EARLY EXPERIENCE
By S. C. Turnbo

In speaking of the early days in Maries County, Mo. Mr. W. P. Stone who was born and reared in that part of Missouri says, "My father as well as others would catch coons and make caps out of their hides and wear them. They wore them with the tail hanging down at the back of their necks. They were called coon skin caps. Wolves were so numerous and bold that they would chase our dogs over the fence into the yard. I recollect that when I was very small we owned a fierce bulldog we called Sailor because he could run fast and was a neat looking dog. The wolves when they would catch him outside of the yard would dart at him and Sailor would turn his heels to them and rush for the yard fence and leap over into the yard and run to the door for protection. I recollect one time he had ventured too far from the house when the wolves got after him and the dog beat a hasty retreat for the house but the dog did not go fast enough to suit one of the wolves and one of the wolves rushed up behind the dog and caught him by the hind leg. But Sailor tore loose from the wolf and outstripped him to the yard fence and the dog leaped over into the yard and another jump or two he landed in the house where he was out of danger. Paydown and Viena were our two post office addresses. In the very early settlement of Maries County Viena was the county seat and was situated 2 miles west of the Gasconade River. I was born and raised 28 miles south of west of Indian ford of the Gasconade at the mouth of Indian Creek we lived on the east side of the river. I just can remember that a family of Catholics lived in our neighborhood. One day while the river was swollen a few feet this man’s wife started on horse back with an infant child to visit a Catholic Priest who lived on the west side of the river to have her child sprinkled with "holy water" and in her attempt to ford the river at the Indian ford she got into deep water and her and the child were drowned.

You want to know something about how we broke ground in those early days" said Mr. Stone. "We broke sod with the old fashioned cary rod plows with wooden mold board three feet in length. The sod was so tough that we were compelled to use from 3 to 6 yoke of cattle to pull the plow. I have drove as many as 5 yoke of oxen hitched to one of these plows for several days in succession while my father held the handles of the plow and guided it. My father though was not much of an ox man, he took more interest in raising horses than cattle. But Ruben Gilmore Stone my uncle was a cattle man and taken a great deal of pains in raising cattle and using them on the farm and I would often drive the oxen for him while he was plowing."

Next Story | Table of Contents