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Land of the Burnt Thigh   By: (1884-)

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Drawings by Stephen J. Voorhies

New York, London, Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1938.



A Word of Explanation xxxiii

I A Shack on the Prairie 1

II Down to Grass Roots 16

III "Any Fool Can Set Type" 36

IV The Biggest Lottery in History 46

V No Place for Clinging Vines 64

VI "Utopia" 83

VII Building Empires Overnight 99

VIII Easy as Falling Off a Log 120

IX The Opening of the Rosebud 143

X The Harvest 164

XI The Big Blizzard 185

XII A New America 199

XIII The Thirsty Land 214

XIV The Land of the Burnt Thigh 238

XV Up in Smoke 253

XVI Fallowed Land 268

XVII New Trails 282



I have not attempted in this book to write an autobiography. This is not my story it is the story of the people, the present day pioneers, who settled on that part of the public lands called the Great American Desert, and wrested a living from it at a personal cost of privation and suffering.

Today there is an infinite deal of talk about dust bowls, of prairie grass which should never have been plowed under for farming, of land which should be abandoned. Yet much of this is the land which during the crucial years of the war was the grain producing section of the United States. Regiments of men have marched to war with drums beating and flags flying, but the regiments who marched into the desert, and faced fire and thirst, and cold and hunger, and who stayed to build up a new section of the country, a huge empire in the West, have been ignored, and their problems largely misunderstood.

The history of the homesteaders is paradoxical, beginning as it does in the spirit of a great gamble, with the government lotteries with land as the stakes, and developing in a close knit spirit of mutual helpfulness.

My own part in so tremendous a migration of a people was naturally a slight one, but for me it has been a rewarding adventure, leading men and women onto the land, then against organized interests, and finally into the widespread use of cooperative methods. Most of that story belongs beyond the confines of the present book.

Over thousands of acres today in the West men and women are still fighting to control that last frontier, and wherever there are farmers, the methods of cooperation will spread for decades. It is a good fight. I hope I shall be in it.

E. E. K.





At sunset we came up out of the draw to the crest of the ridge. Perched on the high seat of the old spring wagon, we looked into a desolate land which reached to the horizon on every side. Prairie which had lain untouched since the Creation save for buffalo and roving bands of Indians, its brown grass scorched and crackling from the sun. No trees to break the endless monotony or to provide a moment's respite from the sun.

The driver, sitting stooped over on the front seat, half asleep, straightened up and looked around, sizing up the vacant prairie.

"Well," he announced, "I reckon this might be it."

But this couldn't be it. There was nothing but space, and sun baked plains, and the sun blazing down on our heads... Continue reading book >>

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