Ranching and Farming in the Flint Hills
A story of economic survival: The Pattons & Johnsons
By Larry Patton, August 2023 at Pioneer Bluffs
Note: This is a computer generated transcription and will have a few spelling and other errors.
[0:37] Well, welcome. I’m just curious.
It’s great to be here in the Pioneer Bluffs Barn. A show of hands, how many of you can prove that you’re related to the Chase County Johnsons or Pattons?
Oh, look at that. It’s a stacked audience. All right.
[1:00] So everything I say today, you might want to check out with some of these people because family history varies.
[1:10] According to who’s presenting it okay and today it’s me okay so just a little bit of introduction here I you know my wife Vicki on the front row here we were eating at a Chase County establishment and my second cousin thank you second cousin or third Newell Johnson who lived at Council Grove was there with us and we were talking and he said during the conversation you know if you compare the DNA of everybody in Chase County it pretty much all looks the same. There’s some truth to that. There’s some truth to that. Well just as a way of introducing a little bit a perspective on the past quickly. I grew up at Matfield and Cassidy. Okay, the Patton’s came to Chase County, Homestead and South, the Johnson’s came Thurman East, and when I was a kid we had the farm here in Chase County, I’ll talk a little bit more about that, and then we ended up moving to Cassidy across the county line, so immediately we were suspect for everybody in Chase County, right?
Vicki, my wife, grew up in Ottawa County.
[2:34] We both grew up on small farms and in the middle of nowhere, sort of.
And in our farm at Homestead, we didn’t even have indoor plumbing.
[2:45] Vicki’s house did have indoor plumbing, but we were in the middle of nowhere, at the end of roads that were poorly maintained.
And I would have to say that We, we, uh…
We didn’t have a tractor that was four-wheel drive. We didn’t own any four-wheel drive vehicle and our roads were terrible.
And I think that was typical of life in the 1950s, as we hadn’t progressed in a technological way yet.
My dad and Vicki’s mom both ended up having to go to work full-time in town, to keep from losing the farm in the 1950s.
And that was typical of a lot of families.
[3:36] Well, at any rate, we learned to work hard. And as we were growing up, that’s our kids.
And we made them work hard.
And they didn’t like it, but it served them well because they really have a work ethic.
Vicki and I were schoolteachers for 40 years.
How many schoolteachers were retired? Okay, a few in the audience.
[4:06] And when we retired, sort of, we decided it was time to stop mentoring students and start mentoring CALS.
So thanks to our good friend and neighbor, Jane Coger out east of Matfield, we kind of got minimally in the cow business.
And we have primarily red Angus cows. That’s our granddaughter Ivy, who’s here somewhere.
By the way, that’s not a bull. That’s a steer that got butchered a couple months later.
And that’s where we live. We live northwest of Eldorado, over toward Potwin, and right outside our back door is, a pasture, so we live with cows all the time.
At one time, we also became interested in the past and how our ancestors had farmed and ranched, so we went in the draft horse business.
We had several Amish friends, and so we had draft horses and we played around with them.
What you learn is, as my dad would say, the good old days were a lot more old than they were good.
[5:25] Right? If you’re of any age, you probably buy into that. Nobody wants to turn the clock back.
Well, at any rate, the Johnsons and the Pattons, as you can see, came to Chase County shortly after the Civil War.
Our granddad, great-great-granddad, right in him, the great-great-granddad, John Patton was one of those guys, he was one of those guys in the Civil War that was a farmer, he was 52 years old, they lived in southern Indiana, and those farmers, it was like every war, you had to keep farmers on the farm because you had to keep producing food.
Well, great, great, great granddad John was a farmer in southern Indiana, which by the way in Sullivan County where they lived was tall grass prairie originally. It, looked just like the Flint Hills only without the hills, but by the Civil War they had plowed it all up. So those guys would go in for six months to the service and he spent six months in the Union Army. We went to where he was is stationed in.
[6:46] Kentucky, but what was that place? Eastern, Kentucky. There was a pass there. He was there for six months, came back, went back to farming.
