My Trip in a Covered Wagon
Author: Lydia George (nee Sanders)
- recorded 1976 by Maude E. Chittick (nee George)
When I was eleven years old, my parents, Arthur and Ella Sanders,
took the family - brother Ivan, sister Mildred and myself -
on a vacation trip in a covered wagon. Papa fixed a four-wheeled
wagon with a box five feet wide and fourteen feet long, with
rounded, white canvas top. The canvas was stretched over two
inch slats about ½ inch thick, made of willow or some
kind of wood that would bend without breaking, and fastened
to the sides of the wagon box about four feet apart. On each
side of the wagon box, there was a shelf that projected outward
to make the box widen to lay the slats for our straw mattress
A spring seat was hooked at each side of the wagon box in
front of the beds. This was taken off when we camped and we
could use it for a seat on the ground. Across the back of
the wagon was a box to hold grain for the horses. We brought
hay on the way, and they grazed sometimes at night when there
Papa make a little sheet-iron stove about eight inches high,
fourteen inches wide and two feet long. A four inch stove
pipe was attached at one end and a door for putting in wood
at the other. We took a few cooking utensils.
We traveled about twenty miles a day, as Papa estimated that
the horses, Molly and Maud, could walk about four miles an
hour. We lived in North Branch, Jewell County, Kansas. It
took two weeks to get to Cherokee County where Uncle Ephraim
Bowles family, Mamas sister Emma Cook and family,
and other cousins lived.
While there, Uncle Ed Cook took us to Galena, Kansas to see
the lead mines. We also visited a plant where they made jugs
and jars. I will never forget how they turned out a jug on
the pottery wheel and how the handle was added at the last.
We visited the Spring River Quaker school and church building,
which I remember being built of a yellow stone native to that
After we had visited a few days with folks in Cherokee County,
we went over to Indian Territory which is now Oklahoma, to
visit Uncle Joe and Aunt Sarah Kenworthy and Frank and Enoch
who were at home. The other children, Pearl, Charley, Lydia
and Clara (called Cad) were away at school.
Uncle Joe raised broom corn, peanuts and sweet potatoes.
He had a broom factory and manufactured brooms, using the
broom corn they raised. He made some little brooms about three
feet long, and gave one to me and one to my sister Mildred.
We still have them. Uncle Joe said I could have all the peanuts
I could pick that day, so we had some to take home.
We went back to Aunt Emmas but soon started home. We
went by way of Oswego, Kansas where Uncle Joes children
were going to school, as in the Territory there was no school
at that time. They took us fishing in the Neosho River and
we dug river clams. Pearl knew how to cook them and they tasted
We went to Emporia, Kansas to another Quaker Settlement where
two of Papas cousins lived. There were both farmers.
William Chamness and his wife Ida had three children about
our ages. Ida was a minister, and drove a horse and buggy
into Emporia to preach at the Friends Church there, so we
went to meeting on Sunday with them. A.I.Chamness wife
was Thealena, a sister to Ida. They were from Norway.
As I remember, we came on home without any more stops. The
weather was good until we got to Burr Oak, eight miles from
home. It was raining and the roads were getting slick. Mama
and Papa both walked up the hill west of Burr Oak to lighten
the load, for the horses had a difficult time pulling the
wagon through the mud.
It was dark when we got home, and we were all tired. The
next morning the weather was clear and bright. Everything
was all right at home. Grandfather and Grandmother Ramsey
and cousin Levi Craven had stayed and taken good care of things.