Friday, October 29, 2010


Mrs. Rose Schleppi, Columbus, Ohio

Three children; 56-acre dairy farm; born in Germany and spent her girlhood there; married after coming to the United States and moved to present farm. Her husband died but she and the children have operated the farm successfully, although oftentimes she has had to work in the field. Her mother-in-law lived with her many years, and she says of her, "She was one grand woman, we never had a jar." (A Jar?? A fight, perhaps? Laurie)
"Success in homemaking is measured by the way the family keeps interested in the home, and by the principles of right living and the education with which the children are equipped."

Mrs. A. J. Denton, Concord, Tennessee

Eight children; 160-acre farm; four sons above school age are all farming; seven springs on the farm furnish water which is bottled and sold in Knoxville; Mrs. Denton teaches basket making at a girls' camp each summer and sells baskets of her own.
"I want most for my children, when they grow up, good educations, Christians homes, congenial partners and well trained children."

Mrs. L. E. McClung, Rupert, Tennessee

Has two children and is foster mother to an orphan girl; 200 acres of cleared land; has lived forty years on same farm, in the mountains, twenty miles from a railroad; manages the farm and has built up a herd of purebred Jerseys with records in production and show ring; has been active in many organizations.
"I hope to spend my old age here, where I can milk cows, feed folks and chickens, help my fellow men and face the sun when the end comes."

Mrs. Ray Ward, Elkins, Tennessee

Nine children; 130-acre farm; earns $900 a year selling bread, cakes and chickens; takes one week's vacation every year; two of her daughters are "All-Star" 4-H club members; she and her husband are partners in fact as well as in theory "for you can't be anything else and have a real home."
"A homemaker is a success if she has raised a large family to be good, honorable citizens and if they still think 'there's no place like home.'"

Mrs. Asia Watson, Little Falls, Tennessee

Three children; 30-acre fruit and poultry farm, which she and Mr. Watson have changed from a "thicket and briar patch" to an attractive farmstead in ten years; "pet" labor saver is a dish drainer; family often sings together, for she believes "music is oil for the household machinery."

Mrs. Earl Dickerson, Irene, South Dakota

Four adopted children; 440-acre diversified farm; in thirteen years she and her husband have transformed a rocky piece of bare prairie into a high-producing farm with an attractive landscaped farmstead with a comfortable, modern home; her flowers have attracted visitors from many states; has been Sunday School superintendent and has missed attending scarcely a Sunday in fifteen years; her home is a social and recreational center.
"I frequently breathe a silent prayer that God will keep me young in spirit so that I can always be a companion of children."

Monday, October 25, 2010


Mrs. H. E. Slusher, Lexington, Missouri:
Four children; 700-acre rented farm. Farming the Slusher homestead, obtained from the government just a century ago. Taught school in Los Angeles four years before marriage but prefers the farm and hopes to retire there. Whole family has annual examinations by doctor and dentist. Has kept home expenses accounts for eleven years.
"I'd have to live a hundred years to get the things done I'd like to do."

Mrs. Eugene Frank, Shirley, Illinois:
Eight children; farm 1,500 acres. Four sons still at home, partners in seed corn business. Three grandchildren come from Pittsburgh every summer "because the farm is the best place for them." Believes in providing recreation at home and has a pool table in the attic for the boys. Often entertains big delegations that come to see the seed corn and recently had one hundred forty Rotarians for dinner. Has been active in home bureau, History and Art club, Woman's club, Republican Women's club and Community club. On the school board for 12 years.
"I am not a very good housekeeper but aim to be a good homemaker, wife and mother."

Mrs. W. R. Eygabrood, Geneva, Illinois:
Two children, 100-acre rented farm. Although they rent the farm, Mrs. Eygobrood has made an ugly house into an attractive home. She painted floors that were a dirty yellow color, put fresh paper over dark colored walls, made unfinished upstairs into pleasant sleeping rooms, using homemade rugs and curtains. Bought her own pump and got water in the kitchen. Makes $500 a year with poultry.
"The motto in her home: 'Not yours, not mine, but ours.'"

Mrs. M. E. Craven, Livia, Kentucky:
Five children; 414-acre diversified farm; one of her chief ambitions is to make her own and her husband's parents happy and she has insisted that her mother-in-law have the best room in the house.
"I want most for my children, good health, good characters and good education."

Mrs. Louis Diebel, Jeffersontown, Kentucky:
Four children; 12-acre truck and flower farm; children are active in 4H clubs; for several years lived in the same house with her parents-in-law, two brothers-in-law and two sisters-in-law, and says "a happier family couldn't have been found."

