Kansas Homestead Used Cow Chips for Fuel

Kansas homestead family watched for cattle drives and collected cow chips for heating fuel.

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Children in the Nathan Beecham family, living near Liberal, Kansas, in the 1880s, had a singular duty. They watched for cattle drives as the herds were moved north to the railroad line at Dodge City, and they remembered where the cattle had been bedded down for the night.

In a few days after the herd had moved on, the family would drive to the bedding ground and collect cow chips there.

The trick was to "harvest" after the chips were dried and before other settlers had spotted the good supply. 

Elsie M. Davison
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


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.