18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Sugar Beets and Migrant Labor

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Beta Vulgaris

1917 to 1919
Labor shortages in the U.S. during World War I and political unrest in Mexico draw many Mexican workers north to the sugar-beet fields of the Red River and Minnesota River valleys. Many return year after year; others move to the Twin Cities to find permanent jobs.*

As a backstory, the sugar beet came to prominence in 18th century Silesia through experiments subsidized by Frederick William III (the King of Prussia) to extract sugar. These findings were furthered by scientists Andreas Marggraf and his star pupil Franz Karl Achard. Their work led to the selection of ‘Weiße Schlesische Zuckerrübe’, meaning white Silesian sugar beet, and boasted about a 6% sugar content.**

The Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota had perfect conditions for the growing of this specis of beta vulgaris. Mexican migrant workers entered the scene just as local sugar beet growers and the American Crystal Sugar Company had need for their hand-harvested crop. The Great War had commandeered local labor, leaving room for displaced Mexicans.

Jim Norris, a local expert on these relations, stated the following in his book “North for the Harvest”:
“Though popular convention holds that corporations and landowners invariably exploited migrant workers, (the author) reveals that these relationships were more complex. The company often clashed with growers, sometimes while advocating for workers. And many growers developed personal ties with their migrant workers, while workers themselves often found ways to leverage better pay and working conditions from the company.”

And so, Lord of the Harvest, we find ourselves in a triune relationship; the company, the farmers, and the field workers. We invite Your illumination of these events, and Your insights. Come and lead our meditation!

We thank You for beta vulgaris and the sweet taste it brings to our lives. We thank You for the research done for centuries that yielded such fine results, and provided an alternative to sugar brought into existence by the slavery of the sugar cane fields! We thank You that You provided opportunity for Mexicans amidst the tragedy of the Great War!

Next, we thank You for Your example of a three-sided relationship creating balance. Your roles incorporate our experience of simultaneously living out three roles, yet being one person. We are mothers, daughters, and wives simultaneously! We are fathers, sons, and husbands at the same instant!

Therefore, we can find security that companies, farmers, and fieldworkers can play three roles that serve one united purpose in sugar beets or the production of any commodity. Will You be the guardian of these relationships in Minnesota? Will You forgive our offenses to You in our imbalances in these relationships?

Will You forgive us as field workers for negating the needs of our farmers to produce results without fail? Will You forgive our farmers their dehumanization of laborers? Will You forgive those that own the company of their drive to power and market position? Will You forgive us as farmers and field workers our fearful judgments of Wall Street? We do not know the pain of finding a buyer or fair price for huge quantities of a perishable product. Have mercy on us!

May we find sweetness in being a three-legged stool! May we see the imbalance should we remove one leg of our relationships! May we be one in purpose regardless of position: migrant, farmer, or president!

 

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_beet
***Dig deeper on the impact of migrant workers in Minnesota and the Midwest in this excellent book. “Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry” by Jim Norris
http://muse.jhu.edu/book/5421

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20th Century, Agriculture, Boys, farming, Girls, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Minnesota 4-H Forms

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1914
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Minnesota have a new name: 4-H. Under the leadership of T.A. “Dad” Erickson, 4-H is dedicated to making rural life fun for young people while teaching them skills to be good farmers, homemakers, and citizens.*

It’s amazing how kids will follow someone with a good plan, or even a simple plan of an adult with a good heart.
Dad Erickson was such a visionary. As a Swedish immigrant, he had to work hard to help his family, and missed out on educational opportunities. He was embarrassed of his accent. But he had a vision where kids like him would learn by doing. He had an idea for a “corn club” where boys would learn and study this staple crop so important to Minnesota’s future. They had to tow the line, assist in studies all day, and would even camp out in the cornfields.**

These “corn clubs” birthed a youth movement. Now approximately 103 years old, the 4H clubs boast 6.5 million members aged 5 to 21 in about 90,000 clubs nationwide. They attract boys and girls, urban and rural, who commit their “head, heart, hands, and health” to the betterment of others.***

So, Good Father, we commend the leadership of T.A. Erickson, and all who have followed in his footsteps to You. Thank You for many styles of learning, and that this man helped provide a club for those who like to “learn by doing”. Will You continue to bless the activities of the 4H Club forever?

We thank You for the kids of 4H! We are grateful for their contribution to the refinement and growth of agriculture in this state, as well as their vision to tackle urban problems. Will You bless their “heads, hearts, hands, and health”?