Mrs. O. H. Lukens, Kent, Ohio
Five children; 37-acre truck farm; has four hired men to cook for most of the year; hobby is drawing plans for new farm homes and for remodelling old ones; believes much credit "for any success I have attained" should go to her husband for his co-operation.
"I believe every child should be educated for intelligent parenthood."

Friday, October 22, 2010


Mrs. F. H. Cotterell, Bates City, Missouri:

One child; 81-acre farm, was a milliner until she married. Six months afterward moved with her husband to homestead in western Kansas and lived first in a tent, then in a granary, the only building they could put up. There was plenty of room in it for the first three crops were failures; sometimes entertained ten people in this "home." Adopted a four-weeks-old baby weighing five and a half pounds and reared it to be a healthy, normal child. Later built a house with a basement. In a few years more came back to western Missouri with $12,000. Home now has much electric equipment and many other conveniences. Sells six to eight cases of eggs a week and hopes to establish a farm hatchery.
"Life to my husband and me has always been a great game."

Mrs. J. C. Payne, Garden City, Missouri:

Four children; 360-acre farm. Has organized the Payne Literary Society, including all members of the family. Mr. Payne is president, she is vice-president and a daughter is secretary. She hopes it will be a permanent organization for her descendants. Also is planning the Payne family orchestra. Has built amateur stage, lighted with electricity in the barn loft, for children's dramatics, some of which they write themselves. Favorite recreation of the family is walking over the farm together.

Mrs. Eli Taillon, Cavalier, North Dakota:

Ten children, 20 to 36 years old, seven living on farms. Gets dinner every day for twelve persons. Definition of good health includes "A healthy mind, full of grit and vitality to carry on life's duties and a little left over for emergencies." Has been trying to have school board make improvements in school for several years and hopes to succeed this year; also worked successfully for road improvement. Although the father uses tobacco none of her seven sons smoke. (What an odd thing to mention! Laurie)
"The Master Farm Homemaker honor will be precious to my descendants for generations."

Mrs. F. R. Brokaw, Fullerton, North Dakota:

Three children, 200-acre rented farm. Taught school four years before marriage; makes $1,000 a year with poultry; favorite books are Ben Hur, Ivanhoe, Last Days of Pompeii, Tale of Two Cities, and Eben Holden; has family worship before breakfast.
"Home is the place where we do our best living."

Mrs. E. B. Wollan, Fairdale, North Dakota:

Three children, 320-acre farm. Taught rural school and now boards the teacher; is teaching her children to love country life and the whole family prides itself on knowing practically every kind of bird in North Dakota; her chief ambition is to educate her children and fit them for a useful life.
"Home is a success if the family prefers to stay there."

Monday, October 18, 2010


In the 20s and 30s, The Farmer's Wife had something called, "Master Homemakers." The editors said, "We would like to tell the complete story of the thirty-one new Master Farm Homemakers, but we can present only these brief sketches. Yet you can see in these stories something of the fullness of the lives of these women.

Mrs. D. A. Ross; Afton, Ohio
One child; 240-acre livestock farm which has been in the family more than 150 years; part of the house is over 100 years old but is equipped with electrical appliances. She made more than $1,000 last year with poultry.
"I hope to spend my old age on the farm, with lots of friends to visit me, with enough strength to walk out-of-doors, live with nature and talk with the Creator of all."

Mrs. John V. Chitwood; Pratt, Kansas
Seven children, all living on farms; 320 acre grain and livestock farm, came as a bride forty-four years ago to a barren looking homestead, a-top a wagon load of household goods; the same farm is her home today; first house was blown away and she and her husband waded in water knee-deep to the nearest neighbor's; that fall she moved into a newly-built home which is the dining-room of her present home; led a successful three-year fight for a consolidated school.

Mrs. Allen Sharp; Greenfield, Ohio
Two children; 180-acre farm, her home for 38 years; plans her meals four to seven days ahead in order not to have the same things too often; has not only planted her own home grounds but has given much nursery stock to the neighbors.
"I am trying to make our family life so satisfying that the city will not attract the children."

Mrs. M. W. Fulton; Cherry Run, West Virginia
Three children; 900-acre farm, 175 acres in orchard and 40 acres of plow land; born in England; took a motherless girl of sixteen into her home and instructed her in the arts of homemaking, now the girl is happy in a home of her own; one son is a former naval officer and a graduate of Annapolis; her children had a tennis court, croquet grounds and baseball diamond.
"I hope to be an all-around farmer's wife, a wise mother, a kind and considerate mother-in-law, an understanding grandmother, a helpful neighbor and always a Christian.

