When Craig Fox made a stop at Givens Hot Springs on a hot early-September day, he had no idea he and his two burros (his "girls") would be part of the entertainment for the Givens' 125th Celebration a few days later. Invited by Steve Givens to stay and participate in the momentous event, Craig charmed participants with stories of his own pioneering experiences.
A covered wagon was a must for the celebration! Months before the big event Steve utilized his construction skill, and antique and new parts and materials, to build a wagon reminiscent of the one that brought his great-grandparents Milford and Mattie Givens to the Springs over a century before. The minimal capacity of the finished wagon caused our family to marvel at how few worldly goods could accompany these intrepid pioneer ancestors in their search for a better life in the West.
In 1992 Pete Aldrich ably restored a sturdy, serviceable covered wagon, built for travel, which his daughter Angela drove with a team of horses from Omaha Nebraska to Salt Lake City, Utah in the Sesquicentennial re-enactment of the 1852 Mormon Trek West. Pete and his wife Diane shared their wagon with us the day of the celebration, along with stories that gave flavor to, and paralleled the crossing-the-plains experiences of Milford and Mattie.
An exact replica of Bill Cody's Wild West Show stagecoach, built by Jack Givens, a grandson of Milford and Mattie, was a testament to Jack's expertise as a builder. It also evoked memories, for some, of Berry Givens, Jack's uncle and one of Milford and Mattie's sons, who rode in Bill Cody's Wild West Show.
Jack's daughter LeAnne Givens Colwell now owns the coach, and with the help of her husband maintains it and generously shares its charm with others on occasions such as this.
Janet Gomez, with a little help from her children, erected and displayed her beautiful Indian teepee, a reminder of the ones that dotted the landscape and greeted the pioneers as they made their way West.
Dozens of vintage and antique cars filled one side of the park, representing our country's early 1900's shift to motorized transportation. This mode of travel allowed easier access from neighboring towns to the Springs and other places of interest.
A 1947 Piper Super Cruiser airplane, restored by Steve's father Orin, another grandson of Milford and Mattie, landed at the airpark just across the road for the event. The older plane and the newer skypark are both evidences of transportation progress in Owyhee County. The plane is currently owned by Howard Nau, who flew it from Nampa for the celebration.
Young participants were enthralled, and older ones nostalgic, as Peter and Elaine Oakander, Dr. Hugh Eddy, Carolan Zografos and Pat Packard involved them in gold-panning, blacksmithing, and pioneer domestic arts.
What would a celebration be without music! The Heatherwood Swingers, consisting of a singer self-accompanied by a keyboard, with background of Seniors drumming on bed-pans and strumming on washboards, provided a humorous and rousing introduction to the day. Later we enjoyed the musical skills of "Seniority," a "Seasoned Citizens" barbershop quartet, and the "Buck Family Fiddlers," a talented family trio of stringed instrument players.
Visitors watched in awe as the National Guard Blackhawk helicopter descended to the field behind the poolhouse. Respectful silence accompanied the loud whir of the engines. Many observers experienced a tug at their emotions as the craft set down, shut off it's engine, and the crew emerged. Here was an impressive sampling of the thousands of capable and caring men and women risking their lives all over the world to cover the cost of freedom for the rest of us, and the remarkable machinery that helps maintain that freedom.
Many shook the hands of the crew that came in response to our special request, chatted with them a while, had their pictures taken with them, then again watched in fascination as the crew entered the aircraft and departed. Some watched until the helicopter was out of sight. It appeared that most, if not all, were touched by the experience.
Descendants of Milford and Mattie joined with many others from the community to celebrate the day's events, and later shared the histories of their own ancestors in an evening Givens family gathering. That event was punctuated with a delicious dinner graciously prepared by Dave and Debbie Beck and crew, and followed by some picture-taking and informal chats.
We're grateful to all who participated in this event. And we thank all our patrons who continually add wonderful stories to our history as they share memories of times enjoyed at Givens by their own families and ancestors.