Pioneer Family Couldn’t Pay Toll for Beloved Dog

Humorous tale of pioneer settlers, Nebraska settlers, who threw their dog in the river to swim instead of paying a river-crossing toll.

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A good dog was a treasure for the pioneer family. Coming from Iowa to be Nebraska settlers, my father's family had their dog, Lion, with them. At the Iowa border, there was a toll for crossing the river. The attendant asked a dollar for the dog, knowing few could leave an animal behind.

Grandfather whispered to Grandmother, "We can't afford to pay that much!" At the same time he grabbed Lion by the back of the neck and threw him into the water. My father's heart stood still for he loved that dog.

But Lion, a large black dog, beat them to the other side and was standing on the bank shaking himself when the family arrived in Nebraska.

Mrs. Irvin Anderson
Stromsburg, 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.