Covered Wagon Journey Leads to Dangerous Dugout

Journey to Oklahoma in a covered wagon includes loss of money and difficult river crossing.

| Good Old Days

On our way to a homestead in western Oklahoma, our heavily loaded covered wagon started across a creek after an all-night rain. The crossing was very steep and slick, and we only had one team. Just as we got ready to pull out, a coupling pole broke.

Papa was pulled out of the wagon, and Mother and we children were left in the wagon with the water rolling all around us! People were kind and helped us unload and carry our things ashore.

Two days later we lost all the money we had, $50. Papa had had Mama carry it in her handbag because he was afraid someone might rob him. My baby sister had been playing with the handbag, and we decided she had thrown it out of the wagon.

We camped for three days, hoping someone would come by who had found the money or had heard of someone who had. Papa offered a $5 reward for the return of our "fortune." Finally, an elderly man said his daughter had found the handbag and everything in it. When we asked her, she denied finding it. But after her father talked to her, she gave it back to us and took the $5 reward.

We were 21 days on the road, and we walked a good bit to make the load lighter. The shoes that were new when we left Grandfather's house were worn out when we got to our homestead.

A few days before Christmas, we began our new life in a dugout. It was a harder life than we'd ever known, but I'm sure it was not as hard for us children as it was for our parents. As soon as we put out the coal-oil light at night, the centipedes began to crawl. Our $50 was gone and, we all felt so afraid about the future. There was very little to live on, mostly cornbread and a drink for breakfast made from burned cornmeal.

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