Monday, April 13, 2009
Family Agriculture History, Part #1
This is my story about our family's involvement in Agriculture. I have a few questions for you to think of while you read through my posts on our Family's History.
1) Do you keep track of your family's genealogy?
2) Do you know when your family left the farm if they were ever involved in farming?
3) Are there any stories passed down to you about the farm?
Through some very small amounts of research into my family's past, I've come to find this suburbia gal has very close ties to the farm.
I proudly say I was born a Yankee, almost Canadian. Niagara Falls, New York. I always have fun reminding my husband, a fifth generation Texan I am a Yankee. He smiles, 'Nope you aren't, your a Texan.' I always tell folks I got here as soon as possible...my Dad transferred here when I was nine.
My love of Agriculture grew from two sources. The first I think was genetically coded in me. Mom, said my second word was horse. She tells about the first model toy horse I received from her father. I never picked up a doll again. I have memories of my mother holding tight to my hand until I was six or seven to keep me away from a horse who was within my eyesight.
From my earliest memories one of my favorite places to go was my Dad's parents summer home, aka "The Cottage" to the family. See my post: The Cottage. The time spent there was incredible to me. My grandfather had a one acre vegetable garden on the five or six acres of the summer place. There were other scattered beds of flowers and the most wonderful raspberry patch. My grandfather loved gardening. By high school I had no idea how much he really loved farming until I took my first agriculture class and was in FFA. So on Dad's side of the family I only have to go back to my grandparents, both grew up on family farms in Ohio as first generation Americans.
I have had to dig a little deeper on my mother's side of the family. I do know on Mom's Dad's side I have to go back to at least my great great-grandparents to the family farm in the Northeast. My grandfather though was very attached to a rural life as my great-grandfather was a Presbyterian circuit rider minister in North Dakota Territory. He even graduated from high school or probably better put school in North Dakota. My great-grandfather was determined my grandfather would go to college. Eventually my grandfather was Dean of NYU's Business School.
On my mother's mother's side of the family I can trace my great-grandfather to Prince Edward's Island in Canada where he and his brothers arrived from Scotland with his parents. During that time period his family were fishermen. I'm sure they also had a family garden due to the late 1800's. He came south to the US and opened a shipping yard building ships. On my great-grandmother's family can be traced back to John & Priscilla Alden who came over on the Mayflower as well as subsequent family members who arrived in as early immigrants before the Revolution. At that time everyone was involved in producing food to eat.
Horses have always been a part of who I am and are deeply embedded in my soul. Yet I remember my first trip to the Houston Livestock Show at the age of ten. I was in heaven. I wanted to show at Houston. I wanted to have a cow and show. I thought the pigs so neat. I didn't know how to communicate that desire to my parents. At eleven my parents finally gave in and purchased my first horse for me. I've not been without a horse since then. Because of my horses I met Patty, and she introduced me to her FFA project for her sophomore year. I was in eighth grade. She had a dairy heifer. I begged Mom to let me be in FFA my freshman year. The answer was a resounding, "NO!"
Finally, as a Junior, I was just rebellious enough to not listen to my parents. I did tell my parents I'd signed up for the agriculture class. My mother said she was going to the school to take me out. I told her I would quit school. I was in my Ag class and FFA. I was in heaven. I came home at the first of my Senior year and told my parents I wanted to raise a steer. Mom said no, and amazingly my father said yes. I purchased my steer, I paid for the feed, and did the work until Mom said to me she'd feed in the morning. She got attached to my steer. At the end of my senior year, she told me she wished she had made me be in FFA. It made me feel so good.
My agriculture teacher so inspired me, I decided I wanted to be an high school ag teacher. I even went to the same college he did, Sam Houston State Univ. I was so ready to party, and going to the then #2 party school in Texas was so great. I planned on partying my way through and get my MRS. Well that didn't happen! I switched my major to Ag. Economics and ended up with a Master of Science and no husband. I did party, but somehow had really inspiring professors my first semester and made the Dean's List. I'd never done that in high school, made Honor Roll. I was hooked at what I achieved with eighteen hours. I look back and I was stupid to take that many hours. I only had one three hour ag course and a one one hour ag course. I went on to make the Dean's List every semester and scheduled myself to also party.
It wasn't long with that first ag course being the core economics class that I was hooked. I changed my major by the end of my second semester. I even became one of the darlings of the Ag. Dept. I ate, lived and breathed my ag courses. I even got permission to take Animal Nutrition instead of the core Dairy Science class. Something that just wasn't done for students.
Back to my paternal grandfather. Grandma & Grandpa moved to Texas the summer between high school and college. My grandfather learned I would be an Agriculture Major. I don't think I ever saw my grandfather that happy. He had always wanted my Dad go to Ohio State or Michigan State and major in ag. He would then buy a farm. My Dad majored in Chemical Engineering. So his dream came true in me, just not the farm. We became so close. He passed away at the end of my first semester as a Sophomore at SHSU. I know he is delighted I have returned to develop the family farm.
I also wish my maternal grandfather had lived long enough to see is only grand-daughter in the economics end of agriculture. He too, would have been thrilled beyond belief!
That's my story....next is my husband's family history of farming.