They would be in the army in the cold weather, come back, and it was time to farm, okay?
[6:59] The Homestead Act happened in 1862. Remember American history? It happened because.
[7:07] Union senators controlled, the Senate and the House and it was a way if you gave away 160 acres to people from the east they would come settle for free land and they wanted them to settle, Kansas North and so you could come started in 1862 and get 160 acres of free land you didn’t always know where it was going to be okay so anyway, farming and ranching is equally important in the Flint Hills. Pioneer Bluffs is what? Pioneer Bluffs Ranch. Well that’s not what it was for Charles Rogler and Henry Rogler. They were farmers and when they came hunting land they wanted farmland and then oh by the way you know Charles got here and he, saw this out where that corns growing and he goes this is unbelievable and then he looked up and he saw those hills and he understood that was prime grassland so it was just a match made in heaven okay and Charles sort of had the same mentality when Wayne took over in the 50s he really steered things toward ranching and of course pioneer bluffs came one of the biggest cattle operations around.
[8:36] All right, so the definition of a farm and a ranch so that we’re all on the same page.
A farm is an area of land used for growing crops and animals.
This is according to a couple of hard copy dictionaries.
A ranch on the other hand is a large farm, especially in Western USA and Canada where cattle or other animals are grazed and established and maintained for raising livestock under range conditions.
Okay, when John and Mary Patton came here in 1868 to Clements, everybody been to Clements? Some of you don’t even know where Clements is. It’s on the Cottonwood River, key factor, and John came in 1868 after the Civil War and he brought with him grown children and their spouses and they were hunting for free land and fertile land.
And there were other people from southern Indiana that had come to Clements.
[9:49] Chase County, right. I guess I gotta have this with me.
Map of Chase County. We are right here, right now, Matfield Green. Here’s Clements up here on the Cottonwood River, key factor.
So the Pattons came Clements south to Wonsevu. We’ll learn in a little bit that the Johnsons, much later, came to Thurman. Clear down here. Okay, so when, they came, as I said, they were used to tall grass prairie type soil. This is the original tall grass prairie. All this shaded. That was all tall grass prairie, just like our Flint Hills, but without the hills usually. Fertile farm ground.
What happened. All those Europeans that settled in the east, everybody wanted land, they came west, they had heard about Indiana, they came to Indiana, over here.
[10:58] That’s Sullivan County, Indiana. That’s where the Pattons lived, and Vicki and I have been to the Patton farm, which by the way is a mess. It was strip-mined.
That whole tall grass prairie area is kind of a mess. It could happen here, just saying. Okay, so anyway, they came from southern Indiana over here to Chase County. The Johnsons, we’ll learn, were in Iowa. Still tall grass prairie. It had all been plowed up to very fertile great for corn.
[11:46] Tall grass Prairie looks like Chase County doesn’t it that was Southern, Indiana, There’s a few little patches of preserves, and that’s Southern, Indiana. That’s what it looked like, Okay, so John Patton comes in 1868 Indiana was settled by then, he needed more land for his family, and he had heard that Chase County was a great place.
He came in search of new homes on the free lands. By the way, John Patton did not ever claim his free homestead.
He had some money because he’d sold the farm in Indiana, And he bought a farm.
[12:35] Right over here. Recognize that? Clement’s Stone Arch Bridge, which didn’t exist in 1868.
There were no bridges across the Cottonwood River, can you imagine?
What did quickly materialize was Patton Ford, patent Ford that was a crossing right where the Stone Arch Bridge is and you could forward the Cottonwood River occasionally but what he did find there, was this fertile land here and like Charles Rogler he happened to look up and go look at that pasture land and they figured out quickly most settlers that it couldn’t really be farmed because of the rock.
[13:31] This is not Clements, but this is typical, this is Flint Hills, of bottom land and pasture land.
Some people are strictly cattle people now, ranchers maybe. Some people in the Flint Hills only farm, but a lot of people are blessed to be a, Farmer one day when they’re harvesting corn and a rancher the next day when they’re moving cattle.
