In early September, out in the vast prairie, with only wagon ruts as a road, a covered wagon inched along, two little boys walking beside it, in sight of their parents. There were seven people in this little group, husband and wife Joe and Lillian Bauer, their 8 year old daughter Callie, their 3 sons Morgan, Ford, and the youngest, little Cole. Also along with them was their neice and cousin, 8 year old Charlotte Holton. She was only a few months older than her cousin Callie.
They had been traveling quite a long time, had a few hardships, such as sickness and broken wagon wheels and the nearly unbearable hot weather, being the most of their worries. They trudged on to their destination. It being the beautiful Iowa prairie.
"Ma, I'm hungry!" The 6 year old boy beside the wagon complained.
"Morgan..." Lillian sighed. "Sometimes I swear you're always hungry!"
"Can we stop and you make something?! Please?!" He whined.
"No..." She said calmly. "But we'll stop and you can fix something. There's lard...and we have some bread left."
"But I hate lard sandwiches!"
"You mustn't complain...There's folks like us who have less than that or nothing."
"I tired!" The 4 year old walking with Morgan spoke up. They were all tired...Lillian's back ached from the jolting of the wagon, and the weight of her youngest on her lap, but she was quiet about it. "You came come in the wagon and rest, Ford."
"And can I get something to eat?!"
"Of course, Morgan!" Joe said sharply to his oldest son. "That's enough whining now!" Joe stopped the horses that were pulling the wagon. A beautiful dark colored Morgan horse, the breed their oldest boy was named for, and a pretty sorrel colored horse. He was a beautiful, rich, coppery color...Both horses had coal black manes and tails. Their names were Sunset, because one was a reddish color, like the sunset...and Shiloh, which means 'his gift'. And the Morgan horse was a gift to the family, so they thought what better name to name him than a name than that?
"Yes Pa." The boy answered.
Little Ford scrambled into the wagon. It wasn't hard for him at all since he loved to climb things! Morgan got in after him and had to settle with a lard sandwich. Ford lay down on a feather bed to rest.
"Charlotte...will you take the baby for me, please?"
"Y-yes." Charlotte stuttered, taking the almost one year old baby and set him on her lap. Charlotte was Lillian's brother's daughter. There was an Indian attack where they lived a few months back...the Indians scapled her mother and father, right in front of her! Though sobbing and extremely terrified, she managed to escape and run the 20, 30 or so miles to her Aunt and Uncle's homestead claim. Yet, she was so tramatized, she could hardly speak now. Only yes or no questions, and small phrases...and when she would try to speak, she stuttered.
"Y-your a-arms t-tired?" She asked.
"I'll be alright, Lottie." Lillian smiled at her neice. Though she couldn't talk much...you could feel how she was feeling, and what a sweet heart Charlotte had.
"Lil, we're all tired..." Joe admitted. "We'll stop and rest awhile."
"Alright." She said, getting out of the wagon seat. "Oh, how it feels so good to walk around!" Lillian laughed.
"It feels good to sit down too, Ma!" Morgan grinned.
"I'm sure of that." She smiled, leaning her arms on the back of the wagon, and ruffled his dark brown hair so it stood up wildly in different directions. He laughed, trying his best to smooth his hair back. "How's everything back here?" She smiled. Lillian was a pretty little thing. Wavy brown hair coiled into a bun. Her deep, rich brown eyes sparkled when she smiled or laughed.
"We're fine, Ma." Callie said softly. "Are we in Iowa yet?" She asked.
"Yes...at least as far as I know we are."
"Will we live in town?"
Her father was sitting on the wagon seat, still holding the reins. "We'll be living 10, maybe 20 miles outside the town, best as I can figure."
"Will we go to school?" She asked. Callie just loved going to school.
"If the town doesn't have a school, I shall teach you at home." Her mother answered.
"Pa, will there be a house already there or are we gonna build it?" Morgan asked.
"I'm not sure...we'll find out when we get there." Joe answered.
"We can build all the buildin's we need, I bet!"
"Yes, I'm sure we can..." Lillian smiled.
"Let's head out again...I want to get to a place where we can set up camp for the night." Joe called, eager to get going again.
"All ready back here?" Lillian asked the children.
"Do I gotta get out and walk again?" Morgan asked.
"Have to..." Callie corrected him.
"Same thing!" He yelled and pushed her.
"Morgan John..." Lillian said, giving her son a look that he knew if he'd continue, he'd be taken a switch to! Morgan hated that look.
"Sorry Callie..." He appoligized to his older sister.
"You can ride in the wagon...but if I hear you fighting, you're back out and you'll walk the rest of the way."
"Yes Ma." Morgan sobered up.
Lillian got back up on the wagon bench and they set out again. Over rolls of greenish-golden Iowa prairie, sprigged with beautiful Iowa wildflowers. The children sat there and watched the world go by. They saw some brown things in the distance...and the closer they got, they bigger they became. There were hundreds of them, all trudging in a thick line across the spacious land. The covered wagon stopped ahead of them and gazed on.
"Pa, look at the big, furry, brown cows!" Ford shrieked with excitement!
Joe Bauer had to laugh. "They're buffalo, son..."
"What's a buffawoe?"
"It's!...It's!...I don't know what it is." Callie said.
"Ford was very close...It is a type of cattle." Joe told them.
"A type of horned cattle..." Lillian added. "Very different from a milk cow."
"I'd say!" Callie laughed.
Soon the buffalo herd crossed over, out of sight. The little covered wagon inched along. In the back of the wagon, all the children were. Charlotte was playing with Baby Cole, and Callie with her cloth doll Amy. Amy was made of nice flesh colored cloth for her skin, with big blue buttons for her eyes, and a drawn on nose and mouth. The doll had yellow yarn for her hair, braidied with blue pieces of yarn at the ends for ribbons. She had on a little blue calico dress, with a little apron and bonnet. It was Callie's very first little doll, and her mother helped her make it...She let the baby play with it, but all he did was stick it in his mouth and drool on it.
"No!..Don't do that!" Callie said and snatched her cloth doll from his grasp. It was hers after all.
"H-he can't h-help it...B-babies d-do th-that." Charlotte stuttered, nodding her head slightly. Callie knew it was true. He was just a baby and didn't know any better. So she let him play with it, but each time he tried to put it in his mouth, she grabbed it.
Morgan and Ford were towards the back of the wagon, Morgan leaned his arms out and watched the greenish-gold prairie grasses dance over the prairie as their little covered wagon moved farther and farther along. He was excited to be going to a new place...He wasn't sure why they were going but he heard Pa say the Indians were getting thicker and thicker where they lived. Hostile Indians... Ma had told him there would probably be Indians no matter where they lived, but Pa said it was time for them to move on somewheres else and they would cross that bridge when they came to it. Morgan didn't know what that meant, what did bridges have to do with Indians?
Morgan's blue eyes gazed out the back of the wagon and he day-dreamed. He imgained what their new home would be like...Pa said where they were going had woods all around them...with tons of wild animals living in it. Animals like deer and rabbit and squirrels, dove and quail and turkeys and pheasant and mink and who knows what else! Pa said he would teach him how to trap some of them, once he got old enough. Say 10, 11 years old or so. Morgan was only 6, but he wished to know how to trap, and he hoped he could prove to Pa that he was old enough. Morgan hoped there was a river or creek near where they lived, cause he and Ford knew how to fish! They loved it, and they knew them bringing fish in would help Ma a lot. Still, what he really wanted to do was learn how to trap game with his Pa.
Ford's squeaky voice brought Morgan back into reality. "PA, IS THAT THE TOWN?!" The four year old was so excited, he couldn't help shouting!
"Watch where you're yellin'!" Morgan told him.
"It's a town." Callie told him. "That doesn't mean it's the town we're going to living by,...right Pa?."
"That's right, Cal." He told her. "I think this is Black Hawk County...well, we might as well stop here, ask directions and get some more provisions..."
"HOO-RAY!" Morgan and Ford yelled and drummed their hands on the wagon floor! "We get to go in a General Store!" They hollered and drummed their hands on the floor some more. They loved going in stores to see all the clothing and dry goods, but most of all...they loved looking longingly at the BIG jars of candy and all of the fun toys in the general store.
"Boys, boy, boys!...Quiet down now!" Lillian laughed at her two sons.
