Land of Opportunity: Great-Grandmother Emigrated from England

Butchered beef kept ship’s occupants fed during journey, and gallons of tea were consumed as well.

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My great-grandmother emigrated from England via that hungry Atlantic Ocean to reach the land of opportunity. Freshly butchered cows provided beef stew for everyone on board. They estimated how many more days of travel were left before reaching shore by how much meat was consumed. They drank gallons of tea for their liquid pleasure and comfort.

Still energetic after reaching the coast, they purchased horses and wagons, loaded their few possessions and drove away to settle in many areas. Great-Grandmother married a Scotsman. They named their first daughter Matilda. Matilda grew up and married my Granddad Grimes, who was of Scot-Irish descent. He was a preacher in the Arkansas Ozarks. I'm thankful for the deep faith in God that he preached about, which is still alive in our families. To this family four children were born.

The oldest was my mother, Matilda Jane Grimes. She grew into adulthood and married my dad. They had six children, including me, Matilda Jane. By 1912, my folks had bought acres and built a farmhouse in Kansas. We lived five miles from Damar, which was a French settlement, and four miles from Nicodemus, a black settlement. Each August 1, the Emancipation Proclamation was honored in Nicodemus.

Nine miles from Webster and 20 miles from Stockton was the seat of Rooks County. Webster is now the location of a state lake and recreation center.

My memory flies through pages of untouched photographs, more than enough to fill a big book. I'm the only Matilda Jane still alive. For my English ancestry and our deep faith and belief in God, for good beef stew, for all the chats and cups of hot tea, thanks!

I am grateful for all of my nephews, nieces and cousins. England gave us generations of real day-to-day "spice." Life is precious.

Matilda Winters Cardin
Englewood, Colorado


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.