[14:05] John’s son Nelson Monroe or net Patton would have been, Great right in him our great our great yeah our kids great great and, And, Nett was 15 when they arrived from Indiana, and he ended up being a very successful businessman.
He was a farmer, probably a rancher too, because he was south of Clements, and there was land south of Clements that you couldn’t farm, that you could ranch.
He became a county commissioner, very civic-minded. bought and sold farms, traded farms. It was interesting because in 1893, well let me back up, when he was, when he came at the age of 15 there was an Indian uprising in Marion County and it turned out that it was the Kiowas against the, can’t remember the other tribe, two different tribes were uprising against one another but it looked like they were going to come into Chase County and Many people thought there was going to be an Indian war in Chase County.
And so, Nett, when he was 15, right after they got here, scoured the county on horseback and gathered as many people as he could to Cottonwood Falls to save them from the Indians.
[15:32] Which that never happened because they weren’t a threat here.
Another interesting thing about him, he was civic minded, and in the 1890s, there was this movement of people to migrate to California, because life was better in California and you could grow things there, you couldn’t.
So, he sold his farm in Kansas and picked up and moved to California.
He got there and it was an election year, they told him he could not vote because he hadn’t been a resident long enough and, What net did was say no?
Thank you, and he packed up and he moved right back to Kansas so he could vote in that election and bought a different farm, Okay, I don’t think I would have done that a special note in 1913 net.
[16:20] And my grandfather Ray Patton were in business together and and they shipped cattle and hogs to Kansas City. If you do a little research on the railroads, Clements was fortunate they were on the river and on a railroad, because the railroad I want to say it was 1910 when it started from Emporia and went through the county and Clements became a major shipping center for cattle. So it was a going place for a while and that’s Ned and his wife Clara and their children and this this little guy right here that is our great granddad C Ray Patton that grandfather what I say great-great it’s a good thing you’re here but just not ours he was my granddad and his siblings and This was net, and net, among other things, did dirt work.
[17:24] Everything was done by horses then. This, we believe, we’ve verified, is part of the railroad west of Clements, and that’s a railroad bridge being built.
That is there With horses doing dirt work for the bridge.
[17:48] He had a side job from his farming and ranching Okay, he did many things other than his farming and ranching, Sounds familiar How many people do you know?
Where somebody has to work off the farm or off the ranch for health insurance or whatever to make the whole thing go?
[18:09] Well that’s what Nett was doing. All right, when this bridge was built in 1886, that’s the Clements Stone Arch Bridge, still there. If you haven’t been there you must go. And Nett worked on that bridge. He used to, we believe, one of the dirt foreman’s on that bridge when they built the Clements Stone Arch Bridge. And, it was built on patent Ford, which changed everything for people in the south part of the county that didn’t have to go across the Cottonwood River.
They could come to Clements or up to Elmdale and had had a good path to get there. This is Net and the team of his horses he bought and sold horses to and, he, Net, and Granddad Ray, and Great Uncle Ed for a while operated the Clements livery stable, I think for a couple of years or something like that, which of course was plagued with floods. You know, imagine life along the Cottonwood River prior to the Marion Reservoir and prior to farm ponds when it rained in the spring. It always flooded, and whatever was in the way, it just carried it downstream. You know, Strong City was just the flood city of the world, okay, because, There was no flood control.
[19:36] Alright, and then net and ray went into the hardware business in 1909 in Elmdale and, net traded a farm because he had more than one farm he traded a farm for the hardware store in Elmdale and, operated it two years and then sold the store and bought another farm and, I does anybody know where the hardware store was in Elmdale in 1909 I Have no idea, Main Street somewhere would you think?
All right again for those of you that aren’t from Chase County Elmdale is up there, Clements is there The Pattons lived down in here somewhere between Clements homestead, But they got around a little bit apparently All right, See ray Granddad Clarence ray Mary’s Lula branch Blanche Patton in 1906 they were both school teachers at the time. I think Claire. Maybe was teaching at Cedar point and, Granddad ray taught in three or four different schools.
