1903 - 1995                       INDEX      PEDIGREE

Elmer Harker


Marriage: 29 May 1924
Place: Cardston, Alberta, Canada

Birth Date: 5 March 1903
Birth Place: Magrath, Alberta, Canada
Death Date: 11 October 1995
Cardston,Alberta, Canada

Reed Brown Harker
Rhean Harker
Dorothy Ann Harker

OCCUPATION(S): Carpenter/Gen.Contractor


Martha Ann Harker 
Heber Larence Harker
Joseph Alma Harker
Ellis Harker
Myron Harker
Leroy Harker
William Ross Harker
James Evan Harker
Benjamin Harker
Edna Alvina Harker
Lavar Harker
LeVern Harker
Elmer Harker
Margaret Harker





 Transcript of taped interview of Elmer Harker
Taped at the home of Reed Harker, Salt Lake City c. 1977

Moving to the Farm
     I was born in 1903 in Magrath.  We lived in Magrath. Our home was in town, but we had a farm, a half section (320 acres) out about three miles. Dad decided he didn't want to go out to the farm every day during the summer, so he moved the house out to the farm. He put big logs like telephone poles-put them under the house like a skid and then he got thirty-six head of horses on them and moved it down to the farm. I was three years old then. They had left all the bedding in the house and I got tired of walking and went in the house and went to sleep on that bedding while they moved.

     I was three years old when I had my tonsils out, but I can remember it as plain as it was yesterday.  They didn't have any hospitals- the doctor came to the house and he took my tonsils out while I sat in a high chair.  They didn't have any anesthetic or anything.  He had something like an ice cream scoop and he just put that in there and - click- out it comes.

The Move to Hillspring
I was eight when we moved to Hillspring. That was the saddest move my Dad ever made. He had a nice farm in Magrath and nice horses. He had one of the nicest stallions in that country.  He decided he needed more land so he and Heb [Elmer's brother] went out and bought a section and a half (860 acres) out in Hillspring.
     When we were moving, we moved all the machinery from Magrath out there. We loaded it all in the big hay rack and moved it out there. The ice had gone off of the river only at the edges and it was about a foot high. The horses would pull the wagon up against that ice and then they couldn't pull it up enough to get it up on that ice. So, they had to put some of the horses out into the river and pull the thing back so they could take the rack off. They had this stallion out there and his mate to pull the thing back and they got it out.
     It was late at night (about nine o'clock) when they finally got to the house. Dad didn't unharness the horses, he just went in the house to have supper. When he went out after supper to unharness the horses....he had kept this stallion in the box stall. He opened the door to unharness him and he just fell out the door. He got the cramps from pulling in that ice cold water and he never did get up again. Dad took his bed down there and slept by him at night but he never did get up again.

Threshing in Hill Spring
     We didn't have a home when we first moved to Hill Spring. When we weren't using the granaries we pulled three or four of them together in the summer time and lived in those. When we needed them in the fall for the grain, then we'd live in the cook car. It was like a little mobile home. They called it a cook car because in the fall when they harvested the grain, they'd go out and the women would go in the cook car and cook for the men while they were harvesting grain. These would go from one farm to another. There would be a big crew of men and the cook car sometimes would be going for a couple of months to cook for the men while they thrashed.
    There were five of them who started this trashing business. Finally it ended up with just Dad that owned it but they hired so much a bushel to thrash and he hired all the men to woek. Dad had it all figured out. They could work as long as they wanted to, it didn't make any difference what time they started or what time they quit. It took so many thousand bushel a day to pay expenses, then after that he paid the men so much a bushel extra for overtime so they didn't care whether they worked til ten or eleven o'clock at night. It was all more money for them. They started at daylight and worked 'til it got so dark they couldn't see. About six o'clock in the morning was daylight but we had to be up before daylight to get the meal ready for the men.
      I was what you call the water monkey.  I ahuled the water for the steam engine. We had a great big water tank that held sixteen barrels of water. It had a pump on it and I'd drive down to the river or to a lake and pump the water up out of the lake. Then I'd haul it to the engine or I'd take it out and put it in the storage tank while I went for another. I was fourteen years old and driving four head of horses.
     One time when I was down pumping the water getting the tank full, the whistle. That meant they were out of water and I knew I had to hurry back. I started up and reached for the whip, it dropped. I let go of the horses and went back for the whip. The darn horses hadn't got water that morning and turned off into the ditch to get a drink and tipped the water tank over and broke the pump! So then I had to dip the water. Boy, was I just soaking wet every day 'til I got that pump fixed. I'd drive out into the river until the horses were just about to swim, then I'd pull the plug out of the back end of the tank and it would almost fill. Then I'd put the plug back in and dip the rest 'til it was full. I was soaking wet!
      One time when we were thrashing along side the flume where theyhad the irrigation ditch and it was running in a wooden box way up high above the tank. I'd just go up there and throw the hose up in that flume and start the pump. Once it got started I just let it go and the water just ran through the pump down into the tank. I didn't have to pump at all. It just ran straight through the pump down into the tank. I hated for them to move away from that spot.
The Three Day AWOL
      When we were putting up hay we kept our horses out by the Indian reservation. They'd go out there to pasture at night and then I'd have to go out there and get them in the morning. This one morning when I was out there after the horses, the wind was blowing like the dickens. A kid I used to chum with, Lowell Caldwell, came along with me. He said, "You can't hay today the wind is blowing too much, you couldn't do anything in this wind."  So we took off. We went over to a miner's place about seven ot eight miles from there. He was running a coal mine but he wasn't home. He had a nice little buggy there and harness, so we hitched our horses up and went over to Leavitt and got some girls. We came back and killed some of the chickens this guy had around there and had dinner. We took the girls home and I never went home for three days!
     I don't know how they ever stood it. My gosh, your kids are out for an hour too late now and you've got the police out looking for them.  But my Dad didn't do a thing.  Well, he was cross at me. He scolded me.  He never laid a hand on me in his life, never gave me a lickin'.  Mother used to give all the lickin's.  I knew I was in for a scolding, so I thought, "If he scolds me I'll just run away from home. I won't take the scolding." He started to scold me, so I went over to the dresser and started to throw my shirts out.
     Dad says, "What are you doing?"
     I said, "Well, I'm getting my clothes out, I'm going to leave home."
     He got up and walked out to the kitchen. He always kept the buggy whip behind the door. He never drove a horse without a buggy whip. He got the buggy whip and said, "You take one step outside of this house and I'll wear this out on you!" and I knew he meant ever word he said! I went back and put all my clothes in the drawer.
[How old were you?]  
I was fifteen.

