A new book “evaluates South Dakotans’ efforts to avoid both starvation and federal dependence as they endured the worst natural and economic disaster of modern times.”
Since many of my relatives, mostly farmers, lived in South Dakota during this time, I am interested in learning more about it. It was a time of drought, when sand and dirt storms would inundate the skies, making the farmland useless. Some years the only plant that would grow was the Russian thistle. Cattle would munch on it for sustenance.
I have talked with my great uncle about his experiences then. He was born in 1915 and I have interviewed him off-and-on for many years. He is still going strong at 101.
Then came the crash and the Great Depression.
“At the height of the depression, New Deal programs supported nearly half of the state’s population. With drought, grasshoppers and low commodity prices delivering the final blows in a long economic slump, many residents fled. Others held on with the aid of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s relief programs, administered by politicians like Tom Berry, South Dakota’s colorful Democratic governor.”
One of my grandpa’s worked with the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, which was part of FDR’s New Deal.