Clara Ann Hobbs, born 18 Oct 1859 in northwest Lincoln County, Kansas, lived to be 106 years old. Her parents were Francis "Frank" Marion Hobbs and Augusta Ann Hale. Clara, age 41, married Bertie "Bert" Brown Spear, age 43, on 12 Aug 1900 and that December they left Lincoln in a covered wagon to make their home on land that Bert had homesteaded in Custer County, Oklahoma. The following is an edited transcription of the journal Clara wrote while on the trek. They spent two years on this homestead before selling out and moving back to a farm in northwest Lincoln County. In 1910 they moved from the farm into Lincoln. They did not have any children. Bert, born 27 Mar 1877 to Ephraim Asbury Spear and Mary Emma Dean DeBerry, passed away 2 Jan 1967. Clara passed away 9 Nov 1985.
Transcription by Buck Jones & Cheryl Lepisto, January 2004. Clara was our grandmother’s sister & Bert was our grandfather’s brother.
THE DECEMBER 1900 JOURNAL of CLARA ANN HOBBS SPEAR
Thursday, December 13. We have stopped to water the horses so I will write a little. Started from home Tuesday [although her diary does say "Started from home Thursday", they must have left on Tuesday otherwise the reference to Sunday services on December 16 won‘t work out chronologically] afternoon, traveled until sundown and camped south of the Saline River a little piece. I got supper and that's the first time I ever et in a covered wagon. I washed the dishes and then we went to bed and that's the first time I ever slept in a covered wagon, ha ha. We didn't get a very early start and didn't get very far. Oh yes, I saw a coyote before dinner, I wished for Papa and his gun for I know he would of enjoyed trying to kill it.
We camped about 2 miles northwest of Ellsworth last night, are heavy loaded, can't go very far in a day. Bert didn't get much sleep last night. The horses bothered all night. John got lose and Bert had to take the lantern and go hunt him, found him in a wheat field. Bert was pretty cold when he got back to the wagon, he never put on his pants. We tied John and came back to bed and hadn't more than laid down till John tore a hole in his sack of corn and he had to get up again.
We have stopped for dinner. The wind is blowing on the stove till the fire don't do much good. I walked 2 miles this morning. Bert is feeding the horses and greasing the wagon while I get dinner. I am going to write a card home today and mail it at Lyons in the morning. We are trudging along, have had pretty rough roads ever since we started, some pretty large hills to climb.
This is a lovely evening and we have not had any fire all evening. Bert has gone to water the horses. I have been wondering what the folks are doing at home. I wish I had little Joel Sonty along to pick at. I will have to lay my writing aside as Bert has hitched up. We came very near leaving the buggy, just happened to stop and the tongue fell as we stopped.
We have stopped by a hedge fence to camp tonight. There is a house close. Bert is chopping wood and I am frying us some of that good old shoulder. We have et and washed the dishes; Bert is playing the guitar. I have just got through writing a card to my loved ones at home. Saw an old sod structure this afternoon that looked kind of curious. There has been nice looking houses all along the way. Wheat looks fine, about like it is in Lincoln county. Guess I will quit for tonight for I am sleepy. Our wagon is cozy and pretty warm especially when we have fire. Bert's old shaggy quilt is up in front.
Friday, December 14. Started this morning before sun rise. Ate walnuts as long as they lasted. Bert has stopped to see if we can get a can of water. The folks are Germans that live here. I must look out and see the pea fowls, Bert said there are some here. We are almost to Lyons, will get there before dinner. The folks that live here have an awful nice house. Hear the train just leaving or coming on to Lyons I don't know which.
We have stopped for dinner about 2 miles south of Lyons. Lyon's is a tolerable large town and in pretty country and it is level and nice. Bert is chopping wood; we are going to have fried potatoes for dinner. We both have a good appetite. There is a telegraph wire on each side of the road and I tell you we have fine music. We aim to camp close to the Arkansas River tonight. Dinner is over and we are almost ready to move along. While we was camped for dinner Bert struck me with the creamery can lid accidentally on the upper lip and I have got the big lip. A bolt that holds the scoop board on broke and we have stopped to fix it. The wind is in the east and is pretty chilly, but we have a fire this afternoon again.
