Incredibly Strong Woman on Kansas Homestead

Unbelievable account of an incredibly strong woman doing whatever it took to survive on a Kansas homestead.

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My mother married at 18, and she and Dad settled on a Sherman County, Kansas homestead in 1887. Times were hard, and Dad often left Mother and the children on the claim while he worked away from home.

Mother knew how to make do with what she had. When a hole burned through her old cookstove, she mixed a little salt and ashes with water and used it for stove cement. Worked, too!

Too hard up to buy coffee? She put a pan of clean rye in the oven until the grains were dark brown, and then boiled them. Not good coffee, of course, but it was a hot drink for a cold morning.

One day Mother sent Dad after the midwife who lived several miles away. He hitched mules to the wagon and set out, leaving Mother alone except for a 3-year-old boy. When he returned home, he found that twin boys had been added to the family. Mother was lying in bed with a baby on each side of her and an umbilical cord in each hand.

When the twins were a few months old, Mother built them a wooden cradle from a Lyons coffee box and some pieces of barrel ends.

Viola Coleman
Denver, Colorado


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.