Papa and Mama

Original family farm house

The Kunkel house

I’ve often thought about what it must have been like to buy land a couple of states away, move to the desolate prairie of North Dakota, not knowing anyone, and trying to make a start of it on an abandoned farm. The agent who sold this young couple a farm on the prairie was quite the business man. His name shows up often in a Google search of Sioux City in those days.

Grandpa Guy Havelick

Grace writes:

Dear ones,

Papa + Mama bought the farm through a land agent named Mullhall from Souix City, Nebr. Papa had worked one summer somewhere in the Red River Valley and thought he was getting land like that.

What a letdown!! The hills were mostly sand that hardly anything grows on. They came to North Dakota in 1919 from Waterbury, Ne. Mama told about living with Bowermans one mile to the east while carpenters rebuilt house. It hadn’t been lived in for many years so was in sad shape. Horses had used it for a barn and had left lots of manure in and around it. Windows were broken and the doors were off. They built a full basement under it and I think that may when the cistern for rainwater was built.

They came to N.D. from Souix City on the train as far as Jamestown where they bought a Dodge Car to drive the rest of the way on muddy trails across country to the farm. One of their trunks got lost so she had to do without many personal things she had packed.

The rainwater cistern was really nice as we had a pump + sink in the kitchen so we had water handy for washing clothes and bathing. We had to carry water from the well for cooking and drinking. There was no plumbing in the house so always had a bucket under the sink for waste water and had an outdoor toilet.

The well was real deep so the water was always very cold even in summer. There was a concrete casing around the well + pump maybe 6 by 8 feet and probably 8 ft deep where we could go down on a ladder to store milk + butter etc. It was about the same temperature as we keep refrigerators now so it was really good for keeping food. We ran the windmill a lot for water for the livestock and to water the garden so the cold water through the well pipe kept the well cold.

The cistern started to get cracks when I was about 12 so we had to carry water from the well then for washing + bathing besides for cooking + drinking.

Love, Grace



Grace Letter 003Grace Letter 004


Originally published 2014-10-14
Updated 2017-01-05