A Memorial for Edna Agnes (Wilson) Thorleifson


1923 - 1925

I was born September 25, 1920 on a wheat farm in Barton County, Kansas. My father is Joseph Hatton Wilson and my mother is Edith Melvina Lusk Wilson. They named me Edna Agnes Wilson. I had an older brother, Melville Newton Wilson, born May 12, 1917 and a sister, Ruth Evelyn Wilson, born April 2, 1919.
This wheat farm was near the Arkansas River and between the towns of Great Bend and Ellinwood. The owner of the farm leased it to my Dad who did all of the farming. I will tell more about this farm later.
Because Dad wanted to own his own land, we moved to Johnson City, a small town in western Kansas. Here he bought one half section of land. We lived in a one room adobe brick house that had a dirt floor. There was no electricity or inside water. No matter how far I looked, I could not see another house. I think there were neighbors who lived about two miles away. We moved there when I was two years old and this is where I had my three earliest memories. They were; (1) watching Dad make adobe bricks, (2) riding on top of the big work horses, and (3) Dad asking to use my toy broom.

What I remember about watching Dad make adobe bricks is as follows: He used a team of horses that were hitched to a tongue-like device and as the horses moved forward, they always went in a circle. The circle was probably about 50 feet in diameter. In the area where the horses walked, Dad would add water, sod, and straw to mix with the clay soil. After it was mixed, Dad would stop the horses and cut bricks of this mixture. He shaped them in a mold to get them all even and then put them in the sun to dry. After they were dried, they would be adobe bricks and ready to build a house or some other building, Since we already had a house, maybe Dad made them to make a barn or to sell to somebody.

The second memory was about being on top of a big work horse. When we went outside, Mom put me on top of a big work horse. I remember the back was so big, it seemed like a floor and the hide was like a carpet. Mom later told me that she put me upon the horse to keep me safe from rattlesnakes while she worked in the garden. My parents decided to move back to the wheat ranch where I was born. They told me later that the land they were buying in Western Kansas wasn’t productive enough Before we moved, we were having an auction to sell what we did not want to take with us. One of the items was a team of work horses. Right before the team entered the auction ring, Dad put me on the back of one of the horses and told me to just sit there while the horses walked around the auction ring. Since I had been on the horses so much, I felt right at ease being there. In fact, I thought that it was fun and very special. I remember hearing the auctioneer say, “Look how gentle the horses are, even a small child is safe riding them.” When the horses were sold, the auctioneer said, “The child isn’t sold --- just the horses.”

The third memory that I have is a day later. Mom, Melville, Ruth and I were going back to the farm at Great Bend, Kansas in our Ford car. Dad was going to come in a big farm wagon and bring many of the household items. He asked me if he could keep my toy broom as he would need it. I was surprised, but pleased to think that I had something that he needed to use.