Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Newspaper Article Answers Question: Why Did They Leave Oklahoma?

My daughter is taking a year-long geography course this year. Last week she was learning about the "pushes" and "pulls" that cause people to migrate or move. Sometimes people move because something disagreeable or unacceptable occurs and they are trying to get away from it. While other times the pull of something desirable in another place causes them to migrate.

Although I have yet to find any evidence that they won any land, I believe some of my family members moved to Oklahoma for the 1901 Land Lottery. (I know they were in Lawton by early 1903.) Free land? That's quite a pull for a farmer!

"Big Pasture 1905" map, public domain, originally published in "The Daily Oklahoman" in 1905
(image from Wikipedia)
Faxon, where my family lived, is above the A & N in "COMANCHE"

My great, great grandfather, Charles Peters, ended up dying in Comanche County in 1910 and his son, my great grandfather, returned to Kansas less than a year later. But why did they return?

We often struggle to find out why are ancestors moved. This time, though, I found the answer written quite plainly in the newspaper. It's a short clipping, but I'm thankful for it! It misspells my grandfather's name - his name was actually Emil Peters - but correctly identifies his wife. Here is what the article says:

Ama [Emil] Peters and his wife are here from Faxon, Okla. She was formerly Miss Myrtle Coppenbarger. They say that country will never see them again, everything is burned up by drouth [sic]. [Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 27 Jun 1911, page 6, column 2; digital image newspapers.com(http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 02 Oct  2014)]

Decades before the Dust Bowl, the years of 1909/1910 were the driest consecutive years of the century in Oklahoma. And, 1910 was the single driest year of the century. (Information from Oklahoma Climatology Center.) These farming families must have really suffered!

I'm thankful to learn of the pull (free land!) & push (drought!) that took my ancestors from Kansas to Oklahoma and back to Kansas again. 

Have you been able to learn why your family left their homes and families and friends to move to a new place? Or do you have family members who returned home for an unknown reason? I hope to uncover more of these stories of the pushes and pulls that affected my family.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

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