Fourth of July Parade on the Kansas Prairie

Young woman's Fourth of July parade on the Kansas prairie consisted of a long string of calvarymen.

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Great-grandpa was determined to be the first settler in this section of central Kansas in order to have the pick of the Kansas prairie, and he was. He got the only farm with a good running spring and the best land to boot.

But life was mighty lonely for the children. The only thing that varied the monotony of the wearisome sameness of daily life was an occasional herd of long-horned cattle with their colorful, but dirty, cowboys making the drive up to Abilene.

To Grandma, oldest of five children and accustomed to the social life they had enjoyed back in Iowa, the hardships and loneliness were especially distressing. She was 12, an age when a girl's friends mean so much to her, and all of hers were "back East."

The approach of the Fourth of July made her even more downcast. All she could think about were the happy picnic, pretty dresses, the parade, and all the fun the girls back in Iowa would be enjoying while she was working like a slave. The night before the Fourth she had cried herself to sleep. The next morning her mother sent her to the spring to get a bucket of water. She was so depressed she didn't even notice what was approaching up the trail from the south until the neighing of a horse caught her attention.

Up the trail, their bright blue uniforms resplendent in the early morning sunshine, came a company of United States Cavalry. To that little beauty-starved girl it was the most wonderful sight in the world. No Fourth of July parade she ever saw in all her 70 some years ever equaled that long line of handsome glorious cavalry!

Her glory was complete when the head officer stopped, wished her a pleasant "Good morning," and a "Happy Fourth of July" and asked for a drink of cool fresh water from the spring. One after another, the men stopped for drinks and filled their canteens with the water. Grandma watched transfixed until the last of the long line disappeared over a swell to the north. From that day on Grandma loved the Kansas prairies.

Lydia Mayfield 
Halstead, Kansas

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.