It occurred to me (while taking my shower??) that before I get too deep into the farm and daily events, it might be helpful if I take you down the trail that led to the farm. Sort of a “duh” moment there, but yeah, you have to know the background before you can fully understand the topic at hand. And that takes us to a genealogist’s theme song, “It’s important to know where you’ve gone in order to get to where you’re going.” AKA let’s check out the past and see how that relates to the present and perhaps the future.
So, it all began with a Civil War Union veteran, who after the War (in my parts it was known as The War of Northern Agression!) returned to his hometown in Pennsylvania with hopes of finishing his high school education. Alas, the rigors of war messed with his mind and he found it difficult to focus. A neighborhood carpenter took him on as an apprentice and so the young veteran learned the carpenter profession. It also happened that the teacher of the school that he had attended and the carpenter’s daughter were one and the same. To add to the mix, she, Clementine, had spent the duration of the war writing the young veteran, Charles. With time, and very little of it, the two fell in love and married.
Charles was able to provide for his bride sufficiently with his carpentry skills and soon they had a baby boy who was called Charles Henry. And he was followed by Walter, Mabel, and Jessie. The economy of the Pennsylvania town was faltering however, due to the mining industry’s demise. Charles began to think about moving from the little neighborhood that held not only his growing family but also his mother and Clementine’s family. He saw the notices that urged young men to go West and he considered the amazing thought of going hundreds of miles to Kansas where it was said that field after field of wheat waved gracefully on the plains, just waiting to be harvested.
This postcard was found in the desk of Charles’ grandson’s desk, Charles Chester Silas, in about 1996.
Filling in between the lines here now…after weeks, months of praying, researching and planning, Charles took off for Kansas, leaving his wife and four children in the East, who, if all went well, would follow him in due time to The Land of Opportunity. He boarded a train in that little town of Pennsylvania with his carpenter’s chest, tools and a few articles of clothing. The train headed due west for miles and miles. And days and days until, at last the railroad line ended at Larned, Kansas, where Charles then put up at a boarding house along with two other adverturers named, Huff and Duff…he rounded out the joke with his last name, Ruoff, which was quickly Americanized to Ruff.
Once he was established, naturalized and had land papers in hand, he headed for yet another jaunt to the West…in a wagon. That wagon stopped in Hodgeman County, almost dead center of Kansas. The county was adjacent to Ford County, which contained the well known and often fabeled Dodge City. But Hodgeman County was just far enough away from the City of Wild Cowboys and Marshall Dillon that Charles felt it safe enough to settle in the northern part of the county. The Pawnee Creek ran through his property and the land was rich, waiting for his plow. Of course, he had never guided a plow, much less planted anything, but he was up for the challenge. After all, this was The West and all sorts of wonderful things awaited a man if he worked hard enough and long enough and was patient….