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TOLAN COMMITTEE ON INTERNAL MIGRATION

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TESTIMONY OF THOMAS BENJAMIN HARRISON HIGGENBOTTOM,
MRS. MAUDE HIGGENBOTTOM, MISS JUNE HIGGENBOTTOM,
MISS MARY HIGGENBOTTOM, AND DALE HIGGENBOTTOM,
OF FRESNO, CALIF.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Higgenbottom, will you give your name?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Thomas Benjamin Harrison Higgenbottom.
The CHAIRMAN. And where do you live?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Fresno.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to say to you folks that we have been all over the country and that you do not need to be afraid of this committee. We have met a lot of so-called migrants and you look just as good to us as the governors and mayors and everybody else, so we want you to tell about your experiences, and just relax and don't worry about us. You will not be asked any sharp questions or anything of that kind.
The CHAIRMAN. What is your name?
JUNE HIGGENBOTTOM. June.
The CHAIRMAN. How old are you, June?
JUNE HIGGENBOTTOM. Eleven.
The CHAIRMAN. What is your name?
MARY HIGGENBOTTOM. Mary.
The CHAIRMAN. How old are you?
MARY HIGGENBOTTOM. Fourteen.
The CHAIRMAN. What about you, son?
DALE HIGGENBOTTOM. Dale.
The CHAIRMAN. How old are you?
DALE HIGGENBOTTOM. Eight.
The CHAIRMAN. How many more children have you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We have four more living.
The CHAIRMAN. Four living. That is seven altogether that are living?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And how many children did you have?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Eight.
The CHAIRMAN. And what did you do after you got married? Live on a farm?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. What kind of a farm was it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Just a general farm-cotton corn, oats, and such as that.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you buy the farm?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No; leased from an Indian.
The CHAIRMAN. How much money did you pay for it; that is, lease money?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Two hundred and something a year. Then I did some building on it and cleaned up quite a little land.
The CHAIRMAN. Was your father a farmer ahead of you, before you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. He was also a farmer.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, how long did you remain on that farm?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Let s see--I taken the habit of cleaning up land in Oklahoma at that time. It was new, you know, and would sell out the leases; work a bunch in winter, you know, and sell the leases for the profit that was in it. Sometimes made a profit and sometimes I lose a little, but then generally I tried to make a profit.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, that is a normal idea.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I stayed--I followed that for 5 or 6 years until that section was cleaned up. It developed awfully quick when it first started there, to about 1916 or 1917, why then it very nearly all went into cultivation.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that the eastern or the western part of Oklahoma?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, it is approximately called the central-eastern. It is in the Indian Territory.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you make any money on that farm?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I don't know. We made a living. We did fairly well. We couldn't complain.
The CHAIRMAN. And when did you leave that farm?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I left it the first year. I sold it out after I cleaned it up and built a house and built the fencing; some fellows moved in from Arkansas and I sold out to them in one day. I think I got $1,800.
The CHAIRMAN. Cash?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Cash money.
The CHAIRMAN. Then where did you go?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We rented a farm over by what is known as Slick, part of the ground that Slick is on; the town where the oil fields are. It is the oil town, Slick.
The CHAIRMAN. How did you make out there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, we did fairly good. We had taken what is known in our country as malaria fever and chills. It developed pretty much over the country at that time, on account of the rains.
The CHAIRMAN. You have had a good many chills since, after you started to move, haven't you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I believe so.
The CHAIRMAN. Well now, Mr. Higgenbottom, how long did you remain there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We stayed 1 year.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you make any money there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes; we made a little money. We got ahead. We accumulated quite a little stuff around us-generally a farmer does-and we moved from there to another farm about 5 miles from there that belonged to a banker. We did extra good there. We hit a good crop.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean to tell me you made a little money from the banker?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No; not the banker.
The CHAIRMAN But you got a good deal, did you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I cleaned up quite a little land for him. It was good land in the river bottom. He hadn't had it developed yet, so I went in there and we cleaned it up. We made a pretty good crop.
From there we moved to Kansas where her folks lived. We had taken--we rented a farm there of about 640 acres. It was mostly in alfalfa and in grass, and raised two or three hundred acres of crop. We stayed 1 year.
