My parents lived in the Creek Nation, part of the Indian Territory, before Oklahoma became a state. The Native Americans were friendly, although they resented the fact that their hunting grounds had been spoiled by settlers, and they felt entitled to take food whenever they wanted.
The first years were difficult for settlers and natives alike. My father had bought a small pig in the early spring and nourished it carefully all summer with table scraps and waste milk. He planned to fatten it on the acorns from the jack-oak woods in the fall. On that little pig, the meat and lard supply for the family depended.
The first days of October found the pig in good condition, weighing about 250 pounds. Each day he would forage in the woods and at night he would return.
"As soon as the weather turns cold, we'll butcher that hog," Father promised. How we all looked forward to the event. Fresh meat was very scarce, for not every family had a hog. Neighbors miles away knew they would have a treat, a "mess of meat," whenever another homesteader butchered.
Then one evening the hog failed to come home. Mother was worried at once, but Father said, "Now, Mother, the acorns are falling faster, and he isn't hungry enough to hurry home anymore. Besides, he's earmarked with my mark – a crop, a split and an underbit in the right ear!"
"I know," answered Mother, ''but that earmark won't help you a bit after the ear is eaten!" So Father started out to hunt for the hog.
First, he went to town, which was just a general store, post office and loafing place combined. Several Native Americans were there. Among them was Jonas, a good friend of my father. They visited awhile, and then Father remarked that he would like to buy a fat hog. Jonas said he had one to sell. He and Father mounted their ponies and rode out to Jonas' place.
They rode up to the pigpen, an unusual thing in those days because all hogs foraged in the woods.
There lay our precious winter's meat supply, grunting contentedly. Father pointed out the earmark and said, "Jonas, that is my hog!"
"Huh," grunted Jonas, not at all perturbed, "if pig yours, better take him home." With no sign of chagrin, he dismounted and opened the gap in the pen and our winter's wealth trotted home.
Mrs. W.W. Dunaway
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.