[20:50] He ray ended up teaching 15 years, but he was also a farmer a stockman a horse trainer, Store and business owner he was sort of like his dad. He just was involved in a lot of different things, but in his soul he was a farmer and rancher. All right, this is Ray Patton teaching at Homestead School. Is this still standing by the way?
Okay, at the Homestead School and he had 38 students, those of you that are schoolteachers, 38 students in a one-room school. Nice work if you can get it, All right. All right. And this is Ray and his five kids. This is my dad, Chad. This, This is Cousin Ed M’s dad, Marion.
[21:41] And lo and behold, I didn’t even know people were doing this back then, but he had stationery because he was in the purebred Durock swine business.
Everybody was in the swine business. Recognize that picture?
That is Pioneer Bluffs.
That’s the barnyard. the old barn there in 1894. Look at those pigs. I remember my dad saying they always had pigs and they were in the barn lot with the cattle. This is Vicki’s family in north central Kansas. Cattle, pigs. Does anybody know why? Because, Annie knows.
Absolutely, they didn’t have grinders then so they’d feed whole corn to the cows would sort of crunch it up a little bit, They excrete it out and the pigs would follow them and eat the rest of the corn, So everybody in the cattle business had pigs, Doesn’t that make you cattle people want to go out and get some pigs. I’ve never been a fan of pigs.
[23:06] People had to have a cash crop to make it, okay? This is, much later, this is my grandma Patton, and that’s Maude Rogler, and I want you to take a look at that basket of eggs.
How many eggs would be in there? I don’t know. Chickens everywhere. Maude had chickens.
Why? Why did people have milk cows? Everybody milked cows. When I was a kid, we had 12 or so milk cows.
Because to make a living, you had to have a weekly income. And every week, you could sell eggs.
If you got hungry, and it wasn’t time to butcher a steer yet, you butchered chickens.
So, that’s Maude Rogler, right here, big chicken herd.
[24:05] Gardening, everybody had a big garden. If you lived in the Flint Hills back in the day, better.
If you lived in the Flint Hills back in the day, you had a garden.
Somebody was, and if you were a bad gardener, too bad for you.
You can see Maude Rogler’s garden was pretty good. The best garden I knew of, two of them, when I was a kid one was my granddad Patton he was very good I never told him this let me tell you who the better gardener was my aunt Frances Patton and, impotence mother unbelievable gardens that this is what her gardens look like, well funny that’s today that’s in Emma Norma Patton in Peabody Kansas now how, many of you have gardens like that I’ve never had a garden like that but if you didn’t have a good garden.
[24:58] If you didn’t have chickens, if you didn’t have pigs, you’re probably going to starve to death.
And people didn’t. They did what they had to do to make a living.
OK. My generation of Pattons, this is my dad, Chad Patton. And all the time I was a kid growing up, till the day my dad died, he said, my dad sent me to the field when I was six years old.
He’d say five, but it wasn’t five. Yeah, it was not five. I know he told us it was five, but it wasn’t five.
Because that’s 1928, and he was six.
So he was way more mature than five, all right?
But this is our dad, Chad, when he was six. And I know the names of those two horses.
Their names were Bent and High.
And dad would say, that team taught all five patent kids to farm.
That they were so good, my granddad would just put a kid behind him and hook him up, and they would learn to work horses.
You’d get thrown in jail for that today, right? But that was just the way they did it.
And honestly, I didn’t believe dad about that until he passed away and we found this picture.
[26:18] In the 1930s, when Dad was 12, Granddad Ray wanted to plow 20 acres of land, so he sent Chad to the field, probably with a different team, one mile away to plow.
Chad plowed all morning, walked the team back a mile at noon to eat, and watered them, drove them back to the field, and then drove them home.
So he walked four miles a day. It took him 20 days to finish 20 acres, an acre a day, when he was 12 years old.
My dad was a schoolteacher, and he would say, you know, kids in PE whine and moan, They need to be working horses.
