The next major period of life for Carl and Harriet was occupied primarily with the
task of raising a family--three daughters and two sons. During this time Carl worked as a
county agent in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Whitman County, Washington. It was a
period of change for the Laneys--changing jobs and changing diapers.
The Laney's first child, Doris Lenore, was born in Spokane on June 10, 1917. After
the birth of Doris, the Laneys spent a brief period in Colfax, Whitman County Washington,
where Carl worked as a Boys and Girls Club Agent. Distributing a car of pure bred ewes and
lambs to club members and ranchers was his main accomplishment during his short stay in
In August 1917, Carl accepted a position as county agent at Lusk, Wyoming, about
100 miles north of Torrington. Carl and his cousin, Joe Laney, took the belongings to Lusk
by way of Yellowstone National Park. Harriet and baby Doris traveled to Lusk by train. Carl
held the position of county agent at Lusk for the next three years.
Carl with daughters Doris and Marguerite
What did county agent work involve? Essentially, Carl's job was to educate the
farmers and help them with their problems. He encouraged them to try new farming
methods and served as a resource person when the farmers found themselves in difficulty.
Carl's formal education in agriculture at Pullman served him well in helping the farmers
improve their farming techniques. At Lusk Carl educated the cattlemen in the control of
Blackleg disease and in dealing with such pests as grass-hoppers and prairie dogs. He also
did Boys and Girls Club work which was similar to the 4-H clubs of today.
Not long after their move to Lusk, Harriet informed Carl that their second child was
on the way. Harriet went back to Spokane for the delivery. On August 30, 1918, the
Laney's second daughter was born. She was named Harriet Marguerite and went by
Marguerite after Carl's sister who had died of scarlet fever.
After three years as county agent at Lusk, Carl moved the family to Torrington, about
120 miles south of Lusk, to farm an acreage there. Carl negotiated for the farm with oil stock
he had purchased. He then tried his hand at hog raising. Unfortunately, the oil company
did not find or produce oil and the company folded, leaving the stock worthless. According
to his son, Stewart, "Dad lost his shirt in the deal." Without means to pay for the farm, Carl
gave up the ranch and moved into town. He took the job of county agent and built a small
house on a small hilltop acreage.
On October 18, 1920 Carl became the father of his first son. The baby was born in
the house Carl built and was named Jack Stewart Laney. The name Jack is actually "short"
for John. "John" Carl was called Jack at one time. According to Harriet, the neighbors knew
a baby had been born by the way Carl was driving about the countryside!
The Laneys remained in Torrington until January of 1921 when Carl took a county
agent job in Ipswich, South Dakota. The Laneys were on the move again! Stewart was just
three months old when they packed up and left Torrington.
Ipswich, South Dakota is located about 100 miles northeast of Pierre, about 35 miles
south of the North Dakota border. There the Laneys remained for three years. Control of
hog cholera and other swine disease was the major task at Ipswich. Carl also was involved in
Boys and Girls Club work, livestock shipping associations, and worked with pure bred hog
breeders. It was in Ipswich on the 18th day of March in 1922 that a fourth child was born to
Carl and Harriet. Carl was delighted to have another son and decided to name him "Carl,"
but call him "Eugene." He continues to be known as "Eugene" among Laney family
In March of 1924 a new board of county commissioners terminated county
agent work in Edmunds County, South Dakota. In April Carl found a position available in
Caldwell, Idaho. The Laneys were on the road again! There in Caldwell, the last of the
Laney children were born. On May 3, 1924 Harriet delivered a bouncing baby girl. She was
named Miriam Ann. Ann, of course, was the name of Harriet's mother. Although 1924
brought joy to the Laneys through the birth of Miriam, the year also brought sadness in the
passing of Carl's mother, Sallie Heren, age 61, who had been plagued with allergies and skin
problems. She developed a fiery skin rash and the doctor decided to give her a shot for relief
of the rash. Daughter Sarah recalls that the shot caused her to convulse and she never really
recovered. Sallie is buried at the Laney family plot in Greenwood Memorial Terrace
cemetery in Spokane.
Plans for financing the county agent work in Caldwell proved very unstable and soon
collapsed leaving Carl without a position in June, three months after his arrival. They
Laneys moved again. This time they returned to Spokane where they stayed for about a year.
