The Haggard family: Headed west toward California
In the 1930s, drought and falling crop prices drove thousands of rural midwestern families to leave their farms and follow Route 66 to California to find work. James F. and Flossie Haggard left Oklahoma in 1935 after a fire destroyed their barn and its contents. The Haggards and their children, Lillian and James Lowell, made their home near Bakersfield, and James found work with the Santa Fe Railway. Another son, Merle, was born in Bakersfield and began his singing career there. By the 1960s Merle Haggard was a country music legend.
Haggard car with trailer
The Haggards moved from Oklahoma to California with a 1926 Chevrolet sedan and a cargo trailer.
James and Flossie Haggard, 1937
Mama and Daddy were making it on a 40-acre farm they had leased.... [After the fire] it was all gone. The barn, the wagon, the plows, the cows, the horses, and Daddys prized Model A Ford. He set out to town on foot to get himself another car.... He came back home with a 26 Chevy and a little homemade trailer bumping along behind. They gave up the lease on the 40 acres, loaded what belongings they had in the trailer, and headed west toward California.
Merle Haggard, Sing Me Back Home: My Story (1981)
We got to Bakersfield the following Friday. We found a lot with a Santa Fe refrigerator car on it. The owner gave us nine months free rent if we would cut windows and doors in it, and do the plumbing to make a livable place of it. We took advantage of the offer and . added little improvements until it was a cozy little home.
Lillian Haggard in Arizona, 1935
Haggard family objects
The lamp lit the Haggards living room and dining room in Oklahoma. They carried it to their new home in California.
The Haggard family used this bowl in Oklahoma and California.
Flossie Haggard, an amateur photographer, used this camera to take pictures of the family during their trip to California on Route 66.