Shared Experiences

These could be pictures of the homesteaders headed for Lone Tree Farm. Our family traveled in a covered wagon pulled by oxen, but the stories suggest that Great-grandma Hattie probably did NOT get out and push! She was, however, the one who persisted and refused to go back when their arrival did not go as planned. Great-grandpa John was the “buttercup who had to suck it up” and make things work.

These photos are from a diorama in the Archway Monument at Kearney, Nebraska. The exhibits describe conditions experienced by settlers traveling west along the Platte River in the late 1800s. We stopped there on our recent return trip from Colorado (see June 5 post). The homesteaders in Nebraska shared parallel lives with folks who homesteaded here in southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa.

We recently went to a presentation by the Rock County Historical Society that included the story of a family who settled near Hills, about 15 miles west of our farm. After emigrating from Norway and spending several years in Fillmore County, Minnesota, they came to Rock County in 1874. They made the trip in a covered wagon pulled by oxen and they had a 2 year-old child and a baby who was 6 months old. The early years were spent in a dugout. Overland trips to trade centers were more dangerous than the encounters that they had with Native Americans.

John and Hattie Shurr had already had similar experiences. After emigrating from Germany and spending several years in Waseca County, Minnesota, they came through Rock County in 1870. They had also traveled in a covered wagon pulled by oxen and they also had small children: a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a baby who was 9 months old. In their early years in a dugout, the Native Americans were friendly and the overland trips to sell crops and buy supplies were arduous. These were shared experiences in parallel lives.

Actually, the Shurrs didn’t live on Lone Tree Farm until 1871. The original plans were to settle in Lyon County, Iowa, but there were complications and John wanted to go back. However, Hattie prevailed and our family has lived here ever since. The story of the complications in Iowa is included in a book of reminiscences from northwest Iowa published in 2013. The yarn is about 1000 words and here’s a link to it:






About Lone Tree Farm on Kanaranzi Creek

Recovering academic, earth scientist in phased retirement, farm manager by default, son, husband, father, grandfather.
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