GREENWOOD COUNTY HISTORY
Editor’s note: We inadvertently overlooked the first installment of the history. We have decided to rerun the column on John Elmer “Dutch” Ladd in its entirety in two installments. Below is the first installment. The next installment will be included in the January 13th edition. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Back in 1981, Tom Isern from Emporia State did an interview with John Elmer “Dutch” Ladd in which John told of his family being early settlers in Greenwood County. I came across the interview in our museum files and thought it would make an interesting column. Here is the story in Dutch’s own words.
My grandfather was Ole Ladd and he came to America when he was 12 years old, in 1832. He came to Kansas in 1858. He filed a claim on some land and bought the rest of it. He served in the Civil War for a while.
My dad was Charles Christian Ladd. He had 2 brothers and one sister. My grandmother was an Erickson and they were married in Kansas in either 1859 or 60. My dad married Laura Sample from Toronto. Her father was killed in a hunting accident and the probate judge in Eureka raised her. She was 14 when her father died.
My father was a farmer, but ran a grocery store in Eureka the last few years of his life. I was born in 1898. I had four brothers and one sister and one died as a baby. I grew up on the farm. I was here one year when dad owned the grocery store, and then I went into the army,. My folks moved into Eureka to run the store.
The farm was 3-quarter sections (480 acres) 7 1/2 miles northwest of Eureka. One quarter section was grassland and the other 1/2 section was cropland.
We raised mostly corn and alfalfa, and kafir corn, which they call maize now. Most of the crops were used to feed the hogs and cattle. We put up alfalfa and prairie Hay, and it was all stacked, we never baled any. We cut it and let it dry, then we buck raked and stacked with an over shot stacker. There would be one or two men up on the stack packing it down and shaping the stack to make it water proof.
Neighbors helped each other when we did the hay cutting and stacking. Once in awhile you hired a crew if you wanted to put it up quickly. We had mostly family to do ours. Dad’s brother and brother-in-law all lived fairly close, so they worked together. In those horse-and-buggy days, the farms had two or three hired men. We put up close to 100 tons and that fed cattle and horses. We could put 10 ton in the hayloft of the barn we had, and this was for the horses and cattle around the barn in the winter. We cut a lot of bluestem grass to put up.
We usually had 3 hired men around the place. Two men in tenant houses and one to do the chores around the house. Tenant houses were small houses we furnished for the hired man’s family and they also got wages each month.
Dad just listed the corn each year and did not plow. This was a single row lister and we used 2 or 3 horses to pull it, depending on how hard the ground was. We never checked row our corn, but some farmers did. We usually cultivated 3 times and we would walk with a hoe to get what weeds we did not get with the cultivator. We put the corn in shocks after putting it on a sled until we got enough to build a shock. We would then come back and tie the shocks. There was a single row and double row sleds, and there were knives on the sled that cut the corn and a man or two men, depending on whether you were using a single side or two-sided sled, and the men would catch the corn and put it on the sled.
In continuing his description of the corn harvest, the men would cut about what they called 14 hills, with each hill being about 18 inches apart. By then they had an armload and the corn sled would stop. The horse did not have reins on him. The workers just said “whoa” and “get up” when they wanted the horse to stop or to go, it was trained to these commands. There was one horse to a sled and there might be two or three sleds working.
We fed shocks and all to the cattle, and ran hogs behind the cattle. We fed them by the river, not out on the prairie like they do now. We had corrals down by the river for water by the riffles, as they would not freeze over and the animals had water all winter.
It was always said that if you could break even on the cattle, you could make money on the hogs. You would run the hogs right in with the cattle after the cattle ate. We always fed ear corn to the horses.
Kafir corn was usually fed to chickens or soaked before feeding it to the hogs. We planted it the same way we did corn, and cultivated it 3 times also. We just headed the kafir, we had a “V” shaped knife on the right side of a wagon and it cut the head off and a man walking along would put the head in the wagon. At the end of the row you would turn the knife over to go back. When you got a wagonload, you would stack the heads and let them cure. We usually stacked it around the homestead. We fed it dry to fowl and wet to hogs. We put livestock in the kafir field after taking the heads off.
We had 2 milk cows for family use only. We never sold any milk or butter. We sold quite a few turkeys, but not chickens. We had chickens for our own use. We usually had between 100 and 150 cows. We never had a cowherd because the bluestem would grow so tall you could not find the calves.
Most everyone had only steers. A few people had home herds of around 15 and they were close to the home place. Out in the hills, the bluestem got as high as the window, and you could not find the calves.
When I was a kid most of the steers were shipped in here from Texas, and they were longhorn cattle. They would be dehorned when they got here. Later they got some Angus out of Oklahoma and some white face out of Texas. Most of the men around here got cattle out of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, and a few from Florida and Louisiana, but these were a smaller breed.
We picked our cattle up at the railroad stockyards at Reece and Sallyards. We also shipped them out from the same places. The cattle all went to market in stock cars. They never had to be driven over 5-7 miles, maybe 15 miles at the most, so they did not lose weight.
(conclusion next week)