Hard Times in Kansas

Fascinating letter from a homesteading mother facing hard times in Kansas, written to her mother.

| Good Old Days

Here is a letter written by my grandmother to her mother. There is no date or place on the letter, but I believe the year would be 1880 and the town Minneapolis, Kansas, as the family moved from near Plymouth, Indiana, to central Kansas in 1879. Grandmother evidently had little schooling, but she wrote in this letter all the heartbreak of a woman who had moved from a land of green pastures, gardens and fruit, to the dry wilderness and who was faced with hard times in Kansas almost beyond her strength to endure. Some punctuation has been added and some spelling changed to make the letter easier to read:

Dear Mother, I will try to write you a few lines to let you know some of Kansas's hard times. The first things all mostly dried up. Things that Will put in Jim's garden, the chickens ate up and we didn't get a taste, and what he put out in ours, the pigs are trying to eat. We won't have any garden truck at all, but it seems so hard to live on bread and butter and coffee. And when–takes his cow away, then we can go it dry, but there's nothing here.

Oh, Mother, why did you let Rob buy such a place for his home? I tell him he is building a prison for me. Oh, what have I done that my punishment is so great?

We ain't bought anything much yet, and we can't, for things are so high. We got a stove, and Rob made a table and we have one chair, the one we had with us, and we bargained for a dozen chickens. So, Mother, you see we ain't got much.

Rob and I and Frank and the three little ones ain't had a penny spent for clothes this summer, and that ain't all, for we ain't got somebody to send us clothes all the time.

Helen has been sick for two weeks. She lost a baby. It was only seven months, and it didn't live but a little while, and she is so she can sit up now and is doing well.

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