Making a Go of Homesteading in Southern Oklahoma

Family resorts to eating quail and rabbit, and growing wheat and maize, on southern Oklahoma homestead.

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Born and raised in the South, I had always desired to own land. So when I learned that it could be acquired in southern Oklahoma just by filing for a homestead, I persuaded my husband to move west.

We filed on a claim that proved to be prairie land, devoid of trees, but covered with buffalo grass that had to be turned over completely before anything could be planted.

We built a dugout with a single glass window, by a creek, and we lived there for 10 years before we could afford anything better.

Our main food was quail and rabbit. We ground rabbit and added to it what little pork we could afford. It was good eating.

After a few years we planted maize and wheat, but the price of wheat was so low that we decided to eat our crop. I cooked the grain until the kernels burst open, then I drained off the water and let the wheat steam. When it was cold, I ground it with a food chopper, generally adding hulled peanuts. We ate it with cream and sugar.

After 15 years of that life, I was glad to relinquish my land and return to civilization. All we had to show for our hard work was a secondhand Ford and three lovely children.

Mrs. Fairy Travis
Elkhart, 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.