Dakota Datebook: Great Depression Part II

Dakota Datebook: Great Depression II
August 14th, 2008


If you were listening to Datebook yesterday, you heard about some troubles faced by Dakotans during the Depression. Drought wreaked havoc on the Dakotas, causing crops to fail, sprits to drop, and problems to occur.

But amidst all the grief, there is always hope. Robert Hunke, a “true pioneer” of Richardton for the past 53 years, was one of those who spread the hope. In the midst of drought and trouble, he said “This country can and will come back, better than ever.”

Surely many Dakotans felt better, at the very least, for they were able to talk to and show their troubles to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had arrived in Bismarck so he could be filled in on the situation. Representatives from other counties arrived on the scene to represent all parts of the state.  Meanwhile, FDR was accompanied by federal agents and a swarm of newspapermen, here to “view with him the effects of drought and blistering sun on a parched land.”

The drought was far-reaching, but some smaller, local crops survived the heat. F. W. Braun, of the Pleasant Valley garden, brought in some of his corn and melons. The corn was “near to average” in height, and of good color. However, part of that flourish probably came from Braun’s use of “artificial” watering on his crop.

And Robert Stading, from a bit away from Antelope, brought in some melons, a cross between cantelope and muskmelon; one was 18 inches in diameter and three pounds in weight. Stading said that on one vine, he had grown about two dozen melons. Of course, everything else he was growing on his 800-acre farm had been destroyed by grasshoppers. Yet his melons, and a second planting, were doing very well.

Also, on this day, John Lish, the sheriff in Dickinson, was growing a bumper crop of cucumbers at his home in town, cucumbers of which the town was really taking notice. The paper reported that “‘Johnnie’ has raised some of the finest future dill pickles ever grown here in the backyard garden of his home, 43 Second Avenue West.” However, the paper cautioned, “Anyone having designs on a dozen or so, however, by way of the back fence, will do well to remember that the grower is also sheriff.”

These Dakotans showed there’s always hope—even in the midst of depression.

By Sarah Walker

The Dickinson Press, Thursday, August 13, 1936, p.1
The Dickinson Press, Thursday, August 27, 1936, p.1, 2


Dakota Datebook, Prairie Public. (2008) http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/

Grade Level


Subject Matter

Social Studies, Science

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