[27:06] Alright, this is dad with a jack, which is a large donkey. They raised and sold mules, another cash crop.
And that’s dad, I think 12 or 13, one of his jobs was to take care of the mules, or the jack.
The jack didn’t work.
He was just a hired sire, okay?
[27:28] This is a quote from the Chase County Historical Books. The job of herding small cowherds usually fell to the younger boy in the family.
There’s even a case where a guy tied his 10-year-old kid to the saddle so he couldn’t get off, and would send him out with the cattle all day, and come back because he didn’t want the kid falling off.
So he just tied him to the saddle. Okay, all right, this is a cow herd that I think this might be the Matt Fielder Bazaar cattle pens.
But of course in those days there was no trucking and there were no trailers, Okay, everything was done on horseback, and we have the Matt field cattle pens right back up here where McBride’s live.
[28:16] Okay, it was a major shipping point and the Flint Hills were by then full of cattle and so to move them it took a crew of people and, And cousin NM verified this, his dad told him the same thing.
They would get up at 3 in the morning, saddle up, and go to wherever the cattle were in the dark.
Because you had to be there at daylight. Because of the heat, you had to get them moved before it got too hot.
They would gather that pasture and take them to the nearest railhead.
In the case of the Patton brothers, it was either Cassidy, Matfield, or Clements, or Bazar, most likely.
[29:00] That is Chad, my dad, Granddad Ray, and my Uncle Marion. We surmised, headed out to do some cattle work somewhere.
This paint horse. In the 1930s, there weren’t any paint horses around here.
But dad had one. They had raised him from a colt and dad had trained him and according to dad he was the he’s the best trained horse around. One day dad came home from school and Pedro, the horse’s name, was missing and he said to, Granddad, he said, Dad where’s Pedro? And he said, Chad, we’re not wealthy enough to, own a horse that’s worth that much money. And a guy came along that wanted him way more than we need him. So we sold him. And that was life in the dirty 30s.
[29:58] And of course, the Patton girls weren’t left out. They were in charge of all the young calves.
This is my three aunts in the 1930s.
1936 was a tragedy with the Pattons because a tornado came and took everything on their place except for their house.
And it moved the house around and damaged it.
No house insurance, of course, in the 1930s. So you just fixed it yourself.
So they repositioned this house, fixed it up, and life went on.
How they what I don’t remember Rick how.
[30:33] Put a team of horses on them of course I bet they put more than one team. What do you bet?
Okay, so Chad meets Doris Jean Johnson at Matt field high school, You know it was about ten miles from the patent farm to Matt field and about eight miles from the Johnson farm to Matt field and, Dad had known mom when she was an eighth grader and he’s according to him He just fell in love with her when she was in the eighth grade, anyway, very romantic, And they sort of dated in high school dad was two years older Dad got drafted in 1942 and at the time he had gone to Emporia State for one year got his teaching certificate and was teaching at Sharps Creek School and, and then got a contract for Canton Galva, actually it was in Galva, but then the war broke out.
[31:32] And the patents were Quakers. Any Quakers? You know about Quakers. Pacifistic.
OK? Homestead Friends Church.
And Dad had decided that he should go in the army.
And so the yearly meeting folks from the Quakers came to the farm to convince him that he should be a conscientious objector and not go to the army.
So they went down to the field where dad was farming, did not convince him. He ended up going in the army, got drafted in 42. He and mom got married in 1943 in Alabama, Camp Chaffee, Alabama, and dad got shipped out a month later and was in Europe for two and a half years. Mom, worked at Beechcraft, double shifts, while dad was away. Dad’s goal when he got back was to get back to farming and ranching. He came back and my granddad Patton actually had a couple of farms where dad could, but he couldn’t buy a tractor because we hadn’t been making tractors. So he went to Florence and taught school for another year and finally bought a Ford 8N tractor. Does, anybody other than me have a Ford 8N tractor? Okay, yeah, they’re amazing aren’t.
[32:55] In fact, I have two of them and so he and mom went in the farming business out at Homestead and.
