The Successful Farmer

Week 42: #52 Ancestors – Proud

By Eilene Lyon

The prompt brought this photo to mind almost immediately, though it seems an odd choice. No one looks particularly happy in this image of the Halse family taken about 1912 in Codington County, South Dakota.

Back row: Inez, Everett (my grandfather), Hazel, Howard, Lloyd
Front row: Mabel, Amy, Myron, Guy

Guy Halse (Full name: Ernest Guy Tresselyn Halse; a big name for a big man), was born in September 1873 in Winneshiek County, Iowa. He was one of two sons (no daughters) born to Richard Halse and Meltha Lucinda Painter. He spent his entire career farming, moving to South Dakota in 1881, when he was still a child.

Mabel Pearl Cutting, also born in Winneshiek County and just a baby when she arrived in Codington County, was the oldest child of Arthur Cutting and Alice Fawcett. She and Guy married when Mabel was just 16 years old. She had to obtain her father’s permission to marry the 23-year-old Guy on February 4, 1897. (Note: Mabel and Guy were second cousins.)

Mabel Pearl Cutting and Guy Halse wedding photo (Courtesy of P. Neal)

During their marriage, Mabel gave birth to 11 children who all survived to adulthood. The photos of Mabel as an adult always show an apparently exhausted woman. Guy expected her to do everything regarding keeping the home and rearing the children. There were no Mr. Moms in those days.

I don’t know if Guy ever aspired to anything beyond having a successful farm. He did work for the census in 1920, enumerating the people in his township, completing 12 sheets in legible writing. According to my great-aunt, Mabel tended toward the quiet side, but Guy was quite talkative

Guy Halse near the end of his life (late 1950s). (Courtesy of W. Halse)

What strikes me about the feature photo is not only how well-dressed we find this farm family, but note Guy’s pose. He appears to be balanced on just a single leg of that chair! His poise in such a precarious position just reeks of vanity. He has done well in life, knows it, and is proud to show off in this picture.

49 thoughts on “The Successful Farmer

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  1. Sixteen years old and bearing eleven children probably one every other year or so? No wonder she didn’t talk much or smile and always looked exhausted. I hope he was at least kind to her!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I see a touch of arrogance in his look, but back then most photos appear to have that. Poor Mabel, she looks like she looks like that photo may have been her only chance to have a rest!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. 11 children! *Faints* So I’m wondering if she has more after this picture, or if some of the older ones had already left home and this was the last baby? Or in between is possible I suppose, basically wondering how much more exhausted she had to get. The small boy at his father’s knee is wearing an interesting jacket.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, she had four more to come! The older girls did helps some with the youngest. There’s quite a tale about the last child who got a bone infection. Word is she was a bit pampered and “spoiled.”
      That is an odd jacket – almost looks like a bath robe!


    1. I can’t say I know all that much about him. He probably was somewhat typical for that time period. He was certainly a physically imposing man. I haven’t heard any truly negative things about him. Hard to say, but I suspect in some ways he would not be my favorite ancestor.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. She does look rather exhausted! I was tired enough with just two!
    I’m going to have dig around for a family photo with my dad’s grandfather. There were 12 children who all lived to adulthood — similar situation with farming, etc., except from all reports they were quiet, unassuming people. In the photo I’m thinking of, grandfather gave up his seat for a granddaughter and he’s standing behind the chair. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that scenario a bit better than what my impression is of this photo. I’m surprised Guy doesn’t have a tankard of ale and a big steak on his lap! (Actually, he was partial to sugar, which didn’t help his diabetes any.) Well, I’m being a naughty great-granddaughter, aren’t I?

      Liked by 1 person

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