There was a bunch of wheat growers come in from the west. At that time the war was on pretty good, you know, and so we sold out, sold our stock and went back to Oklahoma. I figured we could do better there, knew our country. We rented a farm down close to Muskogee. We did fairly good. We made a good crop, I guess about the best crop there was in the neighborhood at that time; corn and cotton.
Then we moved close to Tahlequah, Okla. We stayed there on that farm 2 years and it wasn't large enough, so I moved to another farm and bought a farm at the same time.
We moved about a mile and we didn't do quite so good that year, but on our own land we had quite a bunch of cattle. That was about in 1920.
We had a free range and we bought quite a bunch of cattle and had them around. It cost us $100 apiece, and there is where the drought caught us with those cattle. Lots of people say if I could look forward as I do backward-those cattle brought me $10 apiece and I give a hundred for them. Of course, I had a little mortgage on some of them and to quiet the mortgage I just sold enough to lack a little of paying the mortgage. I owed a little land note and I didn't have money enough, so I sold two hounds for $165.
The CHAIRMAN. Two what?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Two hounds; running hounds.
The CHAIRMAN. They must have been fast.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I sold them for $165. I sold 16 head of cattle for $160, but two hounds brought $165.
The CHAIRMAN. Why didn't you go into the hound business then?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I did. Just about that time, the time I got into the hound business, the Osage Indians, they didn't have any money to spend. Oil went down.
The CHAIRMAN. The hounds went with them?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. So they quit buying hounds. Hounds like I sold were selling for $10 apiece, and I give some of them away that I raised.
The CHAIRMAN. What were they? Just rabbit chasers?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No; wolfhounds; fetch wolves. They were running hounds with a pedigree; just a breed of hounds.
The CHAIRMAN. What kind of wolves were there there, timber wolves?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Timber wolves and coyotes.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We stayed there about 5 years on that farm and we sold it. We moved on a larger farm about 2 miles from there, in the same school district the other farm was in. We put in quite a bunch of-quite a crop, I guess about the largest one there was in the country, and I guess the best. I guess the best and biggest there was in the country. I stayed on that place 4 years.
I think I had taken about $1,000 cash on the farm and the last year I was on it, I had 27 head of cattle when we left and I was in debt $500 and I left with three mules and a pony and no cattle at all.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't forget the wife and children.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Of course, all this time, why, I was accumulating a little larger family.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I would say you had made a good showing with your accumulation, all right.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. It had taken. I am a great hand, you know.
Now this boy here--we left Oklahoma 3 years ago, and as young as he is, I put him out with a mule, running out in the cotton, and I put them all out; these girls, both of them. All of them, you see, I start pretty young to farming so if I get behind or something, why I let them do the work and they can all handle mules.
The CHAIRMAN. You manage to work the wife a little, too, don't you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. She is generally busy at the house. If dinner wasn't ready, you know what takes place.
We moved from there and we went about 30 miles west from there to Wagoner County, and then we started farming there. At the first year I had taken $500 worth of debts and moved them over to this bank, from one bank to the other, like we generally do when we move; transfer our debts to the other county.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a new one on me. You go to one bank and pick up your debt and transfer it to another bank?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you have any trouble doing that?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, not too much. There is a whole lot to the person. You know the record generally follows a fellow, if he pays his debts.
The CHAIRMAN. And it depends on the sort of a front you put up, too, doesn't it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I don't know. I talked just as good as I ever did, the last few years, but it doesn't go anywhere.
The CHAIRMAN. Then go on from there.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We made a crop that year; made a pretty good cotton crop and corn crop. Everything was fairly good. The lightning killed two of my mules in one night. There come up a little thunderstorm. Then it was not very long until there was a little cyclone hit through there--didn't hit quite at our place, but it hit--and we had a good horse, about as good as there was in the country, I guess, and he run into-he got excited and run into a tree and broke his neck. That left us with one mule.
Well then, I went to buying what is called scrub stock for $10 and $15, you see. I got down to where my credit wasn't good with the back any more because I didn't have any security.
So along about that time the plow-up program come.
You see the reason that I always get the children to help me, we all work together. If I am out in the field, my shadow amounts to a whole lot out in the field. I always try to stay out with them, because maybe they get tangled up with the horses or something when they were working, but it is not long until they can go along.