We have stopped to camp on the bank of the Arkansas River, came through Sterling about sundown. Bert stopped to get some bolts to fix the scoop board. I hear the train whistling. Buggies are passing all the time, I can hear them cross the bridge it sounds like it is thundering. There must be something going on up town. Bert is getting some hay for his horses, a man gave us enough to feed them to night and told Bert to go to the stack and get it. It is awful dark tonight. I am sitting on what we use for a table, foot stool and wood box.
Saturday, December 15. Got up at 6 o'clock this morning. It misted rain a little last night and looks like rain this morning. It is now noon, it has been foggy and misty all forenoon. We have had old Shag up in front all forenoon. A lady came out to the wagon a while ago and invited us in to warm, but we have a good little stove and was not cold so we did not go in. Bert says he is about to eat so I must hurry and get the potatoes fried. We have gravy and meat for breakfast and meat and potatoes for dinner and potatoes and meat for supper. Our onions are all et up but we are going to get some more maybe.
We have camped tonight on the banks of the Ninnescah River. You wouldn't think it was a river; there is not a tree on or near it. It looks nice to see the water running on the prairie. It is a nicer river than the Arkansas. Bert just handed me a bucket full of walnuts to hull. We have ate walnuts nearly all day. It is still misting rain, I hope it won't snow till we get through.
Sunday, December 16. This is a nice morning so far, but there is a cloud of mist in the east. Bert has gone to water his horses; he said there was a nice little girl there. I am turned around and I didn't know east from north till this morning. When the sun came up I was all right. I suppose the folks at home are going to Sunday School and Church while we are moving along in the sand. The birds are singing like it was spring.
It is now night and we have camped tonight 3 miles north of Kingman. Bert got a pan full of water to wash and went to fix old Shag up in front and spilled the pan of water on his shoe. He is picking the guitar now.
Monday, December 17. We have et our dinner and changed the chickens and are almost ready to start on. There was a man and his family moving north. They had a horse that had the pink eye and we was kind a scared when he told us he had a sick horse. This is a lovely evening again. Bert got us some onions and a nickels worth of apples at Kingman this morning. He broke our stove hook cracking nuts or trying to, he's so curious.
We are almost to the Chikaskia river, have stopped to water the horses. We turned the colt loose yesterday noon, she follows all right. Bert scorched his coat tail against the stove pipe and I have scorched my dress till it came in a hole.
We have camped tonight close to some little one horse town, I don't know the name of it. I saw a drove of sheep this afternoon, about 75 or 80 in number with 3 cute little lambs. I saw a hand car going down the track this afternoon, the first one I ever saw that I remember of. I got out and walked part of the time this afternoon, while we was going over the sand. My, but the wheels do sink in that sand.
Tuesday, December 18. Got up pretty late this morning, passed through Harper and Anthony today. I patched a sack this morning. We stopped at a store and got a book of needles and a spool of thread. We have been on the road a week today. It looked like it was going to snow, but we live in hopes that it won't. A man gave us some cane to feed the horses tonight. Find some pretty fine people along the road and some that aren’t so good.
Wednesday, December 19. We are moving along this morning, started before sunrise. The wind is in the north. We have stopped to buy some corn. The people here are just milking the cows. Must go and help Bert put the corn on the wagon. Had to pay 29 cents a bushel.
We came on and met a man with corn. Bert asked him what corn was worth and he said "25 cents in town." We crossed the Kansas line this morning. Ate all of our cookies after we got in Okla. The corn Papa gave us lasted till noon today. This is another lovely day just what we like to see. We have both lost our appetites and found a dog's. ha ha. Saw the city of Manchester this morning, part of it is over the line in Oklahoma. We have had 2 chances to sell the colt today, but she is not for sale.
We have camped on the bank of a creek tonight. Bert has gone to a barn to get some hay for the horses. The roads are pretty dusty. Oh yes, it was so nice and warm today that you could wear a sun bonnet. We met a lady in a buggy with her sunbonnet on. I told Bert it was because she lived in Oklahoma where the climate was so warm.
Thursday, December 20. We have stopped for dinner. We crossed the Pond Creek River this forenoon. I was a little afraid as Bert told me it was quicksand. It was sand sure enough, but not quicksand. Had to ford across. There are lots of watermelons laying in the melon patches, some are large as water buckets. I just thought if we could of had what went to waste down here we would not of had to eat them little things we raised last summer. They are still thrashing down here and lots to thrash yet. We saw one field that had 17 stacks to thrash yet and lots of other fields that the wheat was not thrashed. The green wheat looks fine. There is some sheep at the house where we have camped for dinner. The wolves howled all around us last night, Bert said he thought he would have to get up and run them off with a club. I told him I was afraid he would.
