Deserted Homestead Was Home to Big Panther

Pioneer family moves to a homestead with a desert cabin that proved to be a big panther's sleeping spot.

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A young family moved to a homestead that had a small, long-deserted house on it. The husband had to go back for another load of their possessions, and his wife busied herself unpacking, setting up the bed and putting the baby to sleep. Unbeknownst to her, a big panther was nearby.

As night drew near, she was disturbed because there was no shutter on the front door. She hung a quilt over the opening and tacked it securely all around. She kept busy until she was too tired to unpack another thing.

While she was trying to sleep, she was sure she heard a panther scream. The scream came again, closer this time. Fear gripped her heart, and she pulled the baby closer. Then there was a blood-curdling scream just outside the cabin door. She shrank under the covers and held the baby very close for fear it would cry out.

An awful ripping sound told her the quilt was being torn to shreds by sharp claws. Then she knew the beast was in the very room with her! She expected to feel claws tearing at the bed covers.

A little later the noises that she heard made her realize the panther was on the rafters of the unsealed room. He settled down and all was quiet – a creeping awful quiet.

The young mother remembered the Scripture, "My God hath sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths..." Could it be that God was watching over her and her helpless baby? Lying there, she was almost afraid to breathe lest she wake the baby and cause it to cry. She realized that the panther had been using the long-vacant cabin for his sleeping quarters. Minutes dragged. She knew it would be morning before her husband could get back.

Long before daylight, the panther crawled from his perch and disappeared into the woods. Her husband's cheerful call outside in the early dawn was like a voice from heaven.

Before another nightfall, a sturdy door replaced the torn quilt and a well-aimed rifle shot provided a tawny rug for the hearthstone.

Mrs. F. J. Testerman
Vera, Oklahoma

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER's WEEKLY asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.