The Bukowski History

The following information on the Bukowski-Hurt was submitted by Alice Shook via her granddaughter. It should give you a feel for the lifestyle and hardships that the pioneers went through during that time. To see more Histgory go to Kachel History.

Joseph Bukowski - submitted by Alice Shook, 1998

In the Spring of 1890, at Grand Island, Nebraska, Barbara Carrie Hurt and Joseph Stanley Bukowski were united in marriage.

In the early 1870's Barbara Hurt migrated to the United States from Austria Hungary (now Czechoslovakia) with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Hurt, when she was only four years old.

The young couple established their first home on a farm near Ashton, Nebraska in Sherman County. The country was in one of its worst droughts. A contributing factor to the major depression of 1892-1893. Thousands of people were out of work and wages were extremely low.

In 1895 Joseph and Barbara Bukowski, and their young children (Mary, Phillip and Edward) left their home in Sherman County, Nebraska and set out for the newly opened Oklahoma Territory. They loaded all their worldly possessions in covered wagons and traveled in a caravan across country.

In the caravan with the Bukowski family were her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Hurt; and her brothers (Joseph, Johnny and Frank Hurt families). Others were the Jim Holubs and the Divorak family, and possibly others. All of these families came from Sherman or Howard Counties in Nebraska.

There was still land to be homesteaded in Oklahoma Territory even tho they did not make the "Run". It quite possibly was the least desirable land, but in their hearts burned the desire to make a home in this new country, probably the first some of them ever had. All of them filed on claims, and proved up homesteads in the Orion Community of Major County. Living conditions were very hard, there was no money and very little to do with, but firewood could be had for the chopping!

Their houses were built of blackjack logs, usually just one big room with an attic. Later more rooms were added on. Water was hauled from springs, until cisterns were dug, or wells "put down" for their water supply.

Kerosene lamps and candles were used for lighting. The conquest of the land was not easy. Fields, gardens and orchards had to be "grubbed out" by hand, clearing the land of blackjack trees and brush before crops or gardens could be planted.

Tragedy wasn't long in coming to the Bukowski family. Two small children (William and Lillie) born on the homestead died from whooping cough. They were buried in the "Old Hurt Cemetery" on her parent's land.

The family returned to Nebraska where Joseph found work in a meat packing plant in Omaha. After a few years work and a little money ahead, Joseph went back to his Oklahoma homestead and put in a crop. Later he sent for his wife and family, now consisting of two more boys (Charley and Frank) who were born in Nebraska. Barbara and five children rode the train from Omaha to Alva, Oklahoma where they were met by Joseph driving a wagon and a fine team of horses. The family camped out that night close to the Cimarron River, driving the rest of the way to the homestead the next day.

All their farming was done with horse drawn implements. Gardens were worked and taken care of by hand. They always raised a big garden as they had to "put up" most all their food supply. They dug caves to store a lot of their vegetables in, as well as keeping the milk and butter in a cool place. Fruits were canned or dried.

After a few years of poor crops and other hardships, Joseph decided this was not his kind of country. he took his three oldest sons and went back to Nebraska. By this time two more children (Leo and Anna) had been added to the family, and another baby on the way. Joseph left his sons (Philip, Edward and Charley) with his mother in Nebaska and went to Canada where he established a new home and never returned to the United States, except for a short visit or two to see his childern. Joseph Bukowski passed away in Saskatchewan, Canada, September 1942, leaving a family there.

Mrs. Barbara Bukowski and family continued to live on the homestead. The baby (Louie) was born and died within a few months time. Finally with help from some of her neighbors and relatives, she and the children went back to Nebraska where she got her three oldest sons. They rented a house in St. Paul, Nebraska, and she and the older children all worked in a cannery. After some time she decided her children would be better off on the farm, so she took her family and once again returned to the Oklahoma homestead to live.

The boys worked out for the neighbors, pulling broomcorn for as little as $.50 per day. My (Alice Shook's) mother (Mary) cooked and cleaned in the old Floyd's Hotel in Fairview for $2.00 per week when she was only fourteen years old.

Times were very hard for the family. Uncle Ed remembers that they did get a milk cow some how, so they had milk, cream and butter. And they always raised plenty of sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, cabbage and pie-melons. He said, "Grandmother made some very tasty preserves out of the pie-melons."

When the boys were not busy in the fields, they enjoyed catching rabbits, quail, or squirrels, all which helped to put meat on the family table.

At the time there were several country stores scattered around the countryside, such as Orion, Chester or Phroso where the family could buy a few staple groceries and a gallon of kerosene for their lamps. There were also some old mills, where the family could take their corn and have it ground into meal. Very little wheat flour was used. Uncle Ed remembered an old mill that Mr. Cossel had that was run by windmill, so the family would always go to the mill with their sack of corn on a windy day!

The Bukowski children all attended the Old Orion School. School only lasted for a few months in the winter time, as the pupils were all farmers children and were needed a home to work.

When her children were all grown, Barbara went back to Nebraska to make her home in St. Paul. A few years later she and son Frank moved to Oregon where three of her children were already living.

Barbara passed away and is buried at Eugene, Oregon. Her son (Leo) had died while still a teenager and is buried in the Fairview, Oklahoma cemetery. Mary (Bukowski) Kachel passed away at Beaver, Oklahoma and is buried in the Beaver Cemetery. She and her husband (Sam) both died in the Summer of 1966.

Frank Bukowski died in 1972 and Phillip S. Bukowski died in July 1975, both in Cottage Grove, Oregon and are buried there. The three remaining children are Edward J. Bukowski of Harrisburg, Oregon; Anna Bush of Cottage Grove, Oregon; and Charles Bukowski who lives in Kearney, Nebraska.

submitted by - Alice Shook

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