We have camped tonight close to a German family. This is an awful pretty level country. There is lots of sod houses down here and several sod schoolhouses. They look kind a curious, but the most of them are neat and put up good. I wish Papa had come along and seen this nice level country. Nearly everybody has got a young orchard. Bert made him a new seat out on the dash board, can't hardly hire him to ride in the wagon on the spring seat.
Friday, December 21. Got up at 5 after 6 this morning and ready to start as soon as Bert hitches up. The neighbor's dog came out to the wagon this morn and Bert thought he would be good and feed him. He went to give him some fried potatoes and stumbled over the wood in the wagon and scared the dog to death, I reckon. But I guess he didn't die cause he is back to the wagon again. The folks have a separator to separate milk; I hear it separating.
We have just crossed a creek. Bert got out to water the horses and saw that the buggy was not coming so he has gone back to get it. Had to go a quarter of a mile. We have camped for dinner, the wind is howling. Bert is greasing the buggy and wagon. There is a fellow talking to him, who is working the roads along here. We had another chance to sell or trade the colt today.
We have camped tonight in blackjacks and Oh how sandy. I would not live in this country any longer than I could get out of it. Bert and I picked up a few acorns this evening as we came along. We walked from about 2 o'clock till sundown. The horses has to pull awful hard. There is a piano over to one of the neighbors not far from here, I hear them playing it. Bert has gone to inquire about the road so we won't have to go in any more sand than we have to. I saw a couple of Negroes come down the road a walking. I thought maybe they were Indians. They stopped and looked after us. Bert said they were Negroes. I tell you I was kind a scared for I thought they were Indians. It has been awful windy and dusty all evening. The wind is whistling through the jack oaks tonight.
Saturday, December 22. It has been raining this morning and looks like rain all day. Breakfast is over and the dishes washed. We are almost ready to trudge through the sand again.
We have camped for dinner on the banks of the Cimarron river and glad we got through the sand. Oh my but it was bad, the horses had to pull so hard.
Sunday, December 23. We have camped for dinner. There is 3 top buggies at the house close by. There must be some big girls there. It rained yesterday some but our wagon didn't leak. It is pretty cold today, have to keep fire all the time. I saw a Indian tent this afternoon. It looked funny, the first one I ever saw. Bert said there was an Indian man passed last night after we camped, but I never saw him. He was in a buggy with a white man. There is lots of ice everywhere.
We have camped tonight about 2 miles north of Watonga. Came through some more blackjacks this evening, but not quite so sandy as on the other side of the Cimarron River, but more hilly and large canyons. I suppose the folks at home are going to church tonight and Eddie is down to father Wilbeck's baking his shins ha ha. Bert is getting a van of water and watering his horses. Another man wanted to know if we wanted to sell the colt today. I heard a man ask Bert if he was alone. We see freight wagons every day hauling goods to the country stores.
Monday, December 24. We didn’t get up very early this morning for we didn't want to cross the Cado tonight. The wind is in the northwest this morning. We ate the last of the smallest roll of butter for dinner and have commenced on the other roll; the butter keeps awful nice. We have got into town and I see some Indians up the street wrapped in their striped blankets. Bert has gone in to the store to get some bread. Our bread that we started from home with lasted until today.
We have camped for dinner about a quarter of a mile from some large hills. Bert has gone over to them while I get dinner. I see him on top of the hill, he looks just like a small speck from here. The Indians do look curious to me. I haven't seen any to be real close to them yet. They traveled about a quarter of a mile ahead of us all forenoon. I kept telling Bert to not try to catch them. I was afraid of them.
They have some fine land down here where we have camped. We have camped to night at Will Coil's, Just happened to run on to them. Bert went in to buy some corn and Joe Coil came to Will's while Cap was getting Bert the corn and Joe knew him. Then Cap run and told Will. They are going to Geary to get a Christmas tree. Told us to make ourselves at home. Uriah Coil lives one mile north of Will's. Jane is the same old Jane as big and fat as ever. She said she would like awful well to see you. Will said he had sold his place for $1700 and it is pretty rough too. Land is high here. They are going to get them a home in Cado country when it opens.
