In the autumn of 1879 when I was 9 years old, President Rutherford B. Hayes came to the county fair held in a town 30 miles from our Kansas homestead. Everyone was excited, and Father began to fix up the old prairie schooner in which we had come from Iowa to Kansas seven years before. We decided to go a day early and camp on the grounds over night. Mother prepared a basket of food and extra clothes for the big day. We could hardly wait to get started.
What a grand spectacle for our young eyes! A coach drawn by four plumed black horses appeared, in the front seat sat President and Mrs. Hayes. The people shouted and whistled and waved, and the President lifted his tall silk hat and bowed right and left.
Later, a big dinner was served, and we children hurried to the dinner scene to get a closer view of the President. We were awed and bashful and stood afar off. Then, oh joy! He saw us and spoke in a kindly way and shook hands with each of us.
After 70 years, I still recapture some of the thrills of that day. When we boarded the schooner for our trip back home, our heads were in the stars. Life could never again be dull. We had seen the President of the United States!
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.