Along about that time they come through with the cut on the cotton acreage. They cut the cotton acreage. On the farm I was farming, it was just adapted to cotton. That was a cash crop. You see, we farm corn, wheat, and oats just enough, you know, and we didn't want to get into it very large on account of it cost so much for machinery. I have the hands to handle the cotton, and it requires quite a little work.
Let us see, in '28 it was--I am going back--the reason I left over there was that I didn't make anything. It rained the entire year. Just before we moved to Wagoner it rained the entire year there. The corn was awfully good, and the wheat and the oats that I had, about 150 acres of wheat, and all that, were good; but the rain wouldn't let you get in the field and cut it. It just fell down. And the cotton, in the rainy season, the boll weevils worked awfully bad at that time. On 35 acres of cotton I finally picked out a bale of cotton. On 10 acres I never got a bloom on it on account of the weevils. But we had tended it good before we knew it wasn't going to make anything.
So I lost my wheat and other crops and the weevils ate up everything on it except the mortgage. I had a pretty good mortgage on it. The banker, he held the mortgage and was a little luckier. He had the mortgage in a safe place. That was the reason why I had taken and I sold my cattle. Then I moved to this Wagoner County, Okla.
So that was the year that my horses died. I stayed there on that place. In '33--I will go on up to the story where I was--in '33, I think it was along about that time, why I got a pretty good bunch of cotton hands. We could really go to town on it. We raised it and we generally had the finest flower garden in the country. The girls come in at noon and I had seen them, they would grab the hoe and go out and handle the flowers. We had the finest flower garden that I seen anywhere. In fact I made a trip to Indiana and back and I didn't see as nice a flower garden. The girls did that while they were resting at noon from hoeing cotton.
Along about 1933, I think it was, they had--you know, they called the cotton reduction. Well, on this farm, why they cut my cotton. I generally raised about 40 or 45 acres of cotton and I put in for it, told them how much cotton I raised--the truth. I always got by the bank with the truth pretty well, found out it generally paid. But on this occasion, why there were several in the field, you know, that were in the country, and when the cotton acreage came out it was nearly twice as large as ever had been planted in the county. I seen then I was hooked. I wasn't a very good hand to stay in the game or I wasn't a good liar. Well, when they come through, they caught the fellow that told the truth and they cut his acreage down, which had taken mine down half or very near half. Then they give it another reduction. But many fellows in there, probably that maybe planted 4 or 5 acres of cotton said they had planted 50 and 100, because they seen what the Government pay-off was, and everything, saw that it was a paying proposition, and they wanted lots of cotton. You see) there was no check-up that was given, much.
The CHAIRMAN. Anyway, you didn't make it go there, is that right? I am kind of anxious to get you started toward California if I can. I want you to tell me why you are in California.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. So when the cotton acreage was cut, my children--I finally landed with 16 acres of cotton, with a big family that could do the work, you know, on approximately 40 or 50 acres of cotton, and do the other work growing the living, which we had to have--I can raise cotton a lot cheaper than you can if you hire the work done on that basis. I did that in order to keep my children at home and, of course, if I was going out here and hire a lot of work done, on the cotton, I wouldn't go at it that way. But in order to keep my children to home, I can work them at home and they would all be at home and we could raise largely our own living, but it takes some money.
The cotton acreage was cut and a couple of the older children says there is no use of staying there. "We will go hunt us a job." Of course, that thronged a little extra labor on the market, as two of them left home. But I always want to keep my children home. They have never been back since they left, since they left home. They stayed away. One of them went to Arizona to pick cotton and stayed his 6 months and came back for a little while but no more. There wasn't no work at home because we could handle the 16 acres of cotton just, you might say, a one man's job.
Then we moved from that place. We moved from there to another place about 5 miles from there.
The CHAIRMAN. In Oklahoma?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. In Oklahoma. The first year--it was '36--it was the drought all over the country. We didn't make anything. We had a few potatoes. We made quite a crop of potatoes. They were a fairly good price and would keep us from starving to death. In the fall we hooked up the truck and went to Texas to pick cotton. We left the family there to do the work and we left quite a little canned stuff and fruit and they had milk and butter and everything. We come back and we were hunting location. That is what we were hunting. We want to get somewhere where we might farm. We didn't want to sell our crop or teams and stuff, so we went to Texas and we picked cotton. Texas was somewhat of a failure, too. We didn't make too good. We made our expenses and come back. Not any better off than when we left.
