On Iowa Homestead, Light Could Mean Difference Between Life and Death

Iowa homestead kid injured badly in the darkness.

| Good Old Days

My grandfather, R. S. Kirkpatrick, often wished he had kept one of the little lanterns made of perforated tin that held a candle.

They didn't give much light, but they kept the candle flame from going out in the wind.

He remembered the lanterns which were used the night his brother was lost.

The boy had gone to bring in the cattle one evening, riding his pony along a nearby "crick." When he did not return at darkness, the family, alarmed, began a search. Neighbors were notified and they came from the scattered farms adjoining my great-grandparents' homestead. As they entered the house, each man placed his lantern on the porch, and there they sat in a row, barely able to dispel the gloom of night.

The boy was found, but he had been injured. He was not able to tell clearly what had happened to him in the dark pastures. His mother taught him to walk again and how to eat, as if he were a baby once more. He never regained full intelligence although he lived for many years.

The symbol of the little lanterns was one that stayed in Grandfather's memory as long as he told stories of his early Iowa boyhood.

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