As part of #AncestorChallenge2018 on Twitter, David Allen Lambert recently asked “Who was your last farming generation in your family?” Since I nor my parents grew up on a farm, I had to think about this question.
I did grow up with two family stories related to farming. My grandfather, Leon Crawford, always talked about how he helped ‘Uncle Jimmy’ farm his land. The story involved him running the tractor on land just south of the Arkansas River in Dodge City. At the time, I didn’t think to question granddad about ‘Uncle Jimmy’, but wished I had. ‘Unlce Jimmy’ was likely James H. Crawford. James H. Crawford was the brother to my 2nd great grandfather. Thus, he was my grandfather’s great uncle. James H. Crawford did own land on the south side of the river in Dodge City.
The second story involved my grandfather Briles. Family lore says he rented farm ground where the Emporia Country Club is located. Although I don’t have any documentation to support this story, I do have a picture of my grandfather, Edward Osmond Briles on his tractor.
In terms of my great grandparents, two (both on my mom’s side) are identified as farmers on the 1900 census. Edward Grant Briles is listed on the 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses as a farmer. However, the 1930 census indicates he was a carpenter at the age of 59 with the 1940 census again stating that Edward was a farmer. Charles Oliver Mentzer is also listed on multiple censuses as a farmer in Woodson County, Kansas.
On my dad’s side, one family story says that my dad’s grandfather, Judson Foster Crawford, participated as a cook’s helper on a cattle drive. Since Judson was born in 1866 in Indiana and didn’t arrive in the Dodge City area until around 1884, it is highly unlikely that he helped with any of the cattle drives from Texas to Kansas. Like his son, Leon Crawford, Judson likely helped his uncle, James H Crawford, farm his land. As an adult, Judson Crawford worked for the railroad.
My dad’s other grandfather, Hiram M. Currey, did try his hand at farming. In 1908, he moved from Leavenworth County to Rooks County, Kansas. In Rooks County, Hiram rented land and took up farming. Hiram’s farming adventure as short-lived as he returned to Eastern Kansas by 1913.
“Delaware,” local news, The Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, Kansas), 17 July 1908; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online September 2016).
Although I am two or more generations away from farming, many of my ancestors back to 1850 claimed the occupation of farming on the various census records.