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Harvest Tales - Hamilton County

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov.

Jesse Ivan Kitch

Dust Storms During the 1930s

[Dad] traded for a farm . . . near Syracuse, so we moved out there. . . . We started breaking up the sod and raising wheat on a large scale by plowing the sod with 5 horses and a 2-bottom gang plow. . . . There came a period of time when the weather changed and it didn't rain at all. The ground that we plowed in 1928 started blowing away. The dirt didn't get up in the air until 1935 and then the dust storms persisted until 1939.

During the month of July 1938, there were dust storms 22 days out of the month. We cut wheat that year that averaged 7 bushels to the acre. Every afternoon a dust storm blew in and you covered the exhaust stack on your tractor and ran for the house. . . .

As the weather finally changed and some rain came, we harrowed over those sand dunes that were like dikes. . . . We bought two Model D John Deere tractors in 1935 and they proved to be a Godsend to us! Dad went to Syracuse and got a railroad rail. We hooked each John Deere to each end of that rail, wired tractor wheel weights onto it to hold the rail down and leveled the fields. In 1935 we rented numerous other tracts of land and planted 4,600 acres of wheat and harvested that in 1936. . . .

The weather got better and we farmed until 1948. . . . Southwest Kansas is beautiful wheat country today.

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