Mrs. W. V. Riggs; Trafalgar, Missouri
Four children, 250-acre farm. Organized the 4-H girls' club in her county and is still leader of a club in which 31 girls finished a clothing project. Active in church activities and home project work. Sells hatching eggs, as well as poultry, for extra income.
"I happen to have the best husband in the world."

Friday, October 15, 2010

PLANT A TREE FOR BABY; by Mr. & Mrs. L. E. Potter; 1932

To plant a blue spruce for every grandchild is the plan of Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Potter, living on Shady Lane Farm near Springfield, Minnesota.

They now have thirteen grandchildren and twelve spruce trees in their yard. A thirteenth will be planted for a baby who recently arrived. The oldest child and tree are now nineteen years of age.

"When we plant a tree it is quite an occasion," says Mrs. Potter. "After grandfather has tamped the ground and finished the job we place a stake there, two inches square, painted white with the child's name in black letters.

"It has been an interesting plan and we have taken a great deal of pleasure in it. It has increased the interest of all of us in the home farm, and it has been a reminder through the years of our family unity."

Of all the trees on the farm the grandchildren's are most treasured.

From Laurie: Some co-workers of my husband's gave us two maple trees when my dear in-laws passed away less than a year apart. Our family now calls them: "Grandma and Grandpa's trees." With our fall weather, they are a beautiful red color now. I surely do miss Mom and "The Warden." I couldn't have wished for better in-laws. Mom was a farmer's daughter; born in 1924.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I GLORY IN MY JOB!; Happy in Texas; part 6; 1932

Life isn't all work and no play, nor do we lack for social divertissement. I attend regularly a reading club, Home Demonstration Club, and a dramatic club which produces two plays a year. We play cards an evening or two a week, either at a neighbor's home or our own, and we attend as many good shows, concerts and art exhibits as our finances and babies allow. There are frequent barbecues and picnics, and an occasional barn dance or school entertainment, most of them impromptu and real fun.

I find at these gatherings a number of women like myself, all doing their own homemaking and enjoying it. They are as a rule, healthy and intelligent wives and mothers. They drive their own cars, and are actively interested in many activities outside their homes. They are partners to their husbands in every sense of the word, and are helping to make it a success. Divorce? We never hear of it except in the daily papers. We haven't enough leisure to feel ourselves mistreated or abused.

Perhaps men and women grow nearer and dearer to each other on a farm--I do not know,--but depending entirely on each other for companionship must make it true. Hardships draw people closer, I happen to know. The nearest I ever felt to my husband was during a terrific hailstorm that shattered every window, splintered the shutters, and crumpled the roof, as well as destroying every living and growing thing on our farm. We stood there, or rather crouched, behind the shelter of two inner walls and a mattress, each holding a terrified baby, and though not a word was exchanged--well, we were sharing both fear and courage.

We farmer folk who are standing by our land, are feeling a bit as the old-time pioneers must have felt. We hear a lot about farm relief and depression and low prices, and all of it is real enough. The past few years have held heartache and sacrifices. We have almost forgotten what money looks like, and would probably shy at a ten dollar bill as old dobbin shied at the threshing machine. Our products are exchanged for the few bare necessities we do have to buy, and often are inadequate. Once in a great while I save enough pennies for a new book or a new sheet of music, and how we do enjoy them,--reading them carefully so as not to lose one precious word, hoarding their bits of beauty and wisdom as we hoarded the pennies with which to buy them.

The wise farmer and his homemaker, if they are healthy and intelligent, are not going hungry, and we are glad that this going without has come to us while we are young. This isn't a tale of hard times, but a story of a farmer's wife, who is doing her best to make the old Homestead into a home worth having. THE END

(I'm sorry that I never met this woman. She was 27 at this writing in 1932. That would have put her birth year at about 1905. Could she have been your grandmother? I imagine that we all would like to claim her. Laurie)

Friday, October 8, 2010

I GLORY IN MY JOB; "Happy in Texas," part 5; 1932

Finally after several weeks, I am resuming this narrative from a young and happy farm wife from Texas.