Since Carl was unemployed at the time, they spent part of that year living with Harriet's
folks, the Stewarts. It must have been a rather cozy household with five grandchildren, ages
one to eight, running around the house!
Carl wasn't one to sit on his hands, so while he looked for a job in the area of his
interest, he made ends meet by doing odd jobs such as milking cows and riding sheep trains
to St. Paul. In November he began selling Wear-Ever Aluminum kitchen wear. By the
following August he had worked into Colfax, Washington selling pans and was doing very
well. But he was not satisfied with such work as a permanent job.
At Colfax the office of managing secretary of the Whitman County Farm Bureau was
vacant. Carl applied for the job and was accepted. It was 1926. The Laneys moved to
Colfax and spent the next five years there. Since there was no county agent in Whitman
County, Carl's work was largely that of Agricultural Extension. He worked with the farmers
to control ground squirrels and inaugurated an aggressive campaign against noxious weeds.
In addition to the pest control work, Carl did poultry culling demonstrations, Boys and Girls
Club work, helped with swine sanitation, and did Farm Bureau organization work. After five
years, he resigned to become full time secretary for the Washington State Farm Bureau. He
had been acting as part time secretary to the state organization since January 1926.
In 1928 the State Farm Bureau became the State Agent for the State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company of Bloomington, Illinois. Carl helped organize the business
in the state of Washington. He held the first automobile insurance policy issued by the
company in Washington. Soon this expanded insurance business conflicted with his duties
with the Whitman County Farm Bureau. In January of 1930, Carl resigned from the County
Farm Bureau. He was appointed State Director of State Farm Mutual Insurance for the state
of Washington. This appointment brought the family to the Yakima Valley where they
stayed for the next fourteen years. They made their home on Orchard Drive. The children
were ages thirteen to six. During the next fourteen years in Yakima these youngsters grew
up. By the time of their move to Kennewick in 1944, the "kids" would be adults.
After directing the insurance business of State Farm Mutual and developing business
which extended over the state with a force of 100 men, Carl resigned in May of 1937 to go
into the life insurance business. Selling life insurance did not prove successful for Carl. In
May of 1938 he discontinued the work. According to Stewart, Carl could talk sales and
teach others how to do it effectively, but he did not have the personality for it himself.
After leaving the insurance business in May of 1938, Carl spent the next six months
setting up a unit of the Pacific Supply Cooperative at Toppenish in the Yakima Valley. He
withdrew from the enterprise in December with a net profit of $1900.
Carl spent the next four or five years doing a variety of jobs, mostly associated with
agriculture. He was involved in 1939 with the Yakima County Soil Conservation
Association checking field compliance by farmers in the conservation program. In 1940 he
was appointed an Irrigation and Drainage Technician by the Census Bureau to conduct a
census if irrigation and drainage projects in northern Idaho and eastern and central
Washington. He was also a resident Supervisor of a N.Y.A farm project at Walla Walla.
About thirty boys conducted the farm operations under his direction. Similar civil service
work took him to Wenatchee and in early 1944 to Pasco.
In June of 1942 Miriam graduated from Yakima High School. The next year (1942-
43) she attended Yakima Junior College and then she worked for about a year for Western
With the "nest" nearly empty and Carl's employment situation uncertain, Harriet
decided it was time to make use of her Life Diploma and return to teaching. Although she
was already qualified, Harriet went to Ellensburg for a summer session in 1942 where she
audited classes, driving back and forth from Yakima. In the fall of 1942 she began teaching
at Parker, about four or five miles from Yakima. She taught second grade at Parker for two
Map of the Laney family moves between 1917 and 19 44
The Laneys' years in Yakima were memorable. Although Carl was on the road a great
deal with his insurance work for State Farm, he was a family man at heart. His frequent
absences made those times he did have at home very special. Miriam was especially fond of
Sundays when Dad would take family on an afternoon ride. According to Marguerite, these
Sunday afternoon drives "were almost a family ritual." Later in the evening they would enjoy
popcorn and homemade grape juice with the family and friends. As they enjoyed their
treats, Dad would tell stories of sheep herding, school days, and life in Montana.
Carl sought to encourage the spiritual life of his children. He regularly said prayers
with them when putting them to bed. On Sunday morning the Laneys lined up in the family
pew for worship. He didn't allow them to be scattered about. He was quite insistent that
they be all together as a family.
|Moving and Growing
Carl and Harriets Family