On Moving to Idaho from Kansas, January 1910

By Adelbert Cornell

It is no little thing to pry one’s self and family loose from neighborhood ties, from true and tried friends and loving and loved relatives and settle for the rest of one’s life in a new locality among strangers, perhaps thousands of miles away. Even given the most thoughtful consideration, it is an expensive experience.

From any slant from which one can approach the subject, he cannot but feel that he is facing a proposition that should receive serious forethought. Serious as it is, however, there is a surprisingly small percent of the American people who spend their full allotment of years in one locality.

Under the most favorable conditions it is serious enough but it takes on added significance when one has thoroughly established himself in his life work and taken unto himself family responsibilities and property interests, and especially if one’s life work and property interests lie along the line of well bred stock to which the whole family is strongly attached.

When the determination is once made, however, about the first question that must be decided is whether or not to sell everything and depend on entirely new equipment purchased at the point of the new location or to charter an emigrant car and take the most cherished movables along.

A few years ago the writer and two of his neighbors decided on changing their location from their native location near the Kansas-Nebraska state line to the Boise Valley.

After careful investigation we decided to charter a car apiece and load as much of our property as possible. Kansas City to Boise Valley rates on emigrant cars was $100. This made allowance for each car to be loaded with ten tons of property and a man to accompany each car. All weight in excess of twenty thousand pounds was subject to a 50 cents per hundred added charge. (The cars were weighed at some point enroute and if one had more than his ten ton he had to make his reckoning before he was permitted to unload)

Among the conditions specified in the contract ten head of animals is the maximum allowance for each emigrant car. A reasonable amount of feed and grain for seeding the first year. No brand new, unused machinery or vehicles or furniture is allowed. One must at least hitch to his vehicle and run it through a mud hole or otherwise furnish proof of its having been used.

It is pretty risky to disregard the stipulations of the contract as one can find plenty in this Western country whose disregard cost them dearly. The dealers in this country are a crafty lot and their interest in selling implements prompt them to be on the alert to put the railroad people wise to any of these little items that might be overlooked by the railroad people themselves.

In some states provisions are made exacting the exhibiting of a bill of health which certifies to the good health of the animals. This inspection must be made by a regularly appointed inspector before the freight agent is allowed to bill the car out. This is a wise provision as most states require such certificates before allowing the cars to unload and if the certificate is not attached to the bill of lading the car is held up for inspection at some point before it is allowed to enter the state in which its objective point is located.

After one has found out the conditions which the state laws and the railroads exact of him the next question that follows is relative to what is to his own best interests to load into the car from the standpoint of use and economy.

For example, all intermountain valleys are pre-eminently fruit and hay growing localities. It is obvious, therefore, that one going from the middle west where the lister is greatly in evidence would not want to take a lister with him to the western slope of the great Rocky Mountain water shed and yet such impractical freight is not so unusual as one might think. Corn planters, however, are coming into some use in this particular part of the west.

The altitude of one’s intended location has a determining influence on the crop growing possibilities. In this latitude, when one’s location is over 3000 feet he better forget corn.

By acquainting himself with the current values of implements, grain, and live stock in his objective locality the emigrant can often save the price of his car in shipping that which will sell for the highest price, even if he had no use for it himself.

The big issue of the proposition, however, confronts the emigrant in the dividing and packing of the goods to the best possible advantage in utilizing the space available.

It is safest to insist on as roomy a car as possible. In our case we were provided with three large furniture cars. We found it to our greatest advantage to pack the heavy machinery and vehicles closely in the bottom of the car at one end and then we poured loose corn over them until they were well nested and covered, then the heaviest of the boxed up stuff on top of this with the lightest of all nearest the top of the car, all of which was securely partitioned off to insure it from being jarred loose and falling into the part reserved for the stock.

For the horses, we fastened a strong pole securely across the car high enough for the horses breasts to butt against it in case of a sudden jerk of the car. We headed our horses to the end rather than to the side of the car. While the matured horses did not seem to care to lie down, we had crated one colt up in such a manner as to not permit of its laying down with the result that it died before the trip was half made. Two or three other colts were allowed their liberty with the result that they spent much of their time laying down and they came through all right.

One end of one of the cars was devoted to eight head of jersey cows and heifers, several of which were milked regularly. Neither the ones that were giving milk or the ones that calved soon after arrival seemed to suffer from any bad results.

Stock transported in an emigrant car must be provided with ways and means for feeding and watering within the car as it cannot be unloaded for that purpose. We double decked the end that had the cows in and put our baled hay, it was alfalfa and wild hay, and our chicken crates on the upper deck. We had a small tank in this car which proved to be a great convenience in making it possible to carry considerable supply of water.

On some occasions the trainmen were prevailed upon to "spot" the car where the water could be pumped or piped right into this tank. It was located between the car doors which made it convenient to carry the water in buckets to the stock in the other cars.

Although this journey was made in January, care was taken to see that one of the doors was allowed to be open as much as possible. Not both doors, however, because of the danger of a draft chilling the animals. Ventilation is an item that cannot be neglected without danger of serious results as keeping the animals too warm and in the polluted atmosphere of a close car causes their powers of resistance to be so much lowered as to give rise to the danger of an attack of lung trouble when the animals are unloaded, and brought in contact with the cold and perhaps damp air. Lung fever in some of the animals is often the result of too little care in this particular.

We made it a point to see to it that our stock was in a thrifty condition as one of our preparations for the journey. Grain was used rather sparingly in the ration before and during the journey as it was considered safer to depend on good bright hay as the excitement and nervousness naturally caused by such an unusual procedure would cause more or less of a deranged digestive process. Upon our arrival and for a time thereafter, we took care to protect the animals from any sudden change of conditions but worked them moderately from the start and thus the acclimating was made without any bad results.

There is one more observation that, in this age of much moving and investing in unfamiliar conditions, perhaps is quite relevant to this subject.

This country, like most others, has considerable land that has better qualification for giving the newcomer "cold feet" than for home building and farming operations. Some of it is water logged and alkalized. Some of it has unsatisfactory ditch accommodations and expensive water rights. Some of it lays under ditches that were actually made to sell the land and are as innocent of water as the Sahara itself. Then again, some of it only has the survey stakes set for ditches and the real estate dealer is sure to allude to the very pertinate fact that homesteaders under these projects were just as sure of an early water supply a dozen years ago as he pretends to be today.

The safest course for this, or any other section of far flung opportunities, is for the prospective locator to mix freely with the people who are getting their living, and paying their water charges and taxes from farming operations at first hand instead of by practicing the wind-artist, bunco steering stunt on unsophisticated tender feet.

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