east shore of the lake. In the anxious hours that followed, each passenger acted according to his own lights. Mark Ferguson and Lloyd Wood frantically stoked the boiler with boards torn from the deck of the boat, thus ensuring enough power to get past the rocks. Other passengers did some equally frantic praying. No one was ever sure which method brought the boat safely to shore in a small bay.
The thankful passengers spent the night on board while their friends and relatives worried at home. Mr. George Cookson, Sr., reports in his diary for August 23, 1909:- “Mr. Morton called to get the field glasses, and was going around the lake as there was a party on Logan’s boat they think they got caught in a storm. But they had put up at a bay north of Morrison’s and were safe.”
The passengers returned safely to Tofield, in rented vehicles but Mr. Logan had a repair job to do on the boat.
One of Mrs. Maxwell’s experiences illustrates the difficulty of being helpful to a pioneer husband. Mr. Maxwell was engaged in cutting some of the luxuriant slough hay for sale to the railway to feed the horses used in construction work. Mrs. Maxwell went along cooking for the crew.
One morning, just after the large batch of bread was “mixed stiff,” Mr. Maxwell announced that the camp would move to the next location. So camp was broken, the bread warmly wrapped in blankets and the stove loaded into the wagon. The trip was long, the day warm, and the bread rose rapidly. With no prospect of a stove to bake it in before evening, Mrs. Maxwell spent the day kneading down the batch of bread. She was very relieved when the new campsite was reached and the stove set up, and the bread finally baking in the oven. The men were ready for it when it came out.
In 1912, the Maxwells left Tofield, to the regret of their pioneer friends and moved to Hinton where they
managed a stopping-place. In 1919 they moved to Coalspur with a general store as their business. Edson was their final stop. Here they ran a general store till 1929, until Mr. Maxwell took over the Ford garage.
In Edson Mr. Maxwell was a charter member and the first president of the Men’s Curling Club and a member of the Masonic Lodge. Mrs. Maxwell was also a curler, being one of the first lady skips in Edmonton. In 1934 they ‘retired’ to a farm in the Bear Lake area.
On April 12, 1958, Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell celebrated their Golden wedding with their sons Allan and Donald and their daughter Mrs. Kathleen Christie, twelve grandchildren and a host of friends present to wish them happiness.
Alexander J.H. McCauley was born in Winnipeg, July 1, 1876. At the age of three, he moved with his parents, by ox-cart to Edmonton.
Alex’s father, Matthew McCauley was Edmonton’s first school trustee and the first mayor of the town of Edmonton. He was a member of the Legislative Council of the North-West Territories and later of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.
Alex, his brother, and sisters grew up in Edmonton attended its first school, skated and curled on its Saskatchewan River in winter, swam and fished it in the summer.
There was work to be done, too, and Alex helped his father with the livery and freighting business and kept books for this thriving pioneer business. He studied music and became an accomplished pianist and organist. He was organist for the First Presbyterian Church until he went to South Africa in 1900 to fight in the Boer War.
Upon his return from South Africa he went to Port Arthur and worked for a time as a bookkeeper for a grain company. He returned to Edmonton in 1906 and in 1907 he moved to Tofield and started his own real estate business. He was the first secretary-treasurer of the Village of Tofield. His first home was near the Creamery on the spot where Art and Irma Francis now live. His brother Frank lived there with him for a time.
Tofield became a town in 1909 and Alex became its first secretary. A month later he married Barbara Ann Sinclair of Yorkton, Saskatchewan (originally from the Orkney Islands). In 1911 they built the house still frequently called “the McCauley” house (now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Don Shaw). In all the years they lived in Tofield this house remained their home.
In 1911, too, Mrs. McCauley’s twin nieces, Clara and Susie Fergus came to live with them. They are still residents of Tofield. Clara became Mrs. E. W. Rogers, and lives with her daughter, Muriel, and son-in-law Don Shaw and their children Philip and Tannis in the McCauley house. Susie became Mrs. Al Innis, and is still a resident of Tofield. Jack, Jean (Mrs. Bernie Chandler) and Joyce (Mrs. Arnold Swift) were the Innis family.
The McCauleys had three children born and brought up in this house and to Helen, Margaret and Bill, it is still home.
