All new today! Our amazingly detailed story of a Czech family as they settle and farm in the Arizona Territory continues! It is a wonderful look at what farm life was like for our compatriot ancestors as well as for all those in the state of Arizona! Amazing what was attempted in the desert Southwest! Sugar cane, apricots, fruit, vegetables, cotton. We certainly owe thanks and a debt of gratitude to the foresight of the publisher and editors of Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Enjoy this terrific story from our Czech family of Halas!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: LVII, Year: 1934, Pages: 187-213
FROM THE MEMORIES OF OLD CZECH SETTLERS IN AMERICA
Translated by Layne Pierce and Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“A Quarter of a Century of Farming in Arizona”
For Kalendář Amerikán by Frank Halas
“This is because there were exactly eight branches. The land of my brother was at the end of one of the branches of the canal, therefore my brother, according to this, could irrigate; however, if he needed the water more frequently like while growing vegetables, for example, he had to pump it. He started, like others, with a windmill; then, however, he bought a 3 horsepower motor for a two-and-a-half inch pipe and that was enough. The pumped water, however, was cold, salty and alkaline from sodium, and the land had to be constantly fertilized. Manure mainly from the town horse stalls was brought in for free, so that was not difficult.
However, that was not destined to last. There were more and more settlers, they were taking more and more land, and they wanted to have water on it. At the suggestion of the town, the government, more precisely the Interior Department, sent engineers who measured a place for a big gate construction 60 miles to the northeast of the small town of Phoenix and they calculated that for 4 million dollars a dam could be built and it would hold enough water for irrigation of about 120,000 acres, and that with the taxing of one acre at 36 dollars the government could loan this amount of money without any interest and an electrical plant from its profit would then pay the upkeep and administration. They could complete the upkeep and administration of the dual apparatus in about five years, so the agreements and all the other matters were voted in by the majority of the settlers and signed and construction was commenced.
During the next five years, however, many things changed. Many settlers exchanged lands, and there was an increase in the number of settlers. There was a need for new branches of the canal and so the cost for the construction of the additional necessary roads, bridges and reservoirs, and a heap of buildings, especially offices, rose to 11 million dollars. The farmers watched it with horror. Some were happy that they would be able to sell their lands well later. The town was then looking forward to a promising future. Altogether few settlers around the town were pushed into the chains of debt, like my brother. After the war there was a turn toward better times. The culture of cotton started and it was a long fiber type from Egypt. This cotton paid well and had an insured market, so for two years everybody made a lot; they could pay the government two payments in the full amount. For the rest of the income from the harvest they bought machinery and mainly cars, the more expensive ones. — However, as it happens, the third year when there was the most cotton, it not only went down in price, but did not have any market, whatsoever.
Then the crisis started. The farmers had sold dairy cows at $35 a head and now could only buy them for $75 a head. During that time there was nothing for the payments for houses, machinery and taxes. The banks took over the payments to the government and they also took over the electricity plant at a discount—they got the most out of it. Thus the town itself was growing, because the destroyed farmers were departing, and in their place came people with money, but not farmers. There was an increase in the number of land transaction firms, who took control. The irrigation problem, however, was not solved. The water was used for its flow down in the electrical plant and was let through the gates back into the river, and when the farmers needed it, there was nothing behind the dam, but the banks had already received money for the electricity, so the gentlemen from the banks put their heads together and immediately there was this courageous plan which was also accepted by vote, to drill wells outfitted with 8 inch pumps and run them by electricity. With the acceptance of new lots into the project they acquired new loans, and so they put patch over patch.”
There is more to come! Stay with us as we bring you the final two installments of this intriguing and detailed story of life in early Arizona for our Czech immigrants over the coming two days!
Onward To Our Past®