We have a new couple starting for the ranch the first week in October, so in preparation, I have been working on my grandparent’s old house.
The house needs some work, and I’ve spent time pulling up carpets, redoing floors, and making sure none of the plumbing leaks, which I think all of it did when we first started.
When my grandmother passed away last year, the majority of the stuff in the house was distributed among the siblings, and grandkids. There still are some treasures up there, and it’s been interesting to go through them. I struck the “goldmine” when I was scavenging through an old file cabinet and found mead notebooks going back to the 1960s that had all of the financials and also cattle information such as inventories for the year, percentage of cows that calved in the first 20 days, death loss percentages, and vaccine schedules. I also uncovered a binder full of feedlot closeouts starting in the early 1990s and spent a couple hours looking through the old information and seeing how much our industry really has changed.
I found a charter member certificate for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and even some old letter that my grandfather wrote to the Polled Hereford Association many years ago. One of the neatest finds was a letter written by my great-great-grandfather as an editorial for the Antioch News.
Antioch was a boom town during the potash days of World War II. Now you can count the number of town folk, I’m sure, by using just a couple hands. The discussion was splitting Sheridan County into two separate counties – which nowadays might have just made sense, especially considering our lack of schools or decent roads in this part of the county. The letter went like this:
Editor Rushville Standard:
Dear Sir: Kaiser Broom of the Antioch News seems to have been frosted a little following my letter to your paper a short time ago expressing my views in regard to dividing the county. I tried to state the facts as they actually exist. I hadn’t intended to start a mud slinging game, but as the news editor has made some statements which are the blackest kind of lies, I will try to correct them.
First, he says: ‘Do we want old fossils and stiffs to dominate?’ No Mr. Broom, certainly not. The county affairs should not be trusted with the property owners and tax payers but should be taken over by office seekers, hoodwinkers, and rotten political shysters of Mr. Broom’s caliber, who would like to hold down a cushioned chair and do the wind work while the old stiffs go down in their pockets to carry out his own selfish schemes. Indeed, it would be lovely for the old fossils to empty their pockets into his – he might flop his wings harder in the 400 class. He likes to do the dominating himself but wouldn’t soil his white hands to help make those good roads he speaks of. I with my men and teams have been out doing road work that I never asked a penny for while perhaps this popular Broom was guzzling down beer or playing a game of poker or perhaps was in the Times office in Alliance begging the editor to not publish his name when he and his poker friends “got pinched.”
I advocate good roads and bridges across the streams, but I believe in using a little judgement in building them. We can’t expect to have macadamized roads in the Sandhills, but the man who says I am afraid to spend a few dollars for modern and progressive improvements is only wasting gas. Talk about progressiveness, a $5,000 courthouse would certainly denote it. It would be a disgrace to the country. Also the Sandhill towns have nothing to do with the value of ranch land, the valuation depending largely on the demand for our products in the East and foreign countries. The news editor also states the almighty dollar is my ideal and the statement is pretty far fetched when he refers to family affairs, and I will be explicit enough to say my family comes as near having what they want as any family in the county and I may also add when my family asks for Mr. Broom’s sympathy along these lines will be plenty soon enough for him to grant it. The news editor refers to me as an old stiff, I wonder if the dear boy really knows what he’s talking about. In the hospitals they call the “dead ones” stiffs but, my dear Mr. Broom I’m a very lively corpse yet, and as for my being an old fossil, “unpatriotic” and unprogressive, I’ll show the stubs to my checks to the Red Cross and Liberty Loan alongside of his any time. – A.M. Wilson
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at email@example.com.