To say that Alex McCauley took an active part in the community life of Tofield is an understatement. He was Mayor in 1915, 1916, and 1921-28 inclusive. He was secretary of the town, the school board, Palestine Lodge, of which he was a charter member. Almost any record or minute book of that era contains pages in Mr. McCauley’s neat handwriting. He was economical with words, but from his factual accounts a very clear picture of that period emerges.
In his early days in Tofield, Alex played a little football but curling was his real interest in the sporting field. He skipped a rink for many years.
He was always closely associated with the church: first, the Presbyterian Church and, later after the union, the United Church. He was always organist until 1941. During this time he also played for choir practice, weddings, and funerals, frequently closing his office to do so.
The organ he played was quite a fine organ in its day, boasting two manuals and two rows of pedals.
Unfortunately, it had to be pumped by hand and for many years Alex paid some child to perform this service. Then when his own children came up, each one had to take a turn at pumping – graduating when tall enough to be seen over the top of the organ. Alex was always either an elder in the church or on the board of stewards or both.
Mrs. McCauley was also active in church work. She was a member of the Ladies’ Aid and of the Women’s Missionary Society. For many years she also taught Sunday School and led a C.G.I.T. group. She was an ardent curler and skipped many winning rinks both at home and at our-of-town bonspiels. She won Grand Challenge in the Northern Alberta Ladies’ Bonspiel in Edmonton, in 1931. Her rink, on that occasion, consisted of Mrs. G. Brace, Gertie Chapman and Clara Rogers. She was once president of the Northern Alberta Ladies’ Curling Association.
Having been a school teacher herself, Barbara McCauley was always interested in school teachers and in school. Many teachers stayed in the McCauley home over the years. Mrs. McCauley also served a term on the school board.
Teachers and other young people of the town came often to the McCauley home for an evening of music. Everyone gathered around the piano and sang. The small McCauley children used to creep quietly downstairs in their nightgowns and sit, just out of sight on the stairs. It was draughty there but they could hear the accompanying conversations and keep up on the current romances. At the McCauley home on Sunday, if they didn’t go for
a drive between Sunday School and Church, the children could take a walk, read a book, or write a letter. Both parents were great readers and there were always plenty of good books available. According to the daughter, Margaret, Mr. McCauley had no resistance whatsoever to book salesmen.
The Sunday drives were taken in the family Ford after Old Nell and the buggy were disposed of. The big barn, relic of the days of old, was there (and still is) for the children to play in. Margaret remembers the big loft and the grain chute to slide down, (it was dark and scary in there) and the lean-to on the side which was a playhouse. The only concession made to the car was the garage doors put in at the back.
Margaret says, “Remember the open Fords with the storm curtains to put up if it rained? We had lots of Sunday rides in ours. Sometimes we went as far as Cooking Lake, for a picnic with a few close friends. Father kept an eye on the weather though, because if it should rain., that road back through the hills was not easy to travel. And even if the day were fine, we had to leave in time to get back for church.
“The Jack Cookson’s had a horse and buggy and sometimes we could have a ride with Mrs. Cookson when she drove to Sunday School. That was a real treat! Mrs. Cookson taught the primary department of the Sunday School for many years and the many, many children she started in Sunday School remember her with affection, and recall the Sunday School picnic held at her home, complete with big freezers of ice-cream.
Tales of the early days in Tofield before there was a church and student ministers served the district in the summer while living at the Cooksons, delighted the children. The Jack Cooksons had no children of their own but loved all children.
Both Jack and George Cookson loved to sing and we remember their duets, especially “Golden Slippers”. They both sang in the first choir. I can remember some of
the others were: Mr. Swift, Mr. Jobb, Irene and Roland Murray, the Rowes and Mrs. Firth.
There are happy memories of our neighbours, the Abbots and the Carters next door to them. Across the street were the Tofields. Mrs. Tofield was still living and the Simmons lived with her. Then the Policeman’s house; the Swifts; the Bissets; the Pincotts; across the avenue,, the McLaughlins; the John Lees; and on the corner, the Phillips. Many of these families had children we grew up with.”
Margaret remembers a father who was strict, but just; shy and reserved, but loving company, conversation and music; who could tell exciting tales of the Boer War or play lullabies till the children went to sleep; who had a quiet, but keen sense of humor.
“He was a person of integrity–so honest he cheated himself. A secret was as safe with him as though in a locked vault. Who were the last to know when a local wedding of interest was to occur? Why, the McCauleys except for Mr. McCauley, who had sold the license days before!
