Abbie B., age 22, Kansas


We started early next morning, expecting to come to timber soon, and have a warm breakfast, but we were farther from Walnut Creek than they thought, and it was nearly noon when we stoped, and had a good warm meal of bacon, coffee, and the rest of what we brought along.

After leaving W a few miles, there were almost no signs of settlers. The first settlers always choose clames near some stream where they can get wood for fuel. Most of the way there was no road—just went acrost the prairie in the direction of where they expected to find Augusta.

After eating we drove on into Augusta. While Mr. Stafford cared for the team, we went direct to the Land Office.   I waited in an adjoining room, while brother went in. They were very busy. Brother knew one of the clerks, and we were waited on, sooner than we other-wise would have been; which was fortunate for us. Philip had attended to all the prelimatery parts, before I was called in. I had little to do, beside sign my name and pay $1.25 an acre or $200—, and some office fees, after which we received a certificate. The pattent will be made out in Washington, D. C, and sent to us. Now I am the owner of 160 acres of land. Were my nice smooth land in Pa. it would be worth a little fortune.

We left Augusta before 4 p. m. and had reached Four Mile Creek when it began to rain very hard. There was a frame house near the timber, Philip went there and asked if I could stay all night. They said I could, and the boys went and camped among the trees.

I had a good nights rest—  a good supper and breakfast.

I wanted to pay Mrs. Long but she would not let me. I should write her a letter when I go home, that would be all the pay she wanted.   I certainly shall write to her. One of their daughters was home. I spent a very pleasant eve­ning. She asked me about my Summer—and my home in the East, and told me of their many moves— They were comfortably settled now, but her husband was getting restless, talked of moving to Medacine Lodge.

In the morning it was colder, and the rain had turned to snow. The most dessolate and disagreeable day I ever knew. The snow soon covered the tracks we were trying to follow, and at times they did not know which way to go. The waggon cover protected us some, but the snow blew, and we could only see a little way ahead, and it was so cold.

We expected to strike the Arkansas river at a place they called El Paso.We missed the road, and came to the river ten miles be­low El Paso. Two men who had charge of the ferry there, said the ferry was out of order, that they would fix it in the morning, and take us over We had expected to reach Lanes that evening— but had to camp there by the river. They made fire and stretched a blanket between trees, to shelter me, while I tried to warm myself. I asked Philip if I could not go to the dugout and get warm.  He said “no it is too dirty a place for you.”

We were out of bread. So the boys had the men bake us some biscuits for supper, after which Philip fixed the waggon— and I went and laid down. He charged me “If you take off your shoes, keep them near you, or they will freeze, and you cant get them on in the morning.” It was cold, however I had plenty of blankets and my comfort, and I slept a little.

Philip slept under the waggon with Mr. S and J. R. by the fire. Every where it was so wet and snowy. I think they got little sleep. They called the storm a “Northener.” I would never have believed it could get so cold in sunny Kansas. The men baked more biscuit for our breakfast, and we had bacon, coffee and gravy to go with the biscuits. The ferry was out of order, and the boys worked hard to get it fixed. Then when they tried to use it, it stuck fast on a sand bar, and was no good.

Too provoking, we had lost the whole morning.

When they found they could not use the ferry, and get paid for taking us acrost, they told of a place a mile down the river where we could ford. We drove down and crossed without much trouble, except the ice bothered the horses.

We reached Bell Plain about 2 p. m. I went into a house to warm while they fed the horses. They bought a sack of crackers— but could get no bread. I had been dull and stupid, and a chill followed by fever came on. Philip was worried, and tried to make it as comfortable in the waggon as he could. I do not remember about the rest of the trip, until some one said “Now we are acrost the Ninnescah.” Then I roused up for I knew we would soon be to Lanes. We stayed here all night. I was so tired, I thought I might as well stay and visit her now as I would soon be starting East.  Philip went to the dugout and moved some things down to his cabin by the river, thinking it would be warmer. J. R. has his trunk at Jakes and is patiently or impatiently, waiting for a chance to go to Wichita. Too far, and too bad walking to go to Springers. So I finish this then write a letter.

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