Sunday, February 10, 2008


by Jay (J.D.) Mills -Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama - 10 February 2008

I was born in Winfield, Kansas in January of 1941, 11 months before the start of World War 2. We lived on a farm on Otter Creek, in Cowley County, about 6 miles north and 2 miles west of Cedar Vale. Our Rural Route mailing address and party-line phone were from Cedar Vale.

My parents, O.D. and Nellie Mills were living in Parsons, KS in 1928 and 1929 where my father had a Chevrolet dealership with his brother Ralph. As economic times became worse, they had a harder and harder time collecting money due them for cars and repairs. So in 1929, sometime before the “Crash of ‘29”, they sold the dealership and my parents moved back to the family farm on Otter Creek. The farm was homesteaded in 1871 by my great grandparents (I don’t have good family history at hand).

According to my mother, recalled in later years; “After we moved to the farm in 1929 and the great depression hit, we didn’t have very much money but we didn’t need much.” “We grew our own vegetables and had livestock for food.” That would have included cows for milk, chickens for eggs, and pigs, cattle & chickens for meat.

I have already recalled a couple of my early memories on the blog, but a note from Velma (Fessler) Kare reminded me of more things that I remember about the farm from 1944-48.

Velma reminded me of my first dog, Skippy. Velma’s dad worked for my dad on the farm at that time and they lived nearby.

Quoting from Velma’s e-mail:
"The reason I remember your dog, is that dad came home one day and was telling mother and I that it began to rain and you were outside with your dog. Your dad told you that you better go to the house as it was beginning to rain, and you replied ‘Skippy will keep the sprinkles off’.”

Right after we got Skippy he decided to go back to Cedar Vale one day. I was about 4 years old and I followed the dog for about a mile, over to the county-line road, and then about 1/2 mile south towards Cedar Vale. The rural mail carrier found the dog and I at the top of the hill above the bridge, where we were both headed down the road to Cedar Vale. He returned us both safely home. If it were not for the fact that World War II was going on and gasoline rationing kept down the amount of traffic, I would probably have been hit by a car or pickup on the road.

I also remember another, older Collie-mix dog that we had that hated snakes. Every time that a snake came into the yard the dog would grab the snake behind the head and shake it violently, killing the snake. The dog had a deep, depressed scar on his left front shoulder that my mom said came from a snake bite, so that explained the hatred of snakes.

More chapters on Farm Life coming.... stay tuned. - 30 -


Gary White said...

We're all tuning in every day up here in the States!

wayne woodruff said...

Who were your closer neighbors up on the farm. ? Did you get to the farm on the country line road then west??

Jay (J.D.) Mills, HP3AK said...

Thanks Gary. I have about 5 more articles waiting.

Wayne -- You are asking me to remember names, something that I do not do well in the present. Only close neighbors were just north of us across the fields, the Zimmermans I think. We also had a house just northwest about a quarter of a mile where people who worked on our farm lived. I don't remember the families who lived there, although certainly the Lyman Fesler family was one of them.

I can't remember the family to the east 1/2 mile, could have been Fosters ?, I know that there were boys there older than me. Earl and Effie Foster lived on the county line road a mile east and then north.

Yes, from CV we went up the county line road, then 1 mile west. An alternate was the "river road" 1 mile farther east of us. We could also go to Winfield by going west, north, then west again.

DFCox said...

I remember the low water bridge across Otter Creek, due west of your house. Great place to seine minnows and fish for bass in the spring.

Phil Foust said...

You did good, Jay D!

Diane Archer Bradbury said...

Jay - I enjoyed your story about being on the farm. I can barely remember being on your farm with my parents when I was very young.

I can remember Elmer and Anna Call living in that neat corner house just east of yours. Do you know who owned that place then or now?
Judy Foust McCall's family also lived there at a later time. It's the house where you turn west to get to your old farm.

Thanks for contributing! And..don't forget our class will have it's 50th in 2009. Make plans to be there!

wayne woodruff said...

In reading all the articles and comments, it is apparent that most of us either grew up on farms or had relative connections with farm life. It is interesting to hear where we lived and who lived around us and the highlights of our lives. I am sure that there are many more CV natives that would like to tell us about their past.

Jay (J.D.) Mills, HP3AK said...

Diane, sorry I never knew who owned that place...on the corner of the county line road, just 1/4 mile south of Earl & Effie Foster. It was a complete intersection and to the east was the river road to Granola to the north, or Cedar Vale on the south. We turned west there and went about a mile to our farm.

Phil Foust said...


My Uncle Ben was two years older than Dale Foust and married Doris Speer. If my memory is correct Ben was helping hay a few counties east of Cedar Vale and while resting in a barn ... a grain bin collapsed leaving him paralyzed. Surgery was attempted but he died during the process at the age of a young 20+. Doris and Ben had a young daughter, my cousin Laura Ruth. Doris remarried and lived in Texas.

Barbershop stories of Ben had him as one of the fastest runners in the area. One story mentioned that a carnival came to CV attempting to lure a 'local' to run against their track star in a gambling race. There is no way to verify this but it was said that Ben outran the feller while wearing cowboy boots.

One Speer remaining has an apple orchard just south of Ark City.

wayne woodruff said...

I am confused. I rmember Earl Foster having a farm south and east of CV. Am I thinking of another Foster?? Maybe that was a farm owned by Jess??