When a freight contractor, working out of Arkansas City, Kansas, could not make a haul himself, he hired a man to accompany his 11-year-old son into Oklahoma with the loaded wagon and mule teams. Little did that father know his son would experience a mountain lion encounter.
Having delivered the freight, the pair was on the return trip. One nightfall found them near a small stream with dense thickets along the banks. About half a mile back, a homesteader had invited them to camp in his yard, but this location by the stream seemed ideal, with water and wild grass for the two teams of mules.
Soon coffee was boiling and the man and boy were eating fried potatoes, bacon, and beans. The mules were staked out and a full moon was rising in the east. All gave promise of a peaceful restful night as the pair bedded down in the empty freight wagon and fell into sound sleep.
The boy never knew what brought him wide awake; perhaps it was the soft thud of a body landing or the frightened squeal of a mule. Sitting bolt upright in bed, the man and boy saw, sitting on the tailgate of the wagon and clearly outlined against the full moon, a huge mountain lion, one of the most feared animals in the territory. Many tales were told of their attacking man and all those tales came flooding back.
The animal sat looking at them a few moments-an eternity to the boy-then jumped from the wagon and sped away.
Quickly, the travelers untied the mules, hitched up the wagon, and drove to the higher, safer ground of the homesteader's yard.
The mountain lion encounter made it a night the 11-year-old would recall the rest of his life.
Mrs. Austin Young
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.