Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
Since April 2010, I have served in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Those Safe Old Horse & Buggy Days? Not!!!

A Bullet Hole In The Old Sewing Machine 
As I was growing up, Mom (Dorothy) had an old Singer treadle (pedal-powered) sewing machine. She made much of our clothing on that old machine that was given to them by Dad (George's) aunt, Maggie. One day I asked about the bullet hole in one of the left hand drawers of the sewing machine.

Dad explained that as a boy, he was at Aunt Maggie's house visiting his cousins, and one of them was cleaning a 22 rifle.  The boy clicked the trigger without checking to make sure there was no shell in the chamber. The bullet went through the cabinet of the sewing machine and ricocheted off its steel frame, embedding itself in the heel of Dad's boot! But other than the tell-tale bullet hole in the sewing machine, no harm was done that day.

A Runaway Wagon 
Money for presents was scarce on the farm. George and Dorothy had decided that they could buy their little boys a toy wagon by gathering the bottles thrown out along the dirt road by the truckers. George intended to take his horses Pet and Dobbin, but George's brother Jack and his wife Tina were visiting, and Jack suggested that George take his team and wagon, as they were already hitched up. George took Bill [me] and Reg, aged about 6 and 5 at the time, along with him. He was enjoying pretty good success when Jack's horses, Sandy and Babe, smelled a bear and bolted for home. George ran as fast as he could, but couldn't catch the wagon pulled by the panicked horses.

As he ran and walked towards home, he would pass shattered bottles that had fallen from the wagon onto the cement-hard dirt road. Around every corner and over every hill he feared he might find the dead or mangled body of one of his two little boys, crushed by the steel tires of the wooden wagon wheels.

As the wagon drew near George's house, Jack remarked "George sure is driving fast! He must be trying to get home before the storm." But the team and wagon went thundering past, on their way to Jack's farm, nearly a mile farther east.

Seeing that the horses weren't stopping at our house, Bill decided to jump off the wagon. Fortunately he jumped from the back of the wagon and landed safely on the road. The old car seat that Reg was sitting on fell off the back of the wagon as the team was climbing the hill on the far side of the Little Moose creek, taking Reg with it. He also was unharmed. George was very relieved when he realized that both children were safe.

By the time the horses pulled into Jack's driveway, the wagon-bed, made of loose planks had fallen apart. If the boys had remained in the wagon they might have been hurt or killed. (Some days guardian angels have to work extra hard.)

A Surprisingly Successful Hunting Trip 
When "Pa" Buchanan and his sons George and Jack lived six miles west of Breton, Alberta in the 1940s there were few residents in the area, and most of the farmers depended on wild game to help feed themselves and their families. George liked to hunt with his 30-30 Winchester from back of his horse, Pet.

On one occasion, George was out hunting near Alder Flats and spotted a moose. He fired at the moose, and it went down, then stood up again, so George fired again. Again the moose went down. When he got closer, he was amazed to discover that he had killed two moose that were in his line of fire. A very successful hunting trip! To bring the meat home, a friend loaned him a wagon with the wagon box disguised as a load of lumber. It was felt that although the local RCMP were somewhat tolerant of the farmers' hunting big game out of season to feed their families, there was no need to borrow trouble.

Saved By A Short Plank 
While George Buchanan was working at the sawmill at Antross, Alberta with Marvin Burris and Steve Grzyb, they were cleaning out the burner. They had made a wagon box out of scrap lumber. He was bent over doing some work along the edge of the burner. For some reason, the team of horses suddenly backed up the wagon, pinning his head against the side of the burner. One of his co-workers thought that George was dead for sure. But the other one didn't think that a dead man could yell that loud! George's life was saved by the fact that one of the planks making up the wagon bed was shorter than the others. If his neck had been slightly to one side or the other it would have been crushed for sure!

His neck was boxed-in by wood on all sides, and the horses were so skittish it was impossible to tell what they might do next. Marvin grabbed the halters of the horses to hold them in place, while Steve blocked the wagon wheels, then Marvin ran to the barn and got another team and two more men to help rescue George. They were able to unhook the spooked horses and hook-up the other team to pull the wagon away from the burner, freeing George from the trap he was in.


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