[33:05] The mid 1950s the big drought hit, So when dad got back to the farm, what did he do he went in the pig business first, That is me on top of that boar. Apparently he was very gentle. His name was Compact. Why do I what do I know that? The other thing that happened after the war was my dad and my uncle Marion together went in the cattle business with the bank. You see where This is going right.
The drought of 1952 to 1956 hits, and in the fall, Dad goes to the banker and says, this is not good. We need to unload these cows now, we’re going to lose a little bit of money.
The banker said, no, we’re going to hang on to them until spring. They did. The market tanked.
[34:06] Picture of the drought, supposedly of 1952 to 1956, although I don’t think there were Charlay cattle around here that period so, anyway that’s when dad went back to teaching school, and we moved to Cassidy and he was principal and, 7th and 8th grade teacher at Cassidy, and he always said, but we never lost the farm, But he said that he taught seven years at Cassidy to pay off one herd of Angus cows, That’s just the way it was in those days and a lot of people didn’t have the option of doing something else They just lost everything.
Oh, my dad, then he remained a farmer stockman, but was also then became a mail carrier, and he had the Cassidy and Matt Fieldgreen mail routes, and he loved it, because it was home territory, and he loved being a mail carrier.
His famous quote in the El Dorito Times newspaper was that he would rather run through the Flint Hills naked than drive his mail route without two spare tires.
Of you that live on rocks? Tom, you’re a mail carrier. Yeah, did you always have two spare tires? Yeah, absolutely. Okay, all right.
[35:24] Oh, yes, I forgot. He was an impromptu vet because he would occasionally see things along the mail route that would need to be done and one day he was out east of Matt Field and he looked over and there was this cow that looked like she was calving and had difficulty so dad just pulled over crawled through their fence and went over and pulled the calf so the post office would really not be, pleased with that today okay all right that was west of Matt field east of Matt field the Johnson’s got here later 1880 they got here later because they had gone to Iowa the tall grass prairie of Iowa because it was such a great farm ground. Then they needed more property. So they went to Ness County, Kansas. Ness County. Have you been to Ness County?
I mean, there’s great people out there, but Going there they decided to come to Thurman, Thurman remember where Thurman is southeast Chase County.
[36:34] And they got there in 1880 and They got farmland it may have been the 360 acres, But it was a quarter section if you know where the three big towers are on the hill It was the pastures right south west of that, Okay, that’s where they and it is upland pasture and They were farmers almost everybody that came here, Were farmers they didn’t know ranching and they really didn’t know cattle I think there’s a there’s a little creek bottom to the east there Maybe he was farming there, but that’s why so many people that came here did not last, because they were farmers from the east and, If they were fortunate to get land, Like Charles Rogler did bottom land out here Life was good. You could farm that and it grew stuff, But if you made the mistake of having only upland Not good. And people tried to farm things they shouldn’t have tried to farm it was too rocky, destroyed a lot of native grass. But anyway that’s where they came to in 1880 seeking farmland and they built this house in 1892.
[37:58] They had six children, two died, seven people living in that house.
And they had had that house, we assume, since 1880, and had been living there.
I can’t imagine.
Alright, this little guy here is my granddad Harvey Lee, by Hod, Hod Johnson.
[38:28] And Hod was a, they didn’t call him tenant farmers in those days, but he did not own land.
He farmed for other people.
And he farmed good land. I mean along creek beds. He farmed, my uncle Dan Eastman, Dan and Emma Eastman, that had to have the ranch that Jane Coger now owns out southeast of Matfield here. Granddad farmed all that and he was a good farmer and and he started you know with the horse-drawn days and then tractor days and never owned a place. They moved to a number of different places here. The two places I know of. My mom was born on the Lackey place, which is where, the Mayses live now, okay. And then they also, for the most of the time my mom was growing up, lived where the Phipps’s live now. Both places on Creek Bottom, okay.