Joe made a few clicks with his mouth, snapped the reins and Sunset and Shiloh set off in a gallop across the prairie. The children were so excited as they neared the town! Soon they were there going through the town. Buildings made of wood that looked sort of weathered, so it wasn't a brand new town. There was a hotel...and a church...and a schoolhouse, snow white with its stone steps and its small bell tower and little red brick chimney. Also there were a few houses in betweenand other buidlings. Soon they were in front of the General Store. Joe stepped down from the wagon seat and helped Lillian down. She walked around to the back of the covered wagon.
"Everyone out, now!" Lillian smiled. "Boys, let Callie and Charlotte go first."
The boys waited while Callie jumped down from the wagon. Charlotte stepped down while Lillian had taken baby Cole. As soon as the little one saw his mother, he broke out in the most adorable little toothy grin, and his blue eyes squinted. Lillian sweetly talked to him and smoothed his thin brown hair. "Now, lets see how you all look before we go in." She said to the children.
Callie stood there, wearing her burgundy wine-colored calco dress with a cream muslin bonnet and pinafore. Her deep brown braids hung down, and they were so itchy she wished she could rip off her bonnet and let it hang down her back too! But they were in town and it was still warm weather in the daytime, so she must keep it on till her mother said otherwise. Charlotte stood next to her, holding her hand. Dark eyes and dark brown braids peeped out from beneath her white bonnet. She was wearing a cream dress sprigged with little green sprigs. Over that, she wore a starched white pinafore. Both little girls wore brown boots, buttoned carefully with a button-hook. They passed the little 'inspection' so Lillian went onto the boys, who were trying to hide behind their father!
Lillian chuckled at her 4 and 6 year olds. "Boys, I can still see you...and you look fine." They were both wearing buckskin colored trousers and suspenders. Morgan wearing a green plaid buttoned shirt, and little Ford wore a plain blue one.
"Up we go!" Joe called out and grabbed 4 year old Ford and set him on his shoulders, placing his own hat on the little boy's head. The little boy giggled and lifted the hat up and held it so he could see where they were walking. Joe lead the way, follewed by Lillian and the girls, hand in hand. And Morgan was the caboose.
Lillian let the children go looking around the store as long as they were quiet, while she and her husband decicded on what to buy to replace what they've used so far on the trip.
"We're out of flour and saleratus, almost out of salt." Lillian said. So Joe asked the man for 5 pounds of each. Joe put in a couple cans of oysters in too. "You can make us a stew for supper."
"In such hot weather?! Joe!" She looked at him like he was crazy!
"I told you!" He chuckled. "They say Iowa gets cooler at night this time of year. It'll be fine." Joe paid for their purchases and the storekeeper started up a conversation.
"Hello! Good to see some new faces!...Welcome to the town of Waterloo." Said the storekeeper.
"Thank you, sir! Name's Joe Bauer and this is my wife, Lillian." Joe replied. "We're just passing through and stopped to pick up a few needed things...You know how to get to Linn County by any chance?"
"Sure do...'bout 54 miles from here...Let's see...you can go south into Benton County...and then east into Linn County."
"Thank you...much obliged."
"Going to settle in Linn County?"
"Yes sir...outside the town of Cedar Rapids."
"You folks have a safe trip out."
Joe shook the man's hand and nodded a thank you, while Lillian went rounding up her little boys. She found them, in the back of the store, playing with the little spinning tops that schoolchildren play with.
"Boys, those aren't yours to play with...stop that, please."
"Can't we get them, Ma?!" Morgan begged.
"No, now come along and let's find the girls, we'll be leaving soon." Lillian went off to find Callie and Charlotte, and Morgan and Ford followed behind her. She saw the girls looking at all the dolls and other playthings. Charlotte stood there gazing at the most beautiful China doll.
"C'mon girls...time to leave." She said softly. Shifting the baby back up on her hip.
"Yes Ma." Callie said, and walked with her brothers out to the wagon.
Lillian was about to leave with Charlotte when a lady stopped them.
"Your girls are so darlin'...especially this little cutie. So quiet and well behaved." The lady patted Charlotte on the shoulder. Charlotte looked up at her Aunt Lillian as if wanting to correct the lady, but Lillian smiled and pressed a finger to her lips. She said thank you to the middle-aged lady and she went her own way. Lillian smiled at Charlotte and put her free arm around her and they walked out the door together. To Lillian, Charlotte was just like a daughter to her, she just wished that someday, she and Joe could make it a reality.