Wife: unknown (15)
Samuel L. DeMouth:
Cause of Death: Cerebral Hemorrhage
Buried: 21 Mar 1939, Lincoln Memorial Park, Portland Oregon 14
January 24, 2006
Tonight I will tell you about my other grandfather, Samuel DeMouth.
Samuel L. DeMouth
12 Mar 1874 - 18 Mar 1939
Sam DeMouth came into the world on March 12 of 1874 in Christie, Clark County, Wisconsin. He joined his brothers John and Don and his sister Eva. After Sam came Sharlet and Lucinda. But Lucinda only lived to the age of two. The family moved from Calumet County, WI. to the farm at Christie in Clark County shortly before Sam was born. We don't know too much about his early years except that life was a struggle for pioneer families in northern Wisconsin during the late 19th century. In order to farm they first had to clear the land of the thick virgin forest without motorized tools or Home Depot. Once they succeeded in that they had to grow or produce almost everything they would use throughout the year. Sam's life was very like that described in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, Little House in the Big Woods. In fact Laura was growing up not far away at the same time. Winters were cold and long and hard. The year of 1884 when Sam turned 10 there was an especially harsh winter due to the explosion of the volcano Krakatoa on the other side of the world in Indonesia.
When Sam was about 20 he joined the army, following in the footsteps of his older brother, John. Apparently Sam looked pretty sharp in his army uniform. Here is an article that appeared in The Clark Republican and Press March 12, 1896
"Samuel DeMouth arrived in this city Saturday, from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, where he is at present located as a member of Co. F. 3rd regiment, U. S. army. He has a furlough of twenty days, which time he will spend with his parents in Christie. His bright U. S. A. uniform attracted much attention."
About 1898 two things happened. Sam got married and then he got sent to the Philippine Islands for the Spanish American War with the rank of sergeant.
According to Sam's cousin, Erma Schaper, Sam's first wife's name was Jeanette. Sam is in the 1900 US census as a soldier in the Philippines. That census form says he is married and has been for two years. I have a photo which looks like it must be a wedding photo of them. They were divorced before 1902.
Do you have any idea when the Spanish American War was or why it happened? Here's a quick explanation. In the late 1800's both Cuba and the Philippines were under the control of Spain. Between 1895 and 1898 people in both countries were fighting for independence. Many Americans were sympathetic to the plight of the Cubans because Cuba is close to us. In 1898 the US battleship Maine exploded in the Havana Harbor. Nobody knows for sure why it exploded, but it caused the deaths of 266 US sailors, so the US declared war on Spain. The war lasted only about a year and was easily won by the United States. It marked the beginning of our country's rise to world power.
But, why did we fight Spain in the Philippines as well as Cuba? It was really a fluke that the US attacked Spain in the Philippines. Teddy Roosevelt sent a telegram to Hong Kong for Commodore George Dewey, head of the US fleet of 10 brand new steel warships, saying that if the US went to war with Spain, Dewey should immediately take his ships and attack the Spanish in Manilla Harbor. Roosevelt wasn't president. He was an assistant secretary of the Navy. He did this on a day when his boss was out of the office. Roosevelt did not have the authority to give such an order. When Dewey got the order he said to himself, "Hmm...There's something fishy here," and he sent a cable to President McKinley asking if he should take this action. President McKinley, who had just read a book about the importance of sea power, surprised everyone by saying, "Yes." So when the US invaded Cuba, Dewey sailed into Manilla Harbor, totally surprising the Spanish and everyone else, and defeated their fleet without the loss of one US sailor. (However, 400 Spanish lives were lost.) Then the army sent soldiers over to secure the prize Dewey had won. Sam DeMouth was one of them.
Isn't it funny? Both Sam and his only son, Lester, were engaged in the US military involvement with The Philippine Islands. Sam was with the army in the Philippines at the beginning of US control in 1898. Lester was in the Philippines with the Marines when the US lost that control to Japan in 1942.
