My family once owned the Helmuth Homestead. I think that it is a very special thing to know that a part of the Custer County history was started by your own family. The Helmuth Homestead is located on the Redfern Table. The Redfern Table is located eight miles west of the town Oconto. The Helmuth Homestead was first started by Christian Helmuth and his wife Barbara. They had five kids consisting of one son George and three daughters. The papers to the Homestead were signed on May 20, 1862, by Benjamin Harrison, the U.S. President.
When Christian and Barbara couldn’t take care of the farm anymore, George and his wife Lydia took it over. This was around the year 1928. They had one daughter named Eva Helmuth in the year of 1927. Three years later, George and Lydia had a son, named Paul (Bub) Helmuth. After Barbara died, Christian moved back onto the farm with his son and family. He then departed his life.
George made a living by raising pigs and cows. He also grew oats, barley, and corn; these were their main source of income.When it came around to corn- harvesting season, it was all done by hand. George would hire two or three men to help him. They would work from daybreak till night fall. Back then, the men made three dollars a day. Since they didn?t have a tractor until the late 1930’s, they used teams of horses that pulled a wagon.
Another way George made money was by selling the Chester White Shoat pigs he raised. He would sell them for fifty cents each. In the winter, with the pigs he hadn?t sold would be butchered by George and some relatives, then they would have meat for the winter.
In 1934, there was a terrible drought. The sky would get as black as night because of the dirt and wind. You could even tell that the dirt came clear from Oklahoma because it was red. Since the wind blew so much it caused everything to dry up. Soon, George had to sell off all his livestock, from which he never recovered .
George had some health problems that caused him to become very depressed. On one afternoon in January, 1949, he hanged himself in the cob shed where his wife, Lydia found him. He didn?t leave any reason for hanging himself and nobody has ever known why he did it. Lydia needed to decide to stay on the farm, but with the help of her son, Bub, she was able to stay on the farm long enough to make arrangements for her future. She sold the Homestead on October 10,1949 which ended the family farm. Even though I have never been to this piece of land. I know that when I first visit the location I will be able to picture the things I have heard about the land. I will be able to see the land that they farmed and see how much it has changed over the years. Even though it was sold out of the family after the drought in 1934. Which caused the farm to slowly start falling apart. Which later then lead to the selling of the land in the year of 1949.