In 1862, I bought a stage-coach and using the pony team, I took my three children, the youngest only two months old, and drove all the way to Nebraska. My husband was there and had started a little store just across from the pony express station on Plum creek.
Oh my, can you imagine??? A trip to the grocery store with three children used to exhaust me. Imagine taking them across country in a covered wagon!
With my wife and two small children I reached Omaha, Nebraska, June 26, 1868. We came direct from Norway, having crossed the stormy Atlantic in a small sailboat, the voyage taking eight weeks.
An ocean voyage, arrival in a new country (with another language) and then a trip out west to a wilderness — all with two small children!
In August Mrs. Cole came out and joined me. I had broken 30 acres and planted corn, harvesting a fair crop which I fed to my oxen and cows. Mrs. Cole made butter, our first churn being a wash bowl in which she stirred the cream with a spoon, but the butter was sweet and we were happy, except that Mrs. Cole was very homesick. She was only nineteen years old and a thousand miles from her people, never before having been separated from her mother. I had never had a home, my parents having died when I was very small, and I had been pushed around from pillar to post. Now I had a home of my own and was delighted with the wildness of Nebraska, yet my heart went out to Mrs. Cole. The wind blew more fiercely than now and she made me promise that if our house ever blew down I would take her back to Michigan.
You’ll be happy to read that Mrs. Cole stayed and they lived happily ever after in Nebraska. Literally!
Returning to Sidney in the autumn, I fell in with George Hendricks, who had been in the mines for twenty years and finally gave it up. We shoveled coal for the Union Pacific until we had a grub stake for the winter. I purchased a bronco, and upon him we packed our belongings—beds, blankets, tarpaulin, provisions, cooking utensils, tools, and clothing, and started north over the divide for “Pumpkin creek,” our promised land. In a little over a day’s travel, one leading the horse and the other walking behind to prod it along, we reached Hackberry cañon, and here, in a grove by a spring, we built our first cabin.
Three sides were log, the cracks filled with small pieces of wood and plastered with mud from the spring, and the back of the cabin was against a rock, and up this rock we improvised a fireplace, with loose stones and mud.
When we had rigged a bunk of native red cedar along the side of this rude shelter, and the fire was burning in our fireplace, the coffee steaming, the bread baking in the skillet, the odor of bacon frying, and the wind whistling through the tree-tops, that cabin seemed a mighty cozy place.
We could sometimes hear the coyotes and the grey wolves howl at night, but a sense of security prevailed, and our sleep was sound. Out of the elements at hand, we had made the rudiments of a home on land that was to become ours—our very own—forever.
This book is just packed with real, raw survival stories of Indian raids, blizzards, grasshopper plagues, drought, and scarcity. But it’s also full of success stories, rags to riches, sod shanties to big ranches, and poor farmers to state legislators. I think you’ll be inspired that anything is possible when you read the amazing stories of these pioneers who traveled west to find a wilderness awaiting them, and who proceeded to carve a civilization out of that wilderness.
This is a book to be read, preserved, and treasured for generations. It’s to be passed on to your children and grandchildren. History textbooks, revisionist classes, and editorial websites cannot be trusted to preserve our true history. Only in the written records of our ancestors can this truly happen.
Join me in keeping history alive by building a worthy library in your home.