Sam and Elzora Maud Pierce (called Zoey) were married on the Pioneer Farm in Greenwood, Wisconsin on November 27, 1902. They married in spite of her parents objections, probably because of the divorce. Eleven months later their first child, Musa Irene, arrived.
Much of the rest of this story is based on tales told to me by my Aunt Musa. Aunt Musa claimed her dad wasn't much of a man for hard work and to him, the grass was always greener on the far side of the hill. There may be a lot of truth to that opinion. Aunt Musa certainly knew him better that I did as he died before I was born. In his defense, many farmers had a hard time making a living in the early 20th century. And many were lured west with the promise of instant riches.
In 1905 Sam's father died, leaving the farm in the hands of his three sons. Almost immediately the farm was in financial trouble. In 1906 Sam, his wife, and small daughter went west, all the way to Hood River country in Oregon. There Zoey got a job as a cook in a logging camp and Sam joined his brother John in California, supposedly looking for work. Instead of a job, John and Sam got involved in a land scheme. Sam wrote home to his mother asking her to mortgage the farm and send him the money for a logging operation. When Aunt Musa told the story she never mentioned her Uncle John. However, I have found a record of land patents issued to both John and Sam and their wives as well in 1905-1906 in the Mt. Diablo Meridian, Siskiyou County, of California. Cordelia got the money as requested, against the advice of her other children. The brothers used the money to buy the land. Unfortunately there was no way to harvest the lumber. There were no roads, no rails, no rivers nearby. So the investment was a failure, and because of the debt, the family eventually lost their farm, their home, and their livelihood.
The 1910 census indicates the farm is mortgaged. They must have hung on for a few more years because my mother, Thelma Ellen DeMouth, was born on the DeMouth farm at Christie on March 10, 1911. By then Sam's father, Jacob, had died. Sam's brother Don had died. His sister Eva had grown up, married, had a child and died. His sister Lottie was long gone and married, and his brother John was established in California. Only Sam's young family and mother, Cordelia, were left. They sold the farm and by the time the next baby came, Lester Jacob on the 18th of December in 1913, the family had moved to Quinion, North Dakota. Cordelia's another story.
And isn't it interesting to think about the rise and fall of wealth in this family. Our immigrant ancestor and his son, Jacob and Frederick Demouth, amassed a fortune in land. The next Demouth, Adam, preserved the fortune. The next Demouth, Jacob (b. 1763) lost the fortune. The next two Demouths in our line, John and Jacob, spent their lives building up new farms in Wisconsin. Jacob's son, Samuel, lost the new farm in Wisconsin. Isn't it a good thing there are more important things in life than wealth?
Anyone who has ever traveled across the northern US plains might well ask, "Why North Dakota?" It's a desolate part of our country. So much so that on old maps the area of land including eastern Montana and western North Dakota used to be referred to as "The Great American Desert." During the Civil War Congress had enacted "The Homestead Law." This law said that anyone who was a US citizen or intended to become one could claim 160 acres of open public land for free. All he had to do was to settle on and cultivate the homestead for five years. West of the Mississippi was full of open federal lands and people came by the droves, but not too many to North Dakota until after the railroads arrived in the 1880's and the native American Indians were controlled. Two things happened in the early 1900s that brought many homesteaders to western North Dakota and eastern Montana. The railroads needed people to ride and send goods on their trains and to man the stations along the way. The railroad owners began a great advertising campaign praising the wonders of dry farming on the prairies. The second thing was the railroad owners lobbied Congress to expand the homestead act so a farmer could get 320 acres instead of just 160. Congress obliged. But most years the land was just too dry for farming. Adding to problems was a popular method of planting that removed the sod and pulverized the topsoil so that when the first dry year came not only did crops fail, the topsoil blew away as well. So Sam DeMouth and his family were only one of many thousands of families who lost everything trying to farm in North Dakota in the early 1900's.
