During a holiday trip to Montana, my Dad was telling me about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the area, and how the hand of the Lord has been involved in the growth of the church and the people there. One of the stories he shared with me was about his grandfather, Harry Raymond Haynes.
Harry joined the church as a young father in April, 1922. He had married Pearl Drake in 1917, a member of the Daniel Newel Drake family--all members of the church from pioneer stock. The Lord knew that Harry had some big decisions to make when he married Pearl, and He blessed him with the time to make them. When Harry was drafted during the latter part of World War I, his brother-in-law and employer, George Britting (husband of Harry's big sister Celia), went to the draft board and requested that Harry be allowed to remain at home because he was the only "stone dresser" at Albertson's flour mill and they couldn't do without him. The draft board told George he could have Harry until he trained a replacement, but that after that he needed to go. (According to Grandpa Happy Jack Haynes, Harry's son, a stone dresser was the person who smoothed the grooves of the millstone and oiled them.) George found a possible replacement, but was not impressed with him at all, and told Harry to take his sweet time with the training. In a few months, the war was over, and Harry never had to step into the muddy trenches of France.
In the story my Dad told me, though, the mud was the blessing.
Harry and Pearl were brought to the Great Falls area (Manchester) around 1930 by the UNI Sugar Company to sharecrop sugarbeets. A few years after that they moved to the Simms, where Harry rented property from his best friend, Clint Jenson. Although the price was acceptable, the house they were living in was out in the field and did not even have a bathroom or an outhouse. (See the post "Sugar Mama: Pearl Drake Haynes") While they were living there, the decision was made to build a chapel in Simms. At the time, members of the church were asked to come up with the funds to build chapels and temples in their own areas. A "building assessment" was made, and Harry was asked to contribute $10 to the cause.
Well, (as President Hinckley was fond of saying) it was the bottom of the Depression. Because the Simms Bank had gone under, Harry had lost his life savings of $300, did not have a red cent to his name, and worried about how in the world he was going to come up with that money. (It is a testimony of his faithfulness to his newfound religion that he didn't just tell the church leaders to take a long walk off a short cliff.)
I'm sure Harry and Pearl prayed for the Lord to provide.
It just so happened to be irrigating season. The dirt road had been flooded and became, for a short time, impassable with mud. One night at about 2 o'clock, a man who had been doing "a little too much celebrating" walked through the field and knocked on Harry's door; his vehicle was stuck and he needed help. He had come to Harry's door because his was the only light on. Harry promptly hitched up the team and pulled the man out.
The man asked, "What do I owe ya for this?"
Harry said, "Nothin. I'm glad to do it."
The man paid him ten dollars for the assistance, anyway. Ten dollars (besides being the exact amount that Harry needed) was a big chunk of change; equivalent to about $160 in 2011.
Harry willingly handed the money in to the Branch President for the building fund (I'm guessing that this choice was made a little easier by recognizing the Lord's hand in his windfall) and the church was built.
This is a picture of "Grandpa and Grandma Drake's 50th Wedding Celebration, 1924" given to my brother by Eldon Drake, including a page of labels. I wanted to put the picture of the whole family in here (even though they are the inlaws of this story) because it painfully highlights Grandpa Harry's economic situation, even years before the family moved to Simms. Harry is the only man not wearing a tie (Levi overalls instead) and his two boys on the front row are wearing similar getups. Tough times.
PS. Grandma Pearl always called Harry, Roy, so the picture labels him as Uncle Roy. He also had a happier personality than this picture suggests.
PPS. How in the world did they get all those little kids and babies to ALL look at the camera??? I only have four, and I can't do it!