[39:35] Then in 1940, of course he wanted something like this. He was in Cottonwood Falls visiting with Jim Bell Sr. and Jim Bell said, ”Hod, when are you going to buy some land?”, Granddad was nervous about it and he said, ”Oh, I don’t know.” Jim Bell said, ”No, you’re going to buy a farm now” and convinced him.
Granddad bought the Wagner place, which was right next to where his parents had grown up down the hill.
It did not have bottom land, but there was bottom land Down the creek by the way, that’s pioneer bluffs. That’s out right out here.
[40:21] And So he bought the Wagner place that did not have bottom land on it. It was 160 acres of mainly pasture, and Mamie selves my grandmother who grew up, East of Cottonwood Falls and one of she was a rare person in those days because she graduated from high school and then became a school teacher and her first teaching job.
[40:49] Was at Lone Star School. These are the towers out east of Matfield.
Lone Star School was right up by those big towers.
The Johnsons’ place was right down here. So as the crow flies a mile and a half, this was the Wagner place, right here.
Okay, that geography’s kind of significant because, I don’t know, this is a picture of Grandma Mamie and her class at Lone Star.
And this appears to be a picture, we know it’s a picture of Hod Johnson and we know it’s Mamie Selves. Now either she stopped by after school because she’s kind of dressed spiffy like a schoolteacher just to flirt with Hod while he was feeding cattle. That’s the story we’re going with here. Okay now maybe it’s possible they were already married and she just came out to say hello but that’s in 1910 when they got married and there they are in their their wedding picture and their first farm wherever it was we don’t know but, this is their yard and look at the yard and what’s behind them it was out there in the middle of nowhere in the tall grass prairie.
[42:12] Two kids on the farm and This is hot had a hay crew and a go-devil how many of you know what a go-devil is.
[42:21] Okay a few It’s an ingenious contraption that you could use with horses and instead of pitching hay on top of a stack it would go under hay and, You could lift it up and take it over and dump it on top of the stack So apparently Granddad Johnson was was good at doing that and that was his team His brother Orville Johnson, who I think was a ended up being a judge or something, justice of the peace, big difference.
Anyway, Orville Johnson operated a dairy in what is now one of Jane Cogar’s pastures southeast of town. And this is them Leonard Wagner, the Wagner farm that Granddad ended up buying, using a horsepower which provided power for Threshing. And this is the five Johnson siblings. That’s my mom, the four girls, grandma, and this guy with the arrow is Junior Johnson. Yay! Did any of you, other than Bobby and me and relatives, know Uncle Junior? Junior and Betty Johnson.
Yeah, oh Jane did of course, yeah Anyway, Uncle Junior he went was in the army and he came back and he and Max Shaw worked for Dan Eastman as Cowboys.
[43:47] Which is probably where Bobby got those genetics Okay. Thank you. Thank you.
All the patents That came to the Flint Hills it came to Chase County And there were bunches of them and all of them that were born here, and there were bunches of them Bye for now.
[44:08] Today I’m gonna say there are only two That are really actively, virtually full-time involved in farming or ranching and one of them is It’s my cousin Bobby Johnson Godfrey, back there, wave Bobby, and this is Bobby out working cattle, and there’s a picture of Bobby. It’s that picture right there that’s in the house at Pioneer Bluffs, and I didn’t realize that until today because we have that picture, and you’re gonna notice sort of a gender disparity there. Now I’m going to tell you the truth of why that is, because seasoned cowboys are not going to just let anybody that has a bad horse habit and loves horses, come out and work cattle. Maybe once, but cousin Bobby has obviously proved her worth and she is often called upon to gather cattle in the Flint Hills. It’s a, way to go Bobby. Bobby also, Bobby’s husband Dan passed away years ago and she has kept on ranching. These are some of Bobby’s cows out in the Flint Hills.
[45:32] Is that farming or ranching? What is that? What is that? Farming or ranching? It does big bails.
[45:44] It’s ranching? I don’t know. To do it back in the day, you didn’t have big bales, but you used a team of horses and a mower, which I have done, by the way.
Hardest thing on horses you can do is a mowing machine.
