Winter on Wyoming Homestead Was Brutal

Snow on Wyoming homestead provided water, but the rest was extremely rough.

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In the spring of 1910 my dad took up a homestead 10 miles south of Upton, Wyoming. It is the winter of that year I want to write about.

I guess you could say winter started August 28. Dad left for town from our Wyoming homestead that morning in his short sleeves and had to borrow a fur coat from the livery man to wear home. The storm was so bad he couldn't see the road, so he gave the horses their head and let them find the way. Usually a trip to town meant Dad would be home at 5:30 in the afternoon, but he didn't arrive until after 9 o'clock and was nearly frozen for he had been on the road since about 2 0' clock.

We had quite a bit of nice weather after that first blizzard, but when winter really set in, it brought hardships such as we had never seen before. Many horses and cattle died because the deep snows made it impossible to get feed to them.

The spring that supplied our water was snowed under, so Dad put a large barrel in the kitchen to hold water. We kept a wash boiler filled with snow on the stove. As the snow melted we poured the water in the barrel and refilled the boiler with snow.

Shortly after we arrived there the snow started. Dad managed to make it home the second day of the storm, but Mother, Sister, and I stayed until the third day when the wind blew itself out.

While we were away from home, the fire went out and our winter supply of potatoes froze. We couldn't afford to waste them, so we ate frozen spuds for a long time.

We had quite a few sage hens, jack rabbits, and cottontails to eat that winter. To relieve the monotony of fried rabbit, we ground the meat and made rabbitburgers. 

Dorothy Hiers 
Council Bluffs, Iowa

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.