Jacob Ragle was born on August 28, 1861 in Raglesville, Indiana and died on January 28, 1939 in Oakland, California. He was the second child born to Alonzo Ragle and Susan Ellen Toon. His wife, Mary Jane Woodruff, was born January 23, 1864 and died December 28, 1939. She and Jacob were married on September 6, 1888.
One can place identities on several people mentioned in the letters. Bob and Fred are, in all likelihood, Robert Lucian Ragle and Frederick Alonzo Ragle, younger brothers of Jake and Algern. Fred's wife is Naomi Belle Williams. Frank might be Franklin C. Naylor, mentioned above. Bob Ragle farmed in the Burdett area until dust bowl days, then moved to Colorado Springs. Fred and Belle Ragle moved to Colorado Springs about the time of these letters, and Alonzo died in Indiana in the same interval. The reference to "going to Pa's to can peaches" is a reference to the Ragle farm near Burns City, Indiana, now re-occupied by Alonzo and his daughter Molly Ragle.
In 1906 Jake was in Burdett, in western Kansas. He writes:
To: M. J. Ragle, 27 Ohio St. Iola, Kansas. Sat. May 26, 1906 Burdett, Kansas
As Robert is going to town today I will write you a letter and send you $20. Perhaps you had better see about the taxes and pay what you can on them. Frank has the distemper and has done only about a weeks work since coming here. Jim is doing all right.
It was very dry but has been raining this week. This almost makes a good wheat crop certain. We have almost 40 a. to break yet then Harvest. All well. Would like to see you all.
Good bye Jake
Burdett, Kan. Aug. 5, 1906
Your letter ordering me home rec'd. a few days ago. As the time was nearly up when I got it I was afraid to come.
I rather dread the hot fall weather there, but hope I will be able live over it. Bob is going to start to Canada today and Fred will probably go with him. Bob will probably sell off most of his stuff here so I will have no chance to dead head a ride so I can't go. Fred's wife is going to Colo. Spgs. tomorrow to visit while Fred finds them a house. Of course I would like to go to Alberta or any country where we could get us a good farm and heathful climate.
If I could get 5 or 6 good horses and come out here in the spring I could make lots of money breaking. If I had had them this time I could have made $300 to $400 but I suppose if we were able to own 5 or 6 horses I wouldn't need to work. Where Bob has been farming is high dry prairie rich soil but so dry that the surest thing is a failure. Wheat sometimes makes about 40 bu. to the acre but often it makes only two or three or nothing. Some have made money at it but not many.
You had better have some one take care of the cow for the milk when you get ready to go to Pa's to can peaches. I will start home soon possibly some time this week. I wish I were home now. In fact I would not have come out here had I not thought it would benefit my health. If we could live out here so I cold be at home here I think would be a good thing for me as well as the rest of you.
A few miles East of here is the best part of Kans for agriculture and this would be about as good if it got the rain. I don't believe there is a finer farming country in the world that the Arkansas bottoms but land is so high there we couldn't buy more than 20a at the outside. This higher land is different from the bottoms but they say is as good when it is seasonable.
It has been raining quite often lately and threshing is not progressing very well. The threshing is barely started and wheat is going down down to nobody knows where. Wheat is yielding so much more than expected some of Bob's that i estimated at 10 bu. went 16. Some that he thought not worth cutting was 7 bu. He had i e, Fred & him and Eikmus the land lord, 2800 bu which would probably weigh out almost 3000. Wheat is 56 c today. Was 57 last week. I will try to get home in time to plant those strawberries anyhow this fall.