Alex McCauley was for everything that was for the good of the community. Witness the number of times he and other solid citizens signed the Chautauqua guarantee and paid the deficit to bring it back for another year and keep Tofield on the six-day circuit which brought the best programs.”
The McCauley children remember their mother as”gentle and loving; entertaining and energetic; and completely unselfish. She could find good in everyone–she just plain loved people. Did anyone ever leave our house without a cup of tea? She was a woman who never raised her voice but had a strong will to do whatever she thought was right. Both Alex and Barbara McCauley had great faith in their fellow men in their country and in their nation.”
Tofield appreciated the McCauley’s years of service, too. When ill health forced them to retire to Edmonton in 1946, the town honored them with a presentation as it had done years before when Alex retired as mayor.
The McCauley children have pursued widely varied careers with great success. Helen (Mrs. Gemeroy), after teaching for some years, trained for a nurse. In addition to her R.N.,. she has her B.A. degree and is teaching psychiatric nursing in McGill University in Montreal. She has the distinction of being the first nurse to be a member of the Advisory Committee of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Margaret (Mrs. Rennie Wood), also has her R.N. She and her husband and four children live in Edmonton.
Bill McCauley obtained his Bachelor of Music degree from the Toronto Conservatory of Music and had been for many years Director of the Music for Crawley Films. He was granted leave of absence while studying for his Doctorate of Music on a Canadian Council Scholarship at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York.
Margaret’s account of her parents life in Tofield ends: “Alex’s only consolation in moving to Edmonton was that, from his home, he could see across the river to where he had lived as a boy. He and mother both enjoyed visits from Tofield friends. He died in 1948, and mother followed in 1951. They are buried in Tofield.
So Alex and Barbara McCauley are back home.”
THE MCHEFFEY FAMILY
The McHeffey family, six boys and two girls, was raised in Gays, Nova Scotia, near the city of Truro. Fred and Murray came to Alberta in 1905. Murray, after working the bush for two years, came to Tofield in 1907 and homesteaded S.E. 1/4 – 22-51-19-W4th, where he spent his remaining years.
Fred, too, worked for two years before coming to Tofield; after working in Edmonton his trade of blacksmithing, he was employed on the construction of the Clover Bar railroad bridge. In 1907, on arrival in Tofield, he bought a blacksmith shop from O. Mahaffey, which was situated about where the Wideman sisters now live; a house was built just west of the shop, but it was later moved to its present location, opposite the school bus garage. Fred later bought the Lafond log house, moved it to behind his own house and used it as a shop. Fred was janitor of the Tofield School for many years; he was also an active member of the I.O.O.F. The Fred McHeffeys had two sons – Horace and Murray. Murray was accidentally killed while a member of the R.C.A.F. in World War II. Horace is an entertainer and a teacher of various kinds of dancing and has given lessons all over Canada. He also has a museum in the home of his parents who both died in the early 1950’s.
Arthur McHeffey, brother of Fred and Murray, came west in 1906 and in 1907 homesteaded S.W. 1/4 of 22-51-18, now owned by Pete Koop. In 1911, his wife and children joined him.
Willard, son of Arthur, married Margaret McKenzie, and to this union, one daughter Agnes, now Mrs. Earl Rose was born, her children are: Conrad, Phyllis, Miles, Linda and Dixie. Willard farmed all his life until his wife died and he remarried, this time to Audrey Warner, widow of Donnelly Warner; they now live in town.
Ina McHeffey married Ronald Harriman moving to the States shortly afterwards. They have two boys and two girls.
Arthur McHeffey known as a good neighbour was also an active member of the I.O.O.F.
William and Walter homesteaded the north half section 20-51-19 now owned by Ed Tiedemann where they lived out their lives. One of the sisters for a short period ran a restaurant in Tofield before she returned to Eastern Canada. Willard and his nephew Horace are now the only remaining members of the McHeffey family.
THE McGINITIE FAMILY
This article was submitted by Raymond Henry McGinitie, grandson of John Maurice McGinitie.
John Maurice McGinitie was born in Eddyville, Iowa on May 10, 1872. He later moved to Nebraska. He married Mary Elizabeth Likes in Ponca, Nebraska on December 10, 1895.
Their first son, John Maurice Jr. was born on Dec. 22, 1896 in Beacon District, Dixon County, Nebraska.
They moved to Strathcona, now Edmonton, in 1899. Their second son., Henry Newton, was born there on June 25, 1899.
