Coffee Grounds on the Floor of Kansas Homestead Claim

Throwing coffee grounds on the dirt floor of her Kansas homestead claim proved a hard habit to break, until it was too late.

| Good Old Days

  • Mrs. Whinery is working in her kitchen. While this homestead was located in New Mexico, it was quite common for homesteads throughout the region to have dirt floors.
    Photo by Russell Lee/Library of Congress

When Great Aunt Sophyia was left a widow with three small children, a sister persuaded her to come West and homestead a government Kansas homestead claim.

Neighbors came for miles with teams and plows and they broke the sod and built her a two-room shack. The house had a dirt floor.

Aunt Sophyia was neat and clean. She washed her hands a dozen times while preparing a meal, "for fear of getting dirt in the vituals," she would say. But she had one bad habit. Every morning she would empty the dregs from her coffee cup on the floor. "After all," she would say, "it is a dirt floor and I always dampen it with water before I sweep, so what difference does it make?"

Her family and friends in the city had begged her for years to come home for a visit. She was homesick, so she decided to go. What do you think happened the very first morning she was there? Horror of horrors! Without thinking, she flipped the dregs from her coffee cup on her friend's beautifully waxed kitchen floor! 

Mrs. R. D. Cole
Meade, Kansas

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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