Introduction and Background

I grew up thinking that I had very few relatives. I was born and lived on a farm north of Athol, in Smith County, Kansas, until my folks gave up farming and my Dad took a job operating a dairy and general farming just southwest of Sabetha, in Nemaha County, Kansas. While I grew up playing with two of my first cousins and occasionally with some distant cousin, moving to Sabetha removed me from contact with any relation. Operating a dairy is a seven-day a week job, so my folks did not take any vacation, nor did they have the money to do so.

After graduating from High School in Sabetha, I worked summers for the Kansas Highway Department (now the Kansas Department of Transportation - KDOT) and attended Kansas State College (now Kansas State University - KSU). Therefore, I did not accompany the folks any more when they did take vacations. The vacations were almost always to visit relatives.

If my parents did talk about their relatives, I apparently didn't pay much attention. My grandmother (Dad's mother) lived with us for a number of years and I heard all of her stories about how hard she worked when she was a kid. I was really turned off by hearing them over and over. I never asked her about family history. I would love to have another opportunity to ask her questions. That is part of the reason that I got so involved in writing this bit of history.

Notice the Home on the Range Cabin on this website. That is a very special landmark for me. I was born about 1/2 mile south of the location of this cabin on West Beaver Creek. Literally, I was born in the living room, about 200 feet from the creek bank. When I was about eight or nine, I would walk up to see Pete and Ellen Rust on whose farm the cabin was located and they would give me a box of Cracker-Jack for gathering the eggs from the cabin. In those days, the Home on the Range Cabin was their chicken house. I am sure they didn't have Cracker-Jacks on hand because they ate them. Pete and Ellen never had children and so they really made a fuss over me. Besides the cracker-jacks, I would always stop by their stock tank to visit with their gold fish and also to look at Pete's collection of Indian arrow heads that he picked up out of the fields around there.