Friday, August 04, 2006

End of the line....

My dad was born and raised in Kansas. He was a real cowboy. I've posted photos of him before showing him and his horse, Maggie. And I've also touched on the fact that in my teen years and beyond we had a less than perfect relationship.

I'm not sure what kind of childhood my dad had as he was growing up. He seldom talked about it. His dad, my grandpa, came to this country from England when he was about 10 years old. Grandpa came from Flamborough in Yorkshire. I believe that Flamborough was along the north eastern coast of England. It appears on old maps but not on later ones.

Grandpa's father, James, (my great-grandpa) was born in 1840 and spent his early life as a shepherd. He was an apprentice to a shepherd for five years and then continued that occupation for another 20 years. He brought his family to this country in March of 1880 when he was 40 years old.

It has been recounted that the family made the trip in a wooden vessel that was propelled by both sails and steam, and it took 30 days to make the trip. I'm sure they had deluxe accomodations!!! That must have been a loooong 30 days. I believe they landed in New Orleans....too early for Ellis Island, which began processing immigrants in 1892.

Apparently James and his family lived in Mississippi for about three years before moving on to Kansas in 1884 where they lived in a sod house for 10 years!! More deluxe accomodations!!....they farmed and grew vegetables that they sold in surrounding towns.

In 1894 they moved to Oklahoma and specialized in truck gardening. With their savings James was able to start a livestock business which was his occupation for the rest of his life. In 1910 they returned to Kansas and he continued ranching until his death at the age of 95! He was active right up until his death.

This is a photo of James with two of his grandkids....I love the ladies in the background!

I'm sure he must have missed the beauty of his homeland. If you clicked on the link above you might have seen some spectacular photos of the general area of Yorkshire. The part of Kansas where James settled is mostly flat, open range. Quite different from Yorkshire.

I love knowing even this little bit about one of my ancestors. Strangely about the only thing I know about James' wife is her name, Hannah. She must have been the back-bone of the family through all this traveling about....they had six children. I can't imagine raising six children in a sod house....can you?!

I guess the recent heatwave got me thinking about life before a/c. Living in a sod house must have been a bit rough to say the least! No plumbing, no electricity, probably not much of anything but the bare essentials.

Thank you Hannah and James for doing all you did. Thank you for raising your children so that they could go on and have their own children and the line continued. Unfortunately this arm of my family will not continue. Of my male cousins, the ones who have children are my dad's sister's sons....they don't carry the family name.

Edited: Robin's comment said the photo does not appear. Can anyone else see it because it shows up on my screen when I go to my blog online.


  1. Thank you for this story, which makes me long for a more simple sod home life, yet simultaneously thank the universe for air conditioning. Thank you for thanking James and Hannah, and for recognizing her significant part in it all.

    BTW, the picture is not there. I'd love to see it, if/when you get it fixed.

  2. Janet,
    I loved reading this story. Family history always fasinates me. The picture shows up perfectly for me.
    Thanks for sharing this part of your family story...

  3. Picture came through just fine and what a blessing to know even this much of your family history. I think sod houses are suppose to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, now the winters I could do but no A.C. mmmmmmmm, that would be hard.

  4. That is awesome picture,,I just love vintage pics and hearing the wonderful storys behind them. Don't you just know having 6 kids in a sod house was a blast,,lol. I just dont' know how they did it back in those days,,
    Have a wonderful Saturday, Sweet Janet!

  5. robin - I don't know why you aren't able to see the photo! I don't know how to fix it.

    sue - I love family history, too. Anyone's family history.

    wg - Yes, I think I heard that sod houses were used because they stayed cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Still not sure I'd want to be cooped up with 6 kids in one of them though!

    beth - must have been a real blast for sure!! They must have been strong people!

  6. Janet....You Know! I love the stories from our past and this was was so nice and such family history is so lovely knowing and a wonder for us all.

    thank you for sharing your family with us the photo is just great I love! the house.

    best wishes to you and thank you for your visits to my blog, I will be a regular on yours as well thanks.

  7. Wonderful story, Janet. I was reading it with enthusiasm. I love stories of families.
    James looks like a very proud man.
    Thank you for telling it.

    The picture shows up fine.

  8. pirk - thanks. I think you're right about James. I think he looks rather proud too. Sadly he died before I was born so I never got to know him.


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