Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, 13 April 1961
A Short, Short Story About An Early Day Pioneer Family
The following story about an early day pioneer Lincoln county family was written by Mrs. Fred Good of the Resarch Federated club of Luray. The story was entered in the 1960-61 literature contest commemorating historical events in Kansas. Mrs. Good’s story was judged by Prof. Fuson, head of the English department at Kansas Wesleyan University and was placed third among the entries.
In the early days, my parents, Lincoln and Cecelia Dillon, came from Missouri to settle on a farm near Vesper in Lincoln county. They had farmed for about seven or eight years during which time very few crops were raised. Corn sold from three cents to seven cents per bushel. Other products sold accordingly. You can imagine how hard it was to support a family.
My father had grown to manhood in Missouri, so he decided to go back to see if he could find a farm there. He rented out the Kansas farm to a neighbor for only a year while he was trying to find a Missouri farm to his liking.
He had a sale and sold the cattle, chickens, hogs and the extra tools and machinery. The family was ready to start to Missouri. We had two covered wagons, one for tools and machines, and the other for the family and household goods. The extra horses were tied behind the wagons with the exception of our family horse, Frank, which was hitched to a cart in which we children would ride when we grew tired of riding in the wagon.
We made the trip to Missouri in two weeks. My father would rest the horses every few hours and they would graze along the road side. Sometimes it would rain several days at a time which made it very difficult for my mother to find dry wood for the camp fire over which she cooked our meals.
Kansas was not very thickly populated at that time, and we would travel several miles between farms and towns. Sometime we would camp near a farm home where we could buy eggs, butter and milk from the farmer. Many times they would not take pay for their produce and were so very kind to us, which is typical of wonderful people in a great state.
One day an incident happened which was quite common in those days. Two men came on horses and asked my father if he had seen a herd of cattle along the way. My father told them that he had passed a herd a short time ago. The two men then fell behind our wagons and followed us for a short distance. They came riding swiftly by and stationed themselves right in the middle of the road in front of our wagons. My father sensed the situation immediately. He tossed his wallet which contained one hundred dollars, back to my mother who was riding in the back of the wagon with us children. She placed the gun where he could reach it. He gave the team a slap with the lines and they plunged forward. The horsemen rode out of the way and did not bother us anymore. Many incidents of this nature were very common in the early days.
We finally arrived in Nodaway county, in Hopkins, Missouri, where we lived with my father’s mother while looking for a suitable farm, but nothing turned up, and in nine months, we were back in Kansas. We had to rent a vacant house a little east of the Old Vesper cemetery until we could get possession of our farm which we had rented out for a year. We were all very happy to be in good, old, sunny Kansas again. My father never again had a desire to leave Kansas. He had faith in Him who rules the destiny of men, even through hardships and difficulties. He could see above the clouds a silver lining which has been a rich heritage to his succeeding generations.
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