A reunion to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the arrival of the Huscroft family in the Creston Valley takes place this weekend. In this issue, we present the fifth part in a series about the family’s history.
As our family reunion draws near, I thought to add some memories of life in Huscroft and Creston as told by my mother, Mary Messinger (née Ross), the daughter of Maude Ross (née Huscroft), the youngest daughter of William Rodger and Jane Huscroft.
Time shifts perceptions. I asked my mother how Lister became Lister and why the whole area wasn’t called Huscroft. The Huscroft families had been living in what was known as Huscroft for almost 30 years before Col. Lister appeared. Simply put, mother recounted that there was nothing north of Huscroft but forest and bush. Access into Huscroft was by road up from Porthill, not south from Creston. She thought the area became known as Lister because there were more people in that area.
Maude Huscroft learned how to deliver babies from her mother, Jane. The closest doctor was in Bonners Ferry, so delivering babies was a family affair. She learned well from her mother and went on to midwife with Dr. Hendersen for many years in the valley. When her father bought one of the first cars in the valley, she learned how to drive it and drove him around Huscroft much to his delight.
My mother recalled being hired to stoke the school stove during winter for $5 per month. This job required her to carry water from the creek to the school, up before daylight during many wintry days.
She vividly remembers playing hockey with her Uncle Charles. She got to play because there weren’t enough boys. He organized the games because he had a puck. He made the rule, “No raisees.” During one game, her uncle, who played goal, was hit on the forehead by a raised puck, which caused a “gusher”. Uncle Charles got up, picked up the puck and went home.
I didn’t grow up in Huscroft but visited Grannie there many times. She actually owned two different properties there. The first cabin was on 10 acres and given to her by her father after her marriage to Thomas Ross in 1914. After living in Creston for a number of years, she moved the family back to Huscroft in the ’30s to the house I knew on Huscroft Road. This house had a circular driveway that Grannie spent hours planting flowers around. Her love of gardening and the land is obvious in the Huscroft descendents as most of us have that same connection.
As a young fellow, I was fascinated by Grannie owning black powder guns and bullet molds. It was explained that they had belonged to her grandparents and had been given to her. What stories those guns could tell back into the early 1800s!
There are two lasting images of my grandmother that I remember. One is the 1963 Huscroft reunion at the Lister Deer Lodge Hall. The hall got its name from Deer Lodge, Mont., where the family stopped on the trek from Utah. At the reunion, a huge family tree had been reproduced and placed on sheets of plywood. Grannie gathered all the young kids and showed them where they appeared on the tree. Not as exciting as Ken’s air drop, but it stayed with me.
The other image was the dedication of the Huscroft cairn on Huscroft Road and Eighth Street in July 1962. The three surviving Huscroft children, Charles, John and Maude, were there. Even in my young eyes, I couldn’t help reflect on what they had experienced during their lives. Travel by wagon across the U.S.A. and north to Canada, and a life of homesteading, logging and building.
From wagons to man landing on the moon — what a life! They were tough, independent pioneers with a spirit that our modern society sorely misses at times.
— BY CASEY MESSINGER