Family Pay Dirt
My wife and I have been on a serious quest to find out about the Johnson history. We knew via family stories that it had some interesting history but an old book that my Great Great Great Grandfather² wrote has been good reading.
Sometimes you forget how different things were back then. He was a school teacher and I had to cringe when he said he decided to change the system from "repeated whippings by a leather strap" to that of signing hymns. He was reported to the Superintendent who came out and said he enjoyed the change. Of course neither would be allowed by law now, but I don't think my wife...a school teacher....would accept school teacher wages in bushels of oats. Nope I am not making that up. Its how teachers were paid back in 1850.
Another account that was funny was his father's convictions not to plant hops. Back in the 1840's it was how farmers here made a living. His father (a very religious man) felt it was wrong to get money from a crop that caused drunkedness. So they plowed it under and threw it over the rock wall. Now this explains why those wild hops always grew there today. I guess those hops are not so wild after all.
Apparently he got a bit of wonder lust too, so reading about his 150 day trek from Me to CA on a ship during the Gold Rush was cool, until a mutiny almost killed the Captain over a dispute about going around the Horn.
He talks about the old Johnson trunk, and yes that is still in the family today, discovered in a town hall that was under renovations and was given back to the family. Since we have not moved, you get a different view of what life was like back then. A 1859 map shoved inside the book gives you names of homes back then. These are old cellar holes today, but its nice to put names to the places I have logged and farmed beside and wondered "who lived here anyway"?
I won't bore you with all the details, but a lot of things have been cleared up by reading this autobiography, and its interesting to see his view of things back then. But still some things remain the same. Many of the people he mentions...the Robert's, the Wallaces, the Morton's, the Philbrick's and other families, are still here today. And as for this family, we still log, raise sheep, farm and teach school children. Some things just never change I guess.
I did have one question though. That map has several homes that my farm now encompasses. The Hogan Farm, the Hamlin Farm, The Davis Farm, the Cate's Farm and others. If you divide the total acreage up as it exists today, these farms averaged a mere 40 acres a piece; could 40 acres really sustain a family homestead in 1850? Considering everything they needed to get by in life rested on only 40 acres, it doesn't seem possible.
Last edited by Travis Johnson; 01-04-2009 at 08:10 PM.
I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"