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Centennial History Book

Every community has cherishedREMINISCENCES


Taken from The Farnam Echo, 1936

How this country looked to me when we arrived in Nebraskaand some of our experiences of 1886. The vastness of theprairie was almost appalling to me having lived among the hills238and valleys of Pennsylvania. There was very little broken land,not a tree in sight. The trees grew in the large canyons. A fewscattered windmills and about four or five frame houses stoodout against the sky. Most of the sod houses were mostly one ortwo rooms and many lived in dugouts, which were like a cave inthe sides of the canyons, very warm in winter and cool insummer. All newcomers were called tenderfoot. Water andfuel were very scarce. The men drove to the large canyons forwood, the Jeffery, Conroy and Snell. They would sometimes begone two days often coming home late in the night. The womenwould worry for fear they would get lost or hurt. After we hadcorn crops, cobs were the principal fuel. I remember mymother baking bread and having to use sunflower stalks forfuel. My work was to get her the stalks, no easy task, Ithought. I also recall a terrible blizzard in ’86 when some of themen of the community were hauling piling for the railroad toMaywood and Curtis which was only completed to Moorefieldat that time. We were snowed in for two days and had to bedug out of the drift, as our one-room sod house was almostburied in the snow.

As our arrival was in the spring the crops had to be plantedfirst of all. Our water supply was quite a problem as we hauledtwo or three barrels for several miles, if the wind had notblown to pump the water, we could only have a few pails and ifthe slough holes or buffalo wallows were not dried up we wouldsometimes have to use water from them. There were timeswhen the cattle were driven to the Platte for a drink.

The young folks had to make their own amusements. Duringthe melon season they would gather at some home in theevening and have what we called a melon feed. The melonswere delicious. We would often gather in a house where theywere fortunate in having a piano or organ, spending theevening singing. We would often get lost going home at nightas there were no laid out roads, only trails which were usuallyso dim they could not easily be seen at night, and we wouldoften find ourselves in a cornfield, as there were no fences, or itmight be the horses would stop and when the driver investigatedwe would be near the edge of a canyon. When the starswere shining we always got our bearings from the North Star.

On cloudy nights the men often hung a lantern on the end of theneck yoke. I have known some folks getting lost and find in themorning they had driven all night in a circle.

Herding cattle was the work often given over to the youngerones of the family. I thought it was a lonesome and verymonotonous task. The young folks were quite expert at horsebackriding as they were on their ponies day after day whenthey were herding.

The fathers and mothers who settled in this part of thecountry and endured the inconveniences, privations and thehardships of pioneer life did not realize that in fifty years theirgrandchildren would be enjoying the comfortable homes andmodern conveniences that are found on many prairie farmstoday. The majority of those settlers have passed on. Many arelying over on the hillside. They have all had a great part in themaking of this part of the state of Nebraska.

Published: 3/27/2023 -
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