Chub returned from the service after World War II and worked
several years for the Boone County Rural Electric Association.
Nancy was 3 years old, and Walt was not yet 2 when Chub reported
for work after our vacation trip and discovered that the new REA
manager, from another state, had brought a former employee to
take Chub’s job. My dad offered to help us get started in
farming. He had the know-how and the necessary machinery. We
gladly accepted his offer.
We bought 160 acres with borrowed money, although it was
worn-out land with deep gullies in the pastures and a creek that
meandered snake-like through 14 fertile acres, making that field
almost unusable. Sprouts and weeds were a tangled mess, and many
fence posts were rotten at the ground. There was a falling-down
log cabin in the yard and a cistern nearby. On the plus side, the
farm was fenced all around, and the electric line crossed the
place and brought service to a one-room frame tenant house that
replaced the log cabin. A fruit cellar, a pond, a small hay shed
and an outdoor toilet comprised the "improvements."
But the price was right!
Our home was near Columbia, and the children and I came to the
farm only on evenings and weekends. We had no plans to live on
this acreage because the road was often impassable, and telephone
service, with nine families on one line, might be available only
if we would cut l.6 miles of brush along Vemer’s Ford Road.
However, we realized that all of us were in love with this place.
We "camped out" in the tenant house during the
second summer, carrying water up the hill from the cistern. The
old log home had been built as two square cabins with a roofed
"breezeway" called a dogtrot. Log steps in the dogtrot
led to a sleeping loft over one lower room. We saw to it that no
one went up those steps lest the roof collapse.
The county improved the road, and we could live without a
telephone for a while. We began to visualize a home here and
wanted the old cabin out of view. When heavy earth-moving
equipment was there straightening the meandering creek, Chub
asked the driver to push the old cabin into a pile so we could
burn it. To our surprise, the big machine could not budge it from
any direction! The hand-hewn logs were firmly fastened together
unusual, locking notch, and, rotten as those logs were, the
joints did not yield.
I painted the interior of the tenant house, divided a little a
kitchen from the living/dining area and curtained off one end as
a bedroom. A year later, the ugly cabin was still in our front
view, but with the help of friends and relatives, we moved into
our six-room and bath unfinished home.
In 1956, I wrote this note: "Three generations of
Robnetts owned this farm, having petitioned the land from the
U.S. Government in 1827. Later owners included Charles," his
X mark, "Crews and Phoebe," her X mark, "Crews,
Mr. and Mrs. Chris Baumgartners and Mrs. Mildred Wedemeier.
"We finally burned the old cabin last week. Today I dug
around through the ashes and found an 1886 nickel, chunks of
homemade limestone plaster, part of a man’s blue serge coat
in the dirt under the ashes. There were hand-wrought nails and
other metal scraps but the real treasure in the ashes was a huge
pink granite stone, not indigenous to Mid-Missouri."
More about that next Tuesday.