Kansas settlers banded together to make the most of life on the frontier.
Our family of seven, plus an uncle and a cousin who came with us, arrived in Kansas in January, 1880. There was only a granary and one straw shelter on our land. Father hired three carpenters and while the men built the big barn and later the house, 12 of us Kansas settlers lived in the 14- by 16-foot granary.
At nightfall, nine of us slept, crosswise, on our two bedsteads, resting our feet on chairs or boxes. The carpenters slept on a floor-bed of blankets under our table.
When my parents got up at dawn, the carpenters crowded into the bed vacated by Father and Mom. Mom had to prepare breakfast and set the table, and there was no floor space for sleeping men. After the men ate and left for work, the rest of us got up.
I was just a little girl and I found pleasure in playing with pieces of discarded lumber and listening to the men sing and joke. They fitted boards and drove nails from early morning until dusk, pausing only at mealtimes.
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.