Homesteading in Lincoln County, Colorado

Funerals on the prairie were no laughing matter in Lincoln County, Colorado.

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It was my grandfather who homesteaded land in Lincoln County, Colorado, in the early years of this century. In 1915 my father took over the place, by that time a cattle ranch, with our dwelling in the town which had grown up on both sides of the Union Pacific Railroad. There were stockyards, a section house, two frame school buildings, two general stores, a post office, and a scattering of dwellings.

Most of our fun included the whole family. A so-called literary society met in the schoolhouse at night. There would be debates for the big folks and recitations for the little ones. One of the debate topics that I recall was "Resolved: That the Sandy Side Is Better Than the 'Dobe Side of the Big Sandy River." The "river" was the sometimes dry, sometimes flooded stream, edged by cottonwoods, that bordered the town.

Box suppers and pie suppers were favorite activities. The women brought food enough for two in fancied-up boxes which were sold at auction to the gentlemen, the buyer sharing the contents with the supplier. It was not considered proper for the girl to hint which box was hers, but the beau seemed to have a pretty good idea of which box was whose. After all, he had carried it in, hadn't he?

One awful night I brought my pie in an elaborately frilled basket. Imagine my embarrassment when the fancy handle flopped over when the auctioneer held it up. I felt disgraced, and was sure no one would bid on the poor thing. But "he" came through nobly, and nobody laughed-openly!

One of our teachers put on operettas which included parents. I recall one in which my parents were in the cast and I played the piano. When my father came to his solo, he couldn't get on the key. He stood, trying bravely to find the note I kept sounding for what seemed like an age! Fortunately his part was supposed to be comic.

Sales, especially livestock sales, brought people together. The only other gatherings which incited greater response from the community were funerals. When a young woman we knew died of pneumonia, her funeral was attended by practically everyone in the county. Those poor little prairie cemeteries were dreariness itself.

We shared-perhaps that was the keynote of our lives. Great days! I wouldn't have missed them! 

Mrs. John J. Pinney
Ottawa, Kansas