Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sundays with Steve - Crossing the Plains

These Sunday's segments are written by my husband, Mr. Jenny. Here's what he has to say about his posts:

Since I’ve started writing “Sundays with Steve”, I’ve been thinking about vignettes of my life growing up in North Idaho. I realize the town where I grew up and the life I lived with my family is really a classic, all-American story. Perhaps you will recognize some of your childhood in these writings. And perhaps you will recognize the town you grew up in along with some of the characters you knew. Mrs. Steve has encouraged me to write these attempts of “creative writing” as opposed to the more factual journalistic style I was trained in and practiced in my early career many years ago. So my apologies if I stumble a bit here and there trying to blend the two styles together.

This is a continuation of Crossing the Plains, a fascinating tale of a covered wagon trip from Missouri to the Washington Territory in the post-Civil War period when the U.S. population poured to the West. It was written by a distant great great aunt, Barbara Jane Matlock McRae in 1939, when she was 81. This story will occupy this space for the next several weeks, as it is a fascinating peek into what we often consider the pioneer days.

Part 2

The next town we came to was Lexington Misouri. Hear we crossed the Misouri river back to the other side. We dident have much excitement from there till we got to kansas city. We had been on the road about three weeks. We camped on a high place out at the edge of the city with no timber near our camp. My father thought he would ship through to Salt Lake from kansas city and we could reach washington territory that same fall of 1874. He tried to charter a car and use one end of it for the too teams and the other end for the family and wagons and plunder. The boys and he could take care of the teams but the rail road officials wouldent do that. They would like the family go on the regular passenger train and would take the teams wagons and plunder in a regular freight car but wouldent let any one go with them to take care of them. But father thought too much of his team. He was afraid to chance them with strangers. One of them was a viscious animal with strangers. Rail road officials were not very accommodating in those days.

We campted at kansas city for three days. On the second day the wind started to blow. I have never seen such a hard wind and dust till you couldent see. It blew our tent down and all got then into the covered wagons. But we was afraid the wind would blow them over. We had to do with a cold lunch that night. The big boys whose bed was under the tent weighted it down with big stones and crawled under. The rest of the family went to bed in the wagons but dident know but what we would be blown away. It was cold too, we put blankets on the mules and they were tied to the back of the wagons. I will say it was a terable experience for new beginners at camping. The next morning the wind had ceased blowing so hard. It took us all fore noon to get the dust out of things and cook something to eat. It was no small job to cook in a camp of that kind for twelve people. The children were all well trained and knew their places. By noon of the third day we bid good by to kansas city. We crossed the misouri river on a large bridge. It was the first large bridge we saw. We waited for a long train to come across and when we pulled on that was exciting for us youngsters. We struck to the misouri river valey and followed a long narrow dusty road. I suppose it is a highway now but in those days paved roads and highways weren’t thought of

Some times we were along the river and some times we were far from it. There were large farms along the valey that had large corn fields and wheat fields that had been harvested and gardens and orchards. Picking applies were in progress.


(c) 2010 Stephen J. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Stephen J. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Stephen J. Matlock. All rights reserved.


Donnie said...

Looks like I'm going to have a good read for the next few weeks. We have photos of my hubby's family camping in a homemade tent in the early 50's. Add on Luggage bars on top of the car had a box built into them by his grandfather that had a tent type structure for sleeping. It slept 2 and he had a built out tent on the side for their youngest daughter. Don still can't imagine his grandmother doing that.

Pondside said...

You're so fortunate to have this record from living memory, of an iconic time in your country's history. I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the past - you are so wise not to edit your great aunt's voice. I look forward to more installments.

Kat said...

This is so fascinating! I can't imagine the hardships they faced, I get uptight if I'm stuck in a traffic jam and it adds 10 minutes to my trip :) Kat

Ames said...

I just started reading your series, Crossing the Plains, and I love it! I crave more.
When my husband and I traveled around the state of Montana last year I bought a book on women homesteaders. The history of western movement, the life and hardships they endured fascinates me.

You are very fortunate to have this piece of history to know and share. I am still trying to find out who my ancestors were beyond my great grandparents.
Can't wait to read your next installation. ~Ames

Anonymous said...

I love stories like this and I am looking forward to reading every chapter. Very enjoyable read.

Judie said...

I'm lovin' this, Mr. Steve! I can't wait until next Sunday to read more!!!