Wily Fur Trapper Enjoyed Peppermints

Peppermints, fur credit help fur trapper survive long illness

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When Father and Mother were first married he worked in Uncle John's trading post where they sold about everything – traps, skates, sugar, kerosene, piece goods. The Winnebago Indians used to come down to our village, camp across the river and trap for furs all winter.There was one old Indian who lived on the fringe of the camp by himself and to whom the other Indians paid no attention. One day Uncle John asked the chief why the old fur trapper seemed to be excluded from the group. The chief touched his forehead, meaning that the old man, White Hair, was simple and that they had some superstition about it.

White Hair was very fond of Uncle John and always sold his furs to him. He had one trait that seemed to me to be pretty smart.

Every time he sold his furs, he left two or three for credit. "Next year maybe not catch 'em," he'd say.

Uncle John always gave White Hair a little bag of peppermints when he brought in his furs, and this pleased the old man very much. Peppermints in those days were about twice the size of our mints today and were very potent.

White Hair did not come back the next winter and not until the following year did he appear. He explained that he had been "long time sick." He was glad to claim the credit he had left in the years before and to get his peppermints.

He kept saying, "Candy make well," and Uncle John couldn't understand what he meant. Then he remembered that he had given White Hair peppermints the last time, just before he was sick. He gave the old man an extra big bag of the mints, and White Hair went away beaming, saying, "Present make me happy inside," which became a by-word in our family for a long time.

Leona Haskell McDaniel
Topeka, Kan.

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.