Oklahoma man remembers the trials and triumphs of starting a family farm with his parents
It was March 1931 when Mom went to the hospital. I was playing in front of our house when a big truck stopped. Mama was in the front seat holding a baby wrapped in blankets. Mama got out of the truck and said, "This is your new brother." George and I named him William Charles Smith; William after his dad, William Henry Smith, and Charles after his Uncle Charlie, William Henry's brother.
We stayed there on Eighth Street until school was out, because Dad had sold the house on Sixth Street and the people wanted to move right in. Now that school was out Mom and Dad were getting things ready to move to the family farm.
Daddy hired a big truck to move us to the new farm. Mama's brother, Uncle John, was to drive it to Pierce City, Missouri. All the furniture was loaded on along with all of our belongings. The mattresses were loaded last, tied down good so they would hold the furniture on and not blow off. The loaded truck was parked by the house, ready to get an early start the next day. We all stayed at the McClures that night. They were Dad's kin through marriage, and they lived in back of us on Seventh Street. After loading the truck, it rained real hard all night, soaking things on the truck good.
Sometime around noon we got to the farm. I don't remember the person who drove us to Pierce City or the way we got there. I do remember the rocky road we were on and Mama saying there is your new home up there by that big oak tree.
There it was, a two-story farmhouse, a log wood shed by itself and a chicken house, a corn crib and a cow barn all together. There was a cherry orchard to the west, a strawberry patch on the east end and a grape patch on the north side of the acreage-all on 20 acres.
There was no water on the property except for the pond. There was a cistern but no water in it. Grandpa had put a cover over the hole where rain water was suppose to flow in. The rain troughs around the house drained water into the cistern. There was a well pump on top of this cistern. There was also an outhouse set off from the barn by itself.
There were no electric lights on the farm; we used kerosene lamps. In Pittsburg, Kansas, we had electric lights and cold running water. There was a wood stove in the kitchen where Mom did all of her cooking and heating up. There was a big iron stove in the front room to help heat up the house and the upstairs. There was one bedroom downstairs; we kids had to sleep in the open upstairs. There were no partitions to separate us from Luella, we all slept in two beds; Luella and Reuben in one and Raymond and me in the other.
It was two miles to town, and the only way we got there was to walk. Later Dad bought a wagon and buggy. Dad kept the buggy and wagon parked on the east end of the barn. The buggy did not have a top on it, so when it rained the leather got wet then had to dry out. All the time it sat out in the weather the leather stayed soft and never did crack or dry out.
When Dad got the wagon we hauled water from the Tarpey Farm in barrels and put this water in the cistern. One cold, drizzly day Dad and I had to haul water. It was cold and miserable but we got water hauled to the cistern. When it rained we would catch rain water from the house, which flowed into the cistern-then we no longer needed to haul water.
George H. Smith
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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