A Dream Come True
Young boys often dream of the adventures of living in anothercountry and William Webster of Dundee, Scotland was no exception. As heread more about the United States of America and studied its maps, he madeit his goal to come and live in the United States. He awaited anxiouslyfor the day and year when he would become seventeen and be old enough tocome and work on his uncle's farm in the Red River Valley.
The day finally came in the year 1910, when he was ableto set out to fulfill his ambition on the ship S.S. Saturnia which was boundon a ten day trip to the U.S. When William arrived in America, he went tohis uncle's farm to work. (The farm now belongs to Alex Shaw of St. Vincent,Minn.)
William was amazed to see how different the topographyof the Red River Valley was from that of Scotland. This land was the flattesthe had ever seen! He could actually see land for miles. (In Scotland theland is very hilly and is used mostly for raising livestock.) William alsonoticed that the U.S. has several lakes but in Scotland there is only onecalled the Lake of Monteith. (They have many lochs which are really lakeswith an outlet to the sea)
Another thing he found quite different was that many peoplehere own land. In Scotland, land belongs to lords who lease the land ona ninety-nine year basis. This land is then handed down from father to sonuntil the lease runs out.
After living for four years in this strange land, Williamwent back to Scotland to fight in World War I. No fighting actually tookplace in Scotland, but Scotland went to Great Britain's aid in fightingGermany. William fought in the 43rd regiment of the Cameron Highlanders.This regiment was stationed in France and Belgium throughout the war. In1919, one year after the war was officially over, William came back to hisuncle's farm. (He came back on the troop ship the Empress of Britain whichcarried 7,000 people back to the U.S.)
He decided to stay at his uncle's farm and farm the landsince his uncle had died during the war. In 1927, William married ClaraMoris of Pembina, N.D. In 1940, he decided he wanted a bigger farm of hisown. He took advantage of the railroad grants of land that were for saleand bought one section. (640 acres)
At this time, Northern Pacific railroads were coming throughparts of the Red River Valley. "Congress had specified that no moneyshould be drawn from the treasury of the U.S. to aid the construction ofsaid railroads." So the contractors decided to sell the land five orten miles on either side of the railroad tracks to raise funds for the railroads.They found it wasn't very easy to sell the land or prove how productiveit was because of the dry years. "But sales soared when a bumper cropof wheat was produced by a homesteader near Sheyenne River west of Fargo,North Dakota." Most of the railroad tracts of land ranged in pricefrom $2.50 to $10.00 an acre.
The first abstract of title to William's land was filedfor record on August fourth, 1879 to St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitobarailway company.
The land changed hands in 1883 to James J. Hill. He wasthen president of the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba railway company.
In June 25, 1885, the farm was transferred to Sir RobertReid and it became known as the Reid farm until William Webster bought it.
The land changed hands thirteen times before William boughtit and not one of the thirteen people kept the farm for more than a year.
If William ever had any doubts about keeping the farm,it would have been in the 1930's when the farmers had to put up with droughtand grasshoppers. Sow thistles were thick in the crops and the grasshoppershelped to get rid of them but they also ate the crops. Rust also attackedthe wheat and they would sometimes have to burn up to eighty acres of thatcrop.
But putting the crop in and taking off the results wasthe biggest chore of all. This hard work began in the late spring or earlysummer. As the morning began, William and his two sons, Rodney and Moris,would do an hours worth of chores before having their breakfast. They milkedtheir nine cows and fed their horses, sheep, hogs, and chickens.
After breakfast, the horses were hitched to the harrowsand the days work went on.
When the harrowing was done, the fields were seeded witha drill. Four horses were used on each drill. Each drill was 10 feet widewhile today it is 28 feet wide.
After the crops had come up and ripened, they were cutwith a binder which made bundles out of the grain. Then a work crew of aboutfour men was hired. The men in the work crews would come up in the trainsin the late summer to work in the fields. They worked for wages of a dollarday and the employer was expected to feed them and give them room and board.
When the work crew was hired, they would dig in and helpput the bundles into shocks so the heads of the grain could dry out. Thenthe grain was left for a period of two weeks to dry out completely. Whenit was dry, the shocks were pitched on a bundle wagon and hauled to thethreshing machine. After the grain was threshed, it was hauled to the farmin a grain wagon which held eighty bushels of grain. (Todays truck holdsfrom 200-500 bu.) The field was plowed by a two furrow horse plow when thegrain was in. William and his sons finished the plowing by themselves, sincethe work crews left when the grain had been threshed.
As William and his sons finished up in the fields, thewomen busied themselves in the house. The farm supplied most of its owncommodities such as butter, cheese, eggs, and vegetables. The butter andeggs were packaged by the women and taken into town to sell. A large gardenwas grown and the canning consisted of forty quarts of everything that wasgrown. (Canning is still done today, but most of the other commodities mentionedare bought in town.)
As William took his crops in each year, he found his averageyield of wheat and barley was 20 bushels to the acre. His oats usually averaged40 bushels an acre.
Today, as you look over the crops on this farm, you cansee that many things have changed. The average yields of grain are usuallymuch higher now because of advances in equipment and fertilizers.
William's two sons run the farm and operate the equipmentwhich includes all of the following articles: two caterpillars, two tractors,one farm hand, three different sized drills, six twelve foot cultivators,three sets of harrows, two combines, two tandem trucks, two other farm trucksand three pick-ups.
They also own two semi-trucks which are used to haul loadsof grain for other people to Duluth, Minnesota.
Yes, times have changed since Grandfather made the tenday trip to America. The farm has been enlarged and great improvements andadvances have been made.
How lucky and proud our family is to have a grandfatherthat carried out his ambition to come to America and start a farm that willnever be forgotten.
y is to have a grandfatherthat carried out his ambition to come to America and start a farm that willnever be forgotten.