Monday, December 21, 2009

The Cottle Saga will return in January - Meanwhile, while looking for more Cottle family history I found the following: A poem written by a member of the Cottle family. Read it! Enjoy it! And then take a guess at the identity of the author
From the Writings of ????? ?????? (age ??)
The Boy who didn't believe in Santa Claus (SIC)
Over the mountains, the forest, and plain
From Quebec, to Alberta, To Utah, to Maine
From New York, to Paris, to London or Rome
Across all great oceans, white capped with foam
From all places only one such boy survived
He was mean and was cruel to my surprise
Bluebeard and the Mafia couldn't compare
To him - all badness was just and fair
The meanest boy that ever did live
He could be cured by no medicine doctors could give
For the things he did would make you heart pause
He used to boast "he'd spit in his eye,"
If he ever met the "rotten guy"
"He's a fake and a phony," he used to complain,
"His sleigh is a junk heap, his clothes have soup stains"
But now he has changed from all of that
No longer he thinks Santa looks like a bat
Why he changed no one knows
For he has told none of his friends, not even his foes
But Santa's his hero, and that's a fact
"Santa's the best," on his wall he has tacked
So I questioned him and asked him to explain
He said, "It's simple and plain"
You see it all happened seven winters ago
I set a trap in fireplace for my foe
And I watch in the corner, on my face was a frown
And to my surprise! Santa still came down
And what's more, he had a smile on his face
And walked over to me with wisdom and grace
Non believer, come with me
And you will see my fantasy.
And we climbed on his sleigh and were off like a shot.
And in all that sky we were just a small dot
And we landed at the North Pole
It was desolate and ugly and wouldn't support a sole
but in all that whiteness something appeared
A small little workshop, and elf's so queer.
and with a gesture he invited me in
And tiny elf's worked on toys, balls and scuba fins.
He showed me all the workings of his shop
But then all at once, something made him stop
It was the clock on the wall striking twelve gongs
Signaling Christmas Eve was along
Santa said it is time for me to go
And in a twinkling of an eye we were up in the snow
He dropped me off at my place of abode
And jumped on his sleigh and away he rode
but I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight
"Always believe and I'll visit you on Christmas eve night"
"But disbelieve and you will find to your shock
A lump of coal in your very own sock!"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Part III: Fort Laramie, Wyoming – 1867
As Thomas Edward watches the Indians converge on Fort Laramie, his mind begins to wander over the events of the past year. Since the Indian attack last July that kills his little brother, grandmother and mortally wounds his grandfather; and causes the disappearance of his mother; events are sort of muddled together. But some things he will never forget, starting with the immediate aftermath of the attack.
First TE digs two shallow graves in the bald prairie and places the body of his little brother George in one grave and his Grandma Bertell in the second grave with only sagebrush branches as grave markers. Then Captain Duncan detours the wagon train to Big Laramie where they met up with a Captain Smith, who, upon hearing of the attack, organizes a company of 75 men and starts after the Indians, assuring TE that; “he will have his mother back before sundown.” Captain Smith is unable to keep his word. He follows the Indians for three days before pinning them down long enough for a brief battle. However the Indians slip away during the night and Captain Smith is forced to return to Big Laramie empty handed.
TE, his Father Henry, Brother William, Sister Anne and Grandpa Bartell (gravely wounded) accept an invitation to go to Denver to see if a doctor can help Grandpa ( he cannot and Grandpa dies a short time later). They stay in Denver for a year, working to make enough money to travel on to Utah – but at the same time always hoping for word about their mother/wife.
In the early summer of 1867 a Captain Wilson contacts the family and invites them to go with him to Fort Laramie where several Indian tribes have agreed to “make treaties with the white man” so a Peace Commission is established to conduct the terms of the treaty. There is a rumor that a provision of the treaty will be that the Indians return all hostages. This brings TE back to the present as he scans the hills carefully, watching for his mother’s trademark red hair. TE is surprised at the number of Indians, he guesses there might be 8-10 thousand and with only about 500 soldiers he is constantly warned to stay inside the fort. However, Thomas Edward often sneaks out in the afternoons and visits some of the more friendly Indian camps. He always asks about the red headed woman. And he gets lots of leads. Sometimes he feels he is so close to his mother he can almost feel her presence. He is sure it is just a matter of time before she will be back safe and sound. NOT TO BE! In spite of the best efforts by the family, the army, the peace commission and some friendly Indians, Elizabeth Bartell Cottle is not found. The Peace Commission wraps up their work and the Indians fade back into the hills and still no Elizabeth. TE returns to Denver with a heavy heart, but vows never to give up. Even as a grown man TE continues to track down every lead, every rumor, but to no avail. At one point, much later on Thomas Henry (son of TE and Mel’s Grandfather), hears of a motion picture company that had gone to Wyoming some years earlier to film an Indian Tribe and while there they see a woman with red hair who is the wife of the chief. They ask her why she does not return to live with the “white men” and reportedly she replies, “It’s been too long, my people will never accept me.” Thomas Henry tries to track down the movie company but does not succeed. And so the fate of one Elizabeth Bartell Cottle, wife of Henry Cottle, mother to Thomas Edward Cottle and Mel’s Great Great Grandmother, remains unknown to this day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Again!

