Community Banded Together Near Gillette, Wyoming

Meek existence on Wyoming homestead near Gillette, Wyoming enhanced community.

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We moved to my husband's homestead about 30 miles from Gillette, Wyoming, immediately after our marriage. Our house was one room, a corner of which I curtained off for my personal dressing room.

We had a cave that served as a storm cellar and as an extra bedroom when we had company – that is, until we killed rattlesnakes there. Then it was abandoned as a sleeping place.

My husband dug a pit in which we kept our butter. For cream in our coffee, we used canned milk. Neighbors said one could tell how long a homesteader lived in a certain place by the size of his pile of empty tin cans in the ditch.

Big ditches came in handy for building barns. They were deep and wide, and all we had to do was put large logs from bank to bank and we had shelter for horses in winter and shade for stock in summer.

Our mail delivery was unique. When one of us went to town he picked up the mail for all the neighbors. He then put it under a rock, each family having its own rock. The rock was necessary because the wind was very strong about every second day.

All the neighbors were friendly and kind. Although we were not in the Bible Belt, nearly everyone read the Bible and believed in a loving God. Being so dependent on the weather for our crops, we believed that He who ruled the weather would care for His children. It was a happy, sort of democratic life, since all were poor and no one had occasion to look down on his neighbor.

Mrs. John F. Patterson
Rapid City, South Carolina


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.