Trip to Oklahoma Involved a Lost Canary and Lots of Wild Flowers

Woman recalls riding in a surrey with fringe on top, picking wild flowers and losing a canary as her family travels south to take part in Oklahoma Land Race.

| Good Old Days

We started from Missouri for Kiowa, Kansas, to be ready to take part in the land race into the Cherokee Strip. Someone had given me a canary, and the cage was hanging in the surrey with the fringe on top in which Mother, Grandmother and I were traveling. We got behind, and our mule was tough-mouthed and in a hurry to catch up with the crowd. The bottom of the cage fell out, and the bird flew away into the bushes. I couldn't catch it, and we had to go on.

We were two or three weeks on the road, and I saw Indians for the first time. Some of the men and boys wore their hair in long braids. We rented a house in Kiowa and waited for the land race. I remember many trips we took looking over the Cherokee Strip. There were pretty wild flowers, and I picked up buffalo horns until I had almost a wagon bed full.

I remember a celebration – Fourth of July, I guess, when they chased greased pigs. The one thing that stands out in my memory was a race of cowboys down the main street. Several geese were hung on a wire stretched across the street just in reach of a man on horseback. The trick was to pull off a goose head as the horses ran under the geese. One of the fellows jumped from his horse and gathered a handful of sand and got a goose head on his next try. I remember visiting a big ranch where the family had a nice chair made of buffalo horns.

Ethel McCurdy
Springfield, 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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