Mr. McGinitie homesteaded in 1900 on S.W.28-50-19-W4. He built a log house and moved onto the farm in 1901. Their third son, Lloyd Leslie, was born on the farm May 15, 1901.
John Maurice Jr. married Margaret Gratz on November 21, 1925, in Fresno, California, and moved to a farm in the Tofield district, before moving back to the United States.
Henry Newton married Agnes Bruha, April 4, 1923, and farmed on a quarter-section one mile from his father’s farm.
Lloyd Leslie married Annie Brown, December 1, 1927. He also farmed one mile from his father’s farm. He passed away from a heart attack on June 30, 1963.
John McGinitie Sr. had only two horses, with which to go to Edmonton once or twice a year for supplies. It took four days for the round trip. He bought a well boring machine, and for several years bored wells for his neighbors. He was a member of the school board and named the school and district after an Indian Chief called “Ketchamoot.” He worked on the first hotel built in Tofield called the Queen’s Hotel, and bored the well at the hotel.
He was called to Edmonton several times in the early days for jury duty.
His wife, Mary Elizabeth, died at the age of 57 years on June 13, 1936. Shortly after, he rented his farm and lived with his son, Henry until his death on June 29, 1958. He lived a fruitful life and was always able to see the humorous side of things.
The Leslie McGinities had two daughters, Doris (Mrs. Tipper) and Nola (Mrs. Godwin).
The Henry McGinities had three sons, Donnelly, Harvey and Raymond and one daughter, Alice (Mrs. Munkedahl).
Donnelly McGinitie and his wife Opal (Blakely) still live in the Tofield area. Their children are Barbara, Floyd and Darlene. Henry McGinitie died early in 1969.
THE McMULLEN FAMILY
The Arthur McMullen family consisting of Mr. and Mrs. McMullen and their four children, Jesse, Viva, Paul, and Harold arrived in the Tofield District April, 1906.
They had left their native Oregon, U.S.A. the previous spring, travelling by team and wagon as far as Kalispell, Montana, where they spent the winter of 1906. This was the Michael Pablo country; buffalo and cattle were seen frequently. The remainder of the journey was made by box car the following spring via Fernie, Frank, McLeod, Calgary and finally, Strathcona, the end of their railway journey.
Team and wagon were again pressed into service on the route over the old base-line trail through the Beaver Hills, stopping at Tom Wesson’s en route and finally emerging at the well-developed farm of John C. Phillips on the westerly shores of Beaverhill Lake.
The family camped here for several weeks during which time Mr. McMullen travelled about the district, photographing many of the residents, their homes and their livestock.
Homesteading was the order of the day but the N.W. 1/4 of Section 32-51-19-W.4th was never much of a success and was sold by Mr. McMullen as soon as he had “proved up”. Mr. Robert Logan was the purchaser in 1910 when the McMullens decided to return to their old home in Oregon. However, the call of Canada proved too strong and the following spring found them back in Tofield where Mr. McMullen built a small residence and a commercial establishment on Queen’s Avenue, West.
Arthur McMullen conducted a photographic business for a time before renting the studio to Mr.Thomas Whitmore who ran the business up to the time he enlisted in the C.E.F. Mr. McMullen enlisted in the 211th American Legion Battalion of the C.E.F. which was recruited in the Edmonton area. Several local boys served in this regiment, some of whom were: the Turner boys, Jack Letourneau, Big John Lee, E.P. Rowe and Red Montgomery. Of course, the greater number of the Tofield enlistments were with the 49th, the 51st, and other earlier regiments.
On being discharged from the C.E.F., Mr. McMullen bought a quarter of land south of Tofield – N.W. 15-50-19-W4th where he was living when Mrs. McMullen passed away in 1920. He continued to make his home on the farm until he and his youngest son, Harold were killed in an auto accident while on their way to Tofield on December 1, 1928.
Jesse McMullen was the secretary-treasurer for the town of Tofield for a number of years commencing in 1912. He quit this position to try ranching on the west half of section 19-50-19-W.4th in 1918. He left the farm in 1937 to take a position with the Municipal district of Beaver Lake at Ryley and later, with the
newly-formed larger district of Beaver until he resigned to seek his fortune on the coast of British Columbia.
Paul McMullen served overseas, having enlisted for Siberian service while with the R.C.M.P. at Peace River.