Shooting Dad's Cow
Once everybody was gone to Cardston to conference. There was no one in Hill Spring but Lon Folsom and me. They had a lot of pigeons and we went down there and shot some. I had a little single shot .22. We shot some of these pigeons and cooked them for dinner. After dinner we went out and target practiced with the .22. We shot everything we could see. There was this cow across the lake, it was about half a mile away and I said, "I wonder if I can hit that cow?" So I pulled up and took a shot at her.  She just kept right on and never paid any attention, so I shot again. She kind of kicked and swished her tail and walked off. That night she didn't come home. Dad found her dead three days later up on the hill.  A good milk cow she was (with a couple of .22 shots in her). He skinned her to get the hide but he wasn't looking for anything like that, until he skinned her and found this blood mark on her on the inside. It was clotted and then he found the hole....and then he found out who did it!
     Dad had given me a pig and I raised it.  It was just a little bit of a fellow and I raised him 'til he was big enough to sell.  I was going to buy a suit of clothes for Christmas.  I got about twenty dollars for the pig.  I had to sell the pig and give money to pay for the cow.  I didn't get my suit of clothes for Christmas.

     When I was fifteen they put the irrigation ditch in out in Hill Spring. My neighbor got a contract for digging a certain amount of the ditch and he hired me to come over and help him dig that ditch. Vern was helping Dad on the farm. Well, this guy I was working for was the president of the Mutual. Our baseball team was playing Calgary for the Alberta championship. We had won everything in the church around there so we went to Calgary to play the Alberta championship. This guy I was working for wouldn't let me go. He was the president of the Mutual, this was a Mutual team, and he wouldn't let me off to go. It made Vern mad so he went up the river where they were putting in the dam and he got the job running the steam engine to mix concrete. So, I had to quit my job and go help Dad. Dad liked sports and whenever there was a baseball game, they'd shut down and he'd take us to the baseball game.

Going to School
In the summer time when it was warm, Margaret and I used to ride two horses to school, but in the winter when we got cold we only rode one. She rode ahead and broke the cold wind from me, and I rode behind out of the wind. Besides that, when I was on behind, the horse was warm because there wasn't a saddle on the back and I rode on the warm horse.
     We started out one morning and went across the field with a blizzard on, it was colder that heck. We were gone about a good half hour and we'd come back. Here the horse ws, right back at the house. We couldn't see where we were going with the drifting, blowing snoe. It was a regular blizzard on. The horse just went out there and turned around and came back. I said, "Well, he's got more sense than we have, let's go in the house." We went inside and didn't go to school that day.

      We always had something to do for Halloween. One time we took a hay rack and pulled it down in the Coulee and got somebody else's buggy and put the buggy inside the ahyrack and left it there.
     I guess the worse damage we ever did was on this fellows mowing machine. It was sitting out in front of his house. We took a wrench and we took all the nuts off that mowing machine. Then we just took a rope and put it on the horn of the saddle and started up. The front wheel would drop off here and a wheel would drop off there, until we had that mowing machine all apart. We never did find all the parts to it. They were here, there, and everywhere.
      One time, there was a wagon with fifty bushel of wheat in it ready to go to Cardston. This fellows kids helped us. (J.B.Merrill) We pulled the wagon up to the school house, emptied the wheat into sacks, took the box off, took the wagon apart, and put it on top of the school house. Then we put it back together again on top of the schoolhouse, put the box up there on top of the wagon, and poured the wheat back in. It took us half the night to do that.

More Mischief
       There was this one fellow who was kind of a crab. He didn't want anything to do with kids. He was a crabby old guy. He had what they call a style. Instead of having a gate in the fence he had these steps going up to the landing and then down the other side. So we took and tied a rope across the top of the posts on top of the style. He used to keep his slop right out by the side of the door, and they'd just open the kitchen door and put this slop in the barrell. (That was what they fed the pigs.)
      We took the slop pail up on the porch and learned it up against the door and then kicked the door. We all stood out there at the door and watched him do it. He opened the door and this whole barrel fell out into the house, all over the floor. He saw us do it so he took in after us. Of course we went up over the style and down the other side and away we went. When he went over the style he didn't know that the rope was there. He stumbled over that rope and down he went. We were long gone. He never did catch us.

One time this kid that I used to chum with around town was with me. We were wondering what in the heck we could do, it was after dark. There was this house right across the street from the school house. Nobody was living in it. It was all papered over wood. The paper was coming off.   So