May we reflect on these words for today, and with your help, put them into action for future generations of Minnesotans. “How can a youth afford to lose his opportunities? Let us all grasp our many golden opportunities and use our talent, that we may not at the closing moment of our life look back with regret, but that we may enter an eternity having employed our life to the best of our ability and receive the greeting, ‘well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ T. A. Erickson’s speech at his high school commencement**

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**http://www.srperspective.com/2013/07/dad-of-minnesota-4-h/
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-H

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Jesus, livestock, Minnesota

Butter Capital 1899

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Steele County proclaims itself the “butter capital” of the world, a title it advertises into the 1920s. With 24 cooperative creameries among its 17,000 residents, it’s the leading dairy county in the state.*

Thank You for this southern Minnesota county, Lord! Thank You that they had a sense of purpose in making butter. Throughout history, You have exhorted believers to identify with their work. ‘Avodah’ is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for worship and work. The root word means to work or to serve. (http://ag.org/top/church_workers/wrshp_gen_avodah.cfm) The word “worship” in English could accurately be described as “worth-ship”, and the people of Steele County seemed to understand this sacrament.

Father, will You bless Steele County, its land, people, animals, and all who make butter in this state? Will You honor their heritage of taking joy and pride in doing this task, and working to refine their craft? Thank You for creating such perfect pastures, weather, and seasons for raising healthy bovines!

Forgive us who do not comprehend the labor involved, or excellence of our dairy industry. We simply spread butter on our toast, put cream in our coffee, and do not acknowledge the myriad of right choices that were made to ensure a quality end product. Thank You for the dairy farms! Thank You this day for the dairy farmer who rarely takes a vacation and is extremely committed ’round the clock to his (or hers) cows’ health and the milking schedule! Will You give honor to these men and women, boys and girls, who choose this of life of dedication? Will You continue to give them Your creativity and imagination for all aspects of dairy farming, and butter production in Minnesota? May they forever love butter, but not shirk You by worshipping a new kind of “golden calf”!  Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

*Learn more about the dairy farmers of Steele County and Minnesota? https://mnprairieroots.com/tag/steele-county-butter-capitol-of-the-world/

 

 

 

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19th Century, farming, Industry, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Hormel Company Opens

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1891
George A. Hormel, an ambitious entrepreneur and the son of German immigrants, established today’s Hormel Foods Corporation in 1891 as Geo. A. Hormel & Co., in Austin, Minnesota.

George Hormel opened the Hormel meat-packing company at the right time. As corn replaced wheat in some southern Minnesota fields, it created an abundance of hog feed and, as a result, a boom in hog farming and meat packing.

By 1920, Hormel beat out the south Saint Paul stockyards to lead the state’s meat-packing industry. In the year 2000, only two other states raised and marketed more pork.*

Lord, thank you for George Hormel, and his business to make food available and more affordable to more people.** Bless his heritage, those who worked with him, competed with him, and the places that they worked. Will You bless the animals, past, present, and future of Minnesota? Will You bless the farms and farmers who raise any animal that is used for food? Will You bless the packers, and all who work in the meat-packing industry?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Learn more about this innovative company that perfected canned ham, “Dinty Moore” stew, and “Spam”?  http://www.hormelfoods.com/About/History/Company-History

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, Civics, education, farming, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, law, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, Treaties

The General Allotment Act (Dawes Act)

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Feb 8, 1887
Congress enacts legislation that allots 160-acre tracts of land to heads of households of American Indian families. The rest of the reservation land is thrown open to non-Indian homesteaders. Eventually, Native-held lands are reduced by more than two thirds.*

“The Dawes Act had a negative effect on American Indians, as it ended their communal holding of property by which they had ensured that everyone had a home and a place in the tribe. It was followed by the Curtis Act of 1898, which dissolved tribal courts and governments. The act “was the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads.”[27] Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres (560,000 km2) in 1887 to 48 million acres (190,000 km2) in 1934.[3]
Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado was one of the most outspoken opponents of allotment. In 1881, he said that allotment was a policy “to despoil the Indians of their lands and to make them vagabonds on the face of the earth.” Teller also said, “the real aim [of allotment] was “to get at the Indian lands and open them up to settlement. The provisions for the apparent benefit of the Indians are but the pretext to get at his lands and occupy them….If this were done in the name of Greed, it would be bad enough; but to do it in the name of Humanity…is infinitely worse.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Act

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Messiah, there is such a gap between intent and actions. One the one hand, the Dawes Act points to a desire to respect the property of Native Americans. On the other hand, it ‘gives’ them title to land if they accept the conditions. Is this freedom, or fiefdom?
First, as a human being and fellow Minnesotan, I want to acknowledge our sin of envy. We are not content with what we have. Lord, forgive us the envy contained in the Dawes Act of Native lands! Will You heal the whole inheritance of envy, and heal the lands that were annexed unjustly?
Second, I want to acknowledge the mixed motives of our hearts! I acknowledge the honest desire of many at this time that Native peoples assimilate and become one people with the United States, and with Minnesota. Many were motivated by a desire to share ‘common ground’ figuratively and literally with Indians. As in “I’m a simple Norwegian farmer who is trying to start a new life in America. What does my Indian neighbor have against me? I used to hunt and fish with him. I’m not a land man for the railways, or a representative of the Department of the Interior, but their actions make me the bad guy to my Indian neighbors.”

