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Cows graze on family land Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 outside of Rich Hill, Mo.

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A warranty deed details the purchase of a plot of land to Ralph and Wilma Reed in 1957, pictured Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

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A gas tank sits near the empty home of Ralph Reed Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 in Rich Hill, Mo.

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An American flag blows in the yard of Denny and Jan Reed's house Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 in Rich Hill, Mo. 

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Wilma Bond (later, Wilma Reed) pictured when she graduated from high school in 1945. This photograph was given to her grandmother. 

Work in progress: From this Earth
emmalee reed
Nov 16, 2020
Location: Rich Hill, Mo.
I was finally able to get down to Rich Hill a few days ago to get started on my project. I took some photos, but the trip was more of an information-gathering trip than photo-making one. I first stopped at my great-grandpa's old house, which has mold on the inside and out. After that, I talked with my great-aunt and great-uncle and we found some old land titles and abstracts, which helped make a timeline of the ownership of the land. The first 80-acre section of land was purchased by my great-great-grandfather in January 1917. I always knew it was in the family for a long time, but having a specific number of years (103) makes the history seem much more tangible. And weighty.

I also talked briefly with my grandpa, who holds my great-grandpa's documents. He lived to 95 and kept the program from every funeral he attended.

I plan on staying the whole week of Thanksgiving at my grandpa's house on the land. I'll do the bulk of my work that week and I might end up replacing all the photos I took during this first trip. I need to take more landscape shots for sure. I didn't explore the land this trip because I didn't have much time and it's hunting season and I didn't want to get shot. I'll find one of those neon vests next time. I also need to do interviews with my family, take more candid photos of them working on the land and also do portraits in the places on the property that mean the post to them.

Overall, I'm happy with my progress and I'm excited to keep exploring. Above are a few selects.

Emmalee Reed

Emmalee Reed is a photo editor and photographer based in Columbia, Missouri. She specializes in documentary photography and photojournalism.
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