So in '37--'36 and '37--why we made nothing.
That winter--we generally keep quite a bunch of chickens and milk cows and hogs around--we come back and we started in to make another crop and I put in for the F. S. A. loan. I went to Muskogee and I got a producer's loan. I already had that on this crop, you know, and it didn't pay off anything so I had to get an F. S. A. loan for feeding.
Well, there was nothing made. The chickens, along in January and February--it was awfully cold--we lost, I guess, two or three hundred chickens that starved to death. You could go out and see them. We lost one mule, one cow, just on starvation. You know that don't look good to a farmer, so I made up my mind then that it was--we got our F. S. A. loan after we got most of our crop planted and it was a big help when we got it, of course, but we didn't get it in time. If I could have got that loan to have bought feed, you know, the 1st of January, I could have put the chickens to producing and went on. But everything went against me.
So I says, "Well, now, this is our last crop. I will never see anything else that I have got starve to death."
The CHAIRMAN. So you left there?

DESCRIPTION OF MIGRATION FROM OKLAHOMA TO CALIFORNIA

Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I made that crop and sold out, paid up--I don't owe no banks--paid the F. S. A. loan off and paid the producer's loan off, and it left me a few dollars, and I loaded in just a little stuff one morning and we took a notion to leave.
The CHAIRMAN. How many children did you have at that time?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We had five with us at that time.
The CHAIRMAN. What kind of a car did you have?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. An A model. It was about '29. It wasn't a new one.
The CHAIRMAN. No, it wasn't new. It was in '37 when you used it and it was a '29. It wasn't exactly new; was it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No.
The CHAIRMAN. So you loaded up the wife and the five children in the car, and at that time did you know where you were going?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, we heard of Gilbert, Ariz. That it was a good cotton country.
The CHAIRMAN. How did you hear about that?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. My boy had come back and told me they was quite a lot of cotton there.
The CHAIRMAN. But at that time you didn't intend to go to California; did you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No; we went to Arizona.
The CHAIRMAN. How much money did you have when you left?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I don't know. It was forty-some-odd dollars I think.
The CHAIRMAN. You were still pretty rich?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Eight of us rode in what is called a roadster, A model. It was pretty well crowded. I have seen lots of them and wondered how--it was cold weather, as it was in December.
The CHAIRMAN. How did you get along? Do you know the route that you took? What route did you take?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We went on 66 I think to Amarillo and there--where did we go?
The CHAIRMAN. That is the famous old highway?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We come down through--I forget the towns.
The CHAIRMAN. Where would you sleep at night?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We generally get tourist cabins, cost 75 cents or $1.
The CHAIRMAN. Your $40 was getting a little lower all the time, wasn't it, I suppose?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you have any trouble at the State lines?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, not on that trip, No. We didn't have any trouble.

1. COTTON PICKING IN ARIZONA

The CHAIRMAN. Did you go right into Arizona then?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, about 27 miles southeast of Phoenix.
The CHAIRMAN. Where did you live there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We lived there in a tourist camp and picked cotton.
The CHAIRMAN. Did the children help you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes. We started in picking cotton. The cotton picking was pretty well over with. We would make $4 a day. I was a pretty good cotton picker, but the cotton was pretty well over.
The CHAIRMAN. How long did you work at $4 a day?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Until the first of 1938, wasn't it?
Mrs. HIGGENBOTTOM. The first of 1938.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. The first day of 1938. Then I got on a job on a dam at Mormon Flat. I went up there and I landed that job. I worked and I was the last man off of it. All of them was laid off one day and I went back and worked the next day to inspect things with the superintendent and was there.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, when did you leave that place in Arizona?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I left in July and went to Eloy, Ariz.
The CHAIRMAN. And all the time you lived in these tourist camps?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. How much did you pay for it, did you say?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. $8 a month; $8 and $10.
The CHAIRMAN. You carried your bedding, of course, with you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes. It. was a mighty filthy camp. We didn't want to stay, but conditions--the money didn't let us.
