Winter - Holidays
During the long winter months, most farm families looked forward
to Thanksgiving and Christmas when family and neighbors would
gather for a festive meal and a chance to visit. The holidays
brought special performances at school, music and singing,
Christmas tree decorated with real, burning candles, and
sledding and ice skating. Harvey Pickrel remembers skating
on a pond near his school. "…Our skates, you'd
just clamp to your shoes, the old farm shoes, and they'd come
off every once in a while, quite often. So they didn't work
too good…we had fun doing it anyway."
remembers a special treat at Christmastime — peanuts.
"Candy or bananas was a big treat in those days. Peanuts,
well peanuts…we only had them at Christmas time."
|A trip down to the local pond
for some ice skating was always good for a little winter
The Orphan Train
Norma Ehlers remembers that illness and accidents often
claimed the lives of children or parents. Relatives or neighbors
often took in orphaned children after the death of parents.
Her grandparents raised the child of an acquaintance whose
parents had died.
|"[They] took him into their home and raised him
as their own. And I think you saw a lot of that in those
days. In fact, I have an aunt and uncle that had done
the same thing with the other child of the family. My
parents had done the same thing with a cousin's child
from Illinois that needed a home. It was just, you know,
heritage of a lot of love and compassion for people."
Ehlers (Quicktime required)
From New York to York County: Orphans from much farther away
found homes in Nebraska. From the late 1800s through the 1920s,
the westbound train brought thousands of orphaned children
from New York City to plains states and Nebraska's rural
communities. Older boys were strong enough to work in the
fields, and girls could help farm women with the endless chores
of cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and other duties. When
the "Orphan Train," as it was known, stopped in
the town of York, and other communities across Nebraska, farm
families came to the station and looked over the children
on the train. Perhaps a childless couple wanted a very young
child. Or maybe a family that had lost a child to illness
or accident and was searching for a foster child. The long
train trip was frightening for these neglected children from
the East Coast, but many children found a new family and a
new life in Nebraska. People who came to Nebraska on the Orphan
Train now go to Orphan Train reunions to tell their stories.
See What You've Learned!
Try this trivia quiz to see what you've learned about living
on a farm in the 1920s.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt.