SODDIE BABIES

By Shirley SIEMS Terry

     Alva Terry's homestead in Chase County NE was 14 miles straight south of Elsie and 20 miles north of Wauneta. The 4-room sod house consisted of a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. Their two chicken houses and milk house were also made of sod, but their barn was of wood, Pumped by a wind mill, running water ran through a wooden tank in the milk house to keep milk and cream cold and then emptied into a cistern. The Terry's sod house is assumed to have been built about 1900 when Alva Ansel and Luella DINNELL Terry moved onto the property with four young children William Robert, .John Everett, Hazel Bessie and Ethel Mae.

     Alva and Luella had been married 21 Sept 1892 in Hayes County, Nebraska, and lived several places in Nebraska and Kansas before homesteading. Both were born in Daviess County, Missouri.

     Five children were born to Alva and Luella Terry in their Chase County sod house between 1903 and 1912. They were George Clayton, Alice Myrtle, twins; Sylvester Creed and Sylvia Jane and lastly Gladys Marie.

     Only Sylvester (Buck) who lives in Salem, Oregon, and Gladys Silvrants remain of this large family. Alice died at age 19 and William drowned in a tragic 1929 boating accident along with a brother of Carrie Fisher Terry, wife of Sylvester.Mae Miller passed away in 1973 and the other four siblings, Hazel Powell, Sylvia Bodeman, John and George in the past five years or so. Several of them lived their lives in Chase County or nearby. Their mother, Luella DINNELL Terry, lived to the age of 92 in Wauneta near her daughter Sylvia. After marrying and starting families in western Nebraska, three of the children moved with other relatives to Salem, Oregon in the 1940's where you will find Terry, Miller, Powell and Brown descendants.

     The soddie served the family for many years, but they eventually built a big new house on the same property In the early 1920's when there were only the five youngest children, all Soddie Babies, still at home. The new house had four bedrooms upstairs, The main floor had a bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and sewing room with a poured cement basement under part of it.

     The Terry children all rode horses three miles to school. Some of the teachers remembered by Sylvester were Mellie Ingles, Frieda Hanna who married Fred Towachee, Carl Harvey and Belle Hagarty, Miss Hagarty boarded with the Terry family and Sylvester remembers with distaste having to wait around after school. He with sisters Sylvia and Gladys and the teacher drove a buggy to and from school. The family were members of the Church of Christ and went to church In this same schoolhouse.

     Alva Terry had a large orchard of cherry, apple, peach and plum trees. There were mulberry trees and red grapes in the draw. He was well-known for his watermelon and always grew an abundant crop with people coming many miles for his special watermelon. He always gave them all they could eat on the spot, but they had to pay for any they took with them. The youngest son, Sylvester, married Carrie Fisher in 1928. They lived with his folks and 'Buck' farmed with his Dad those first few years. Their first daughter, Leah, was born during this time, 'Buck' hauled lots of grain 14 miles to the Elsie elevator by team and wagon. It took most of the day to make this round trip. When Alva Terry died in March 1932, they had 500 acres of corn and Sylvester was getting half the crop.

     The Estate furnished half of expenses and 'Buck' paid half. They had a hired man and two or three other men helped shuck corn all by hand. That was when times were bad and some of the corn sold for 9 cents a bushel and hogs for 2 cents a pound. It was sure hard to make a living.

     Sylvester and Carrie's second daughter, La Vonne, was born in Perkins County? and two sons, Wayne and Monte, in Scottsbluff Co. before the family moved to Oregon in 1948 where their youngest daughter, Sharon, was born. When Sylvester was about 16 (ca 1924), he rode to Colorado with his brother Johnnie, in a model-T truck to help their brother Willy move his family back to Nebraska. Johnnie and his wife, Rose, hauled Willy's household goods back to Nebraska in the truck.

     Young 'Buck' rode horseback the entire trip back to Nebraska and helped herd the cattle back from Colorado where Willy had homesteaded for 4-5 years. The cattle were ones Willy's Dad, Alva Terry, had sent to Colorado with him. They didn't do well and he brought fewer home to Nebraska. Willy had built a small. house, barn and windmill on his homestead near La Junta CO but it didn't have the grass and water to support him.

     Willy's family rode in a covered wagon and at nights Dad slept in the wagon with them on this long trip. The family at that time consisted of Willy, and his wife, Louise, Pauline, Dorothy, Inez and Kenneth who 'Buck' remembers as a baby about 3 months old. Their daughter, Evelyn, died when they first went to Colorado, Roberta was born later in Nebraska, but she died after Willie farmed the place east of Scottsbluff about a year.

     Besides the cattle, they also brought a mare and two colts back for someone else, 'Buck' rode the mare who was 6 or 7 years old and sometimes the 3 year old colt. The younger colt got kicked along the way and the shoulder infected, so they had to shoot her. One time they tried to break another horse to ride. Buck ended up sitting in a huge cactus patch, with stickers two or three inches long. He couldn't ride for several days. Both hands were full of stickers, which they were pulling out of his hands all the way home.

     It took the Terry's six weeks to make the three hundred mile trip from 20 miles South of La Junta Colorado to fifteen miles south of Elsie Nebraska.

     Johnnie and Rose also homesteaded in Colorado, South of Rocky Ford, but they had better land than Willie.

Sent to Kathie Harrison by John Winchell: jrwinch@nponline.net
My thanks to her for obtaining it for the site.

 

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