Baders, Kansas Settlers, Came West Via Ship First

Kansas settlers immigrated from Germany on their way to northwest Kansas.

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Soddy With Plastered Wall, Painted Floor 

When Dad and Mother Bader made the journey to free land, they came not by wagon but by ship. They left their German village near Odessa in Russia in 1911 for a long and trying sea voyage. After arriving in America, there was another trying trip, this one by train, before they reached their destination in northwest Kansas. Here they were able to secure some farmland and build a two-room sod house.

Mother Bader was a particular housekeeper and liked things to be nice. When the house was finished, she made a smooth mix of horse manure and mud and plastered this on the walls. Then she whitewashed it. Halfway up the wall around the cooking area she tacked patterned oilcloth which she could easily wipe clean.

She made a plaster to cover the dirt floor in the bedroom parlor, then she painted the floor and added a fancy border. The floor, I was told, held up well and could be swept easily.

Shortly after the family was settled in the soddy, the women of the neighborhood held an afternoon housewarming. Most of the guests brought gifts of food; one woman brought a setting hen and some eggs. The most touching gift was that of a very poor woman whose husband was ill. She and her children had gathered a wagonload of prairie fuel (cow chips), and this gift, so much appreciated, brought tears to Mother Bader's eyes.

Dad Bader liked America as soon as he saw it and he never changed his mind. But Mother Bader's oldest daughter told me she often saw her mother crying in those early years. The family had given up so much to come to Kansas, the work was so hard, the future was uncertain, and there was no way she could ever go back home again. 

Mrs. Robert Bader
Doniphan, Nebraska

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.