Many Natives did not want to not feel the pains of being a foreign enclave in their homelands. While they resisted many aspects of Western Culture, they also admired and even craved some of its fruits: new technologies and techniques, trade for useful products, positive interactions with new neighbors, etc. They seemed to both admire and fear the new culture in their land. Some Natives willfully accepted new ways, and others did not.

Lord, have mercy on these hearts! Some on both sides of this divide, whether Immigrant or Indian, wanted to take a chance and embrace. Some were repelled by clashing with another culture. Lord forgive how we have feared our brother’s ways, and rejected what You have to teach us through him! Lord, forgive us our hesitancy to trust! Will you restore us to chesed? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesed

Next, I want to acknowledge that both cultures succumbed to the “power men” within them. There were plenty of Minnesotans’ willing to capitalize on the imbalance of power the Dawes Act gave them! Too many tried to moralize the outright theft of property! They claimed desires to civilize native peoples to gain public approval for their land grab. Nothing changes. They are still among us. However, I mourn before you this day, and acknowledge this offense against my Native brothers! Have mercy! Will You reverse this curse? Will You restore these injustices?

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the counter judgments that some Native peoples made in response to these ‘land grabbers’. They chose to meet offense with counter offense, perhaps not learning from their own tribe to tribe, or First Nation to First Nation acts of offense and or war. It is clear to see these fruits yielding a harvest of separation even today in our state. Will You forgive these counter judgments? We have offended You first! Have mercy!

Will You have mercy on our natural desires for vengeance stemming from the Dawes Act? Will You give us a new common inheritance as Minnesotans’? Will You take the bitter roots from our hands so that we can recieve from You? When we must disagree, will You teach us to do it with understanding, clarity, and respect?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, Health, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Butter and Cheese Organizes March 17, 1882

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The Minnesota State Butter and Cheese Association organizes to promote dairy farming in the state.*

Lord, thanks for blessing the dairy business in this state and throughout the midwest! To a present-day native Minnesotan, it is strange to think that diary farming would need promotion. Lord, will you do your best for this essential business? Will You bless the farms, farmers, their animals, and generations in the name of Jesus?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

Learn more about the dairy industry? http://www.umdia.org/about.html

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Natural Disaster

Rust Plagues Crops 1878

unknown

Rust, a parasite growing on barberry bushes brought west by settlers, severely damages wheat crops. Later epidemics of wheat rust lead to the outlawing of barberry bushes in 1918.

Epidemics occur again in 1904 and 1916 before the state outlaws the culprit carriers. The problem is eradicated over the next decades through the efforts of “Barberry Bees,” organized to dig up bushes, “Rust Busters Clubs” in schools, and bounties paid for reporting barberry in the 1940s.*

Some days it is burdensome to read chapters of history like the Rust Plague. It feels like humanity, myself included of course, is a one-trick pony. We fail over and over to see cause and effect.
When confronted with the tragic, we react with externalizing our pain. It must be someone else’s fault that I have this problem. Moreover, You are a convenient target for our misuse or overuse of natural resources.
Creator of All Nature, this is the ray of light I see in this Rust Plague; eventually the curious among us found a relationship. We found that transporting plants, namely berberis vulgaris, from their origins resulted in creating an undesired effect when they reached our desired destinations.* We loved progress, but lacked the knowledge and wisdom to enact it in this case.                                                 *https://www.ars.usda.gov/midwest-area/st-paul-mn/cereal-disease-lab/docs/barberry/barberry-situation-past-present-future/

Lord, was there something to this parasite outbreak other than nature? I believe that You are far more merciful to us than our sins deserve, but simultaneously maintain justice and wise judgments. You remain in perfect balance; neither favoring grace or truth. Our separation from You and our fellow man has its consequences. I can think of several events that happened in this time frame that caused massive unrest:
the creation of the Federal Reserve -1913
the negation of the Nicaragua Canal
the first foray into US nation-building that created the nation of Panama
the opening of the Panama Canal – 1914
sinking of the Lusitania – May 7, 1915
Poncho Villa raids US – 1916
President Wilson commits our troops to WWI, in spite of his campaign promise; “He kept us out of the war.” – 1917
Wilson “14 Point of Peace” – 1918
and extensive upheavals between labor and the industrialists.
Lord Jesus, will You enter into this chapter of our history again? Will You, by Your kind Holy Spirit, point out offenses that we may have made towards You? Did we curse the ground, or more specifically the wheat crops of Minnesota? Were You just maturing us to trust You in difficult times? Was a disease necessary to place nature in proper balance? Jesus, please forgive us any root judgments that contributed to the rust epidemic. Will You heal our land and our hearts, to receive You where our ancestors may have missed You? Will You make us capable of self-examination, observant of our surroundings, and shield us from the temptation to only look for external targets of our wrath and blame rather than responsibility, reason, and relationship?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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