The CHAIRMAN. Where did you do from there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We went to Eloy, Ariz.
The CHAIRMAN. What did you do there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Picked cotton.
The CHAIRMAN. How long were you there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We was there 3 or 4 months, I guess
The CHAIRMAN. Where did you live there?

2. LIVING CONDITIONS IN COTTON CAMP

Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We lived in a cotton camp, in tents on the ground, you know. We had a 12 by 14 tent.
The CHAIRMAN. And the eight of you lived in that tent?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Was it cold?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, it wasn't so cold. It. was dusty, you know. That dust--we would have to carry water and sprinkle down on the ground to keep the dust from rising, and then the wind would sometimes blow the tents over. But we fixed ours pretty solid.
The CHAIRMAN. You had to carry your water, you say?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, yes, sir; a couple of hundred yards. The reason we did that, in order to keep from being in the main camp where probably there was two or three hundred Mexicans and Negroes, all lived side by side in there--two or three families moved out on the desert. We had to carry water.
The CHAIRMAN. I suppose you had the latest sanitary appliances in those tents, toilet facilities and everything?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. They was the earliest, I think. There was lots of brush down through the country. If we wanted to change clothes, and if there was anybody around, we had to go down there--if we wanted to go to town or anywhere--we would go over down by the brush there and change clothes and come back and go to town.
The CHAIRMAN. How long were you there, Mr. Higgenbottom?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We were there until in January. We was there when they quarantined us for smallpox.
You see, the smallpox come through there and we could walk around in the field, you know. This fellow was quite a cotton farmer, and my bunch was vaccinated--or that is, we thought they were all vaccinated from smallpox at Gilbert, in the schools, and so we had these smallpoxes. They would come out in the field. They was just as scabby as goats, you know, picking the cotton. The people would tell the health officers.
Well, the fellow had his way for getting rid of those kind of fellows. It was to fire them. When they would break out with smallpox he would fire them. He couldn't use them any longer. That would keep him from losing his cotton camp.
Well, they would go over to some other cotton camp. Finally I kept this girl here from school. She was--her head, you might say, was a solid scab; just broke out with smallpox, and here comes the school fellow, you know, "You got to send her to school in the morning. You see that she is in school."
We were keeping them out of school once in a while to pick cotton, and I don't blame him for kind of kicking up a fuss. We would have to get up the grocery bill. Some days we got to do work and sometimes we wouldn't.
He was gone about an hour or 2 hours and here the health officer brought her back. "You keep that girl from school. Why didn't you keep her out? You have had the whole school quarantined over here."
Well, I said, "That is too bad." They quarantined the camp then over this. We was under quarantine 21 days and they fed us.
The way they issued groceries there, the fellow that was "abatching" in a tent, he got just as many groceries as a fellow with 15. Everyone got so much. We got about enough to maybe get a meal if we could eat it. I know we got some bacon one time--they was pretty liberal with us, they gave us some bacon--and we boiled it with beans. We couldn't eat it any other way. We thought it would season the beans, which it did. We went to cut it and you could stick a fork in it and push it out over the plate. We figured it wasn't much to eat so we threw it out. The wolves would come up within 20 feet of your tent and howl of a night. We always figured they--
The CHAIRMAN
(interrupting).
You missed the hounds then, I suppose?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We missed the hounds, but I wouldn't have fed that to the hounds, I don't believe.
The CHAIRMAN. Now I am sorry, Mr. Higgenbottom; I have got to hurry you along. We have a lot of witnesses here. Now tell me when did you leave there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We left--we went to the Avondale camp, what was called the Avondale cotton camp. We stayed there two weeks and we was picking cotton and one morning we woke up and looked--it was a tin shack and awful floors--it was just dirt, you know--and my wife she looked through into the next room, through some holes through the tin, you know, and there was a woman picking lice off her children, so we loaded right away and got out as quick as we could get out, and headed for Arizona.
Mrs. HIGGENBOTTOM. To California.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM.We came to California. They had the police officers over here at "Calpat." We went in a Government camp there at "Calpat."

3. FARM SECURITY ADMINISTRATION CAMP

The CHAIRMAN. You mean a Farm Security camp?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, a Farm Security camp; emergency tent camp.
