When Was He Born?

Melissa SandfortAgricultural Anthropology

Asking “When was he born?” might be a polite way to ask “How old are you?” But I’m allowed to ask that question of ancestors long gone.

This photo is of Jonathan Henry, my Grandmother’s great-grandfather, born in 1848. This was taken in 1898. He farmed along the Missouri River until it rose out of its banks and washed away the farmland. As any good farmer would do, he tightened his suspenders (and his belt), forged ahead, and purchased another piece of land for each of his five boys.

To go back to Jonathan’s story though, I oftentimes hear mention of a farmer with his trusted steed. Horses have been an important part of farming since the 1800s (and still remain so in some parts of the country and some farming operations) – this horse and buggy in particular were once used to transport jugs of water out to the men in the field. I felt a little guilty as I packed an insulated mug of Folger’s coffee for my husband this morning.

And I have to note that the horse and buggy required a great deal of work: constantly maintaining horse health, fly nets had to be kept in supply (the strings over the horse’s back pictured here), blanket pins. It’s quite unlike tossing my coat in the car (which is already warm from our insulated garage) and off I go.

I don’t need to ask how old he was…Jonathan Henry died in 1932.

Until we walk again …