TRIALS MANY BUT LIVED THEM THROUGH
By F. H. Fenton
Father came to York county alone in the spring of 1871 and took a homestead on the southeast quarter of section 34, township 12, range 1 west. He broke thirty acres that spring and built a sod house twelve by twenty feet, with low upstairs, shingle roof and wooden floors. He had to haul the lumber from Lincoln.
In the fall he returned to Illinois for his family but took sick and could not return to Nebraska until the next spring when the trip was made in two covered wagons with H. C. Lanphere and family. The roads across Iowa were very muddy but in Nebraska they were good. We arrived at the homestead the last of May, having been on the road just a month.
That summer we raised a good crop of corn and potatoes. Someone stole a load of potatoes and so we had none to sell. Father and H. N. Logan bought a cane mill and made enough to get a well bored 100 feet deep. We had no school that winter but church services were held in a number of homes including ours.
I had quite an experience in the three day blizzard of April, 1873. Our cattle had run away the first day of the storm and when it lulled some I thought I could get them back. But the storm grew worse; the cattle could not be driven and I had a hard time getting back myself. I don’t know if I would have if it had not cleared a little just when things were the bleakest. The folks were nearly wild from worry when I got back. The next day we found all the cattle but one heifer.
We raised a fair crop of wheat and corn in 1873. Grandfather and I took two loads of wheat to Lincoln, camping on the road coming and going. Father had not been in good health since his sickness the year we came to Nebraska and died March 8, 1874. We were short of funds but a kind friend helped us out until we could pay him. Three neighbors each gave us a large tree and had a bee and hauled them to our home. We had enough wood to last all the next winter.
That year we raised 300 bushels of wheat but the grasshoppers came and stayed until they had eaten all the corn and late garden. I took wheat to the mill at Seward to be ground. Had to pile it outside on a platform. The miller loaned me flour and told me to come back in four weeks to get the flour, shorts and bran. We fed shorts and bran to cows so they would give milk and fed a hog wheat for meat.
On July 4, 1875 we had more bad luck. The north side of our house fell in after a big rain. We cooked in the old house and lived in the granary until fall when we dug a dugout the size of our house and put the shingle roof over it. We lived in it until 1880 when we built a frame house the same size and again used the old roof.