North Platte, Nebraska Homesteaders Dealt With Sand and Bugs

When we were advised to take our ailing little daughter west and to live outside as much as possible, my husband went to North Platte, Nebraska, by train and filed on the last piece of land left for homesteading in McPherson County under the Kinkaid Act. He didn’t even look at the land.

At home again he made an overshot box to set on the double box of the wagon, and he added bows and covered them with canvas. Our bed slats and spring were laid on the overshot box and topped with a tick of shucks and a featherbed. Trunks and boxes went under the bed, with a folding table, some chairs, a kerosene stove, pots and pans, a lantern, soap and towels and a washbasin.

Southeast of North Platte, we drove into a sandstorm. Taking the canvas cover off the bows, we lashed it tightly over our bed and cooking equipment. We tied towels across our faces because the sand cut and stung. Blown full of sand – our clothes were packed – we were so heavy we could hardly get down from the wagon. .

Right then I didn’t think much of the West.

In McPherson County, our new horne, we didn’t care for the wide open spaces all covered with bunch grass, soapweeds and rattlesnakes. And we didn’t like the fleas, the little black bugs that could jump and bite. They were everywhere.

We stayed on that claim, built a house, and raised crops of potatoes, beans, and corn, and one day we were able to make a trip to North Platte to prove up on our homestead. 

Mrs. Carl E. Feikert
Kearney, Nebraska

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.