Man Mistakes Tobacco for Horned Toad

Man loses plug of tobacco thinking it’s a horned toad.

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This little story of pioneer days was told to me by the grandmother in a home where I was working. She was in her 80s and spent most of the day in her favorite rocking chair where she dozed and dreamed of days gone by.

One day, sitting in her chair, she started chuckling. Then her chuckle turned into a hearty laugh. I said, "Grandma, tell me what is so funny so I can laugh, too." This is the story she told me:

Grandma and her husband came to Kansas in the early days. Her husband was a school teacher, so they hired a young man to break the land for them. In those early days, horned toads were plentiful and ran everywhere in the fields. Men had to be careful because sometimes the toads, in their dash for freedom, would run up the men’s trouser legs.

One day the young man was in the field busily hoeing away. All of a sudden, he felt something in his trouser leg, half way between his hip and his knee. A horned toad for sure! Quickly, he grabbed the lump on the outside with one hand, took his knife from his pocket with the other hand and hurriedly cut out the lump, trouser and all, and gave it a quick toss from him.

As it flew through the air, he saw that it was not a horned toad at all, but his cherished plug of chewing tobacco! It had worked its way through a hole in his pocket. He lost his tobacco and a big circle from his trouser leg – and years later, Grandma and I laughed until tears came to our eyes.

Mrs. Ernest R. Davis
Salina, 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.