My mother was a wife and mother at 18. She lived on the outskirts of a village on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi. A tribe of Indians came from the north and camped on the other side of the river, and when the water froze, they came begging for food. Food was not too plentiful among the settlers, and they hated to part with it.
Father had put some turnips in the cellar but they proved to be so strong that the folks decided that is what they would give the Indians.
One morning, Mother was baking yeast bread when four Indians, three women and a man, just opened the door and walked in. They never knocked. Mother had a white pine floor in her kitchen and always kept it immaculate. The Indians tracked in mud and stood there with muddy water dripping onto Mother's clean floor.
She gave them their turnips, but still they stayed. Mother knew they smelled the bread baking. She left it in the oven as long as she could, but finally she had to take it out or it would burn. She thought she probably would have to give them a loaf. As she put the pans on the back of the stove after turning the fresh loaves out on the kitchen table, she saw, out of the corner of her eye, each of the women take a loaf and put it under her blanket.
The man reached for the last loaf. That's when Mother exploded. She grabbed her rolling pin and cracked him sharply across the knuckles! He let out a howl and bounded out the door. When he caught up with the women, he gave one a cuff and took her loaf away. Mother watched them go down the road tearing big chunks out of her bread and eating it hot.
When Father came home, Mother told of her experience. Father was frightened and told Mother never to hit an Indian. He thought there was no telling what they might do for reprisal.
The day the Indians broke camp to move on, Father said, "Wrap up the baby, I'm going to take you down to your mother's to stay. Don't leave until I come for you tonight." There were no reprisals, but my father worked in the general store and knew the ways of the Indians. He knew that Mother's act could have been dangerous instead of funny!
Leona Haskell McDaniel
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.