Your getaway in beautiful Chewelah, WA

The Farmhouse on Dry Creek

Back to the home page

About the Farmhouse on Dry Creek

The Harding Family about to move from Nebraska

My love for the Dry Creek Hill–Blue Creek area began in my earliest childhood. My grandparents, Mary and Emil Harding, had moved here from Nebraska in 1941, seeking a better life and education for their six small children, my mother among them. After renting various farms throughout the community, and having five more children, they bought the farm of my memories, 1 ½ miles up the road from what is now the Farmhouse on Dry Creek. For the five children still at home it was the best ever--the first with running water and a full inside bathroom! But the farm was not without hard work; at one period, the boys helped milk up to 30 cows before school and every night. Summers were field work, haying and bucking many bales to stockpile winter feed. In addition they raised hundreds of broiler chickens every summer. Consequently, not one of the eleven children decided to farm, but that farm work ethic must have contributed to the successful career that each one had. Their home was always a gathering place that created wonderful warm memories for the children and their friends.

Two Harding kids with neighbors

As so often the case, it was necessary to work in town just to support the farm. For many of the early years Emil worked at another farm and a sawmill. Mary leased and managed restaurants. She leased the Banquet Café and a rooming house above where the Washington Federal Bank on Highway 395 now stands. For the last one, the Chalet in Chewelah (now the Main Street Bistro), she woke every morning at 2:30 and made about 25 pies of different varieties before opening for the day. At day’s end there was seldom a pie left. She also took care of a huge garden, canned, baked and cooked for everyone at home. At dinnertime that was the place to be!

The Harding Family

The memorable part of my childhood was going to my grandparent’s farm and just being a kid. Following my grandfather around all day watching how he cared for the machinery, outbuildings, land and animals will forever be the very best days I can remember. On the weekends there were as many as ten grandkids following him around. Sometimes he put that to good use by having us all follow behind the tractor with trailer picking up rocks in the field, catching the chickens, or just fetching and carrying things. The rule was: we could drive the tractor if the top of our head reached the center of the steering wheel. Never mind that we couldn’t see over the hood! We built a treehouse, rode the cows, let the hogs chase us, hiked, played, and did absolutely whatever we wanted to. Our responsibility was to put back the tools if we borrowed them, no hurting each other or animals, and be home by dinnertime. What a life!

Mary and Emil Harding

Then there were the excursions down the hill to the Blue Creek Store, which has been in business for over 100 years. What memories! I remember as a little girl the Post Office, three rolled up comic books that you could buy for ten cents, the look and sounds of the old pop cooler, and Mrs. Olson, who was always so nice to a kid. I always looked forward to Sundays when I could ride with my uncle to pick up the Sunday paper at the store, which used to be open then. It is still a place where you can carry a tab, with handwritten purchases that you pay periodically. The store carries almost everything--groceries, deli, hardware, plumbing, tires, fuel, and clothing, and will gladly order what they don’t have in stock. They also do some vehicle repair. The Blue Creek Store holds the essence of this community of neighbors helping neighbors--it’s the best!

I also loved to go with my grandfather when he visited neighbors, especially Ben and Sally Daniels. Their farm was then known as the prettiest place on Dry Creek hill. I used to sit on the bridge with my feet dangling over the creek, looking at their beautiful field across the road where deer were peacefully grazing. My daydreams came true when I purchased that field in October 1992, and slowly began to develop it as a home site. After retiring from the Air Force in 2007 I built a house, put in fences, and planned to build a barn and establish a small grass-fed cattle operation. So much for best-laid plans...

Everything changed the following year, when the Daniels family decided to sell their farmhouse and barn on the eight acres across the road. (Sally was alone by now, and had moved to Colville to live with her son Dan.) I bought it hoping to preserve its history and make sure it stayed the wonderful place of my childhood memories.

