Coming to Odebolt in 1874, Conrad Meyer is next to give his short biography in the "Pioneer Days" column of the Chronicle. He shipped his household goods, machinery and stock from Mendota, Ill. to Vail, Iowa and hauled his belongings the rest of the way, to section 6, Clinton township, where he bought 106 acres of prairie at $5.50 per acre, $1.00 down and the balance to be paid in five years.
The family arrived at their new home on March 4. There were no improvements, but a small house was soon constructed and also a stable for the horses.
About 40 or 50 acres of sod were broke up that spring and planted to corn and potatoes. Mr. Meyer states that these were the finest potatoes he ever saw. They yielded a good crop and were easy to dig.
Their nearest neighbors were the Petersmeyer family and the Martin family, living on a farm 6 miles south of Early. Their trading was done either at Storm Lake or at Vail. Once in a while they would take their butter and eggs to Sac City, but Sac City not having a railroad, they considered railroad points the better places to do their trading and buying of lumber. Roads were about the same in every direction, very few bridges and not graded.
Eight years later Mr. Meyer bought a 400-acre farm in Clinton township, section 28, paying $27 an acre for the tract, and the family moved to this new farm. Fifty acres were broken at the time. Later Mr. Meyer improved this place with a set of comfortable buildings and they enjoyed prosperity, although to start with payments on the farm and interest coming due had to be met promptly. This place was the family home until they bought a house in Odebolt.
Mr. Meyer added to his land holdings in the years following, first buying 200 acres in section 30, Clinton township and then 160 acres in section 8, Levey township, at $40 an acre. Later 120 acres were bought in Wall Lake township, seven miles southwest of Sac City, and this made Mr. Meyer the owner of 900 acres of first class land. All of this was clear of indebtedness in 1908 when the family moved to their home in town, which was purchased from Chas. Ballard, a cash transaction, and Mr. Meyer remarks jokingly: "I had a little money left."
Mr. Meyer states, that although he and his family worked hard in the early days, they did not enjoy the benefits of their labor until later in life. He recalls the days when they were short on money and had nothing to sell to get ready cash. One time he went to Sac City to mail a letter and when he arrived there he discovered that he had only two cents in cash. Postage on a letter was three cents then and because he could not raise the other penny he took the letter back home and mailed it later when he had the money.
Early settlers had hard luck once in a while, and when there was no money, and nothing to sell they had to resort to all kinds of substitutes when they ran out of groceries and money at the same time. Wheat had to be substituted for coffee, but it just colored the water a little, and they got along because they had to, Mr. Meyer states. He says that he never had to burn corn for fuel, but remembers taking eggs and butter to Old Ida Grove and trading it for wood. On the way, on one of these trips, when he was accompanied by a neighbor, who went on the same errand, they were overtaken by a very hard rain and the creeks and lowlands were all covered with water. The neighbor got stuck in one of the bad places and Mr. Meyer doubled up teams and hauled him to dry land.
Most of the wheat raised was either hauled to Storm Lake or Vail, these points being the nearest railroad points. Sometimes he would haul a load of wheat to the Ida Grove water mill, exchanging it for flour, shorts and bran. These trips were made annually and some times twice a year. The mail came to Sac City from Newell on the mail route and stage. Generally one would bring the mail for all the other neighbors.
Like others, the Meyer family killed considerable wild game for part of their meat supply. Deer were frequently seen and many wild wolves were in the country, but they did not do much damage.
Mr. Meyer raised and fed many Aberdeen Angus cattle and after many years had built up a fine herd, as well as the buildings to accommodate the stock. Two of the sons still living on the old homestead, continue in the stock business, and ship a number of fancy cattle to the markets every year.
Back in 1874-75-76, grasshoppers bothered more or less generally coming from the northwest and when ready to leave, went southeast. After the hoppers had left a wheat field the ground would be thickly sprinkled with wheat, as if it had just been seeded. Nothing escaped, the pests taking any kind of crops. Mr. Meyer tells of a neighbor that thought he would save his onions and covered them with straw. When the hoppers had departed and the onion bed was uncovered, they were all gone.
These hoppers were not like the native hoppers of this country. They were of a different color, were built different and were called "Wanderer Grasshopper". After 1876 no more visited this country to do any harm to crops at least.
At the first harvest a McCormick reaper was used to cut the grain, and after it was cut, men would follow up and bind it. Next came the Marsh Harvester. On this machine two men did the binding and rode on the binder. Later the modern self binder came into use, binding the grain with wire. Wire for binding grain was not very popular, as cattle eating the straw sometimes would swallow the wire and bad results would follow--sometimes killing the stock.
Mr. Meyer is now living with his second wife, who is a very early resident of Sac county, coming to Cook township with her parents when a girl of 14 years. She has one brother, John Halling, of Cook township, and another brother, H. P. Halling of Storm Lake.
Mr. Meyers' children are doing fine and his grandchildren are a great comfort to him. His sons, John and Henry Meyer, have remained on the old homestead of 400 acres. George Meyer, another son, resides on his farm in Clinton township. One of the daughters, Mrs. Katherine Kolbe, resides in the same township, and has a good home. Mrs. Mary Schulte, another daughter, resides seven miles southwest of Sac City.
On the first day of January Mr. Meyer was 86 years old, and his friends see him every day on the streets or at the depot, seeing what is going on among the railroad boys.
Mr. and Mrs. Meyer had the misfortune a couple years ago to lose $14,000 of good old money by a bank failure.
transcribed by B. Ekse from microfilm