Family Farm: Kansas Homestead during the Dust Bowl
A woman recounts the tale of her father building a Kansas homestead, and keeping their family farm alive during the drought and dust in the 1930s
My grandpa, George Weeden, came to Cheyenne County, Kansas, around 1893 in a covered wagon. He established a Kansas homestead and built a sod house. He brought his family out later. Then he built a rock barn, chicken house and milk house. Down the hill he gave land for a school. I was born in 1930, the fifth child of six children. I always look back to my family farm with pleasure. I know my parents went through hard times but they did the best they could and we were happy.
The dust bowl years were bad. Some days the chickens went to roost at 3:00 in the afternoon because it was so dark from the blowing dust. My parents argued over the weather; Dad wanted it to rain so bad he would see a little cloud and say it looked like rain, while Mom would say it never rained from that direction. Mom was usually right. The crops and pastures dried up and still there was no rain. Then, on Memorial Day 1935, it rained and rained, so much so that we had to hold rags in the windows to keep the water out. The next day we heard on the phone that the river had flooded, so we got in the car and went to see. I can still remember a dead cow hung on a corner of the bridge, and the roiling, dirty water carrying dishes and pans roaring by. Several people drowned, and we were at a neighbors' when they brought in some survivors we knew.
Mrs. Alvin Holzworth
St. Francis, Kansas
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.