How thrilled my parents and we two little girls were as we loaded our covered wagon to go from Iowa to a homestead in the Indian Territory! We were going to a land of milk and honey, my father said. I was only 4 years old, but I remember the sense of pleasant anticipation we all felt.
The things my parents and grandparents loaded into that wagon! The shelves that were part of the overjet were stacked with boxes of dried fruit, sacks of navy beans and cans of honey, all from Grandfather’s farm. They built a bin under the spring seat and filled it with potatoes, and Father built a chuckbox across the back of the wagon and feed boxes for the horses. A lantern was hung on one wagon rod and an iron teakettle on another, both on the outside of the wagon at the back.
In spite of having arranged and rearranged, a lot of things were left on Grandfather’s porch. I was told that I absolutely could not take my precious kitty, but while my young parents were getting some last minute advice, I stuck the kitten in the iron teakettle.
As we traveled, everything was new to us and so exciting. It seemed everyone was going to the Territory. Several covered wagons with big families usually camped together at night. The men would gather around the fire and talk of horses, and the women would talk of the new land where they were going. The orchards along the way were hanging full of fruit and the fields were overflowing with shocked feed. Everyone seemed so generous and told us to help ourselves and wished us well on our journey.
Then somewhere in the southern part of Kansas we ran out of nice farms and the country became wilder. There were no bridges across the rivers. In one stream, over went wagon, children and all! But the potatoes were the only total loss we had. Were we ever soaked! We spread the soaked beans and fruit out to dry along with all our goods.
Not until the next morning did I remember my kitten and ran to let her out. I was heartbroken to find that she was dead. My mother was crying and I thought it was because my kitty was dead. I told her not to cry because I’d get another when we got to the land of milk and honey. Later I learned that she had cried because she thought her new Singer sewing machine was ruined.
Pond Creek, Oklahoma
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.