Ben and Sally Daniels

Sally and Ben Daniels had owned 1965 Dry Creek Road since Sept 8, 1948, when they moved from Big Lake, Washington, to raise a family. At that time it consisted of 240 acres, mostly across the road. They logged, farmed and raised pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, cattle and horses. Sally told us about hurrying up the steep hill across the road to take Ben his lunch when he was plowing a field for alfalfa with his team of horses. During haying season she would walk ahead of the mower to make sure there were no newborn fawns curled up hiding in its path. She also did her share of the farm work. Once when she was plowing and disking the high field with a John Deere Crawler she got high-centered on a rock, then just waited for Ben to realize she was gone much too long and come looking. I can still see Sally as a young farm woman enjoying the day just waiting to be rescued. Also how their 22 goats grazed on this fertile field and walked down at the same time late every afternoon for the safety of the barn. One time they were grazing on the hill across the road and something scared them clear over the hill and way back down on Blue Creek Road. They were gone for two weeks before they found their way back.

Ben even had stories to tell about his logging days on the coast during the Depression. With his Jersey/Shorthorn steer, aptly named Rock, he also logged and cut many cords of wood. He also pulled alder trees out of a swamp. Rock was so strong that when he pulled, either the tree moved or he broke his doubled-up horse harness. Rock could actually out-pull any team of horses.

Like my grandparents, Ben and Sally both had to work elsewhere to support their farm. In the 1950’s they ran two tree yards for the J. Hofert Christmas Tree Company, one in Chewelah and one in Colville. Ben also worked at Colville Valley Concrete, running the Chewelah Batch Plant and delivering concrete and gravel.

Ben's mom and dad came to Eastern Washington in 1952 and moved in an old house over beside where the garage now sits. They helped farm for five years before they moved back to Sedro Wooley. Their house was torn down and the lumber was used to build the garage, and some to brace the forms for the root cellar foundation which was poured in the early 1960's.

This was not easy ground to farm, with far too many rocks, which did not make for easy fence building or field work. Still, they were able to grow huge sugar beets in the gully across the road—some over 10” in diameter. Their farm was added to when they leased another 190 acres behind the house. At one time you couldn't sell hay at all, so they had the big barn completely full and 300 additional tons piled nearby. Then there was a hay shortage on the coast and all the hay sold for a high price. In about two months it was all gone.

Ben and Sally Daniels

Ben and Sally raised two children, Dixie and Dan. As the years went by and they became grandparents, they realized that physically they wouldn't be able to farm for much longer. They still wanted a career where they could work together and decided to sell real estate. In order to qualify to take the test to become Realtors, they both had to obtain their GEDs. So in their mid-sixties this dedicated couple took the classes, studied and successfully completed not only the GED but also the Realtor exam. Once again as an amazing team they created an income while being together and enjoying the next phase of their lives. During the years when they were Realtors, they sold much of their surrounding acreage. Now the Farmhouse on Dry Creek and its classic barn are part of the forty-acre property that is mostly across the county road. Sally was pleased to have this original 40 acres back together again.

Since my house is less than 800 square feet, and my many relatives still love to get together here, I expanded the original farmhouse as a nice place for family and friends to stay and to hold reunions. At the same time I wanted to create a setting for those who wanted to return to a childhood place they fondly remembered, or had only dreamed of experiencing. The renovation of the 1930’s farmhouse began in 2010 and was finished in 2012. I was very grateful for experienced relatives and a local retired carpenter that helped make the remodel possible.

The Farmhouse is a home with a soul that you can feel the moment you walk in, which I'm sure is due to the warmth of the Daniels family. My desire for the Farmhouse is to create some of the same warmth and closeness to honor both the Daniels and my grandparents.

I feel the best way to show my respect is to continue to improve the farm and make it a place to share. A place where those raised on a farm can come to remember, those never on a farm learn and grow to love it, and oh the kids--can just be kids and make a lifetime of memories!

My thanks to Dan Daniels for generously sharing his memories, family stories and photographs of his parents, Ben and Sally Daniels, and to Tricia Cedarleaf for her help in organizing my presentation of the history of the Farmhouse on Dry Creek.

- Denise Ebbighausen, Host and Owner