Tuesday, December 25, Christmas Day. We ate breakfast at Will Coil's, had a nice little visit with them this Christmas morning. They had a Christmas tree, an evergreen tree with their presents on. It was awful pretty. Millie is as tall as Jane, but she is slender. The kids have all grown out of my knowledge but Charley. They wanted us to stay all day and spend Christmas with them, but we couldn't. Jane gave us one of those boughten meal sacks full of peanuts and offered us a pound of butter. They were as friendly as ever. This seems more like the fourth of July than Christmas, it is so nice and warm. Will said Charley Spear was up around Geary, yet his cow is on a pasture right close to Will's.
We have camped today for dinner in the Cado. My it is nice country, awful nice and level in some places. Well I suppose Ed is down to Pa Wilbeck's today feeding his face on turkey. Eat some for your sister, Ed, for she is away down here in Cado where there is nobody. We had peanuts to eat this morning, Jane's kids gave us some. What Jane gave us in the sack are not roasted so we can't eat them, are going to plant some of them. Bert is hunting some evergreens and I am all alone. There is some Indians just across the canyon from me. I saw the old squaw going down over the bank with her baby strapped on her back. I tell you if Bert don't come soon I will go on and let him catch up; I am as afraid as death of them. We passed right by their camp this morning.
We are camping in a camp yard in Weatherford. We started from Coil's this morning about half-past 8, they live 7 miles from the Cado, and drove all the way through the Cado today and night together. Got to Weatherford tonight at half-past 9. Oh, such roads we traveled just before we got to town. The roads were nice in the Cado and a lovely country it is. We nearly tired the life out of Frank but John stood it all right. We was almost afraid to camp in the Cado for fear the horses would get stolen. There was 2 covered wagons traveled with us nearly all evening. Bert and I had big laugh at one of the men, he got turned around in the Cado till he didn't know the directions. When we got into town he stopped in the street and looked at the moon and said "what's that?" and then he says "that moon is setting in the west tonight ain't it?" as though it didn't set in the west every night. He was so turned around he didn't know nothing.
Wednesday, December 26. We are still at Weatherford. Bert has gone up town to see about lumber. We will not get started from here till 10 or 11 o'clock. We have to let Frank rest a little anyway as we traveled so late last night. We lost a bushel of corn and sack in the Cado yesterday. Paid 25 cents a bushel today this side of Weatherford for corn and had to pay 30 cents a bu. for what we got to Will Coil. We have camped close to a creek tonight.
Thursday, December 27. We got up pretty early this morning and started before sun rise. Got to Arapaho about 10 o'clock. Got the money order and letter from Papa. It rained a little last night and is pretty cold today but we are thankful for the nice weather we have had all the way. If it don't get any worse than it is, we will land on the place tonight. I expect the folks at home think we are there by this time. As we were coming down a hill this morning the ring on the end of the neck yoke came off and the neck yoke came down. We was kind a scared for a little bit. Or I was and I think Bert was, I never asked him. He wouldn't own it if he was, he's so curious.
Friday, December 28. Well we got to the place at last. Over two weeks on the road. We got here about 11 o'clock today. I stopped at Mr. Roddy's and he came and helped Bert take the stove and box out of the wagon. We moved in our little shack and have straightened around till it is pretty cozy in here. We sleep in the over jet. Our dishes was all right, never got a thing broken. Bert got us some cups and saucers and dishes as we came though Arapaho and Weatherford. We have ate our supper and Bert is trying to get a little clock to run. Our little house is pretty warm, have a glass in the door. Mrs. Roddy said Cora was sick, took sick Monday. Charley is still at Geary and has been there 5 weeks. Mr. Thompson told Bert he was coming down tonight.
December 28, 1900
Dear parents, brothers and sisters,
I will write a few lines to you tonight. We landed on our place today about 11 o'clock and are not a bit sorry. We were getting pretty tired of the wagon. Can't complain about the weather for we had lovely weather to travel till last night and this morning. It was pretty cold but has cleared away and is pretty nice tonight. We moved right into our little house and it is pretty cozy. We are going to sleep in the over jet. I wrote a little on the road and you can read if you want to. … Now I want you all to write.
Our Post office is Pixlee O T, Custer CO. Bye bye, write soon and all the news