I’ve just uploaded a new video for my poem, “The Homestead.”
My father, uncle, and I traveled to Smith County, Kansas in 2005 to locate and visit the Ratcliffe family homestead– the homestead my great-great grandmother, Mary Townsend Ratcliff, settled in 1874 after she divorced her husband, John. My grandfather grew up on the farm and, though he left to pursue college and then work as an agricultural economist, he brought my grandmother, father, uncle, and aunts, back to the farm for visits during summers in the 1930s and 1940s, until his brother eventually sold the place.
The information we had about the homestead’s location was incorrect, and so we wandered around the area of Smith County southeast of the town of Gaylord, relying solely on my father’s and my uncle’s memories of the farm’s setting. Pulling up at one house, we introduced ourselves to the couple sitting on the porch and told them we were looking for our family’s old homestead. “Oh, the ‘Ratcliffe Place,'” they said. “We know exactly where it is.” They gave us directions– it was only a couple miles away– and soon, we were back on familiar ground, memories flooding in as we drove up to the house.