Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Growing up in Baca County, Episode #2 – John Havens.


A couple years ago, Kathy pushed out a series in the Plainsman Herald by John Havens. We are going to replay that on this blog over the next few weeks. Kathy’s intro is as follows:

A Little Bit of History, By Kathy Nutt.

A while back we received a letter and several pages of history from John Havens of Pratt, KS.  He grew up in Vilas area and would like to share his personal stories about growing up in Baca County with us.  So we will have several episodes of his story and many of us can relate to happenings throughout his life story.  Thank you Mr. Havens for sharing your life with us.

Growing up in Baca County, Episode #2, by John Havens.

   Before I was six years old we moved from the Harrison place to a basement house about a mile East.  Dad built the basement house with intentions of building a house on it, but those plans never materialized.

   This new place had no trees whereas at the Harrison place we had an orchard.  Also a large vine was entwined around the windmill.

   Dad built a small house-like entry way into the basement.  I recall that the cream separator was in this little shelter and there was room to store various items.

   Also we had a garage for our car and a little extra room for the hired man.  Since my Dad and Uncle Jack nearly always had calves which they fed out until they were ready to ship to Kansas City, we always had a hired man.

   Also we had a well house next to the windmill. In it was a trough through which the well water would run, then from thee it was piped out to the tank in the corral.  That water in the trough was our refrigerator.  Mother would keep milk and butter in jars in that cold water in the trough.

   I was always fascinated when butchering day came around.  It seems to me it was always in the Fall of the year.  Several of the neighbors and relatives came together to butcher three or four hogs.

   I can still picture our neighbor Mrs. Bloom sitting on a chair in the yard cleaning the entrails and preparing the tubing to be used for sausage.  Boy, have we come along ways since those days.  Meanwhile, in the house other women were rendering lard, cooking cracklings, and doing something with most every part of that hog.

   At the close of a very busy day the men gathered around the table for a big meal which the women had prepared.  This was in the days before frozen dinners, or fast food from a drive-in.  And after the meal they usually had to have a card game before going home.

    These families, the hutches, my Mother’s people, the Blooms, and the Eatons, so often got together on Saturday nights to play cards and visit.  They were very much like one big family because all of them had come together from Wilson, Kansas to file on homesteads South and Southeast of Vilas in 1914 or 1915.  The Blooms later moved on to Canon City during the dust bowl days.

    As a kid on the farm there was always fascination things to observe.  To see a calf being born and see it learn to walk and feed off its mother.  Then there was the surprise of seeing an old hen appear one day with a whole batch of new-born chicks.  She had hidden her nest out someplace then surprised us with her new brood.  And gathering eggs from the hen house was sometimes a challenge if an old hen didn’t want me to get her eggs and would peck my hand and scare me. 

   Not far from our house was the Sand Arroyo.  Most of the year it was nothing more than a dry creek bed, but maybe a couple of times a year a heavy rain Northwest of us would send water surging down the arroyo.  I enjoyed playing in the sand, and my pet, Big Dog was with me to protect me. 

   (Episode #2 will continue next week with fun social events.)

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