The Diary of Lizzie Dopps

 

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Chapter XII
WAGON TRIPS AND FROZEN RIVERS

 

Eli had a good team of horses and treated then well, so when he was not busy planting and reaping crops he was able to make quite a little extra money by hauling.  It was on one of these trips he took a load of something (I've forgotten what it was and who it was for) to a town about a hundred miles away, and he was to bring back a load of flour and groceries for the store in the settlement where we lived.

Another man went with him.  Of course it took several days to make a trip of this length and kind, and I knew many anxious hours, but the extra money was needed in our increasing little family and in bettering our home.

This trip I am going to tell about was made in the late winter or early spring.  In fact most of these trips were made during the winter time, as that was the best time he could spare from his crops and farming work at home.

They were on their return trip with flour and groceries.

They had crossed over the Republican River on the ice on their way to get their load.  It was not very deep this time of the year, perhaps not more than five or six feet deep but quite wide.  The ice seemed strong enough to hold up the loaded wagon so they started across.

When they were a little more than half way across the ice broke and down went the wagon.  It was not really deep enough for the water to reach the flour which was piled on top, but the load had to be lightened in order to get the wagon out and free from the ice.

The flour would be ruined, of course, if it got wet, so the two men had to get out and carry several sacks of flour high on their shoulders through the icy water, making many trips from wagon to shore.  In time they got the wagon free from the ice and onto the other shore, but they were almost freezing in their wet, icy clothes.

However, before they had undertaken this cold task, they knew that as soon as it was done they could build a fire, dry out and get warm as there was a school house nearby and school was over for the day.

They drove up to the school house.  The fire was out, but it did not take long to rekindle another one.  They were proceeding to get warm when one of the school board who lived nearby saw the wagon and then smoke coming out of the chimney, and came over to drive out the intruders.  Even after he was told of their predicament he was heartless enough to insist that they move on.

They informed him they positively would not move one step farther until their clothes were dry and they were warm.  And stay they did.  However, before daylight, they were once more dry and comfortable, had fixed a meal while there, cleaned up after it and had even rested a bit, and were again on their way with their salvaged load and, in time, arrived at the home store without more mishaps.

It was on one of these trips that I rode one hundred miles on a load of wheat and back on a load of lumber with my two babies, Gracie and Jennie, to have their pictures taken.

I am so glad that I did, because of what occurred later, but one would think that if a mother took this much trouble and paid a good price for the pictures, the photographer would be kind enough to let her have the pictures taken the way she wished.  Not so with this photographer.  He was a crabby old bear.

My little girls were so near of an age, and played so sweetly together that I wanted to have their pictures taken together.  This old crank insisted on taking them separately.  All pleading and coaxing, was in vain.  We were all upset about it so the pictures are not as good as they might have been.  Still I am  so glad I have them and I put them in a double frame, so my little girls are together after all.

They are the only pictures I have of our Gracie and Jennie and are invaluable to me.

 

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  2006 Laurie Arnold.  All material presented herein was transcribed or otherwise provided by Laurie Arnold from the unpublished text of the diary, family photos and personal genealogy.  She and her family have graciously given permission for the diary to be posted to the Norton County Kansas GenWeb website, for the benefit of others who had pioneer families in Norton County, Kansas. This diary, photos and personal genealogy may not be reproduced, published or re-published for any reason, in any format, without prior written consent of the contributors or copyright holders.  web design 2006 Ardie Grimes