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library: non-fiction

My Trip in a Covered Wagon
Author: Lydia George (nee Sanders)
- recorded 1976 by Maude E. Chittick (nee George)
Date: 1898

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 beds.

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 was grass.

Lydia (Sanders) George
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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, Mama’s 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 area.

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 Emma’s but soon started home. We went by way of Oswego, Kansas where Uncle Joe’s 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 so good.

We went to Emporia, Kansas to another Quaker Settlement where two of Papa’s 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.

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