Kansas Settlers Had Fine Mare Horses

Kansas Settlers had mare horses trained so well it left an impression on neighbor homesteaders.

Content Tools

My husband's grandparents, Port and Emma Sproul, were early day settlers near Baileyville, Kansas (then called Hay town because of the large amount of hay shipped from that station).

They liked the land around Baileyville for homesteading and bought 80 acres at, I believe, a price of $5 an acre. I have heard Grandma (Emma) say many times that when they got to Baileyville they had nowhere to tie the horses except to the wheels of their wagon. That was in the spring of 1880.

Grandpa loved his horses and kept fine mares for raising colts. We have been told he averaged four colts a year for 36 years. He particularly loved a 4-horse team of gray mares. Two of these pulled the spring wagon used as a hearse for the first five funerals in the community. The first five who died were all under 30 years of age.

When the hearse reached the grave, the lines were removed from the team and used to lower the casket into the grave. The gray mares stood with heads lowered and one knee bent until the lines were put back. What we thought might be just a family story was confirmed by a man we didn't know. He said he didn't know how anyone could have such a pious team and that he had never seen a team so well trained.

Mrs. Albert S. Hay, Jr.
Onaga, Kansas


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.