Share Your Story
Share your story

Stories by County
Adair County (1)
Barry County (2)
Boone County (1)
Buchanan County (1)
Butler County (1)
Greene County (1)
Jefferson County (1)
Lawrence County (2)
Lewis County (1)
Linn County (1)
Maries County (5)
Newton County (1)
Phelps County (2)
Putnam County (1)
Reynolds County (1)
Saint Charles County (1)
Shannon County (1)
Stone County (3)
Texas County (1)
Worth County (1)

Granddad’s Turnips

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Granddad’s Turnips

The Great Depression of the 1930s posed a terrific hardship for Missouri farmers, but the soiltenders of Lawrence County, which had an almost totally agricultural economy, may have been hit the hardest. Lawrence County is near the western edge of the Ozarks, where the hills rise into a plateau that stretches into Kansas and Oklahoma. The Dust Bowl of the late 1930s carried into Lawrence County, devastating crops and destroying hopes.

Much of my father’s family lived in western Lawrence County, and many of them simply packed and left for California, hoping to find anything better. My grandfather, Herman Jackson, a tenant farmer, stubbornly refused to pull up roots. After watching his grain dry-up-and-die in the fields, he knew that he might have one chance left for feeding his livestock and providing for Annie and the three boys.

So late in August of 1937, Herman hitched the mules, plowed twenty acres and sowed the one crop he knew might succeed…turnips. Nature must have taken pity over Herman’s tenacity, and rain came, followed by an unusually warm September. To put it in Herman’s words, he raised “one whizzbang crop” of turnips.

For the next month, twenty acres of turnips were harvested, canned, put into the silos, stored in the cellar – and eaten. My dad remembered eating turnips three times a day for nearly a year. The milk from the cows tasted like turnips. Dad and his brothers got up before sunrise every day to cut turnips and boil them in a fifty-five gallon drum for the pigs, which wouldn’t eat turnips unless they were cooked. Later, when a hog was butchered, the meat tasted like…turnips.

That year proved to be the worst of the Great Depression for Herman, and things began to improve. But when I was growing up, turnips were rarely table fare unless my dad was away. – Paul Jackson

More Stories from Lawrence County  |  Share your story

Web Design Saint Louis by