Never conspicuous in municipal or community affairs Arthur McMullen was nevertheless always ready to lend a helping hand wherever it was needed. He enjoyed the respect and confidence of all who knew him. He was a member of the Tofield Lodge, No. 43, I.O.O.F. for many years.
Two members of the McMullen family survive– Jesse in New Westminster and Paul in Cedar, British Columbia.
THE MITCHELL FAMILY
Hugh Mitchell was born in the state of Pennsylvania, and was one of the family of four boys. His father was a bridge contractor but died when Hugh was very young. The widowed Mrs. Mitchell felt the Civil War in the U.S.A. was about to break out so she moved her family to Ontario where they lived until the war subsided, then she returned to Tama County.
The future Mrs. Hugh Mitchell had emigrated from Woodstock, Ontario, to keep house for a brother in Tana County, Iowa. Here she met and married Hugh Mitchell, and here five of their six children were born. These were Mary (later Mrs. Peter Ingram), Robert, Elizabeth (later Mrs. James Younie of Edmonton), Jean (Mrs. Dawe of Edmonton), Will of Tofield, Dave the sixth child,was born after the family moved to O’Brien County.
When Dave was about a year old, the family moved to Oregon, in the hope that Mrs. Mitchell’s health would be improved. Here they settled at a place called Peoria near Carvallis. After a short interval, the family again moved; this time they travelled across the Wettamett Cakkey to a place called Waterloo. There were rumors that a large woolen mill had been built there.
Mr. Mitchell obtained work on the building of the mill but just as he and his millwright friend, Mr. Carthew had the foundation finished, the project was called off. When, many years later, Dave Mitchell visited the scene, part of the old foundation was visible in the river.
A small town called Shedd was the Mitchell family’s next home and here Mr. Mitchell bought a blacksmith shop from Mart Mullen. The tools were all stamped MM; some of them are still in existence.
Mr. Mitchell hired a good blacksmith by the name of Sam Bennett, who had worked for Fish Brothers’ Carriage Works in the east. Mr. Miller himself did all the woodwork; the wagon and wheel work were his specialties For two or three years before leaving for Alberta, Mr. Mitchell went up into Washington, around Colfax, to thresh each fall. Here he made better money so was willing to go away and leave the shop in the capable hands of Sam Bennett.
While he was threshing around Colfax he had a man by the name of Sam Stirrett working for him”jigging sacks” to be exact. Sam Stirrett told him of the good land to be had for homesteading in Alberta. His brother Bob, had planned to go to Alberta and have a look at this reputedly rich land.
When Bob had looked at the homestead land, he and the. Fletchers immediately moved to Alberta and took up homesteads. In 1895, Hugh Mitchell and his old friend Carthew followed suit and also acquired homesteads in what was to be the Tofield area. The homestead Hugh Mitchell took had been filed on formerly by a man called Peterson, who had built two shacks on it. Carthew filed on the place known as Francis Point at the south end of Beaverhill Lake, but he never came back, apparently preferring Manitoba where he went after filing on the homestead.
The Mitchell family got settled. Mr. Mitchell had just fifty cents left. He had one very valuable asset. This was a top buggy he had made in Oregon in
his spare time. “It was a nice job, and the first one in that district, maybe in Edmonton for that matter, says Dave Mitchell’s letter.
Mrs. Roderick MacKenzie saw it and wanted it. She didn’t have enough money to purchase it, but finally terms were arranged. It must have been a valuable buggy; for it, Mrs. MacKenzie gave four 2-year-old heifers in calf, four thousand feet of lumber and forty dollars cash.
In the spring, the heifers calved and the Mitchell children had “milk to go with our cracked wheat, which helped to take the wrinkles out of our bellies,” says Dave in his letter.
Of course Mr. Mitchell had brought his blacksmith equipment. It was well that he did – he had all the blacksmith work to do for the entire district.
Mr. and Mrs. Will Mitchell lived on the Mitchell farm in the Ketchamoot district until they retired to Tofield. Mrs. Mitchell was the former Amanda Henderson who had come with her family in 1895 from Tennessee to Wetaskiwin and thence to Tofield by wagon.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell have vivid memories of pioneer days. These include sod houses, whose roofs leaked for days after every rain. The roads were so bad, recalls Mr. Mitchell, that he got stuck many times with an empty wagon on the road to Tofield. Supplies were brought in, at long intervals, from Edmonton or Fort Saskatchewan. The neighbours took turns making these arduous trips — each family’s turn came about once a year.
