Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Uncle Ronald

Dad and I made a visit the other day to Grouse Flats in Wallowa Co., OR.  To get there from Lewiston – you travel to Clarkston then Asotin and then up the Asotin grade.  At that point you are on the top of what is called the Anatone Flats.  You then travel down the aptly named Rattlesnake grade and travel along a two lane road towards the tiny town of Troy, OR.  All the while keeping a close watch on cascading rocks from the hillside…once you reach Troy, you turn at the sign pointing towards Bartlett.  This takes you up yet another winding gravel road and you finally reach the turn off that leads you to the Bartlett Union Cemetery – up on top of Grouse Flats.

My great grandmother made the trip from TN in 1910 in a far less comfortable conveyance (train then a wagon) and in much worse weather (November) by herself and with a baby at 16 years old.  Her husband picked her up at Troy, OR and took her up that winding grade towards Bartlett and her new home on Grouse Flats.  It was a ramshackle shack that was located on a homestead near her husband’s brother’s place.  By the time she was 20 years old, she had another child and was pregnant with her third.  When the time came to give birth, she sent her husband to his brother’s house to bring him to their home.  Pop Friddle must have taken the children with him…because I doubt that he left them with his wife struggling to give birth and probably felt it best to leave them with another adult.  Mom Friddle lay on that bed going through childbirth when she realized that they might not make it back in time.  As my mother related the story to me…she asked her “What did you do?”  Mom Friddle replied “I got myself up and sat in the rocking chair and put my legs on the arms of the chair.  When the time came, I delivered the baby and tried to clean myself up as best I could.”  When Pop Friddle arrived back at the house with his brother…Mom Friddle lay on the bed with baby boy still attached to her with his umbilical cord. 
Taken near the Bartlett Cemetery looking towards the Snake River country.

It must have been a happy time for them…those few short months that they had their two boys and their daughter, but then the baby got sick.  Today we don’t think of diarrhea as a particularly dangerous situation – but to a young child, it can be deadly.  He had what was called Dysentery and the most dangerous part of the disease was the severe dehydration especially for a young child.  Mom and Pop Friddle even sent their young 5 year old son a few miles away to get some goat milk to see if they could get some fluid in their baby’s tiny body.  Their son, Ronald, died a few days short of his four month birthday.  Mom always thought that Ronald was buried at the Pomeroy City Cemetery in Pomeroy, WA.   I think that Mom Friddle probably told her that Ronald was buried in the local cemetery and Mom might have assumed that it was  at Pomeroy.  While checking the cemetery – we came up empty. Then I found a book that had burials of Wallowa Co., OR, Asotin Co., WA and Garfield Co., OR.  It was in that book that we found a listing for Ronald Friddles with the birthdate of 27 Jun 1914 and death of 24 Sep 1914 at the Bartlett Union Cemetery.  He was buried near his uncle Albert at the same cemetery.  When we made our first trip up to Grouse Flats we found Uncle Albert’s grave but was unable to find Ronald’s grave.  From cemetery records, we know that he was buried in Lot 55, Grave 2.  I’m sure some small marker was place there when he died, but nothing remains to mark his grave. 
Friddle family - taken about 1918.
Left to Right - Capitola, David Carl  aka Pop Friddle, Jack, Sophia aka Mom Friddle

Today nothing remains of Mom and Pop Friddle and their children except their descendants.  Uncle Claude died last August and Uncle Jack died back in 1987 and my grandmother died in 1985.  We have plans to place a marker where baby Ronald is buried and perhaps memorialize his two brothers whose ashes are scattered nearby.  The three Friddle brothers who were never together in life share a memorial to their life!