Now we do big bales and tractors.
So what I’m saying is farming and ranching, we try to make a distinction, And we always have in the Flint Hills, you know, so-and-so’s a rancher, so-and-so’s a farmer.
Okay. Cousin Bobby does big bales.
Is she a farmer or a rancher? She would say she’s a rancher, right? Jane Coger, our neighbor.
Uh-huh. Yeah, could you all hear that? Could you say that louder, Jane?
I could hardly hear it.
[47:03] Well, now, I don’t know that sort of makes sense to me, and what that does is, that makes Vicki and me ranchers, not farmers. All right.
The other patent that has continued to be full-time agriculture, and Sina D. Patton Wilcox is not here today, But I asked her, I said, Sina, do you just classify yourself as a farmer or rancher?
Without hesitation, she said, oh, we’re farmers. The interesting thing about Sina Dee is, they live on the farm where my great granddad, Net, lived, and where my great uncle, Ed Patton, lived, and Sina still lives there.
Did I get that right? Yeah.
And it’s over by once of you, and they have always had a dairy there.
[48:03] You don’t see beef cows You see brown Swiss dairy cows, And I’m telling you back in the day everybody had dairy cows everybody Vicki and I were talking about that this morning, You had 12 or 15 cows because the tip-top guy would come along every week and collect your milk And that was cash that week, milk and eggs Okay, well Keith and Sina have always dairied a few years ago They mostly quit dairying although that sign I couldn’t totally quit so she still milked a couple of cows, Just because she couldn’t help herself, okay But they actually converted their brown Swiss cows to beef cows, Brown Swiss are amazing cows Okay, and there’s Sina and her daughter Tina in the milk parlor.
So farmers in southwest Chase County in the middle of the tall grass prairie, and they do some farming but they have pastures that are still vintage tallgrass prairie.
Okay, so summary. I’m about out of time here. The Johnson Patton story of migrating to the Flynn Hills is typical of families who settled here, Sad truth is the majority of them didn’t make it.
[49:20] I mean for logical reasons they didn’t know what they were doing or it was just bad luck, My dad and my uncle Marion knew what they were doing but the drought caught them and nobody can help that.
Okay? Okay. These people understood that in order to survive they needed to provide food and shelter for their families and they felt that establishing farms in the Flint Hills region would provide the farmland and grassland necessary to ensure a prosperous future. And you know for a while it worked because those farmers that came here and farmed along the creeks we were open range in those days. There weren’t any fences and so there’d be stray cattle that would come in and these farmers would all develop small little cattle herds and just pasture them out where there were no fences. Barbed wire wasn’t really on a market even till mid-1870s so there was no way to fence it other than rock, and that was very laborious, okay?
Anyway, most people were farmers. Most of them weren’t successful, okay?
Okay, some were.
[50:42] And again, I have two neighbors, the Mazes and Donnie Swift out east of Matfield.
[50:47] And whether they’re a farmer or a rancher depends on what they’re doing that day.
They both have cattle herds, and they both have amazing bottom ground. Okay.
Charles Rogler’s reasons for selecting this his land north of Matfield Green were the same, as other Flint Hills pioneers who settled this region in the 19th century.
The South Fork Valley provided an environment where he could establish the successful farm he had dreamed of.
And he walked here from Iowa, right? Wasn’t it Iowa?
[51:18] To get here. He came with nothing, but the land was free. And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.
All right. Transitions in the Flint Hills.
Farmers came in the 1800s. They became farmer-ranchers eventually.
Ranching began to increase after the cattle drives. Some farmers began to focus more on ranching. Modern agriculture continues to redefine what it means to be a farmer or a rancher. The fertile valleys and nutritious upland pastures of the Flint Hills allow families to be both at the same time.
Technology has reduced the labor demands of agriculture and the number of Flint Hills residents who depend on farming and or ranching for survival has, decreased. It takes fewer people to produce the region’s agricultural products than it did in the 20th century. Most Pattons and Johnsons now work and live elsewhere, but we’re all thankful for our families.