Two Years In Kansas


That afternoon I drove to the depot, bought our tickets, and unloaded the baggage. Being in the money, I bought Pullman accommodations so Susie and the children could be comfortable on the long trip East.

The rest of the afternoon I spent delivering the oxen and wagon to the homestead office, then came back for a pleasant evening with the Seltzers. Our train was to leave at 6:30 the following morning, so they all came to the depot to see us off.

WHEN WE ARRIVED at Grand Valley, I was surprised to find it had become a booming oil town. Wages were high and work plentiful, and the home I had built was waiting for us. All my sisters asked in return was that I make a home for our mother and pay them back at my convenience. This was a pleasant arrangement for all concerned.

I got a good job, and time went by so rapidly that I could hardly believe it was time to report back on my claim. When I talked it over with my wife, she said, “Do whatever you think is right. I am perfectly contented here.”

When I got ready to go, I bought a ticket directly to Hays City, where I reported to Mr. Hunter. There I found that the Dittons and Cornell had left their claims, and the drought had not abated. He suggested that the agent and I ride out to the homestead, stay all night, and report back, and he would decide what there was to do.

You can’t imagine how desolate the place looked with all the neighbors gone.

When we got back to the homestead office and reported, Mr. Hunter said, “I will extend your leave for another year. Keep me posted on your address, and I will keep you posted on the drought and hope to see you back at that time.”

That night I caught a train for my Pennsylvania home. When the next year was up, I was so involved that I never did return.

Some may say our Kansas venture was a failure, but deep in my heart I know it was not. It taught us that contentment and peace of mind are man’s greatest achievement, and that adventure is but a fleeting pleasure without value or compensation, except in the recesses of memory, to be recalled when one reviews his life and is looking for the exciting moments. In that sense our experience was a great success.