I know I left you with some photos of a late season storm. Well, here we go again. This is the result of a storm that started Friday 5th of December and ended Sunday evening. We have almost 30" of snow on the level and much higher in the drifts (which are right in front of my driveway). Will it never end?

Randal's Favourite Albums of 2009

Head over to to check out my list of my favourite albums from this year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

...everywhere we go.
So starting Friday, the weather up here in Edmonton turned a bit nasty. It snowed all day, then factor in winds causing drifts everywhere, it created for some interesting driving (I almost got stuck on the roads a couple times and that doesn't factor in the parking lots. Those are a whole other beast themselves.)
This is what it looked like just outside my apartment door, about 20 - 25 cm fell (8 - 10 inches) so not the 2 feet like Jamie, but we got snow on the ground, now the temperature has dropped and we're once again wondering why we live in Edmonton.... :-S

But to really kick off the Christmas season Bailey and I once again participated in the Festival of Trees to support the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation. Here's some of the fun we had this year.

First stop, a visit with Santa

This year was the 25th anniversary of The Festival of Trees and all kids got these bags to decorate and keep

The traditional mini tree decorating

One of the many decorated cakes/gingerbread houses (this ones a cake) on display for judging. This one won gold in the pro decorating category, and it's from the gluten-free bakery Kinnikinnick, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Bailey practicing her stitching technique, the patient should heal well

Bailey a little worse for wear after a visit to the "Hospital"

Time to go home, we had a ton fun and hope that all of you have a ton of fun this christmas season too.
so finally, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Monday, December 7, 2009

