Consumption Disease Doesn’t Slow Down One Homesteading Woman

Tough homesteading mother perseveres through multiple cases of consumption disease and lives to the age of 104.

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Grandmother had a touch of consumption disease as a child, so the doctor told her parents to keep her in the open air as much as possible if they expected her to live to be an adult.

So she milked cows, fed pigs, took a team to the fields, and cut wheat and oats with a cradle. When she married at 24 years, she could tie an 18-inch ribbon around her waist, and she could also shoulder a two-bushel sack of wheat and carry it up the stairs to the granary to dump it into a bin.

She taught school, walking nine miles to the schoolhouse in two hours, timing herself with a watch which she could check only at the depot once or twice a month when she went to town to trade.

After several of her five children were born, she again had a spell of consumption disease. The doctor advised her to wash her chest with cold water and beat it with her fists until it was red and warm. Some mornings her husband could hardly break the ice in the pan so she could wash.

Grandmother died quietly in her sleep; she was 104 years old! Except for one early year, she had lived 70 years of her life in Floyd and Mitchell counties in Iowa.

Robert Bishop
Nora Springs, Iowa

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.