Kansas Homestead Suffered Through 1890s Drought

Family makes due with seeds and corn during the 1890s drought in Scott County Kansas.

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The hardships brought about by the 1890s drought figured often in tales told by my parents who settled on a Scott County, Kansas homestead.

One spring they planted a large garden which didn't even sprout. Times were so hard that they dug up the bean seeds and cooked them for food.

If they had a corn crop, Mother made hominy, soaking the corn in a washtub with lye water to take the husks off. On one occasion, my brother, a little toddler, tumbled into the tub. It didn't hurt him – or the corn.

I remember helping my grandmother gather cow chips in the pasture for cook-stove fuel.

My mother rolled newspapers to make thin, tight "sticks" about 10 inches long, each with a pointed end. These made the matches go further. She would strike a match to light a kerosene lamp and use a paper roll to carry the flame to the stove or to another lamp.

Mrs. H. H. Hare
Anthony, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.