My grandmother often told the following story to her children and grandchildren about an incident during the Civil War. “Papa went to Camden, Arkansas, to declare his allegiance to the Confederacy and enlist. They didn’t take him into the army, because he was too old and also had weak wrists. The soldiers took him to work in a saddle shop.
“One day a neighbor came riding in to tell us the Confederate Army was on its way through that part of the country. He said the soldiers were living off the areas through which they went, buying and stealing.
“The family scurried to take the horses and cows into the woods and to hide their supply of food. Some was hidden up the flue, put on the roof and in other places hidden from the approaching army. The army arrived late in the afternoon. Mama refused to sell the soldiers any food, so they ransacked the house and barn, taking whatever they could find. The troops prowled around and took the livestock and poultry.
“While the army camped nearby, soldiers were stationed at both entrances of the house to protect the family. My sisters Sarah and Mary flirted with the guards and gave them plates of food after we had eaten. After the war, one of them returned and married Sarah.
“When one of the soldiers began to search the trunks, Mama knew he was looking for the deed to the farm. His attention was diverted when Sarah and Mary walked into the room and smiled at him. Mama reached into the trunk, quickly putting the deed into her deep apron pocket.”
Betty J. French
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.