One interesting aspect to their time in North Dakota is, they did not go alone. Zoey's parents, Frank and Martha Pierce, and her half-sister and half-brother, Winnie and Roy Pierce, and her adopted half-brother, Iner Pierce (originally Iner Bredison), all went with them. Why did they leave Wisconsin? Perhaps some future researcher will be able to unravel that mystery. But not everyone who went to the dry prairie failed. Winnie Pierce married a man named William Braden. They were among those who stayed and survived in North Dakota.
My mother and Aunt Musa both talked about Winnie and Roy and life on the prairie. I wish I had listened better. I remember that one of them told about how to deal with prairie fires. She said if you should find yourself on the prairie with a prairie fire coming at you the thing to do is not to run away from it. You can't run that fast. Instead, face the fire and run right through it. Prairie fires are very shallow and once you're through, you're perfectly safe. Read in Thelma's Story about Sam and the cow.
The letter Aunt Musa wrote to me late in her life tells more of their prairie experience.
"Our childhood (days) after we left Wisconsin were not happy ones. They were filled with so many fears when we were living in North Dakota; the fear of prairie fires, of rattlesnakes, and the fear of lack of necessities for living. I doubt if your mother ever told you of the winter we almost starved to death." Homesteading on the prairie was probably not the ideal life for a man who "Didn't like hard work."
The two photos I have of the homes of Sam and of his father-in-law, Frank Pierce, give another clue to what life was like for the DeMouth family in North Dakota.
We know the DeMouths were in North Dakota as late as 1918 because Zoey was the postmaster at Quinion from 1916 until 1918 when the post passed to her father, Frank Pierce. By the 1920 census the family has moved on to Montana where they bought a hotel in the town of Ballantine in Yellowstone County. Sam listed his occupation on the census form as "hotel proprietor." Zoey was the cook and manager. They made a living there until one day when the hotel burned to the ground. (Read about that in the Musa DeMouth Story.)
Like many refugees from the dry plains, when their luck ran out (if they ever had any), the DeMouth family decided to head for the west coast where they had relatives in Portland. They had no money for train fare so they worked their way across country picking fruit. They would pick enough to pay their way to the next train stop, then get off and pick some more. (There's more about their journey to Portland in Thelma's Story.) I don't know exactly when they arrived in Portland. My guess is mid-1920's.
The 1930 census shows them living in a part of Portland called Maplewood. Sam was working as a house painter and they had a boarder. In the early 30's Zoey took a job in the Libby canning factory. She was at work when she died in 1934. After that Lester joined the Marines, Musa graduated from Reed College and took a job in Pocatello, Idaho, and Thelma went to live with the family of her intended, Forrest Zimmerman. Sam didn't want to stay all by himself so he went to live with his brother John's daughter, Almeda, down in California.
Letter from Sam to Thelma mid to late 1930s. "Gilroy, Cal Sept 29 (no year)
I guess you have been wondering why I did not write you. So I will drop you a line to let you know I am well. Did not know just where to send it. I suppose Musa told you I had been down to see Lester. He looks fine and weighs most 200 lbs. Got a letter from him today. Said he had been firing the 6 inch gun. The crew he is in made the highest score in the fleet. Would like to know how you are getting along. I have had a lot of work this summer, but not working this week. I may be up there in the near future.The folks here are all well. Almeda would like one of your wedding pictures.
Was sorry to hear about Jack. I received a letter from him the other day. Wish I could help him but don't know what I could do. How is the Bonneville Dam coming?
All for this time
But at the time of his death, March 18, 1939, he once again lived in Portland at 4632 SE 76th St. He died of a massive stroke.
