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


Continue reading

Indians on the Dawson Trail

Kunkle House

Kunkle House

There’s something special about meeting someone nice for the first time. If that spark is in the air, you want to know everything about the other person. By the end of the evening you know all sorts of things about the new someone. Those stories become the foundation for a new, wonderful, relationship.

That sharing of stories didn’t happen between my mother and me until I was over forty years old. So many things seemed more important for those first forty years. I needed my allowance a day early, or it was time to get a driver’s license, or my own life filled my brain. Then I met Judy and stories about the past no longer mattered. Stories about Judy became my goal.

Since Grace died twenty years ago we’ve visited the Kunkel farm where she grew up a couple of times, and I’ve often visited the Fairview Cemetery where she’s buried. In the summer of 2015 the extended family gathered at the Luehr plots in Fairview to bury Grace’s older sister. The wind blew off our hats, and swept our words onto the wheat fields. Grace and her parents experienced that same wind, on those same hills in the first half of the twentieth century.

As much as the climate was similar, just about everything else was different.
Grandpa Guy Havelick


Grace writes:

To my four dear sons, their wives + children,

I want to start this story with some events that shaped my life before I was born

The story I’m enclosing was told to my sister-in-law Elaine. It’s about the farm where we lived in Buckeye township south of Lake Williams, North Dakota. Continue reading