Where there is a forest, there is a possibility of a massive forest fire. The area around Moose Lake in Minnesota, had just such a fire that started on October 12, 1918. The fire, known as the Cloquet-Moose Lake fire, killed hundreds of people and leaving thousands of people homeless. The fire burned a hug area at least 1,500 square miles. The fire, which began at the rail lines near Sturgeon Lake, did the most damage in the Cloquet and Moose Lake areas. This is a region of Minnesota, north of Duluth in the eastern part of the state.
The area was really a recipe for a major disaster of this sort. The timber industry used a crude slash method in the thick forests, thus leaving behind dry scraps that were perfect kindling for wildfires. They were not careful where they left the slash either, tending to leave the scraps lying around the rail lines that carried wood from the lumber mills. Train engines of that time often gave off sparks, and when the sparks hit the slash pies, fires were nearly inevitable. The months leading up to October 1918 were very hot and dry, which made matters even worse. The fire began that October 12th, and it quickly spread due to the high winds that day. More than 200 people died in the Moose Lake area, when the fire raced into the community. Many of the local residents tried to escape the raging flames by driving down Highway 73, south of the Kettle River. The road had a very sharp curve that proved to be too difficult to maneuver for drivers who were speeding away from the flames surrounding them. At least 15 vehicles went off the road within minutes, which resulted in 25 deaths.
In all, he fire destroyed 38 towns and villages. The total dead was 453 and another 85 people were seriously burned. The area lost 4,000 houses, 6,000 barns, and 40 schools to the flames.The fire came up so quickly that there was no time to try to get the livestock out, and hundreds of thousands of farm animals also perished in the fire. It was a huge loss for area farmers. In all, the region suffered close to $100 million in damages.
For children who are raised around livestock, walking among the giants is not an unusual event…even when they are as young as one year old and just barely walking themselves. For those of us who are not around livestock on a daily basis, the thought of those little tiny children walking among those giant horses is not so common, and therefore a bit of a shock to our system when we see it. It’s not that I think that my niece, Ashley Parmely’s parents’ horses would hurt her girls, Reagan and Hattie, because they are obviously very gentle. No, what I really find amazing about seeing the girls with the horses is an absolute lack of fear. They have been raised around the horses, and the other animals they raise, so they know how to act around them. They know that the horses will be gentle to them, if they are gently toward the horses, and what I find especially sweet, is the instinctive gentleness the girls have around the horses.
So many kids tend to pet an animal roughly, pull on its tail, or even hit the animal, but Reagan and Hattie have a deep love for their horses, and they are so gentle with them. The horses, in kind, return that love back to the girls. Their feelings are just so obvious. You might not think that an animal can have a look of love on their face, but I think these horses do. I’m sure my nephew, Eric Parmely, and Ashley, his wife, have taken the necessary time to prepare the horses for these little girls to be around them, and especially on the ground near their feet, and I’m sure they have taught the girls how to act around the horses too. Still, how much teaching can a three year old and a one year old have had to have prepared them to be so gentle around these giants. Yet, they are just that…gentle, sweet, and loving toward the horses.
Animals can sense things about people. They know when people are afraid. They can tell when people will be mean. And they can tell when a person is kind and gentle. And I think that with Eric and Ashley’s little girls, Reagan and Hattie, the horses sense a loving kindness and a desire to care for the horses that many children just don’t possess. I don’t know if Ashley was always raised around horses or not, but for as long as this family has known her, she has been around her parents horses. To her they are a part of the family, and that is how she is raising her little girls too. It’s really no wonder that the girls are at ease around the horses, and the horses around them. The girls probably seem like little sisters to them.
Nevertheless, I am still amazed that these two little girls are comfortable walking around with these giants. To me, the mere size of these horses would seem daunting if I were a girl as little as these girls. I love looking at these pictures though, because they portray a companionship that is very rare in the world I live in. I suppose that if I was raised on a ranch, maybe they would not seem so astonishing. And since, Reagan and Hattie will be raised in that environment, I suppose these are scenes that will not be so unusual. I think that these little girls will be very blessed to be comfortable, and yes, to just be allowed to walk among these giants.
Life in the early 20th century was not always easy. Many people were on the move westward, hoping to find a better life, as things were much more crowded in the east, and land was not readily available. The government was giving away homesteads in Montana, so that is where Bob’s great grandfather decided to move his young family. It took men and women of strong constitution to settle the west, both during the wild west and into the 20th century. Bob’s great grandmother, Julia Doll Schulenberg was one of those strong pioneer women. She was always a hard working woman, and when times got tough, Julia Schulenberg shined. She was a woman capable of doing just about any job required to help her family survive. In addition to running the homestead, farming and caring for livestock and children, she cleaned houses in Forsyth, worked in the cafe, and even served as a midwife to the area women. She did what she had to do to save their homestead during the tough times.
When her oldest child, Andrew…Bob’s future grandfather, accidentally shot himself in the leg at age 15, and subsequently spent 2 years in the hospital, losing his leg about a year into his stay, Julia and her husband Max would pull him through it. They had passed their strength on to their children, showing them how to survive in the rugged west, even during the worst of times. Andrew would be no exception to that rule. With hard work and stubborn determination, Andrew would recover, and while he had a wooden leg, he went on to become the sheriff of Rosebud County, Montana for many years. He would also go on to marry Bob’s grandmother, and later, after their divorce, he would narry again and would be largely out of his son, my father-in-law’s life for all but the last few years before his death in 1986.
While Bob’s dad did not have much association with his dad until much later in life, he has very fond memories of his grandmother…Julia Doll Schulenberg. It would seem that Julia was, in all reality, the backbone of the Schulenberg family. While Max seemed to struggle to get by, and went from job to job, Julia was of very strong stock. She taught her children to work hard, and do what was right, and also passed those good qualities on to her grandchildren. My father-in-law remembers her as a hard working woman, who kept a clean home and always welcomed him in for a visit. He has based much of his view of a good woman on the amazing example his grandmother gave him.
While her husband, Max would die and the young age of 56, Julia Doll Schulenberg lived a long life. She passed away on November 17, 1974, at 89 years of age. Her death came just 4 months before I married Bob, so I never got to meet her. Still, from my father-in-law’s stories of his grandma, I know that she was a woman of strong constitution and a kind, loving spirit, and the fact that I never met her is most definitely my loss.