My mother’s half-sister, Aunt Ellen, lived in the part of Oklahoma that was then called the Indian Territory. She had married a good man, but he had two lawless brothers in trouble for cattle rustling
Every fruit tree on Aunt Ellen’s farm that year was heavy with fruit. She wrote my mother and told her to come down from Missouri and bring her jars and fill them with fruit. I was eight years old and was taken along to care for my year-old brother while Mother and Aunt Ellen canned.
We made the trip in a covered wagon pulled by two huge mules. On the second day there, I saw a man skulking furtively through the orchard with a gun in his hand. I ran to the house and told my uncle a man was going to steal his fruit. My uncle just looked sad and told me not to go to the orchard alone. The man was his brother and another brother was asleep in the barn loft.
That night the two brothers came to the kitchen door, stood their guns against the door jamb and said to my 18-year-old cousin, “Hey, Alice, have you got anything to eat?”
They were her uncles and she was used to them, but I was almost petrified at the sight of the guns. Alice set out some food, all the time telling them off at a great rate. “What do you mean, hanging around decent people? If you want to live like devils, you stay in your own hell! Don’t be hiding around here and getting us into trouble. Pa and Ma are good, and they are ashamed of you.”
The two men seemed amused at her spunk in telling them off. They ate, picked up their guns and said they were sleeping in the barn loft.
Aunt Ellen had forgotten to bring in the peaches that had been drying on racks in the sun, and she was afraid it would rain in the night. She asked me to go out and help her bring them in.
As we went Aunt Ellen talked quite loud. I said, “Not so loud, Aunt Ellen, or those men in the barn will hear you.”
“That’s why I’m talking so loud,” she whispered. “I want them to know it’s us and not officers, so they won’t shoot.” Then I really was scared.
It was a night of terror for me, and I was glad to return to my peaceful home.
Daisy M. Hyde
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.