Covered Wagon Journey Leads to July Fireworks Attack

Instead of Indian attack, fireworks scare new arrivals from covered wagon train.

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We once had a Swedish neighbor whose parents had brought their family from Sweden when she was 11 years old. They had joined a Mormon caravan of covered wagons intending to settle in Utah. At Nebraska City, disaster struck the caravan and typhoid took many lives, including that of Mother Hansen.

In the spring, the two older boys went on with the caravan, but 11-year-old Ellen, her father and the younger children remained to settle in Nebraska. They traveled north to Omaha to make their permanent home. They arrived on the outskirts of town one summer evening. Ellen and her father took turns keeping watch over camp that first night.

Just before dawn, ear-splitting yells and shots broke out in the town. The Hansens had been alert for an Indian attack, so they quickly abandoned camp and all ran to hide in the tall brush. All day shooting and shouting rang out, and the family crouched in hiding without food or water. Toward evening the noise lessened and at nightfall it died away.

Venturing back toward camp, Father Hansen met some of his new countrymen. "How many Indians did you get?" he asked.

After much gesturing and explanations made difficult by the language difference, the Hansens learned that they had survived – not an Indian attack – their first Fourth of July in the United States!

Mrs. Frank Wacha
Schuyler, Neb.

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.