I never knew my Grandpa DeMouth. My view of him has always been colored by Aunt Musa's tales and comments. He had a hard life, probably from boyhood onward. In that respect he was no different from other folks in his generation. Life was hard and there was no social security or welfare. The chances he did have he blew, losing the lovely Wisconsin farm being the big one. On the positive side, he stuck it out. He didn't abandon his family, the second one anyway. Also in his favor, my father said that the DeMouths were a happy bunch. Whenever he went to their house there was much laughing and singing. I think anyone who could laugh and sing after living through all the grief that Sam lived through deserves some credit. Don't you?
Here is how you're related to Sam DeMouth. Sam married Zoey Pierce and had Thelma DeMouth. Thelma married Forrest Zimmerman and had Dianne Zimmerman. Dianne married Paul Stevens and had Dawne Stevens. Dawne married Jason Pamplin and had . . . Sarah, Hannah, Timmy, and Becky! Hooray for Sam DeMouth!
According to Erma Schaper, the name of Sam's 1st wife was Jeanette.
Line 11 Dwelling #4 Household #4
Dimouth, Samuel L. Head Owns Mort. 46 m WI NJ Ver Occ: Hotel Proprietor
Elzora M. wife 34 m WI WI WI None
Musa I. dau 16 s WI WI WI None
Thelma E. dau 8 WI WI WI None
Lester J. son 6 ND WI WI None
Baker, Fred S. Boarder M W 27 s IL MN IN Auto Mechanic
Shreevam, Peter J. Boarder M W 50 wd MA VT NY Surgeon
1880 Federal Census--Weston, Clark, WI
Jacob Demouth age 45, b. NJ, Farmer, Father b. NJ
Wife: Cordealia age 36, b. VT, Parents b. VT
Son: Don A. 17, b. WI
Dau: Eva 16, b. WI
Son: John 12, b. WI, Student
Son: Samuel 6, b. WI, Student
Dau: Sharlet 3, b. WI
Dau: Lucindah 1, b. WI
Line 42 West Ave. dwelling # 77 Household # 77
Demouth, Samuel L. head rents $20/mo age 56 M age 28 WI NJ VT occ: Painter of bldgs Vet Phil
Elzora M wife 49 22 WI WI WI none
Musa I dau 26 s WI WI WI maid - in school
Thelma E dau 19 s WI WI WI none - in school
Lester J son 16 s WI WI WI none - not in school
Simons, John H boarder 49 s WI Eng Eng lumber grader
MD 0430N 0070W 004 4925 1906/06/26 DEMOUTH ELZORA M MD 0440N 0080W 008 4851 1905/10/13 DEMOUTH JOHN C MD 0440N 0080W 008 4898 1906/02/05 DEMOUTH LILLIAN D MD 0440N 0100W 008 4957 1906/10/29 DEMOUTH SAMUEL
Samuel L. DeMouth
Permanent home address: Quinion, Billings, North Dakota
age: 44 DOB: March 12, 1874
white native-born farmer at address: Quinion, Billings, North Dakota
nearest relative: Elzora M. DeMouth
at adress: Ballantine, Yellowstone, Montana
height: tall build: medium eyes: blue hair: gray
Note: An Italic entry denotes data that has not been indexed against the land patent document, and has no image.
Image Accession NamesSorted Ascending Date Doc # State
CACAAA 020276 PatenteeDEMOUTH, SAMUEL 10/29/1906 4957 CA
Meridian Twp - Rng Aliquots Sec. # County
Mount Diablo 044N - 010W N½NW¼ 8 Siskiyou
044N - 010W SW¼NW¼ 8 Siskiyou
The Q-Bar was where Dad worked during his horse roundup days, someplace between 1916-1919 As far as I know it was a ranch though, probably a large one for that time and place. Lester's family was likely working there at the time he was born, since dad said there were lots of riders working there, as well as other ranch help.
Sam Demouth sawed wood for Willis Armitage on Wednesday of last week.
[DeMouth Bible gives birth date as 12 Mar 1874.
WWI Draft registration card gives birth as 12 Mar 1874.
Death certificate gives birth as April 1871.]
Revised: November 26, 2016