Abbie B., age 22, Kansas


Wanted to write before; had no time. When one has nothing but a dutch oven to bake in, and four men to eat bread (J. R. does not stay on his claim as he should) it keeps one busy.

Must go back and write up. I had baked the Fri. they came. Then baked again Sat. to have bread and pies over Sun. It was supper time before I got ginger cookies baked. Brother H had found some elder berries at the river, enough fore one pie. There were five of us for dinner, so I cut it into five pieces, Mr. Rose coming while we were at dinner. I treated him to my piece.  That day the men were up and over the country and along the river. When they came back at eve—they had made arrangement to go hunting Monday, and said I should bake a lot of bread. I set yeast that eve, and baked all a. m. Sunday, got dinner, after that was tidied up, I was glad to lie down. I had taken quinine to ward off the ague. I would not be sick while they were here, if I could help it. After resting, felt better and got supper. Another heavy shower and it came in at the door.

Monday put the house to rights, packed provision and beding— and were ready when Jake drove up with a team of mules to a waggon, and J. R. and George, who lives with Jake, rode the other two. They loaded an open barrel in which to pack the meat, a sack of salt, wood to cook with, bacon & skillet, bread and coffeepot, ct. The driver called to me “Here is a good place to sit,” and I climed up to the spring seat, over which a blanket was folded. “All ready” and away we went to the south west, away from the Ninnescah, all in gay spirits.

I had given up going on a hunt, after we had so much ague. Now we were on the way, and it was quite exciting—

The buffalo had been within six or eight miles of us a few days before. The hearders had shot some, and driven others away. Now there was no telling how far we would have to go, or if we would see any at all. When out about six miles we passed two carcasses that had lately been shot.

We went by a dogtown, and saw them frisk into their holes. We also saw antelopes, prairie chickens and a gray wolf. This was upland prairie, short grass—buffalo grass, no trees or brush in sight.

All watched to see the first buffalo—which we spied some five miles on, and to our left. We went on, and soon saw five more, within 3/4 mile. It was decided, that as Brother H and cousin Tom had to hurry home, the hunters would try to get one or more of those, and go no farther. So we camped there at Sandy creek, fed the mules—and had lunch. Philip and Jake being the best marks men—started in the direction of the buffaloes. The depres­sion of the creek hiding them somewhat. They are very hard to kill, unless close enough to shoot them in the eye, or back of the shoulder. Rather than run a chance of loosing them, they decided to wound them that they could not run far. The one Philip shot, had its leg broken and went a little farther, but the other one though wounded went a bout a mile. The men hitched the team, we drove near the first one, and we all got out of the waggon, they walked nearer.  I stayed by the team. We were all looking at the fallen monarch of the prairie, when unexpectedly he jumped up made a dash toward the team, which in turn dashed to run, I being near grabbed a bridle, and managed to hold them.

That was the buffalos last effort, he fell and was dead.  The boys complimented me on “saving the day” as they said. They began at once to cut up the meat, some at one anamel, and others had driven over to the one farther away. They saved only the hind quarters. While they were doing that—nine big ones passed within half a mile, and in the distance we saw a great heard cross the divide, graze on this side, then cross back.

We drove back to Sandy creek—and camped for the night, as it was well toward evening. The boys spread the waggon cover on the grass—then cut the meat in pieces to cool, and put it on the cover, while cousin Tom and I got supper.

We had brought wood for fire, and cooking water along.  Besides bacon—we had buffalo stake, bread and coffee, which we ate from and drank from tin cups. How all enjoyed that supper. How they joaked and laughed, for every one was satisfied with the days sport.

My eyes hurt from looking so much, and the hot sun. Brother H put a robe under the waggon, and I laid down—using a comfort for cover, as it grew cool when the sun went down. I kept on my sun bonnet—to keep insects out of ears and hair. I did not sleep much, the boys were so noisy. A skunk chaced J. R. and he could not come back to camp, until one of the boys— went out and shot it. Then when all would get quiet, I suppose someone would say something funny, and another laugh would follow.

The first thing we heard Tuesday early, was brother H crowing with all his might. Some salted and packed the meat in the barrel, others got breakfast, and still others fed the mules.

That over we started back, with all the mules hitched to the waggon.  I drove some miles “four in hand,” and felt great.

Sometimes I drove through a buffalo wallow, where they had lately rolled in the dust, and we would all get a jolt. Brother H- and cousin Tom, were pleased with the hunt: so was I. After we have been having the ague so much, I had not expected I would have a chance to go.

We reached home before noon. Mr. Rose came and got some meat for himself and gmires.   We did not want much.  I set sponge at once to bake, as the boys leave tomorrow and I want bread for their lunch. I pelted the sponge, and baked after the others had gone out to sleep.

Brother H wanted me to go with him, but I said no, I will stay the six months—and I wont leave P- now. Up early next morning. I wanted to go along as far as Lanes. A heavy dew, and the boys thought I had better stay home, but I wanted to go so badly.

They went ahead, I followed holding up my clothes the best I could. My shoes, stockings, and even garters got wet. When we reached North’s house they were hitching the team. When we got to Lanes I got out, and they drove on. It hurt to see them go. Mr. & Mrs. L and her brother were all ailing. I tidied the house, and worked all a. m. to give her a rest. After dinner I got a chill then fever.

I said I must go home, I did not want to leave brother alone. She urged me to stay, that Mr. L would take me home in the morning. I knew how it would go in the morning, and said if they would get the pony, I’d go.

When I got as far as the North house (bachelors Rest) I stoped to rest. George lifted me from the saddle, Mr. Smith made a cup of tea—and after a time was able to ride on, Mr. Smith insisting that George get a horse and ride along. I thank them whenever I think of it as I was hardly able to sit on the pony, and I found Philip with fever again.

*(kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply)