Homestead Hunting

Here’s a link to the blog referenced above.

Interesting stuff here and I recommend reading the whole article, but I wanted to focus here on the first three children.  They all died in October, 1896.

Wonder why?


There was an epidemic in 1896-1897 in that area.  Dora Ann, Ammon Leroy, and their parents somehow survived, but their siblings all died.

Devastating.  Terribly sad.

But not as sad as this.

The Kershaw family were the neighbors of the Stephens family.  Mrs. Kershaw had a baby girl in 1878 who lived for less than two years.

She then went on to have eight more happy, healthy children.

They homesteaded. I’m sure they were all crunchy, back-t0-the-land folks who unschooled and raised some livestocks and probably hens along with their roosters.  I’m sure all that wonderful homesteady living meant that they all had wonderful robust immune systems, right?  I mean, you just let children play at will and get in the dirt and they’ll be fine.  Right?

But then, diphtheria came calling, and Mr. and Mrs. Kershaw watched in horror in late February, 1897, as their son Edmund (7 years old) got sick and then died.  Five days later, William (9) and Joseph (12) died.

Maybe at that point they thought it was over.  They probably buried their children, and then realized that George (14) was sick. On March 4, George died.

Two days later, on March 6, Lillie (a month shy of her 5th birthday)  and Francis (a little over 2) followed their siblings. Baby Frederick (11 months) succumbed on March 9.  And finally, the oldest, Harriet (16) was the last to die.  How much you want to bet that poor Harriet was exposed over and over again taking care of her younger brothers and sisters as they died?

They lost all their children.  Every last one of them.   That couple watched their eight children die one after another in less than two weeks from diphtheria.

The Kershaws went on to have two more children.  One was either stillborn or died shortly after birth (birth and death date are the same day).  The other one didn’t make it to be two years old.

All their children died before they did.  All of them.  Mrs. Kershaw lived until 1929 and her husband until 1941.

The saddest part of all this, for me, is embodied in this.

From Wikipedia

Are we sure that reverting to living like it’s the nineteenth century on the prairie is a good idea?



19 thoughts on “Homestead Hunting”

  1. What a tragic story, and how quickly we forget the tragedies of the past. The first time I took my children to an old cemetery, in kinder and 1st grade, the first comment was to explain the dates. Then came the question from my kids of why there were so many children, and babies. I think most of us would benefit from seeing the tombstones, and remembering how rough things were in the past.


  2. Don’t forget the difficulties of transporting vaccines & ensuring their efficacy. It was in itrs infancy in the late 19th century. Plus there were no laboratory standards, so there were good reasons to not get vaccinated at that time. The modern miracle of making vaccines and being able to get them where they are needed, without degradation can’t be overstated.


  3. My great great grandmother lost a son, at 3 months old, to whooping cough. When the vaccine became available, she walked 14 mile carrying a toddler and, sometimes, a five year to get them vaccinated.


  4. If anyone ever asks me about why I vaccinate I always tell them short term and long term benefits. I’m hoping my daughter never has to go through the horrible case of chickenpocks like I did. I was head to toe. I had sores on my scalp, in my ears, between my finger and toes and everywhere in between. Thankfully my worst scars I was able to cover up with bangs for years. I was 30 before I ever felt comfortable growing my bangs out. Long term I know at some point I’ll probably have shingles, she won’t have to go through that if she never develops chickenpocks.

    Also, if you’ve ever met someone with post polio syndrome you would understand that things like polio will effect you the rest of your life. If you really do your research getting vaccinated is no more dangerous than getting the flu shot.


  5. I’ve told the story here before, I think, of the graveyard that used to be on an island that you can just see from our town. It was deconsecrated and removed to make way for the expansion of a summer camp, and I was one of the camp kids tasked with going out into the woods to gather up the old wooden tombstones.

    On every marker, a name, two dates, and the name of a disease. No dates more than four years apart. One was–18 days, I think?–within a few days of that. Diphtheria. Measles. Pneumonia. Influenza. Those children were born at home, exclusively breastfed or raised on goat’s milk with all-natural supplements, weaned onto a diet of homegrown vegetables and wild-caught salmon with milk from grass-fed cows, all the green’n’crunchy buzzwords. They were on that island because they were orphans, but they were well cared for, with clean water at all times and all the fresh air and running around a child could want. And they died anyway.

    Vaccines save lives. Don’t pass it on.


  6. Doesn’t that also mean that their green & crunchy all-natural parents were probably dying fairly young too? You know, survived smallpox to live to the ripe old age of ‘died in childbirth’, or MAYBE ‘cholera’ or ‘sepsis’ after an injury?


  7. I have visited our local cemetary a few times and amazed the amount ofchildren that died within months of each other, many during the spanish flu outbreak after WW1. Of course your welcome to not recieve a vaccine if you dont mind sentencing your child or yourself to a needless death.


  8. My first stepdad’s dad died of influenza when he was 4 years old. He hardly remembered him. His mother quickly remarried (and what a huge mistake that was) because she was in her 20’s with 2 young boys.
    Vaccines make a difference. Right now I can’t afford flu vaccine because of no insurance. If things improve by December I’ll run out and get it. My 92 yr old mom gets it religiously every year, but my husband doesn’t.


  9. It’s true that there is very little risk of exposure to many of the illnesses we vaccinate for. But it’s equally true that all it would take is one ill dog grooming client to spread it to the entire family. Imagine something airborne in those close quarters.

    It’s true that many people survive the illnesses we customarily vaccinate for…with few ill effects. It’s equally true that some people who get the illnesses suffer life altering permanent effects.

    It’s true that people who are ill and immunocompromised count on the rest of us vaccinating for protection.

    It’s true that we give kids vaccines for several illnesses at once. It’s equally true that children have their immune systems challenged by dozens of other things every single day. Five diseases at once might sound like a lot to a scared parent….but for the average child who is just getting used to the world…it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what their immune systems are routinely used to.

    It’s true that a lot of people don’t get flu shots because they figure….meh, the flu. It’s not that big a deal, right?

    In the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.

    Get your damned flu shot.


  10. Much is made about the increase in life expectancy conpared to a century or two ago. We have greatly reduced TB deaths, once a major killer of young adults. But the main reason that average life expectancy has increased is because we are keeping babies and small children from dying.


  11. There are a lot of things that I remember about living without some of our more modern conveniences. For instance, when I was very young, somehow, I was exposed to polio, and, unfortunately for me, I developed the disease and spent a good portion of my preschool life in an iron lung and still suffer the effects of polio today. To think, I could have been spared if the vaccine had made it to me a year or even a few months before. I also remember my grandmother and also my mom at her house drawing water from the well. At both homes (grandmother’s and mom’s) there was no indoor plumbing. We all took a bath every single night in spite of the hardship: The older kids brought buckets of water in and mom heated it on the wood stove and then she poured the hot water mixed with a little cool water into a huge wash tub. The dishes were washed by the same process but my mom did have two smaller wash tubs for the dishes. They also drew water to boil and pour into an old washing machine that had a wringer that was hand cranked. Mom used a scrub board, and she was shitting in high cotton the day one of my uncles brought her over an electric wringer washing machine because we were getting indoor plumbing and electricity. No more running to the out house, drawing water, or using a damn scrub board.

    Here’s my question, which is similar to the point, I believe, that Sally is making. Why in the hell would anyone want to go back instead of progress forward? Who the hell in their right mind would say it’s better for my kid to get polio, smallpox, chicken pox, mumps, measles, tetanus, whooping cough, etc. than give them one little shot or cube of sugar laced with a vaccine? Who in her right mind would say, let’s risk life to make a fucking point that is based on a lie and we know it’s a lie. Polio doesn’t give you a high fever and a little stomach ache that goes away and as a result builds your immune system. Hell no! Polio ravages your body causing your body’s own defense system to go ape shit thermal as it tries to kill the invading pathogens. I don’t remember much during those first few days after getting so sick, but I do remember being so hot and thirsty and, most of the time, delirious and dizzy. I remember throwing up and having diarrhea. I remember having a crushing headache and burning throat. I remember wanting to breathe, needing to take a big breath of air but the muscles in my chest just wouldn’t work so until the doctor came, I do remember taking sips of air that didn’t fill my lungs but kept me a live, and when he finally got to our house, he pushed on my chest and forced air into me. I still cannot stand the smell of cigars to this day because he smoked cigars and his breath smelled and I suppose tasted like cigar tobacco. And I kept wondering why he was trying to kill me with his mouth. I also remember the iron lung and the splints on my arms and legs and then the body cast they put on me to try and prevent my legs from drawing up. I remember the cramps and still have those muscle cramps to this day and my spinal nerves are still damaged and cause me problems. I remember the excruciatingly painful bone pain and hearing my heart beat so strong and steady in spite of the damage to my muscles that the virus was causing as it invaded my body. I also remember the polio ward at children’s hospital and how we knew when the nurses whispered and walked fast and an iron lung was turned off that another child had died and even at four-years-old, I face my own mortality over and over again. And mostly I remember only seeing family members once a month because we lived too far away so my drunk uncle brought my grandmother once a month and she sat beside me and crocheted until visiting hours ended because my mother could not be convinced that I wasn’t still contagious. What I am not thankful for is a natural immunity that was forced upon me by the virus because I would have much rather had the fucking shot and not had the disease.

    I often read homesteading blogs, and I see variations of the same idea from no power to solar power and tons of kids and no medicines other than natural remedies and incredible amounts of work for those who do it successfully, but, for the most part, these homesteaders are willing to home birth, willing to forage for home remedies instead of getting medical help, willing to home school, willing to go without indoor plumbing but most are not willing to give up their phones, their data plans, their internet access. If anyone had come up to my mother or grandmother and said, look here, we have this powerful box that we will give you so that you can use is as a phone and you can watch the world through it or we will give you plumbing and electricity…what do you guys think my mom and grandmother would have said they wanted? Or, go back to the real homesteaders and say, look here, we will give you magic medicine to keep your kids from getting sick and dying or we will give you access to the internet, a place where you can fight with anyone who disagrees with you, watch porn, read the news, or play games.


  12. Thought for the day:

    Long after we’re all tired of the Nauglers, years from now, when we can’t remember much of any of this….

    They will still be living in some retched hole, shitting in buckets, turning their pond to sludge with the nitrates they’re willfully leaching, and feeding their kids food that looks like canned Alpo.

    Joe will still be sitting on his ass smoking pot, and Nicole will still be working herself to death whilst nakedly obviously coping with her marital frustrations via her internet addiction.

    They’ll still be providing dozens of photos of their children and grandchildren to masturbating pedophiles everywhere.

    They’ll still wholly believe that photos of filthy children, poorly kept pets, weeds and sunsets…somehow proves that they are happy.

    They’ll still be one small setback away from starvation. They’ll still be one small slip away from accidentally killing one or more kids.

    Their hospital bill will still be unpaid.

    They’ll still be getting into drama, conflicts and fights with government, neighbors, strangers and inlaws.

    And while each of their children grow up, discover his/her limits and scars, become angry and disillusioned, and become estranged from them….they’ll still think they did it all right.

    They will never, never learn…because they are incapable.


  13. So we spent the weekend at Joshua Tree National park. Incorporated into the park is the Desert Queen Ranch. The Keys family ran it from 1910? until 1969 when Bill Keys died. Its been preserved in the state it was in. No Electricity, No sewer/water etc. Its truly off grid. The Keys family lost three of their seven children and obviously led an incredibly hard life but managed to live in an extremely inhospitable place. One building stood out in particular though. The keys family built a school house and then got county funds to pay for supplies and a teacher and then put up kids from surrounding ranches and mines so that they could get an education too. They also sent their surviving kids off the ranch to get a high school education. They gardened, canned, raised cattle, ran a gold mine, built a dam and expanded another one so that they would have water. All in a place where everything had to brought in over miles of rough territory by wagon. And Keys and chronic back problems, but seems to have had unimaginable work ethic.


  14. I just don’t get the back to natural living off the land that NicNog loves to go on about. Natural childbirth with no prenatal care (cuz it’s natural). Organic vegetable seeds for her garden. No vaccines cuz dirt and sunshine and unschool immunizes everything. Eating weeds and plants on the land cuz that’s how they used to do it. Her whole natural thing. Right down to her hair. No brush or comb for her cuz cavemen didn’t use them.

    Natural NicNog doesn’t mind these modern conveniences.
    1. Hair dye for animals, herself and her kids, cuz like it should be natural to have blue, or pink hair.
    2. Tattoos. Can’t use a needle for a vaccine that can protect you, but a tattoo is completely ok (has she read the news stories about where they are finding that ink?)
    3. Disposable diapers. You know. Just like those pioneer women all used back in the day.
    4. White Plastic Buckets to crap in. What pioneer woman didn’t use one. Wonder if she ever looked up chamber pots.
    5. Laundromat. Cuz using the pond to wash the clothes isn’t crunchy enough.
    6. Fast food. Just think how much time the pioneer women took to prepare three meals a day.
    7. Can food. Dented can food no less. At least she doesn’t use a electric can opener.
    8. Gas for a generator. I remember reading little house on the prairie and ma would rev that up at night to light the cozy little house.
    9. Feminine stanitary products. Tampex and such instead of rags or moss.
    10. Modern day weed. Not the stuff that was grown back in the pioneer days.
    11. Dollar Stores. China goods just like them pioneers bought and nothing says minimalist like shopping at the dollar store.
    12. Video games. If the pioneers had had them back in the day, they would have played them, so it’s ok.
    13. A shed. Not a log cabin you built yourself. No, a shed made out of press board. Nothing says pioneer, back to nature like a shed built somewhere off site and trucked to you.
    15. FB, social media, cell phones and solar panels. That is the height of living off grid pioneer style.
    16. Crocks. Cuz, it is a staple for all homesteaders and farmers and those working on building the life of back to the good old days where kids sat on grandpa knee.

