A to Z Challenge: Suprise of a Snaky Nature

A family with 9 children survives life on the Kansas prairie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The experiences they have illustrate the joys, sorrows, hardships and everyday life of the Midwest pioneers. This faith filled series of stories is true. The eldest child was my great grandmother Alzina Pomeroy Boone.

And so Alzina Boone, widow, stepped back into teaching to support her young family. She was able to keep her children with her, thanks to her sister Sadie who stayed with them the first spring. The next year she persuaded Sadie’s beau, Park, to marry Sadie and move in with them and help with the farm as well. Most of the time she took Stanley, her oldest boy age 5, and John, age 4 with her to school while the girls stayed home with Sadie, or occasionally with her mother. She had all the worries of a mother, and a breadwinner, and a teacher. Children got sick, food got scarce, bills couldn’t be paid, but through it all, they stayed together and were glad for that.

The school teacher, Alzina Boone

Alzie’s story continues:

“Sadie and Park moved to his father’s farm the following autumn, 1898. I hired a girl, Mamie, to stay with me and my four children at Elizabeth Town, where I was paid $33 per month. I rented a two story house about a half mile from the school house, and close to neighbors, and my father and brothers hauled my household goods over to the new place. With my buggy and good driving pony, Kate, we thought we were well equipped for a prosperous year. But we had some exciting events, which spoiled our joy of living there, and tested our faith and courage.

I ordered some fresh hay delivered inside the barn door about the first of the first week we were there. I asked Mamie to fill the three ticks with fresh hay to be used as mattresses on the three beds. She filled the ticks during the day and let them lie on the hay pile till I came home to help carry them in. It was almost dark when we got the beds made. Our rooms were lighted with kerosene lamps.

I had put the children to bed, and they were soon asleep. Mamie and I sat on the top step of the stairway, talking over tomorrow’s plan when suddenly Ethel, the oldest girl, screamed in fright, as in a bad dream. I sprang to my feet holding the lamp in my hand and saw a dark snake about a foot long wriggling up and down her right arm, and off onto the floor. I exclaimed, “Oh Mamie, it’s a snake!”

Then she sprang to her feet with a scream and whirled me around, which motion put out the light, and without a match where we could find it . I started down the stairs for a match, but she wailed, “Don’t leave me up here!” So I commanded her to get a match. When we got the lamp lit, there was the snake darting up and down the wall from the floor. I seized a mop and stepped on one side of the bed and struck at the snake, but it vanished.

We hunted for an hour or so, but never found it. We decided it must have jumped out of a low open window beyond the foot of the bed. But it was very hard to give up looking for the snake and go to bed. A neighbor woman jokingly said next day, “I’ve heard of men having snakes in their boots, but never of women having snakes in the beds.”

A to Z Challenge: Qualms and Forebodings

A family with 9 children survives life on the Kansas prairie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The experiences they have illustrate the joys, sorrows, hardships and everyday life of the Midwest pioneers. This faith filled series of stories is true. The eldest child was my great grandmother Alzina Pomeroy Boone.

March 1897

“Milford was away from home a great deal that winter, engaged in the business of hunting and shipping game. His crop of corn to which he had planted 30 acres had not yielded well, and he was discouraged with farming as a way to get ahead. That autumn and winter he gave his time and attention to making a living with his gun. In his absence, we saw some hard times when food and fuel were scarce. We bought groceries on credit till the bill became so large the merchant demanded payment. I had to sell our last hog to satisfy the merchant. Occasionally we had only cornbread and water for our meal, but we made merry over it, playing we were birds, taking a bit and a sip, then “flying away” to return for another “bite and sip, etc.” The little house often rang with childish laughter. “Prattle and smile made home a joy and life was a merry chime” for the little ones, though I felt many misgivings and fears for the future, and nervous foreboding. I prayed much and God strengthened my heart, so when the blow came, I was able to bear it bravely. “

“About two weeks later, on a Sunday, Milford asked me if I wanted the driving horses kept in the barn after breakfast so I could take the children up to my folks, as he and a visiting hunter were going to another hunter’s for the day. I had so hoped he and the visitor would attend church at our schoolhouse that day with me. I told him pleadingly that I’d stay home if I could “make it like Sunday” for him. But he patted my cheek and said, “I guess we will go down to Daniel’s”.

“Monday, about ten o’clock, Milford was hunting about four miles from home. His partner’s gun went off accidentally and shot Milford just above his left hip, and he lived only 20 hours. He was conscious most of the time and told the partner and those who came to help him, “I can’t live. Take me to Father Pomeroy’s. I want to see Alzie and the children.”

