CHAPTER XX
The Land of the Dakotas

THE movement of settlers toward Dakota had now become an exodus, a stampede. Hardly anything else was talked about as neighbors met one another on the road or at the Burr Oak school-house on Sundays. Every man who could sell out had gone west or was going. In vain did the county papers and Farmer's Institute lecturers advise cattle raising and plead for diversified tillage, predicting wealth for those who held on; farmer after farmer joined the march to Kansas, Nebraska, and Dakota. "We are wheat raisers," they said, "and we intend to keep in the wheat belt."

Our own family group was breaking up. My uncle David of pioneer spirit had already gone to the far Missouri Valley. Rachel had moved to Georgia, and Grandad McClintock was with his daughters, Samantha and Deborah, in western Minnesota. My mother, thus widely separated from her kin, resigned herself once more to the thought of founding a new home. Once more she sang, "O'er the hills in legions, boys," with such spirit as she could command, her clear voice a little touched with the huskiness of regret.

I confess I sympathized in some degree with my father's new design. There was something large and fine in the business of wheat-growing, and to have a plague of insects arise just as our harvesting machinery was reaching such perfection that we could handle our entire crop without hired help, was a tragic, abominable

-234-

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