Simple Pleasures on a South Dakota Homestead
Born in Europe, Grandpa Henry Boese
came to America
with other Mennonites. He and his wife homesteaded between Freeman and Marion, South
Dakota. That South
Dakota homestead was a source of much simple joy and
They lived in an unusual house – a
house joined to a barn. The dividing wall was thick, and the barn was kept very
clean. Two oxen, big, strong and slow, lived in the barn, and later cows were
How happy we were when we could go
to Grandpa’s house! At Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the days were cold, Mother
would heat bricks in the oven and wrap them in gunny sacks to keep our feet
warm during the eight-mile trip by buggy. Our cheeks would be rosy and our
hands cold before we reached our destination.
At the house the women greeted each
other with hugs and tender words. Grandpa had pink peppermints for each child and
later we tasted his newly processed honey.
We ate on benches or on a green
wooden trunk. The knives and forks had wooden handles. How delicious were the
homemade bread and the ground cherry or blackberry pie! Grandpa had an orchard
of mulberries, apples, currants, chokeberries and plums.
We children tested our skill in
drawing water from the well in the oaken bucket. We jerked the rope to tip the
pail at the bottom, and then we pulled the rope which was around a pully at the
We competed to see who could raise
the most water in the bucket.
How the boys bragged of their
We made our own entertainment!
Esther Dirks Herman
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.