Rattlesnake Skin a Sign of a Real Pioneer

Rural schoolteacher kills rattler, then saves rattlesnake skin and rattlers.

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Soon after the turn of the century, my sister and I were teaching in a rural school on the prairie. Our home was a dugout shanty where the pack rats would move small articles from one place to another. Rattlesnakes were plentiful, and we often found rattlesnake skins that had been shed.

Our parents had given us a buggy, and my sister had bought a horse. On Saturdays, we would drive to the nearest settlement for our mail. One Saturday, the horse suddenly stopped and shied. There was a rattler in the middle of the road, coiled and hissing. My sister held the fractious horse and I jumped out and found a rock and a stick. I killed the snake, and when I saw its imposing array of rattles, I decided to keep it.

Later that afternoon, two friendly cowboys dropped in. I displayed the snake to them. One of the cowboys offered to help me save the snake's skin. Together we removed the rattles and skinned the snake. Then he stretched it and tacked it on a board and placed it on the soddy roof to cure. That night as I lay listening to the coyotes howl, I felt I was a real pioneer.

Mrs. Albert Summers
Satanta, 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.