More details of the sad day are told in Alzie’s sister’s account. Sadie wrote: “My brother-in-law had gone out before daylight the morning before with an 18 year old boy, to slip up to a big pond to shoot ducks. They were 4 or 5 miles from home and in a big pasture. They had shot into the flock and now were still in hiding and loading their guns. The boy’s gun went off accidentally and hit Milford in the back of his hip. The boy ran a mile to the nearest house to get help. The man was away from home, then all tired and scared he ran almost another mile further for help. He couldn’t talk plain and the woman thought he was a crazy bum and shut the door. When he got back to the first house the man was home and they drove into the pasture and brought my brother-in-law as far as my father’s home.”

Alzie finished the story this way: “The helpers got a good surgeon quickly, who dressed the wound carefully and relieved the pain for awhile, but he couldn’t do anything about the shot that reached internally. Milford’s last words were the prayer “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” but among sentences he tried to say before were “can’t you make Sunday?” And “I know Jesus can help me.” It was awful to see him suffer so cruelly, but I was thankful that he had those few hours of consciousness and could give such assurance of trust in Jesus. I’m so glad he wasn’t killed instantly as so many hunters are with no Christian hope.

He was buried in Geneva, Kansas, seven miles from our home. The text of the funeral sermon was John 13:7 “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”

I have met Milford in my dreams since, and always he seemed so happy, so serene, so heavenly. These dreams comforted me so much, and I believe God sent them to me.

Father and Mother invited me to stay and live with them, but I felt a longing to live in the house Milford had built for us as soon as we could get adjusted. I thought the children would grieve most to death for him, but being so young, and accustomed to his being away from home often, they didn’t keep him in mind very long. My grief was softened by my responsibility for my children, and by my assurance that I will see him again in heaven.”

April A to Z Challenge: Dogs and Animals

Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.

Dogs. Dogs and animals were a great asset in pioneer days. Most families had a dog around the farm for protection, and as a companion, but these animals were part of the work force, not necessarily pets. They were not fed manufactured food and taken to the groomer. They were not even allowed in the house.

The next few stories are about some of those animals that belonged to the Pomeroy family when my great grandmother Alzina was a child. Her sisters Sadie and Emma were writers and told the stories well so I will not rewrite what doesn’t need to be rewritten.

The Mad Dog Story

By Sarah (Sadie) Pomeroy Postlewait

When I (Sadie) was a child, our neighborhood was visited by a mad dog. By neighborhood I mean exactly that, for it seemed in one night’s time, every farmyard was visited by this creature. Cattle, horses, and hogs as well as dogs were bitten by him, while chickens and geese were greatly disturbed, and a number of them killed by this rabid beast.

I shall never forget that dark, cold night in the dead of winter when we were awakened by some dog fighting our dog Carlo. They were going round and round the house with poor Carlo yelping at a great rate. Carlo had two little pups in a box in the coal shed, which was a lean-to built against the north side of the house. Father went to the door and called, “Carlo, Carlo!” As the dogs came near Father opened the shed door and went back to bed. But soon he heard Carlo barking and whining again so pitifully. He again went to the door. As the light from the lamp shone out, he saw this strange dog run away. It was not Carlo at all.

Again Father began to call Carlo, and going out to the shed, he found both puppies nearly chewed up. One was dead and the other barely alive. He brought the box into the kitchen. The strange dog came near the door but seemed to be dazed by the light. Father kicked the dog aside and it ran away. Soon Carlo came in answer to his call and he turned her into the kitchen also and shut the door, never dreaming that the visiting dog was a mad dog.

The following morning is indelibly stamped on my memory. As we reached the road on our way to school, we saw the Gardner children and they waited for us. Then we saw the Ellsworth children coming behind, and we waited for them. All were very talkative concerning a strange dog that had made great disturbance around the houses and yards the night before.

At recess the older boys ran out to play town ball, while we children played around in the school yard. Almost everybody had been telling dog stories, and some children declared their papa believed it was a mad dog. This added new thrill to our stories but I was sure it was not so, for my papa did not say so!

The ball game was going fine and the first runner was standing on third base, just ready to make his home run, when he heard a noise under the house, for third base was at the southeast corner of the schoolhouse. One stone was out of the foundation, so he stooped down and looked under. It was too dark to distinguish what was under there, so he called out, “Oh boys, there’s a rabbit under here!” All the boys came running, one bringing a board with which to hit it. They put the board in the hole and… (Continued in the next post!)