Martha’s Journal

By Martha (Lorang) Johnson

Compiled in the Spring of 1985

John Lorang and Mary A. Gesellchen married in Mount Calvary, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin – 11:00 a.m., February 19, 1884. Shortly after, they migrated to Colton, Washington, via train to Riparia, Washington, and up the Snake River by riverboat to Lewiston, Idaho, then up the steep Lewiston Hill by lumber wagon, to the Ranch northwest of Genesee, Idaho – territory, Nez Perce County – which they bought one year later.

Ten children were born to this union. All survived and grew up to maturity before either parent died. Peter, the first child, was born in Colton, Washington. The rest were all born on the Genesee, Idaho, farm except Charles, (the youngest) who was born at Gritman Hospital, Moscow, Idaho, because Mother was rather frail as she had milk leg when Viola was born. From the day Viola was born to the time of Mother’s death, Mother had to wrap her legs with bandages from the knee to around the ankle, to keep the swelling down so she could operate her legs and navigate. Sometimes, she had open scores on one ankle or the other.

The Ranch was called the “White Spring Ranch” because a man by the name of “White” owned it when Dad bought it. The word “Spring” was added later because of the two ever-running springs on the place. One of the springs was piped to the house and barn about 1910. Dad had never had any engineering experience, but it worked, and was supplying water. It also supplied water to the cement basin fountain in front of the house. The fountain had a boy on the top holding an umbrella and the water trickled over the umbrella at all times.

Also, Dad said he paid $1.00 an acre when purchased and there were no fences and all animals from about the neighborhood roamed together and when Dad had to go to the mountains to get firewood, Mother generally was afraid and would not go out to milk the cow or cows – whatever they had – and Dad would be disturbed about that. Mother said that she would pick up wood chips that she could find about the place to burn for cooking.

The barn was built prior to my memory – but I know it was said that when the barn was built, there was a big barn dance to celebrate. Nor do I know when the workshop, chicken enclosure, or roost or pig pens were built, or the underground cellar, or smokehouse. We never had a garage and our first car, a 7- passenger Paige, was sometimes stored in the grainery. We, also about that time, had a Ford pickup with a short body that operated mostly by foot treddles. We had only mud roads – the Ford would go about 25 miles per hour – and in the spring and fall when we drove it, the wheels would get into the ruts and you couldn’t get out of them if you wanted to. Dad was a very poor driver and had many close calls with the Ford – mostly on the mile-run from our house. I remember one time he somehow did something and the Ford was in the ditch headed back home. He also almost went off the Lewiston Hill with the Ford. Charles was with him and Charles said, “Dad, look at the Eagle’s nest!” Dad looked when he shouldn’t have and started off the grade. Luckily, with much difficulty, they were able to finally get it jacked up and on the road again. Dad was an outdoor lover and of birds and animals. West of the two Curio houses, Dad grew a willow grove. He had an area that was fenced in to keep a deer he got one time when he was in the woods – a young one. The game warden complained and Dad had to release it to the Manito Park Zoo and it soon died there.