Mr. Mitchell, then an 11-year-old boy, spent his first year in the Tofield area being choreboy for Dr.J. H. Tofield, pioneer doctor, after whom the town was named. Dr. Tofield lived where the Krystal family now reside.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell recall that the pioneers did a great amount of visiting – whole families went for a day’s visit, and were joyfully received.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell have a son and daughter. Their son Bill, is a fire ranger in the forestry service near Edson. Their daughter is Mrs. Andy Jalbert.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell are enjoying their retirement. Frequent visits from their son, daughter and grandchildren are thoroughly happy occasions. The Mitchells have taken an active part in the United Church activities and are keenly interested in the welfare of Tofield and district even though their retirement has taken them to Edmonton.
THE CHRIS MOOS FAMILY
Chris Moos came from Denmark to South Dakota and established a hog farm. But after his hogs got cholera and all but one died, he decided to try his luck in Alberta. In 1906 he filed on a homestead in the Vegreville area but gave this land up soon after because Mrs. Moos, coming to a pioneer area, wanted to live near her relatives the Bowicks and Lotts. They were on the S.W. and N.W. quarters of section 12-59-19-W4th in the Logan district north of Tofield. Mr. Moos bought the N.E.1/4 of 12 and built a log house with a sod roof. Living in this house wasn’t easy at times because after a rainstorm it continued to rain in the house for many hours and everything and everyone got damp.
Mrs. Moos and Matie, who was then a year and nine months old, arrived in Chipman on May 24, 1907. Chris met them with a team of horses and a buggy, and drove through drifts to their new Alberta pioneer home. Verlyn was born in this same log house on October 30, 1907. Marguerite was born December 18, 1909 in Dakota, where Mrs. Moos had gone, at that time, to visit her family.
Chris hauled freight from Chipman to Tofield with horses and a wagon for a number of years. The Logan post office was in the Moos home so there were always neighbours dropping in.
The Bowicks and Lotts, wanting to move nearer Tofield sold their land to Mr. and Mrs. Moos. Chris had a steam engine and threshing machine and did threshing for many from Chipman to Ryley. He also had a saw mill and in 1909 had lumber to build in 1914. Near neighbors were the Roberge, McKenzie, Logan and Henry Wood families.
Since Chris Moos was able to speak six languages anyone coming from Europe and unable to speak English was sent to the Moos home. All were taken in until they could learn enough English to be understood. This created many problems and much work for Mrs. Moos, who could speak only English.
The children got their elementary education at the McKenzie School.
Chris Moos passed away in 1931. Mrs. Moos continued to live on the farm until 1965 when she moved to Tofield to live with Marguerite and then to the Good Samaritan Auxiliary Hospital in Edmonton. Matie continues to live on the home farm. Marguerite works in Edmonton. Her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Murray live south of town; their children are Dennis and Janice.
THE MORTON FAMILY
John W. Morton was born March 29,1870, in southern Illinois. At an early age, he moved with his parents to Kansas, where in 1890, he married Flora Mahaffey. The young couple, lured by the Oklahoma land rush, set up housekeeping on land later designed as Pawnee. Amy, their only child was born in Kansas.
In 1904, the Mortons arrived in Edmonton where John ran a butcher shop for two years before he moved to Tofield. Here, he and his partner, Harvey Adams, started the first general store in Tofield Number One, which was not even a village – just a Post Office.Their business was moved to the site of the second Tofield, and again, to Tofield’s present location. In 1910 Morton and Adams sold their business to Rogers Brothers.
Always ready for a “horse trade,” John Morton enjoyed farming and cattle-raising o n the east side of Beaverhill Lake until he enlisted in the Canadian Army in World War I from which he returned with the rank of Sgt.
Resuming farming, the Mortons moved to the Ingram district. Interested in community organizations, Mrs. Morton won local fame for her “fancy work” -crocheting, and embroidery.
When the Mortons left the Ingram district, they came to live very close to the location of their original store; in 1940, they bought a house in South Edmonton. Mrs. Morton eventually resided in a nursing home in Camrose while Mr. Morton ended his days in the Veterans’ home at the former Goverment House in Edmonton, passing away in October, 1961. Amy, the Morton’s daughter, is now Mrs. Amy Walter of Oakland, California; her son resides in Edmonton.