RIGBY — Those driving a half-mile south past the Clark Ward Church off Idaho Highway 48 may have notice a historical marker nailed into a large Lombardi Poplar Tree. This sign marks the location of the 60-acre Brown Homestead and three 100-year-old poplar trees.
Four years ago, Kenneth Brown placed the historical marker on one of the poplars to commemorate his family’s heritage.
“These trees designated the west boundary of their newly purchased farm in Clark,” Brown said. “They (parents John and Jeanette Brown) built a small three room clapboard shack to the immediate east of these trees which was their home for the next 17 years.”
Brown said his father grew up in Ogden, Utah, surrounded by poplar trees. When they decided to move to Rigby, his father chose to plant six of the trees on their property in 1918.
“He wanted to live near them,” Brown said.
Four of the six children born to the Browns were born in the house. The four include Mildred, Maxine, Kenneth and Lois Mae. The other two children, Jennie and Mabel, had moved with their parents from Crystal — a farming community west of Pocatello — in 1917.
Now 95 years old, Brown and his family often return to the plot of land and reflect on the memories they all shared there.
“Those were tough times during the depression years,” he said. “But we weren’t aware that we were poor.”
He said that culinary water was carried in buckets from the Rudy Canal. Lighting was provided by a kerosene lamp and the house was heated in winter with firewood brought by wagon from Kelly Canyon.
Wood was also burned in the cast iron stove for cooking and baking and for heating water in the copper boiler which could be dipped into a galvanized tub for Saturday night baths.
Being that farm was their only source of income, the family grew wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, alfalfa and seed peas. Pasture along the canal provided feed for the dairy herd that often consisted of eight to 10 cows and the four work horses needed to pull the farm equipment.
“A large garden and fruit trees, together with pigs and chickens provided most of the food for our family,” Brown said.
After living in the house for nearly two decades, the Brown family moved to the Shelton area after the house burned down.
Despite not having indoor plumbing, electricity or a telephone, Brown said it was a great house to grow up in.
“There were great times we had while living there,” he said. “We swam in the Rudy Canal and went to movies on Saturday. It was just a good time to grow up.”
Brown said he lived in the house until he was old enough to join the Marine Corps during World War II. He ended up serving in the South Pacific on Iwo Jima.
One-hundred years later, descendants of John and Jeanette Brown continually return to the family homestead to pay homage.
“The Brown Family Organization often times stop by there and pays homage,” Brown said. “Sometimes by more than 100 people at a time.”
Brown said all three trees are alive and well, and that he expects them to continue thriving for future generations.