The CHAIRMAN. You had nothing but tents there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Tents was all we had there.
The CHAIRMAN. Was that a little better lay-out than the one you left?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes. We had showers. We had everything that was kept clean. There wasn't no papers blowing around and everything was just kept clean.
The CHAIRMAN. How much did you pay there for that?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Didn't cost nothing.
The CHAIRMAN. How long did you stay there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We stayed there until it moved, and then we moved with it to Beaumont, Calif.
We didn't make any picking peas because I have seen 1,500 in one field and each one would get a hamper of peas and leave. I have seen them fight over rows, they wanted to pick peas so bad.
The CHAIRMAN. How much did you get for picking peas?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, when we first went there they was giving $1.25 but in a little while they cut it down to $1. They figured they couldn't pay any more. Peas was only 16 cents a pound.
Then we went to Beaumont and picked cherries there, and lived in the Government camp there. From there we went to Thornton, Calif., up north here. We found very little work there. The Filipinos were doing the most of the work there in the tomatoes. We worked a little in hay and then we went to San Jose and worked in the apricots. Then we went back to Thornton and thought we would work in the tomatoes, but the Filipinos and the Japanese got all the good tomatoes, which I guess they know how a little more than the average fellow. Then we went to Visalia and worked a while and then back to "Calipat." I worked in a hamper mill last winter. Then we go back to Thornton and we are here a while and then we go back and are working at Thornton.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you at Thornton now?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No. We just left there. We moved.
The CHAIRMAN. Where did you live at Thornton?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. In a Government camp.
The CHAIRMAN. How did you like it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, the Government camp is far ahead of any outside camp, you know. You have got it sanitary. It is not desirable on account of the children, you know--moving around--the schools are not--you have got to move the children out of schools and they lose a certain interest. Then we moved down on a farm.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, before you leave that camp, did you pay anything per day?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We gave 25 cents a week to the fund to the camp, to keep things agoing.
The CHAIRMAN. Who handles that money?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Why, it is handled by a committee in the camp.
The CHAIRMAN. They elect a committee?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. A counselor. It is for--maybe they will have ice cream or something like that, and different things.
The CHAIRMAN. That was the only actual money that you were out, was the 25 cents a week?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And you were permitted to go out and work weren't you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And where are you living now?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I am on a farm 5 miles north of Fresno; on a small farm.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you buy it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No. I haven't bought it.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you trying to buy it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I am figuring on trying to stay there another year and farm.
The CHAIRMAN. What kind of a house have you got?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. It is a two-room house. It is not the best, but then it is better than camps.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you or your wife ever been on relief?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. We have this year. We have got groceries twice, I think, on relief. We was forced to get them at "Calpat" last winter, and then when I went to Thornton I went and got them.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the only time?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes. We was on relief last summer two or three different times--maybe more--to get groceries.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you have any trouble getting these groceries or money on account of not being a resident of California?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No. That was the F. S. A.
The CHAIRMAN The F. S. A. Oh, yes.
You never applied for relief to the State of California or Arizona, did you?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No.
The CHAIRMAN. And so what started you off from Oklahoma was that you just made up your mind that you couldn't make it go there? That is the idea?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, it was useless to stay there, you know.
The CHAIRMAN. And the climate of California--you didn't know or didn't hear anything about that, did you, before you started?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. No.
Mr. OSMERS. Mr. Higgenbottom, when did you first arrive in California? I missed that as I was out of the room.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. The 12th of February 1939.
Mr. OSMERS. That was the first time you ever came to California?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
Mr. OSMERS. I would like to ask one other question: Have you ever used a California State Employment Service, the employment offices where you apply when you are out of a job?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, sir; I tried to use them.
Mr. OSMERS. You tried to use them? Why weren't you successful in using them?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Now last spring I had got registered in Beaumont. I went to the employment agent there at El Centro. One has to be put on the list as a combine man, which I am, a farmer, and I understand machinery, farming machinery. He told me, he says, "We can't register you. We keep this for home people," and which he was right, I guess. But I got a job on a combine there and worked.
Mr. OSMERS. This was in Beaumont Calif.?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. This was in El Centro.
