Thursday, May 17, 2012

50 Years on a Harvey County Homestead

The August 22, 1922 Anniversary Edition of the Newton Kansan celebrated 50 years of Harvey County history and 50 years of publication for the Kansan (1st issue August 1872). This 140+ page booklet is a wonderful resource for the history of Harvey County.  All the important people, businesses, clubs and organizations are mentioned.  To me, however, the little stories that are included in the margins, the stories of the ordinary people, the farmers and their wives, are far more interesting.  

Anna Godfrey on her farm in 1922.

In 1922, one of the oldest citizens in Harvey County was Anna Godfrey.  At the age of 92, Mrs. Godfrey was living on her farm located in the Walton Township in Section 18.  The same farm she and her husband, Micheal, had homesteaded in 1871.

Further research revealed that Anna McCormack Godfrey was born in Tipperary County, Ireland in 1830.  She married Micheal Godfrey and they immigrated, first to Canada, then to New York, before finally coming to Harvey County, Kansas, in 1871, with their 6 sons and one daughter.  Micheal died July 2, 1915, but Anna continued on the farm.  Daughter, Ida, graduated from Newton High in 1904. At least two of her sons were living on the farm with Anna  in 1922.

The 1922 article noted that Anna did "not frequently leave her home . . . she enjoys good health, exceptional memory and is loved for her kindly disposition and genuine goodness and faithful adherence to the loftiest of principles of living."

One can imagine that Anna worked hard her entire life caring for children, doing housework and helping with farm work.  The photograph used by the Kansan shows Anna on her farm, surrounded by chickens, and illustrates a life of hard work and perseverance common to many pioneer women. 

Anna McCormack Godfrey died in 1927 at the age of 97 and is buried at the Walton Cemetery.

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