Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Stories: Clarence E. King, Sr. 1878-1954

Excerpted from the Sutherland Centennial 1891 – 1991, published in 1991.

Clarence E. King, Sr. was born at Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska on July 4, 1878. He was the son of Joshua R. and Alice May King, who were born in the eastern states and journeyed west to Buffalo County, Nebraska, as a young married couple. Clarence was the fifth child of seven children born to Joshua and Alice, and was only five years of age when his father died.

On November 6, 1901, Clarence King married Grace Eickmeier, daughter of August and Ella Eickmeier. Clarence famed in Buffalo County until March 1, 1908. Three children, Lavon Ella, Byron Eugene and Edgar Augusta, were born in Wood River Valley, and then in 1908 the family moved to Lincoln County, southwest of Sutherland, Nebraska. The ranch house still stands, even though the cattle barn and outbuildings were torn down long ago. Clarence bought the SW ¼ of Lots 3 and 4, as well as the SE ¼ of the NW ¼ of Section 1, Township 13 north of Range 34. Some of this land was later sold to Peter H. Smith but eventually this land reverted back to the King family in 1940 and is still owned by Clarence E. King. Jr. Three more children were born to Clarence and Grace Ella at the old ranch house. They were Clarence Eugene, John Ray and Ruth May.

In the spring of 1918, the family moved two and a half miles east of the old ranch house. This family of eight moved into a new twelve room home which Clarence, himself, built. His initial land purchase was 270 acres, but by 1918 he owned 640 acres of land on which he specialized in raising purebred Hereford cattle and Poland-China hogs. This farm was known as Pleasant Hill Farm and was known for two outstanding features, a uniquely built barn with a grade joined to it so loads of hay and grain could be hauled into the hayloft, and the kindly hospitality of the King family. This residence was one of the best in the county and many came to share in the King’s hospitality. Many church parties were held in the hayloft as it was large.

Mrs. King, who was much beloved by friends and family, died October 17, 1918, leaving behind six small children. As time passed, Grace A. Shaw came to work for Mr. King to care for the six children. Then in 1919, Clarence E. King, Sr. and Grace Anna Shaw were married.

Clarence King believed that survival depended on raising everything for the table yourself. Many kinds of fruit trees were planted and always a huge garden from which 300 or 400 quarts of vegetables were canned so there would be food to last ‘till spring. In the Smoke House, would be hams and bacon being cured. The beef and chickens would be canned and soap made from the lard from the hogs. From the wheat harvest in the late summer, Mr. King would take a load of wheat and exchange it for a load of sacked flour which was stored in the basement on a metal table so the mice could not reach it.

An ice house was built, and every winter blocks of ice from the river would be cut and stored with them harvesting enough to last until the next year’s freeze. Every Sunday was the day for homemade ice cream and cake, with neighbors coming for a song fest. Clarence King played the mouth harp and the accordion and Grace King the piano. Late August when the watermelons were ripe, a King and Eickmeier reunion would be held at the farm for a watermelon feast. A tent would be pitched and beds all over the floor, but fun was had by all.

In 1935, Clarence King again moved his place of residence. At that time, the Sutherland Reservoir was being built and this event forced Mr. King to sell his farm since the proposed reservoir was to cover the area of land on which the farmstead was built. The house itself was moved to the reservoir outlet and still stands on that site today (1991).

In 2004, the house was slated for demolition and, as an alternative, auctioned to be moved. It was purchased by my sister and moved approximately six miles west where it is now her home. The three photos below are of that move.



The barn was moved to the State Farm at North Platte, Nebraska.
The barn at the West Central Research and Education Center in North Platte, known as the State Farm. I don't know if this is Clarence King's barn, but it seems like it might be a possibility.
Following the sale of the farm, Mr. King moved into Sutherland, Nebraska and started a Gamble’s Store, which one of his sons, Edgar King, ran until he was inducted into the Army during World War II. The store was then sold and Clarence King passed away May 25, 1954, leaving a younger son, J. Ray King, to carry on the farming tradition of the King family. Grace A. King passed away June 17, 1978.

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