The Dust Bowlevolved into one of the greatest tragedies in American history because it lined up perfectly with the Great Depression.The Dust Bowl was a series of unfortunate events which included: weather patterns, stock market, improper farming techniques, and the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl began in 1930 in many states including: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. The land of the Midwest had never before been hit by dust storms so powerful, crop prices so low, and years without rain to force thousands of families a week to go bankrupt and leave their homes and land in search of work and food.
Dust storms are created when tons of topsoil blows off fields and is carried in storm clouds for hundreds of miles. In 1932, fourteen severe dust storms hit the states. By 1934, over 100 million acres of land had been destroyed. The term "dust bowl" was defined in 1935 when on a Sunday, winds hit over sixty miles an hour. People hung onto their doors, dirt invaded car engines and kept cars from working, and people could barely breathe. If farmers were out taking care to their land when a dust storm hit, they would be suffocated to death from the dirt. People started to wear masks so dust and dirt wouldn't enter their lungs and cause them to develop diseases. Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas received the biggest punch of all during the Dust Bowl. Avis D. Carlson wrote in a New Republic article, "We live with the dust, eat it, sleep with it, watch it strip us of possessions and the hope of possessions. It is becoming Real." 
Many people began to move to the West Coast where the hope of work drove entire families away from their homes and land. My family were true "Okies" which the dictionary may define as, "Sometimes disparaging: a migrant agricultural worker; especially: one from Oklahoma in the 1930s." In the book, Children of the Dust Bowl, the author defines the word Okie as, "The term "Okie" is used in this book as the Okies used it in the 1930s and still do today. Although used by others as a term of abuse, to the Okies themselves it meant pride, courage, and a determination to accept hardship without showing weakness." My aunt Stacy tells us that my family walked from Oklahoma to California. Her Dad, Alvie, would tell her stories about being so tired, but only Doyle could ride in the car because he was too young to walk. My Aunt Stacy stated that it was just like the book, Grapes of Wrath.
My great-great-grandma Florida Neal married at only thirteen years old. She lied on her marriage certificate and said she was eighteen. She and her husband, we thought, had left during the dust bowl which is why I picked this topic as an important story in history. In the family interview process, you can hear the discussion with Aunt Stacy about the timing of their journey across from Oklahoma to California. But, as we continued to talk, some of the stories did not make sense. How could they get through the agriculturalblockade that Oklahoma families faced coming to California? Why did they have jobs? Who got them the jobs? Why was Uncle Alvie in Long Beach for the great earthquake?
With a little more research, we can see from the census that my great-great-grandma Florida Neal, actually left Oklahoma in 1929 before the "dust bowl." I can verify that with census records, the house in Compton, and by the earthquake story. Instead of changing my topic, her parents, Zac "Doc" Johnston and Mary did come over to California after their daughter in 1936. I can verify this with property records and census information. My aunt Stacy and Grandpop believe that they got through to California because they already had family there. They were wealthy by most standards. They had four incomes in the family: three oil field workers and a nurse. My aunt Stacy states they were so well off that in their home they had sugar and spices. They had wallpaper which was something to be quite proud of in the thirties. Grandma Neal could even afford pantyhose! They could have paid off any bribes that had to be paid to get the rest of the family into California.
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1920 Census for WL Moody 1930 Census for WL Moody
Oklahoma Compton, California
1930 Census for Zach "Doc" Johnston 1940 Census for Zach "Doc" Johnston
Oklahoma Visalia, California