Family Traveled by Covered Wagon to Oklahoma Territory

Mother refused to live in sod house after covered wagon journey to Oklahoma.

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Father went from Missouri to file on a place near Clinton, Oklahoma, in the spring of 1892. Mother took my two brothers, my little sister and me to Arkansas to live with her sister while Father prepared a place for us to live. He broke ground and put in some crops.

Mother and we older children picked berries and earned enough money to buy a cow. Mother also got an old hen and raised some chickens. Father came for us before Christmas in a covered wagon. We had a heavy load, and the roads were bad. It took five horses to pull our wagon. We children took turns driving the cow and two calves. Our cow had given birth to a calf, and we had bought another one.

Sometimes we were so cold we almost froze. Mother took her beautiful, prized quilts to wrap us with. At night we had to sleep on the ground, and Father would spread a wagon sheet over us. Sometimes we woke covered with snow.

When we came to the Canadian River, Father borrowed another wagon to help ford our things across. On the first load he took me, the dog and as many belongings as he could safely put on one load. He had to tie the wagon bed on to keep it from floating downstream. I was left on the opposite bank when he returned for the rest of the family.

When we landed at our place, a load of wood was all there was on it. Most of the homesteaders lived in dugouts, but my mother said she didn't want to go into the ground until she was dead! So Father got a tent and a small house from a neighbor.

Mother raised lots of chickens from that old hen and the little chickens she started with. Quite often during those early days, we could hear the howling of the wolves, and the beating of tom-toms. We were not sure then that the Indians were friendly.

Mother and Father had to travel to El Reno for supplies, and usually it took four days. We children stayed with neighbors. In the summer of 1893, we had a log-rolling and had a new log house. Father had plowed for the Indians in exchange for the logs.

Our schools were sod houses, and on cold days we would play blind-fold inside. It was plenty dusty! On our first Easter, everyone took dinner and spent the day at the old sod schoolhouse. It was crowded, but everyone was happy.

Rosa Riddle Jackson
Oklahoma City, Okla.

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.