Mr. OSMERS. He would not accept your application as a combine worker, though you are a competent combine worker?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
Mr. OSMERS. Now the reason I asked that question was this: You told the committee that on several occasions you would go to different areas in search of employment and when you got there there was no work. I think you mentioned that the Filipinos had all the work and there wasn't any there. I was wondering if you had used a California State Employment Service whether you could have avoided that. They might have records in their office--I don't know whether they do--but they might have records that would have told you whether there was any pea picking or tomato picking in the different places that you went to.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. At one time we used the employment office at San Jose to go out on a job, but it proved worthless, you know. The employment offices in some cases are used, you know, in order to get a fellow out on jobs that are worthless. That is the way.
Mr. OSMERS. I am talking about public employment offices now. I am not talking about those people who make a charge or something like that, because they would have some interest in getting you out.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. This was in a public employment service. Of course, they didn't know what kind of a job that we would get out on, but it was planned to be--it proved to be worthless as far as money-making was concerned.
Mr. OSMERS. Was the money you made on the job less than they led you to believe it was going to be?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I don't know as it was. The job--
Mr. OSMERS (interrupting). I am trying to get the facts. I want to clear them or involve them, one or the other.
Did they misrepresent it, or didn't they?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I don't know. I wouldn't say.
Mr. OSMERS. You wouldn't say that they had misrepresented it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I wouldn't say.
Mr. OSMERS. That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SPARKMAN. That was the employment office at San Jose?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, sir.
Mr. SPARKMAN. That is the only experience you have ever had such as that?
Mr. OSMERS. He had one other experience with an employment agency.
Mr. SPARKMAN. That is all.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Higgenbottom, are you glad you came to California?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you want to go back home to Oklahoma?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, no; I don't believe I do. I have better health here than I had back there.
The CHAIRMAN. You have better health?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. The children are all well, are they?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Are they all going to school?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Three of them are.
The CHAIRMAN. Well now, if you had a farm and could make it go back in Oklahoma, would you try to live there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I don't know. We have had so many failures I would be afraid to risk it again.
The CHAIRMAN. There comes a time when people down there in the dust bowl area can't make it go, and rather than starve standing still they get out and move? Don't you think that is the idea?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Was there anything else that you have in mind that you haven't told us? I think you have covered it very well.
Mr. OSMERS. Mr. Higgenbottom, do you consider yourself a Californian today or an Oklahoman?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Well, I don't know. The California people have always treated me mighty nice. I will have to say that.
Mr. OSMERS. Then you would consider yourself a Californian?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
Mr. OSMERS. I think that a great many Californians misuse the word "migrant". I think that it should be "immigrant" and not "migrant" because most of the people that come here expect to stay. Isn't that true, as to those that you have met working around?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. I think there is a large percent of them that intend to stay. You see, the wages in Oklahoma--they are so scarce and there is so little, you know, 50 cents a day there is about the wage scale on the farm. You could put up a sign on a post--I did on potato-picking--at 75 cents a day, and I think there was 100 come and I only needed 20. I didn't think about getting the whole country in; 75 cents a day to pick up potatoes, and they pick cotton at 15 cents a hundred, which is generally the scale of wages.
Mr. OSMERS. You mean back there?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
Mr. OSMERS. And here?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Here it is 85. You see, probably the cheaper wages there drives people out. Now, I know that has a tendency, to make money, you know, if you can get the work done for nothing, why of course you can afford to farm. That has caused a lot of farmers to develop their acreage, the large farms, to develop their acreage.
The CHAIRMAN. According to the census figure in the last 10 years, a million people have moved out of the Great Plains States, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. We have had testimony introduced in bearings at Oklahoma and Lincoln, Nebr., by experts showing that 5,000,000 acres of land in the Great Plains States have 25 percent of the topsoil gone.
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
Mr. TOLAN. You believe that?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes. It is fully that much.
Mr. TOLAN. In other words the soil in some of those Southern States isn't getting any more fertile and it is just going the other way, isn't it?
Mr. HIGGENBOTTOM. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Higgenbottom, we thank you, and you, too, Mrs. Higgenbottom. You are a pretty fine family, and I am proud of you because we have heard a lot of eastern families testify and I think you are right up with the best of them. I hope you have a lot of good luck with the family and that you make your farming stick. Thank you very much.
(Witnesses excused.)