Barrel Maker Leaves Family in Hard Times

Curiosity of the unknown and yearning to see it all keeps barrel maker on the road.

| Good Old Days

My grandfather had an itching foot, a good trade, a moving wagon and a team of oxen. He was a cooper or barrel maker, and he could get work in any community. He yearned to see all of the new places people talked about, and he did see them by slow stages.

He would load up his precious strawberry plants and his family and move to whatever new part of the country someone recommended. Grandmother went with him through Ohio and into southern Missouri, then up to the southern border of that new territory called Iowa. There she balked. If he went again, he must go alone. Alone he went!

Grandmother was left in a strange new country with three children. The eldest was my mother, then 14. They had a house, a cow and little else. What hard times they went through before my mother got old enough to teach school and help out at home!

Mother had two linsey-woolsey dresses. At that time people wore red flannel underwear and because it would shrink so badly, the garments were aired on the clothesline more often than they were washed. My mother saw someone crocheting and yearned to crochet herself. She learned how, but it was over a year before she could afford to buy a crochet hook. She did shadow crocheting so she wouldn't forget how.

Florence Gunn
Hume, Missouri

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. 

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