Thursday, June 20, 2019

Isaac Werner Visits Cullison, Part 4

Last week's blog left Isaac Werner on his way to Pratt, leaving Cullison after feeding and resting his horses a bit.  If you have not been following Isaac's potato marketing trips to and through Cullison, Kansas, from July through October of 1887, you may want to scroll back through the previous three blogs.  

D. W. Blain
Having traveled 40-some miles that October 26th day in 1887, Isaac "Staid [sic] over night in Blaine's new built large implement shed.  Pratt quite lively, building large new brick buildings hurried along towards completion."

He awakened to a "fair and pleasant day."  The weather was always important to Isaac, and each day's entry in his journal began with the weather, even when he was not at home, as was the case that morning when he awakened in Blaine's  new shed.  Isaac was a regular customer, and he had business to conduct with them.  "Morning paid Blaine Bros 15.00 cost to apply on my last 25.00 note for Deering mower due November 1st.  Then selected a new Pekin Steel beam stirrig plow at 18.00, due Sept 1st, 1888, interest at 10% after April first & plow returnable if not proving satisfactory."  His overnight stay coincided with  the move-in for Blaine Bros., and they had begun "moving their stock to new building by 8. 

Apparently Isaac was in a visiting mood before colder weather kept him at home, for he traveled "home via Iuka and to dinner at Bob Moore's."  Isaac had built Moore's home for him, and they were well acquainted.  The noon meal was 'dinner,' and the evening meal was 'supper,' terms used in my own family when I was a child.

When he finally reached home, he could hardly wait to try the "new Pekin plow out," plowing out Silver Skin [potatoes], working tolerable well just one round & picked them up by dusk, ground yet nice for potato digging and plowing."

This ends my four-week series on Isaac's potato marketing in 1887.  He did sell potatoes to businesses nearer home, but locally, his profitable potato venture had become keeping potatoes in his cellar through the winter and marketing seed potatoes in the spring.  He knew that selling the seed potatoes reduced potato sales later to those who were growing their own, but it gave him some needed spring revenue.  Most neighbors lacked the space to store potatoes through the winter or only planted what they needed for their own consumption, so his spring seed potato business was active in the community.

This series is an example of the contents of Isaac's journal and how I can develop a narrative about a particular theme, sharing the story accurately without simply transcribing the journal.  My manuscript is not a mere transcription of the journal's text but rather the story of the Populist Movement in Isaac's area and the nation, focusing on historic events from the perspective of a particular Kansas community.  The authentic experiences of Isaac, and the communities near his claim, are integrated with research from many sources--academic books, searches in courthouses, local publications, newspapers, visits to cemeteries and towns in which Isaac lived, and historic sites, interviews of descendants, old letters and photographs, genealogy research on of everyone mentioned in Isaac's journal, and my own experience of having been raised in the area in which Isaac staked his claims, among other extensive research.

Sharing Isaac's 1887 potato marketing in these four posts utilizes more actual quotes from his journal than I use in the manuscript and less narrative with research from other sources, but I hope you enjoyed experiencing how Isaac survived as a potato farmer one particular summer.

1 comment:

Carol said...

I have enjoyed the Cullison series since I grew up in that area too. When I was In about the third grade in the Byers school, we took a field trip from Cullison to Pratt via the railroad. Unforgettable!