Resilient Birth on an Iowa Homestead

Woman finished travel to her new Iowa homestead before giving birth to a daughter.

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Over 100 years ago, so the story goes, my great-grandparents traveled from the East to an Iowa homestead. A new child, the sixth, was expected soon, and when the family came to the last town before their destination, it was thought wise for Great-grandmother to remain there until after the birth. She agreed.

But after the rest of the family had gone, this pioneer woman decided it would be more fitting for the child to be born on their own land. She literally hitched a ride with a family traveling westward and completed the long trip lying on the floor of a lumber wagon.

And so my grandmother was born at home, in the chilly dawn of an August rainstorm, in a leaky covered wagon. She was the first white child born in Bremer County, Iowa.

Mrs. George Wessendorf
Storm Lake, Iowa
 

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.