PART TWO – Somewhere in Wyoming 1866
“Jump down boy,” says Captain Duncan as he approaches the wagon
TE does so, still puzzling over the increasing crowd of men coming his way. He double checks the wagon and the team to be sure everything is ok. THEN HE HEARS THE WORDS THAT WILL CHANGE HIS LIFE FOREVER.
“Son, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we just got word that Indians have attack your dad’s wagon, we are now in the process of sending a posse to find the Indians and also to retrieve the survivors”.
The Captain continues talking but TE can’t make out the words for the sudden pounding in his head and he mumbles. “What are you talking about?” “Survivors, why are you talking about survivors?”
Now his mind is starting to clear and he thinks, “Captain would only use the word survivor if someone did not survive – and he said they attack my Dad’s wagon, that means…”
“Come on boy, join Sister Duncan in my wagon and we will wait until the Posse returns and gives us a full report.”
“NO, I’m going with them – I must find out what is happening to my family.”
With that TE grabs a horse tethered to a nearby tree, and without asking permission, jumps on and starts after the Posse. No one tries to stop him.
The 15 miles to the Cottle wagon go by in a haze, TE thinking to himself, “Survivors, I hope they all survived. I’m sure my brother and sister made it, who would hurt such little children? And my mom, she is so nice to everyone, especially me, so I know no one would hurt her. But my Dad and my Grandparents; Oh, I hope not.”
Just then the horse stumbles and almost pitches TE off, so he quits daydreaming and concentrates on staying astride the horse for the remaining miles, which seem to take forever.
The first glimpse of the area around the wagon does not look promising. The wagon itself looks in shambles. One of the oxen has been shot and fell, breaking the wagon tongue. Clothes are scattered everywhere, along with household belongings, supplies and just stuff. Then TE sees what he fears most. BLOOD! The more he looks the more blood he sees. The limp figure of a woman is lying alongside the wagon with a great amount of blood on her dress.
“Oh no, not my mother, I cannot live without my mother!”
As TE gets closer he can see this woman not only has her throat cut, but has been scalped as well, so TE cannot tell if this woman has the bright red hair that is his mother’s pride and joy and her trademark. He holds his breath and turns the women over – It is not his mother but Grandmother Bretell (spelling varies). He has mixed feelings, sorrow at the loss of his Grandmother but with renewed hope that he might find the rest of the family alive. But the next sight is anything but encouraging; a small limp form is laying close to one of the wagon wheels. It is his little brother George, with his skull bashed in – poor little George, it looks like one of the Indians just picked him up and smashed his head against the wheel. This is more than TE can handle, he feels unwell and all at once the events of the morning catch up with him. He slumps to his knees, leans across a washtub, upchucks his breakfast and breaks out crying. As he continues sobbing he thinks he must be growing crazy – the tub is making a thumping sound. What is going on? He gets control of himself, lifts up the tub and there underneath is his just younger brother William – and he is alive! He had forgotten about William when he was thinking of his family earlier. Fourteen years old, and small for his age – and someone TE often fought with – Will is a sight for sore eyes. No sooner has he found Will that he hears a further groaning. He and Will, without saying anything to each other, rush to the other side of the wagon. There is Father, blood running down his face, but alive. Now to find Grandpa Brettell, TE’s little sister Anne and, most importantly – his mother Elizabeth. A quick search of the surrounding area turns up Grandpa, gravely wounded by a blow to the head, but alive (he died of his wounds some six weeks later).
TE and Will hold a quick conference, decide to split up and look for mother and Anne. After more than an hour of frantic searching one of the men from the wagon train arrives with Anne, unharmed, across the front of his saddle. It seems that during the attack she takes off on the dead run to warn the wagon train and none of the Indians notice her leave.
Still no sign of mother, everyone searches until they are exhausted! Finally the survivors set down together to have a talk and plan their next action. Father is still too woozy to think straight, so TE – at 16 years of age becomes the man of the family, at least for the present. The story is pieced together as follows: It appears a group of Indians appear upon a nearby hill – dressed in war paint, but saying, by sign language, they want to trade. Father walks away from the wagon and toward the hill and offers several items in trade, after a lot of haggling father says he will give them all our sugar, bacon and 200 pounds of flour if they will let us pass unharmed. The Indians agree. Then as father turns to go back to the wagon, one of the Indians “shot him down like a dog” (words of William Henry Cottle) and the attack is on! The Indians fire over 500 rounds in and about the wagon. Grandma and little George are killed and Grandpa fatally wounded. Mother grabs William, shoves him under a tub and tells him not to raise that tub, no matter what. Anne clings to her mother’s skirts for dear life. A large buck Indian on a big white horse charges the camp swinging his rifle as a club and in one motion, knocks Anne to the ground and swoops Elizabeth up on the horse in front of him; then takes off across the prairie – with mother’s bright red hair streaming across his shoulder. Anne goes running for help and TE arrives a short time later. In less than an hour, TE’s whole world is turned upside down. TE walks a short distance from the rest and has a good cry, then dries his tears, “sucks it up” and returns to what is left of his family, with one thought uppermost in his mind.
