The Eustaces of The Chiltern Hundreds; Chapter 7
Two of the sons of Thomas and Elizabeth, who were married at Bledlow in 1759, moved northward along tThe Dust Bowl that began in the United States during 1931, lasted about a decade. After the blizzards during the winter of 1930-1931, a drought began in the Midwestern states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. First the Northern Plains felt the dry spell, but by July 1931, the Southern Plains were in the drought. It was not until late September that the ground had enough water to justify planting. Because of the late planting and early frost, much of the wheat was small and weak when the spring winds of 1932 began to blow. The wheat was also beaten by dirt from the abandoned fields. In March 1932, there were twenty-two days of dirt storms and drifts began to build in the fence rows. The impact of the Dust Bowl was most severe on the Southern Plains.
As the crops died, the ‘black blizzards” began. Dust from the over-plowed and
over-grazed land began to blow. The Northern Plains were not so badly affected,
but nonetheless, the drought, windblown dust and agricultural decline were no
strangers to the north. In fact the agricultural devastation helped to lengthen
the Depression whose effects were felt worldwide.
The movement of people from the Plains was also profound. As John Steinbeck
wrote in his novel The Grapes of Wrath:“And then the dispossessed were drawn
west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas,
families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and
hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two
hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless -
restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to
pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We
got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all
Poor agricultural practices and years of sustained drought caused the Dust
Bowl. Plains grasslands had been deeply plowed and planted to wheat.
During the years when there was adequate rainfall, the land produced bountiful crops. But as the droughts of the early 1930s deepened, the farmers kept plowing and planting and nothing would grow. The ground cover that held the soil in place was gone. The Plains winds whipped across the fields raising billowing clouds of dust to the skys. The skys could darken for days, and even the most well sealed homes could have a thick layer of dust on furniture. In some places the dust would drift like snow, covering farmsteads. US government programs which encouraged soil conservation practices such as contour farming and grassland preservation helped to reduce the blowing and drifting.
he line of the Chiltern Hills. Henry went to Pitstone where he married one of the local girls, Sarah Ashby in 1801. They had nine children of whom Joseph was the fifth baptised in 1810 in the small 13th century parish church.
It seems that Henry had been forced out of Pitstone by enclosures and the
buying up of village land by the Earl of Bridgwater. The family moved up to
Eaton Bray, about four miles away, completely unaware that centuries before
their forebear Faramus had been lord of the manor.
At Eaton Bray, their son Joseph married Hetty Sear (or Hettey Sears), who was
ten years his senior, and settled into the life of the village particularly in
connection with the Wesleyan Chapel. By 1835, still only twenty-five years old,
Joseph had been appointed a Trustee and his name appears along with that of
William Sear, probably his father-in-law, in the school exercise book which
served for the chapel records.1 By 1840 he appears in a local directory as the
only tradesman in Eaton Bray and he seems to have been prospering as he was able
to lend the chapel £140, on which they faithfully paid interest at 4 1/2% per
Joseph and Hetty had six children, two boys Jeffery and William and four girls Amelia, Ann, Louisa and Hetty. It was probably in his capacity as general dealer and provider for the village that he began to deal in straw plaits which was one of the local cottage industries by which the womenfolk supplemented the men’s wages. Buying from the villagers, he sold the plaits to the straw hat makers of the nearby town of Luton. By 1871 he had prospered enough to return to the traditional family occupation of farming with a small holding of 5 acres. Hetty died during that year and her gravestone with a simple inscription is still in Eaton Bray churchyard. Also in 1871, William, Joseph’s second son, left with his wife and two daughters for Kansas, leaving the straw plait business to his brother Jeffery whose work in the Sunday School at Eaton Bray is recorded on a tablet in the chapel. Joseph lived on until 1888 and his connection with the chapel is commemorated by a tablet under the gallery which reads:
Sacred to the memory of
who entered into rest February 23rd 1888
Aged 77 years
and was interred in Dunstable Cemetary
Lord I have loved the habitation of Thy house and the place where Thy honour dwelleth’
and neighbouring parts.
Frederick Jabez was on active service with the Navy in China at the age of sixteen. He was invalided out in 1910 and joined the Post Office. He served again in the Navy during World War I and then resumed his postal work until his retirement. His wife, Maud was still living at the age of ninety-four in 1975.
Eric F.J. their eldest son, married to Margaret Hughes, was a civil servant and had three children, Michael David M .Sc. (Physics) married to Valery Carr and they have a son Richard Michael born 1972 who was the youngest recorded in the Eustace family in the home country in 1975. Joy Margaret, like so many of the family past and present, was a Teacher and is married to Rodger Walker, Caroline Mary is studying English literature and Norweigian at East Anglia University.
Stanley is a radiographer and ran a service of radiographers to hospitals and clinics. He and his wife, Doreen, had one son, Colin and twin daughters Angela and Heather, all at present are students.
Eric and Stanley were two of the principal collaborators in the research into the family history, especially the Chiltern period and after, and acknowledgement is here given to their very considerable contribution and assistance. This line is shown on the main family chart.
Notes and sources:-
(1) Methodist Archives and Records Centre.
(2) Letters of C. Clifford, Eustace of Manhattan, Ks.
(3) Parish records - St. Johns Deptford.