THE FARM ON LIMESTONE PRAIRIE

My grandfather sent this to me in 1978, which concerns the family farm in Chautauqua county, Kansas that was shared by the McKenneys and Samuel Kelly Crockett and his wife, Sadie Hackney Crockett. The Crockett school is mentioned and my grandfather showed me an old photo of it once, from when he was a boy, and I would imagine my cousins in Kansas have that photo somewhere.

Does the limestone rock survive into which was chiseled 1871, the date the land was purchased by the James Kelly Crockett?

THE FARM ON LIMESTONE PRAIRIE

Recollections of Lloyd McKENNEY
13 December 1978

My first and very faint recollection is of a farm home on the limestone prairie on east side of the road about three miles north of Chautauqua, Kansas, and about four miles south of Sedan, Kansas in Chautauqua County, Kansas. My date of birth is 1/29/19. When I was about 4 years of age, we moved to the CROCKETT farm, to make our home with my mother’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. K. CROCKETT. The farm was purchased by my great grand-parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. K. CROCKETT in 1871. The date is chiseled in the face of one of the large limestone rocks that are the rimrocks of the hill behind the house location. Their farm where they lived prior to the move was near Nevada, Missouri. They had owned slaves, who were freed after the Civil War. Grandfather CROCKETT told me one of his early recollections was that of playing with the children of the slaves, in a road or play area that was in front of their homes. And that it was a pleasant memory. Our farm house was a two story, frame structure, with a kitchen one or two steps lower than the living-dining area, of about ten foot width and possibly thirty feet long (width of the house). A door opened from the kitchen into a large cellar area. The yard was divided into an upper and lower area with a mall separating the two areas. And there was a house over the cellar, with a porch and steps up, to walk across the flat roof over the kitchen into the upstairs of the house. The cellar house was for storage and living quarters for hired men etc.

Great grandfather CROCKETT apparently constructed a second set of barns and buildings needed when my grandparents moved there. The land owned by Great grandfather CROCKETT had been divided between the two sisters and my grandfather. There were some shallow oil wells and one gas well on the farm. They were pumped by a pumper who lived in the lease house on the portion of land owned by Mrs. W. E. LEMON (one of the sisters), and her husband, he was a lease operator and attorney who lived on a lease three or four miles east of there and had that lease along with others. A gas line about a half mile long to the well provided gas for our lights and heat, and cooking for all the years I know anything about.

The combination of incomes…oil field work (my father kept one team that he drove and sometimes a second and/or third oil field team at work in the oil fields…hauling, pulling, rods, casing, etc., for most of the time I lived at home). When not needed for oil field activity, there was the farming that was never without need for more work and activity, over and above the planting, cultivating and harvesting. It was a very busy…, more work than could be accomplished, time.

The school, originally known as the CROCKETT School, was on the land out of one corner of the CROCKETT land, a quarter mile east of the house in which we lived, and we drove down our road to the school grounds and around the north and of the two room, two teacher school house and out to the road in front, where our mail box was located along the road. It was a good school, paid the highest wages of any rural school in the county at one time (so I was told back then). Grades 4 through 8 were taught by the principal of the school, 1 through 4 and kindergarten by the other teacher.

The valley in which we lived was surrounded on north, west and south, from where we lived, by hills. Our farm buildings and house were on a mostly sloping area…flat where the house located and a flat parking area to the south…sloping where the south barn located (sloping to the east) and sloping from the north barn, mostly to the south. There were quite a number of buildings on the land around…to the north and northeast of the house…yard, directly east, parking to the south…several chicken houses including main chicken house and roosts, a newer addition to the east consisting of laying house and area for the layers in the house, and fenced in chicken yard…a fenced in area north of the chicken house containing another laying house (roosting house) for the best of the Rhode Island Reds (all of that breed) hens and roosters that were selected for breeding stock…from which chickens were added. There were possibly 50 hens and a few roosters in this area during part of each year…and open for all during other periods. And north of that larger area fenced in with possibly 12 foot high posts and chicken wire…numerous smaller individual houses or coops for each hen and a group of chicks during incubating season. Other far buildings, in addition to those mentioned included a combination carriage house…garage, with vise, forge and shop area in front portion, a milk cow area to east of that with cattle stalls on east side of carriage house, basically milking stalls and surrounded by a tall fence. To the north of that area was the hog pen area, with a hog shed and feed and water troughs along the north side of this penned in area…and they could be kept in the north area, or given the run of the entire area hog fenced. The north barn was to the northwest of that area, on level land and consisted of barn…stalls on each side, aisle between…a covered driveway at back of those portions and granaries north of the drive way…equipment etc. stored in the driveway and animals could be kept there also, and another fenced in area to east of that had a cow shed in it. To west of that barn was the windmill (no longer operative in later years, area, with gas engine and tanks for stock water…a rather deep well. Outside the fence on the north was the cattle feeding area for cattle outside the housing area, part of the time a feeding rack made of poles, and another area fenced, in which bundled feed was kept…also stacked feed or hay…to be carried out of there to the stock during winter. South of the north barn was the carriage house, in which the automobile was kept on east side and buggy and surrey on the other side for a long time. A water tank was half on each side of fence dividing the two barn areas, gravity flow water from big tank at north well. Another well with pump, hand operated, was in the south barn area. The south barn also had stalls on both the east and west sides, mangers and feed boxes between…hay loft above in same manner as north barn…and a feed building to south…and a machinery shed with partially covered area for equipment and building containing areas divided by partitions for grain and feed…also front part had harness repair area. Binder was usually under the covered area for implements and a spring wagon. The heavy oil field wagons chains, boomers etc. The vegetable garden was between chicken house and south barn area just north of yard area east of house…other yard area and automobile parking area was to south of house.

Transcribed by JMK 2001

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