Information about Ebeneezer THOMSON provided by Brad REINHART
Margaret's family left Glasgow on the 29th of April, 1873, and went to Quebec, up the St. Lawrence amongst the ice and seals; then up to the Lakes to Superior, which took them two weeks because of the ice. From there, they arrived at Brainard, Minnesota along the Northern Pacific Railroad. Unable to find a place to stay with hotels overflowing, they went back to the railroad company who sent them to a reception house along the line, which was a "fine homey place."

They settled there for some until their husbands had gone to file on their claims which meant having to go to Wadena to look up their land - a sixty mile walk through the woods along a blaze line which went through near Parkers Prairie, Minnesota and then onto Alexandria to the land office. After receiving their first papers, they walked back to Parkers Prairie where they rested for a day or two with the store keeper, made friends, and got supplies: a cow and calf, steers to break in, chickens and general household supplies.

Two other women besides Margaret and six children were at the reception house at Brainard, without their men folk when she heard Indians having "a big pow wow over in the woods." She had not known anything about Indians, having never read or heard about them in their homeland, and one night around midnight while they slept upstairs, she heard "the most unearthly yells." Looking out of the window and seeing the Indians putting piles of wood round and round the house to burn them out, they began to pray thinking their last hour had come.

As if in answer to these prayers, Margaret went to the window to look out at the west side of the house and saw a row of "fine strapping chaps" standing with their rifles cocked at "the devils" and saying in the Indian language to them, "If one of you are seen in five minutes, we will shoot you down like dogs."

They thanked the brave men who would never forget the three women who would always think highly of them, assured that the Lord had sent them to take care of them. Though the account had happened 52 years ago she often lived it over again and with good reason – saying it had turned her hair gray.

Concluding that the Lord had big work for her to do on the prairie, they set out about the 17th of June in 1873 in the afternoon, and arrived at their land with no tent or house to go to, but the wild flowers were a sight to behold as the sun glinted out and in among a rainbow of colors. They dropped onto a little claim shanty on legs and took possession to get under cover for the night.

The little house was full of mosquitoes so thick one could cut them with a knife and the logs so open you could have thrown a cat through. All the while it thundered and lightening split the sky until, flooded out, they lifted their beds off of the floor and put Mrs. Stewart's children up on the table and sat the rest of the night working out plans to build one of thehouses. Bright and early, we they were on their feet and got the lumber to build. Jack Stewart and Mr. Strang (as she addresses her husband) began to dig the well. They got down about 20 feet and thought there was plenty of water; but it proved to be only sufficient for the time being.

They built one house first, which housed all of them, and continued until they each had their own house. The Stewarts and Strangs remained close friends. Jim Robb was a neighbor on the other side, and the Beach's folks were about a mile across the creek. That summer would stand out in her memory as "one of the most cruelly home sick times that ever a girl put in." She wrote that she would sit by the hour and think of the dear ones she had left at home. Her

father and mother had both "gone to their lang alma," but her brother Andrew had been both to them and had filled their place for the other children. She remembered her father telling him to be good to the children (four younger than he), and he was good and kind, and he did the best he knew how and even though she was married, he was none the less dear to her.

She used to sit and write by the hour and tell him about her "wee, funny house on the prairie and the stove sitting out under a tree." She recalled how one time while baking bread in it one day, a storm came up and the cattle tore around and kicked the stove over, bread and all.

By September, she wrote that the wind would across the prairie was cold, and that Mr. Strang, having had lots of escapades and experiences in New Zealand and Australia before they were married, knew of a good many ways to keep warm; and he showed her how to "sod up to the eves," while they sang the Psalms of David. They spent many long winter days inside "that wee shanty." Inside, everything was homemade. While her husband was making chairs and table and things they needed to get along with, she was busy fashioning little garments out of the many good clothes she had for motherhood was upon her.

She helped Mrs. Stewart with her sewing and the two tried to comfort each other when a letter from home came. It was like a sacred thing to her, and she would cry for days, thinking and dreaming of her mother at night till she would be wakened up. The winters got colder and colder – 40 below zero was quite common, as was the howl of the coyotes at night which frightened her. They spent their first Christmas and New Years with the Stewarts and had dinner and on the first day of January, their boy Robert, "a fine healthy 10 pound boy," was born.

Others of the colony kept coming out until there were ten families, all from the dear auld homeland. She planted seeds from Scotland that her brother Andrew had sent her, and had tatties, corn, and the grandest ruttabagies, tomatoes and onions in their roadside garden which was also filled with the fragrance of flowers. They always went to church, were early risers, and unafraid of hard work and as the first few years passed, their stock grew and their cows multiplied. Margaret made butter she sold in town, raised chickens, sold eggs, and had two more children by time they built the second home and barn.

She talked of how they walked the eight miles to church on Sundays, and how she carried her butter and eggs to her customers. She loved to walk and would get home in time to have a good hearty supper for the children coming home from school. After supper, they would get the cows home and Mr. Strang and the two eldest boys would milk while shed did the dishes and saw to the milk pans. After their chores were done, she would read a story or they would have a game, they'd put the babies to bed and before long, all would be "in the land of nod, then up early and into a good, honest day's work."

The colony of which Margaret refers, was the Furness Colony which was the result of a meeting of the Northern Pacific Railway Company and a Reverend Story and Robert Kerr. The railroad had been interested in promoting migration to its land holding and there were promoting a group of temperance people, convinced the sale of intoxicating drink was opposed to community propriety.

A committee of eight men had been appointed to go to American and select a proper place for the settlement of the colony. Included in the group were James and Thomas Robb farmers of Perth, Scotland, who chose Wedena and intended for it to be settled up with small farms.

Other early members of the group included James Strang, John Stewart an iron moulder from Dumbarton, James Anderson a clothier from Motherwell, David Murray a craftsman, Ebenezer Thomson from Canada, and other Scots including William Davidson, Albert McLean, and William Wilson. by Margaret Arbuckle Strang in 1873, the original is in possession of the Wadena Historical Society.

Creative Commons License Rhodes Family History by Ian Rhodes (1999-2017 v.3.0) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me. Use OpenDNS