I couldn't begin to name all my various undertakings, but I did enjoy being interior decorator. The house was quite the most drab and uninviting I every stepped into, but it has changed. I painted the dark woodwork a rich ivory, (and nearly 80 years later, we are scraping that paint off! :) and tinted the plastered walls. I have ruffled curtains and made and framed silhouettes. I have made footstools of coffee cans, and book shelves from apple crates. I have smoothed and varnished floors, and refinished old walnut furniture that I brought for a song. I even learned to weave cane seats for stubby dining chairs that many have since admired, and an old walnut rocker that I found in the barn loft is now a lovely thing with high back and seat of cane. I have made shades for the kerosene lamps, and added countless gay candlesticks and candles. My living room is a north room with maize colored walls, and a beautiful view. The single oil painting on its walls was exhibited at the Philadelphia Exposition. I took second prize on this room last year in a County Living Room contest, and my only expenditure was my own work and one dollar and a half.

All my linens are handmade, and will wear for years. I take great pleasure in keeping the beds snowy and fresh, and I am not at all above piecing together bits of the blue shirt I liked on John, and the babies' first rompers, and my old blue frock and the yellow kitchen curtains and making a quilt of them that will later be tufted into feathery softness. There is something soul-satisfying about sleeping beneath bits of your life sewed together into stars.

Sewing is part of my job, too, for I have to do all my own in order to make the most of the money we have to spend. I sew for myself and the children, and we are not especially "country looking," either. My machine is an antiquated relic, but it sews a straight seam with a bit of persuasion.

I am not a huge success as a gardener, but I am learning, and it is certainly a pleasant task in the early spring to dig and putter in the warming earth and to plan and plant. What gorgeous things it does promise after you have read the seed catalogues, and even if it never lives up to them, still if you are a faithful gardener, you can have green things a-growin' for your table, and beauty for your eyes. Beans and beets and spinach and carrots are important foods for the body, but just as important to me are the early pansies and violets, the purple and pink and white of larkspur and cosmos and phlox and zinnias. They are food for the soul.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I really appreciated Kathy's comment about understanding her grandmother better because of these prize winning letters. Besides simply loving these letters, they did have a curiosity for me also. The subjects often ran on the same theme and were many times stated in the same way. It seemed to me that these women sat under the same teacher, but how could that be? I have since discovered that there was a movement in the early 1900s that among other things, was a force in encouraging farmers and their families to stay on the farm. To any of you historians who would like to understand this subject better, I will include two links about The Country Life Movement.

I am sorry, but due to some computer problems, my postings have been off schedule. I plan to regularly begin my Monday and Friday postings beginning today.

Please accept my thanks to all of you who are reading these letters and articles from The Farmer's Wife magazine. It is a privilege to be able to share the lives of these women who could easily be our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers. They were truly amazing women.

In case you didn't notice, the third place winning letter follows this post.


THIRD PRIZE LETTER from the "Do You Want Your Daughter to Marry a Farmer," 1922; By Mrs. Cola L. Fountain; Jefferson County, New York

That depends on the farmer. I would wish him to have health, ambition, broadmindedness and vital religion.

Country life needs the assistance of far-seeing men and women. Each community must have a percentage of unselfish, helpful farmers and their wives who are willing to build up the weak places in their community at personal sacrifice.

Farm life has its disadvantages; so has city life. Because the rural school needs attention, the country church needs aid, and the spirit of neighborliness and co-operation is weak in many communities, the country offers a wide field for tireless, tactful service, which will result in a corresponding development of the individuals engaged therein.

Farm and home bureaus, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, are doing a wonderful work, but they will reach their limit unless the farmers and their wives grasp the opportunities they offer and fit them to their needs. There must be found in every rural group, someone who will stand back of the efforts the Government is making for Agriculture, and help by voice, example and spirit to put them over.

One's words go far in a rural community and one's influence counts. There are dangers threatening the very foundations of American farm life, and in order to decrease them, farmers must put forth sound, sane and well-balanced efforts. They must read, think and act.

Country life is sometimes narrow but it never has to be. There is no need for a woman who can see the sky, the rising and setting sun and the wonders of the soil beneath her feet, to spend undue time in reflecting upon the littlenesses in her neighbor's character. A mind filled with large interests is never narrow and the country furnishes those interests today. If we are narrow in the country we should be just as warped in the city.

Many city conveniences can be installed in farm homes. I have never had any of these myself. I should be delighted if my daughter's home could have them but I hope she has been so reared as to realize that her truest happiness does not depend upon conveniences, but that the soul-satisfying life is the one whose days are filled with well-directed efforts.

If she can marry a farmer with whom she can join heart and effort to make her corner of the community an uplifting example of the bedrock of American Yeomanry, if she and her husband can be relied upon to push forward every measure that will help to break the plaster cast in which the "backbone of the nation" is at present largely encased, then both her father and I shall bid her God-speed.