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Kansas HO!

A Covered-Wagon Trip - August 1906

By: Marjorie (McBride) Weaver

It was August, 1906, when our Father and Mother (Ethan and Aurie (Taylor) McBride) of Jamestown, Kansas decided to take a trip in a covered wagon to visit Uncle George and Uncle Robert Taylor who were farming their land in Graham County, Kansas.

There were 4 of us children at that time- Ethel, who was 3 years of age, Neal, who was 5 years of age, Edwin, 6 years of age and Marjorie, 7 years of age respectively.

The outfitting of the covered wagon took some time and all the incidents mentioned are a very faint recollection by the writer at this time. However, we did watch the canvas being stretched over the bows on the wagon which our Father had had made at the blacksmith shop. Then came the assembling of bedding, clothing and food. Also a good portable gasoline stove was obtained for the quick cooking our Mother was to do for us along the way. At this day I wonder how our Mother kept the food so fresh and good, especially the butter to put on our roasting ears? There is one vivid recollection, however, and that is the fine team of horses, Belle and Dorothy, which our Father drove on this trip. They were a fine team of beautifully matched Hambletonians. With new harness, and fly nets, they made a spectacular sight. Quite a few people stood on the streets to watch as we drove through the towns of Downs, Beloit, Osbourne, and Hill City.

The afternoon before we started we drove to Grandma Taylor's to spend the night with her, Aunt Pim and Uncle Fred. Grandpa Taylor had died suddenly in April.

There was a moment of sadness as we said goodbye to Grandma Taylor who was going to stay at home with our dog Shep. The next morning after a good breakfast and goodbye's at Grandma Taylor's we were off.

The route took us West from Grandma Taylor's through Scottsville and the first night we camped some place near Downs, Kansas. Our Mother wanted to stop for a visit with Uncle Joe Keene's who were close friends of the Taylor family. In fact the Keene's were their neighbors when both the Taylor's and the Keene's homesteaded on the parallel. In a few days we camped near the farm of the Keene's and were invited to come in for supper. The 2 boys and 2 girls and their father played music for us. All 4 of us children sat and listened, then we were served a nice lunch. We thanked them and said good-night and went back to our wagon to spend the night.

One night we camped near the farm home of a Dutch family. They were unusually hospitable, and invited us to come in the yard, be seated on chairs and benches for a visit. The yard was swept "spic and span" and eveything was clean and in fine order. The old Dutch father with his long-stem pipe was a sight long remembered. They gave us some apples.

Some place above Osbourne or Stockton we forded the Solomon River and to all of us that was a feat only our Father could do by his expert horsemanship.

The 4 of us children took turns sitting in the wagon seat by our Father as he drove along. If we were going to sit there as we came to a town we had to put on our shoes and stockings. Our Mother always wanted us to be clean and well-dressed. The weather was hot and dusty as it could be in August in Western Kansas. So usually we climbed back in the back part of the wagon rather than put on our shoes and stockings. The mornings and evenings were cool. In fact some mornings Edwin and Neal ran up and down the road to keep warm while breakfast was being prepared.

The first glimpse of our destination was Uncle Robert and Uncle George coming in from the field. We could see the old white horse we knew so well: "Old Jane". The tent where they lived came in view. The wind and dust was blowing and it was hot, but our Mother soon had a good supper ready- fried ham, fresh fried potatoes, roasting ears or fresh corn on the cob, was plentiful all along the trip; usually farmers were generous and told our folks to help themselves in the corn fields, however, sometimes we paid for the corn.

One day while we were there we went to Collyer, Kansas. The folks went to the store where they bought food for our lunch: graham crackers, cheese and other things. Uncle Robert bought some nice red, ice-cold pop for us children. It was so windy that day, we went to the back of the store and sat on the steps while we ate our lunch. Our Uncles were so good to us during our stay.

In a few days we started home. During the entire trip our Father hunted Prairie chickens. Our Mother cooked them. They were so good.

Another stop to see Taylor family friends was at Nicodemus, Kansas in Graham County. Nicodemus was settled by the "Exodusters" in the Fall of 1877. They were a group of negroes gathered together at Topeka, Kansas to move West under the Homestead Law of the United States. Our folks soon located the Lewis family. They were pleased to see our Mother. Several members of the Lewis family had been servants in the Taylor family. They had a short visit, then we drove on. A sight to be remembered in Nicodemus that day was the washings on the fences. It seemed as if every inch of fence in town was covered with laundry put out to dry. The population given in the 1960 cencus was 58 in Nicodemus. Today this figure is much less. After we traveled through Hill City and Nicodemus we turned North through Logan, Kansas. One night we stopped near here to visit family friends: the Harnetts who were former neighbors near our home 1 mile East of Jamestown.

An incident happened one night that caused alarm. A man driving a team hitched to a top buggy drove up close to our wagon, and stopped, quite late in the night. Our Mother who was always alert to noises, awakened our Father, who called out, "What do you want"? The driver quickly turned his team and left in the same direction from which he had come, at a high rate of speed. This was the only night on the trip that our Father had not been able to put the team in a stable. The team was tied to the back of the wagon that night. He always tried to camp near a farm home and get permission to tie the team in a stable for which he had paid the farmer. He was aware of the danger that the team might be stolen.

It was a rainy day when we stopped in Phillipsburg, Kansas and another day to be remembered.

We all cleaned up and put on our good clothes. The folks said we would go to visit awhile at Uncle Sam Taylor's, but instead of going there our Mother took the 4 of us shopping. She said each one of us could buy something nice to take home. Edwin and Neal bought large glass marbles which they kept for many years. Ethel bought a pretty doll. Marjorie bought a pressed glass sugar bowl and cream pitcher edged in gold: the gift I prize as it sits in my china cabinet today. I am sure we bought something for our Grandmothers and our Aunt Pim also.

In a few days we were at home again. We were so glad to see Grandma, but Shep had been bitten by a dog with rabies and we had to give him up. A fond recollection of this trip is the happiness and fun we experienced. Our parents were so happy and the memory of the trip is a pleasant one.

Written by Marjorie (McBride) Weaver Concordia, Kansas


(Editor's note: Marjorie was a cousin of Fred Taylor. Her Taylor lineage was Thomas / James / Edwin / Aurie. She was in the Taylor, McCart, Beaty, and Feather lines. The McBride children grew up on a farm just East of Jamestown- about 4-5 miles North and a little West of the Taylor place.) Marjorie was a big help to my getting started in genealogy twenty years ago.

Copyright, 1976, Marjorie (McBride) Weaver

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