Ruth Erickson of Quill Lake brought in some letters written by her father, Emil Gilbertson, when he was with the American army stationed in the deep south. He later came up to the Quill Lake area to farm. What follows are excerpts.
(Addressed to his sister in Northwood, North Dakota)
Dear Sister Bergina,
Received your letter a few days ago and the candy this evening, thank you very much, it sure was fine. I’ll remember you when I get rich.
I am feeling fine and hope you all are the same. Am getting fat too, I guess this army life must agree with me although I am good and sick of it.
Have a notion to go to town next Saturday if I can get away, just to see what the old town of Augusta is like. Haven’t been down there yet but I have raised such a cute little mustache, have a notion to have my picture taken before I take it off. What do you think about that, but I am kind of undecided and may take it off first.
What has Sally Marie got to say for herself these days? The boys all think that is such a cute picture of her knitting and of course I tell them all about her.
Well I’ll have to close, hoping to hear from you soon.
Your Bro Emil,
Target Range Co,
Camp Johnson, Ga.
(To his brother-in-law)
March 7, 1919
Dear Captain C,
This is the end of a perfect day and believe me I have been on the jump all day too. I must have hauled about 50 tons of lumber and scrap I think. That of course is a low estimate. But I am feeling fine and think I can do the same stunt tomorrow.
We sure are doing land office business nowadays, every truck here is busy. So we will get it cleaned up one of these days. But old Captain Barnes is trying to hold us so it’s hard telling when we get out. And they turned down some of the affidavits. I don’t know what they will do to mine. One thing I know and that is that they are mighty slow about doing anything. I guess all military channels are froze up right now.
So you want me to give you an estimate of what it will cost to start the ball a-rolling. It’s pretty hard to say, as machinery is way up right now and I don’t know just what the latest prices are. But I know it will take some jack alright.
Now a secondhand tractor isn’t always the best to monkey with. It may be alright if a fellow had time to look around and get a bargain but usually the fellow that has one to sell knows about what it’s worth and of course wants more. And repairs are way up and hard to get.
What I would like would be an Altman Taylor, or a Minneapolis Tractor about 25 or 30 H.P., but suppose one of them would cost about $4000 and then one would need to have plows, a drill and roller and of course something to haul oil with, and don’t suppose we could get along without a Ford.
I don’t think there is much chance of getting rich the first year and it all depends on the value of the land if it will pay or not.
I will give you some figures of about what I think it will cost, may not strike it very close but will do my best and I think it would be pretty hard to put in the crop alone. That is if you want to put in about 300 acres or so.
I will figure this all new machinery. It may be that one could pick up a pretty good line of secondhand stuff but we will figure safe:
Gas + oil at 40 cents per Gal, 3 gals to the acre and 300 acres, $360
Seed, $5 per 150, $750
Now there are a lot of other things one would have to have but won’t mention them as I think these figures will jar you enough as they are, don’t you think so?
It will take a lot of money before the crop is harvested, that’s sure.
Motor Transport Co 332,
Camp Hancock, Ga.
March 9, 1919
Well what do you think about the estimate I gave you? Pretty high, wasn’t it.
I have figured it over again and I think we could get along with a smaller tractor alright but by the looks of things I’ll do my farming right here.