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Harvest Tales - Haskell County 01

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at KansasMuseum@kshs.org.

Howard Stude

Dirty Thirties and World War II

My name is Howard William Stude. I was born April 28, 1919, in Cooper Township, Stafford County, Kansas. My parents, John and Grace (Jones) Stude, bought some land in Haskell County in 1927, the old home place south of Copeland in Lockport Township, but we didn't move out there until 1929. Uncle Fred Stude bought a quarter-section of land there, too. Dad was also renting a half-section from a widow lady from Stafford. My nephew, Glen Stude, now owns the old farmstead in Lockport Township.

Harvest on the Stude farm near Copeland, 1928. John Stude stands on the tractor; Horace Roe is on the combine.

I was eight years old in 1927 when I started farming. Dad had me help with the farming by driving a team of horses to pull the farming equipment.

Dad bought a new 1927 Model D John Deere tractor. Listing was a popular thing to do in Stafford Co., but I don't know about Haskell County. Anyway, he listed the ground out in Haskell County.

During the harvest of 1929 Dad let me haul wheat with the wagon and our team of Clydesdales, Bob and Dan. My brother, Lawrence, would haul wheat to Copeland with the old Model T truck. If I remember correctly, Dad was farming four quarters of land then.

I remember Dad telling us that one morning when he started to get up on the tractor there was a rattlesnake lying up on the seat. There were lots of rattlesnakes in western Kansas at that time. In fact, Dad came home with lots of rattle buttons in a box.

In 1930, Dad bought another quarter of land shortly before harvest. We had some hail at harvest time, which made for a short wheat crop. We had a bountiful wheat crop in 1931, but hardly got any price for it.

In 1932 we had a very little wheat. Dad planted 160 acres of corn on the southwest quarter located west of the homestead. Dad used the three-row lister with corn in only the middle lister, making the rows approximately 10 feet apart. Two sections of harrows would fit between those sections.

I was 13 years old at the time. When school was out, Dad had me harrow the corn with those two sections of harrow. I was walking behind the harrow driving our team of Clydesdales. When I finished, he took a tandem disk in between the corn rows. He also had me using a one-row cultivator with the horses.

By the time I had finished that, some of the corn on a slope was drying up. Dad had us boys cut that with a corn knife and shock it for feed for the winter. I spent the whole summer over there on that quarter. Dad hand-shucked all 160 acres of corn by himself.

The crop year of 1933 was a blank due to dry weather. That was the start of the "Dirty Thirties." There was very little wheat in 1934 and none in 1935, 1936, or 1937.

You can't imagine how bad it was during the "Dirty Thirties." My folks had the windows and front door to our house taped shut, but the fine dust still came in. Many mornings when we got out of bed the only white on the pillow top was where our head lay. Several people died of "dust pneumonia" in those days.

Farm trucks lined up to unload at the three Copeland grain elevators in 1928: Jennings, Security, and Farmer's Co-op.

So in 1937 I went to Colorado to work a summer with my Uncle Bert Stillings and Uncle Clarence Jones. I got a job threshing barley. The barley was put into bundles in a size that one man could pitch into the thresher. It was best if the bundles were pitched in with the barley heads first.

Dad raised some wheat in 1938 and by that time my younger brothers were of good help to Dad. I got a letter from Dad saying he had rented a section 10 miles northwest of Copeland. This section was known as the Cornwell section. It was owned by Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Cornwell from St. Johns, Kansas. He asked if I would come home and help him the rest of the summer. Dad said that I could have one-third interest in the wheat.

I did go home and that was the beginning of my farming on my own. In 1939, I got $35.00 worth of wheat for my hard work. But in 1940 I got approximately $600 of wheat.

In the spring of 1940 I rented a half section with a house and outbuildings north of Copeland. I stayed up there sometimes. On May 02, 1941, I married Ruth Elaine Witt. We made our home in the area of Copeland and I continued farming in Haskell County.

I bought a new Minneapolis Moline, Model U, in the spring of 1942. But, I didn't much more than have it broken in and I was drafted in August. I was the first married man in Haskell County to be drafted.

My Basic Training was in several places across the U.S.A. I went to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas; Dayton, Ohio; Barefield, Indiana; Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania; Arcadia, California; and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

I signed up at Fort Leavenworth then I got a two week furlough to go back and wind up my business. We had another good crop that summer. We had a lot of wheat on the ground because we couldn't get to the elevator at harvest time. So, I spent most of that two weeks scooping wheat.

I can remember standing at the pile of wheat and spike scooping. I had a '41 Ford pickup that would haul about a 90 bushel load. Dad had an old Model A and an old Chevrolet that would haul about a 90 bushel load. We hired George Malone and his big Ford that would haul a 185 bushel load. I got to the place where I hated to see him come back to the pile. That was a lot of scooping!

Agnes Gunkle was running the security elevator at Copeland. She told Ed Shay, Barnie Daughterty, and me that since we had been drafted she would take our wheat and no one else's until we got all of it in. We only had two weeks to get it hauled in.

I got discharged from Fort Smith, Arkansas in December, 1945, by enlisting in the reserve army. It was sure good to be home again. My wife, Ruth, had been running the farm while I was gone with help from my dad, John Stude, and my brothers Vernon and Frank Stude.

They had the wheat custom cut in 1944 and probably in 1945, also. I had left 50 acres out to be summer fallowed in 1942 in Haskell County. When I got home on furlough in 1943, my brother, Vernon, hadn't worked up the volunteer wheat on that 50 acres and it made a decent crop. The crop of 1944 made a little over 30 bushels per acre and that included those 50 acres of second year volunteer. I got another volunteer crop from those 50 acres in 1945.

I summer fallowed that same 50 acres the summer of 1946 and ended up planting it three times. It was a very wet fall and the grub worms ate the crop the first time. I replanted it just ahead of an eight-inch rain and had to replant again. We had eighteen inches of rain that fall.

Howard Stude also submitted A New 1927 John Deere tractor and Farming in Gray and Meade Counties.

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.