“I will not rest until I find my mother!” TO BE CONTINUED
(Note: This story is true but I have used two different accounts of the incident for my information. One by William Henry and one by Anne Cottle Robson – and each account varies somewhat. Also I took writer’s license to make the story more interesting.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Part One 1866 somewhere in the Wyoming Territory
Thomas Edward Cottle or TE as everyone calls him is having a horrible day. It is hot and dusty and the team of oxen he is assigned to drive are slow and always stopping to eat along the way. When TE tries to use the long rawhide bullwhip to get the team moving again it gets tangled in the wagon canvas, just about pulling him off the seat and does little to move the oxen. He is almost on the verge of tears, but then a sixteen year old –almost a man – does not cry. And furthermore, if the other “bull whackers” spot tears they will tease him endlessly. So TE sucks it up and tries to think of pleasant memories to cheer him up. He remembers the missionaries, with their funny looking stove pipe hats and strange accents coming to their home in Dudley, Stafford England and talking about a group of people called the “Mormons” that live in this far off place referred to as “Zion” or sometimes, Utah Territory. It seems a little strange to TE but he likes the Missionaries- they make him feel good inside, and he joins the rest of the family in being “baptized” into this religion (although Thomas Edward is not baptized until after the family immigrates to Utah). It is almost a blur after the family decides to “go to Zion”, but he does remember the long ocean voyage – and how sick he got when a storm buffets the ship - Of landing in New York, the biggest city he had ever seen! Then after a brief stop in the big city making their way by train (and some walking) to Winter Quarters, Nebraska where his dad (Henry) joins up with Captain Duncan’s wagon train for the long trip across the American Plains to Zion. By this time their meager savings are exhausted and Cap Duncan wants “cash up front.” So, Henry makes a deal. His oldest son will drive a freight wagon across the plains and in exchange allow the Cottle wagon to join the train. TE does not necessarily want to drive a wagon but his Dad will book no argument. Now that the journey is almost half over TE admits, to himself, that there could be worse things than driving a yoke of oxen to Utah. And maybe being an experienced teamster will come in handy when looking for a job in Utah.
A big bump stops his day dreaming and the oxen’s forward progress. So TE gets down and looks around to see if the wagon has sustained any permanent damage. He can see no problems but just as he is about to climb back in the driver’s seat he hears shouting coming from the rear of the train.
“Indians, Indian attack, Indian attack!”
TC’s first thought is to find cover and his second thought is about his family. He is glad his family (Father Henry, Mother Elizabeth, little brother George, bratty little sister Anne, and his Grandmother and Grandfather Brittle [or Bartel]) is not with the company at this time and therefore cannot be part of the Indian attack. The reason: It seems Captain Duncan would not pay the required $2.00 per wagon to cross the Platte River earlier this morning. Instead the Captain orders the entire company, including TE, to travel some 10 miles north to a place where the company can ford the river, thus avoiding the ferry toll. However, the Henry Cottle wagon is experiencing wheel axle problems, so Henry said he will fix the wagon, and then pay the ferry toll, although he could ill afford the $2, and catch up with the main company that evening.
Thomas Edward immediately circles his team inward to repel the attack, just as he has been taught. However, no one else is moving; all the drivers are just sitting on their wagons looking around.
“Quick,” TE calls, “Let us get these wagons in a circle, there is not a moment to lose – the Indians will be here any second.”
Still, no one moves.
“Now that’s strange, not only is no one moving but it looks like the Captain and some of the men are coming toward my wagon, did I do something wrong?” TE puzzles to himself.
“Captain, shouldn't we be circling the wagons to guard against the attack?”
Still no one moves, and the usually jovial Captain Duncan has a somber look as he wends his way through the assorted wagons toward the spotted oxen pulling TE’s unit.
In his mind TE thinks, “What is going on! What IS GOING ON?”