By George Chatham
My Great-Uncle Elmer Chatham filed a “homestead” claim to 320 acres on South Horse Creek, located 7 1/2 miles north and 2 miles west of Springfield. That claim was proved January 12, 1917. It was on this homestead that I grew-up.
Because Fred Chatham, my grand-father, wasn’t old enough to file a “homestead” himself, he helped his brother, Elmer, “prove” his homestead. The first year Elmer and Lela and maybe Fred lived in the dug-out. By the next winter they had dug a well and built a two room “soddie”. (See picture in previous posting)
Elmer and Lela Cook had 10 children all who were born in Baca County. Because of health and other reasons the family moved to a farm east of Lamar on the Arkansas River where they lived for a time. The family ended up moving back to Kansas sometime in the late 30’s.
When Fred was old enough, he filed his own homestead June 9, 1914, serial no. 014476 to 320 acres on the North Horse Creek 2 miles north and 1 mile west of Elmer’s homestead. He received “receipt of claim” April 26, 1919, although most public records show 2 September 1919.
According to the records my grandparents, Fred Chatham and Ethel Chenoweth were married, April 14, 1914, three months before Fred actually filed for his homestead. Ethel was a neighboring young woman who lived down North Horse Creek less than two miles to the east. Fred and Ethel met at the North Liberty Sunday School where they both sang in the choir. (The North Liberty School was located about 8 ½ miles north of Springfield on the west side of Hwy 287)
My grand-parents couldn’t agree where to go to church. Ethel grew-up as a “Methodist” and Fred grew-up in a Bible believing home back in Kansas. After first coming to Baca County, Fred became influence by a group called “Two by Two’s” also known as “The Truth” or “The Way”. Since the “Two by Two’s” don’t traditionally meet in church buildings but only in homes, Fred and Ethel couldn’t agree about “church”. So the couple ended up not attending any church, but instead had “church” in their home, where the Bible was read and hymns sang as Ethel played the pump organ that many of us remember being in the home.
(Next Post: “Family Well Dispute”)