My grandmother grew up on a farm in Montpellier, Idaho. They had a simple life, making just enough to live. I grew up hearing stories about the Hairup Farm ranging from inducing labor before a storm so the town doctor could make it to the house, collecting eggs from chickens, or playing cards for entertainment. Life was tough making just enough to survive, nothing extra. The New Deal brought shocking changes to the lives of my family.
In 1936 the Rural Electrification Act was implemented as part of the New Deal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Norton, 2012) bringing electricity to rural communities. When the electrical lines were being laid my Great Great Grandfather Nels Willis Hairup said “let’s wait a while and see if other people like it” according to my Grandmother Anita Horman (A. Horman, personal communication, 2014). They declined getting electricity in 1937, delaying the ability to get electricity until 1942. Before they got electricity “cold oil lanterns provided most of the light; since they had to buy the oil the day ended not long after the sun went down.” One of the reasons it took so long was they didn’t realize that they would have to run the wires themselves once the developers left the community. Anita was 4 years old when the lights were turned on “I was the first one in the family to get to use a light switch.” It was hard being the only family in the community that didn’t have electricity. Without skills or help my Great Grandfather Willis Hairup brought electricity from the town and then five miles up the canyon to the family farm himself.
I don’t have to dig very deep for my farming roots. I won’t forget the stories that have been told to me. Their work ethic in built into my bones and keeps me working tirelessly at all I do.
Historical Timeline — 1930. (n.d.). Agriculture in the Classroom. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/1930.htm
Norton, M. B. (2012). A people & a nation: a history of the United States (Brief 9th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage.
Nels Willis and Elvira Hairup in 1952
Bear Lake at the Utah/Idaho border with multiple views of the Hairup Farm