    They are homeless. Homeless. Not natural living. Not homesteaders. Not miniualists. Not earth friendly. Not close family unit with the big happy extended family, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and now grand babies or daughter in laws. Not organic in any sense of the word. Not intelligent, smart, clever, spiritual or prophets.Not even non conformists or rebels or fighting for their rights or anti government, even though they would have you believe that they are.

    They lazy, homeless, self inflected victims brought on all by themselves. No one would ever be able to do enough for them. No amount of money can fix them. No amount of “stuff” will build them their life style. They are lacking in ethics, morals, and any understanding of how to learn from ones mistake and move forward in life.


  15. When you teach your kids to be argumentative, isolated, stubborn and “radical”….you’re setting them up for disaster.

    One has only to look at the video of Q. and the “chariot” fiasco to understand how badly the skills he learned at home serve him in the real world. Wolves coming out of the woods, anyone?

    Teaching kids to think for themselves isn’t a bad thing. Teaching a kid to think only like yourself, and to feel that the world is out to get a tremendous burden to put on someone. It will make their lives hard. Particularly if their only example is constant conflict and chaos.

    A family is a dictatorship run by the sickest member.

    It would be hard to argue who is sicker…Joe or Nicole…but at the end of the day, it’s easy to note that it’s Nicole doing all the work while Joe sits on his ass. I guess if God “slips another baby in there” we’ll know for sure who is the sicker of the two, but they’re running a tight race.

    “Never compromise. Correct at all costs!” Is a pretty self-defeating mantra for people in young relationships, where compromise is undeniably necessary…..and where “what’s correct” is just one of two opinions that need respect and consideration.

    If the Nauglers hope to mate their children to other people to up the population of the famous Shitstead Trust Pioneer Village, they should probably be careful to only introduce their offspring to eligible young ladies and gentlemen who share a similar penchant for shitting in buckets, shooting their pets, and sleeping in spaces rubbermaid totes barely squeeze into. They need to network with other dirt poor delusional asshats whose kids are accustom to being neglected the same way by their pothead parents, who have also been made to feel paranoid and rejected by society. Hell, maybe they can arrange the marriages and be done with it. Maybe there’s a teen swap meet for people like them? Facebook matchmaker? Who knows?

    It seems likely to me that the Naugler boy’s kids will be raised by other men (my strong opinion). I wonder if they will follow in their father’s footsteps, and opt out of keeping a job to avoid that pesky child support they’ll owe?

    One thing is certain….the other parent…the boy or girl who is involved with a Naug kid in the procreation of another life…..would probably not have a hard time getting custody of that child in the event of a break up. So, I guess that’s one small bright spot.

    Another parent wanting custody? No judge in their right mind would sentence a kid to an isolated life on the Shitstead. No judge in their right mind is going to put a kid on the same piece of land as a man who was accused in court by his eldest son of sexual abuse. No judge in their right mind will sentence a kid to an “unschool” education where the kid has no access to outside “lifelines” where they can ask for help. No judge in their right mind will rule in favor of crippled young adults who live on their parent’s “Keep Out” compound in the next shack-on-blocks over without plumbing and electric. The other parent is going to win. Every. Time.

    So, choose those partners wisely, Naugs. Otherwise? Your kids lives will be full of a million sorrows, and a lot of stress and loss. And the blame will rest squarely on you.


  16. 2. Tattoos. Can’t use a needle for a vaccine that can protect you, but a tattoo is completely ok (has she read the news stories about where they are finding that ink?)

    To hell with news stories, check out the FDA site.

    1. Both. While you can get serious infections from unhygienic practices and equipment that isn’t sterile, infections can also result from ink that was contaminated with bacteria or mold. Using non-sterile water to dilute the pigments (ingredients that add color) is a common culprit, although not the only one.
    There’s no sure-fire way to tell if the ink is safe. An ink can be contaminated even if the container is sealed or the label says the product is sterile.

    2. Published research has reported that some inks contain pigments used in printer toner or in car paint. FDA has not approved any pigments for injection into the skin for cosmetic purposes.



  17. For all those saying the Nauglers will survive the imaginary apocalypse better than anyone else. What a laugh. They won’t survive when the
    duct taped van finally shits the bed. Not unless you open your pockets wide and send them more monies. Fast, because they don’t have much to tide them over. Quick, before their internet gets turned off.

    Without the van. No water from the shop. No gas for the generator. No canned food from the salvage store. No hauling 30 miles and back to work so no money. No money no rental payments for the land and shed, no shop, no water, no gas, no food, no internet, no cell phones, no video games, no nothing.


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