Editor of the Courier:
My father bought the farm near Scottland - it was not a farm, just a piece of timber brush, hawthorn, crab apple, grapevine and hazel brush. About thirty acres were fenced in and in cultivation. The rest was swamps and ponds, full of water until the frogs and bull geese drank it all up. Then we could scratch in a little corn - didn not need much, the hogs ate plums in August and acorns till winter and were fat with but little corn. There was no market. If we sold a load of corn, the pay would be in sheep pelts and cow hides which was about the same as money. They could be taken to the tanner and in one year we could get one half in leather. Then if the shoemaker was up with his work we would soon be off for school, if there was any. Most generally there was about three months of school, if some empty house with a fireplace could be found.
In '49 my father bought the first cook stove my mother ever used. In '60 we all got down at one time with typhoid fever. My oldest brother died. After the rest of us got well, we commenced doing better. We had a good farmer on the place who wanted to sow every acre to wheat. My father furnished the seed. The next year we go 22,000 bushels of wheat. The war broke out and everything sold high. Wheat $2.50 per bushel; hogs 20 cents; sold several horses for $200.
In '64 my mother died. We all had the measles at one time. Then the war was over and we were grown. We began to scatter, each one going his own way. I chose the west, and will tell more of that later. - Taylor Dawson.
PIONEERING IN THE WEST
Editor of the Courier:
Continuing on with the history of the Dawson family, several sketches of which have appeared before: In 1870 the family was all grown and began to scatter, each one going his own way. I followed the advice of Horace Greely and went west. I landed in Kansas, and what did I see. The buffalo was gone and but few redmen were left. About all I ----- prairie rats, wolves and rattlesnakes. But I was lucky and found a good place to chore for board. I wrote my father there was nothing there for me, but the people wanted the prairie broke in the spring, and if I had money to buy a prairie team, thought I could get plenty to do. In about two weeks I received a check for $500. I contracted all the prairie that I could break from March 1 to July 1. Then I bought three yoke of big Texas steers and a twenty-inch plow. The next purchase was feed; hay, five ton at $1 a ton, and 100 bushels of corn for $80. My terms were cash $3, or $4 on one year's time, all preferred the time plan. And when due the grasshoppers came and such a time as we had. I would not undertake to tell you, but will say there were fifteen days that I never saw the sun, midnight darkness all of that time. They came the tenth of August and left the 10th of October, they left the ground full of eggs for spring haching. Soon as spring came they hatched out and in ten days they all went home and were not asked to come back. We figured on smooth sailing from that on, but no. Congress passed the Resumption Act and that was worse than prairie fires, rattlesnakes, grasshoppers, all put together, and came right on the heels of a starve-out. Not one living thing nor grain of any kind would sell at any price. Stores all closed business, all kind at an end. I had worked three years and had not collected one cent of my wages. People that owed could not pay and were leaving the country. They insisted on me taking anything they had on the debt. Well, what could I do with it? But I thought better something than nothing. I thought surely there was some end to it and I went to work gathering up stock of almost every kind and of all ages. I had 125 head of cattle and several head of young horses. Then I went into the plunder business, got one fan mill, two shot guns, three old saddles and one grindstone. There was plenty of hay to winter my stock, and the next year I sold out at a great barbain and all was over. Bought my land, built a house and made a visit. Ever since that Kansas has been on the boom except last year, just a little dry.
There was one year that we did not buy one cent's worth of anything, did not have sugar nor coffee for more than twelve months. I was back there last year and could hardly convince myself that it was the same place. Graveled and paved roads, good houses and big red barns, high steel wind mills. Everything looked prosperous. People in good circumstances, but only three people did I see that was there sixty-three years ago, and what a time we had talking about those days, you can imagine for yourself.
Six oxen under the yoke
I worked every day.
Four hundred acres I broke
And could not get my pay.
But by taking stock and plunder
And giving them more time
I got the whole round number
And did not lose a dime.
The old buffalo is on the retreat
With his old curly head
His range is now in wheat
Of which people make their bread.
Kansas hoppers and rattlesnakes
And grasses so very tall
Makes the prairie hard to break
But the Resumption was worst of all.
No more hoppers or snake
Plenty of land to rent,
No more prairie to break
But want Landon for President.
Of the one time family of eight of us children there are only three left, Mrs. Southard, 82; John, 85, and myself, 87.
(Ed. Note: Since the above letter was sent to the Courier one more member of the Dawson family has passed away. John Wesley Dawson of Chrisman died last Sunday and was buried Tuesday morning.)
Editor of the Courier:
I have given your readers the history of the old Dawson family as well as some of the grandchildren. Now I want to mention the great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild. There are three that are doctors, Dr. Drexel Dawson, it is his son that is the great, great grandchild. Dudley T. Dawson is a doctor; C. H. Dawson, also is a doctor; Gale Dawson is a real estate man; Wayne Dawson, an accountant and Dewey, the youngest, is a natural gifted and educated musician. T. V. Dawson is a railroad man. J. L. Dawson, the only farmer, is a scientific as well as a dirt farmer. The boys are all good citizens and I could prove it if their mothers were here.