Homesteaders Teach Us to Count Our Blessings

Father’s account of life makes one Missouri woman thankful for what she has and encourages us to count our blessings.

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The stories my father told of the privation and making-do which he knew in his youth over 100 years ago make me feel ashamed when I am tempted to complain of my lot in life, and make me count our blessings today. I'm not wealthy, but I would be considered so by the standards of those early days.

His mother, he would tell us, spun the yarn, wove the cloth, and made all her family's clothing by hand, and with the help of his sisters, she knitted, from homespun yarn, all the socks and stockings.

Each member of the family got one pair of shoes a year, and they were the crudest things imaginable, cut from rough leather and unlined.

The family usually lived in a one-room log house. They raised almost all of their food except the wild game which they hunted. Food was cooked in the fireplace year-round. They made their own soap from fat scraps and lye, and they molded candles from beef or mutton tallow.

The only refrigerator they knew was the old spring house where they kept milk and butter and other perishables.

And in my father's early life, safety pins were unknown, even for the baby's diapers.

I could go on, but the things I have mentioned are sufficient to make us count our blessings today.

Mrs. Alice M. Disher
Portageville, Missouri

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.