Thursday, November 6, 2008

Covered Wagon Expedition

The report that follows was written by my mother about twenty-five years ago, to go along with the picture above. The occasion was for her grandson (named Grover) to have something for a "Show and Tell" class in elementary school. The story is about my mother's father (also named Grover) and his wife, Effie. She wrote it as if it were the young Grover telling the story to his classmates as he held up the painting shown above: "Grandmother, at the age of 4, traveled in a covered wagon to Oklahoma to a farming country near Fort Sill. The family (consisting of her, her mother, and her father) was all that was on the long trip. They had their belongings and what they would need for camping along the way. A team of horses was used to pull the covered wagon that transported them. It took 17 days to make the trip from Lead Hill, Arkansas. Among their belongings were 16 head of mules. My great grandfather said that at night when they camped, he would tie the team of horses out to graze the green grasses. In the early mornings when they would start to travel again, all the mules would follow the wagon. When they would pass through a town, the mules would all get very close to the wagon for protection. No mules were lost. One night at camp, my grandmother and my great grandmother laid their hats on the coupling pole (or wagon tail) for the night. The next morning, they left camp really early, and forgot about the hats hanging on the back of the covered wagon. Needless to say, the hats were lost. The family came back to Arkansas by another mode of travel within the next two years." I am very thankful my mother wrote out this account, because it gives a little glimpse of what life was like in rural Arkansas in 1919. It is a reminder to me that what we call "hard times" today, dims in comparison to the hardships of life that our ancestors experienced. As far back as I can remember, anytime I was going to be traveling in Oklahoma, mother would tell me to keep a lookout for that hat she lost---Sooooo, if you ever see an old hat blowing like a tumbleweed across the fields, remember this story! Miles of smiles! Tricia
ADDENDUM:  I recently had the opportunity to travel along two historic pioneer trails, and observed two items that reminded me of my mother's story about traveling by covered wagon with her parents.  The first was a mural in the town of Hines, Oregon, in Southern Oregon, that had a mural reflecting its location on the Oregon Trail.  Since it showed a mother and daughter in bonnets, I thought of my mother and grandmother, wearing their bonnets!
The other item I saw was in Lamar, Kansas, along the historic Santa Fe Trail.  It was a statue called "The Madonna of the Trail", of a pioneer mother---facing the unknown with her children.  She was wearing a bonnet, as well!
I am thankful for these reminders of the hardships our ancestors overcame when they were pioneers in this country called the United States of America.  Remembering their perseverance, gives me "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia

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