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The following letter was written by Mrs. Elma Childers in May of 1889, to family just 19 days after the Land Run of April 22, 1889 establishing the town of Edmond. The letter describes the hardships experienced by Edmond homesteaders. The passage “I was Lonesome, Awful Lonesome” were her words, descriptive of tent-living just after the Land Run. The Childers made the run by traveling through the South Canadian River’s quicksand to stake their claim. Women pioneers raised their families in tough conditions and many hardships. Childers was eventually the mother of six children and died at the young age of 34 in 1904.
May 11, 1889
I will endeavor to answer your welcome letters. We received them last Tuesday. The nearest post office is sixteen miles from here and that is Oklahoma City. We can mail our letters at Edmond, but can’t receive our mail there. The boys, (Ed and Jim) have gone to the city today for mail. I don’t expect they will be back tonight but John is here with me so I won’t be afraid.
He has been with us since the 22nd. He said he wasn’t going to work for Indians any longer. I think he couldn’t stand it to be so far away from Edd. He is thinking of going home before long.
I do wish you could have seen the race of the 22nd. It was a sight indeed. Everyone was so excited that they couldn’t stand still. All of the men along the South Canadian River got as far in the river as they possibly could without sinking in the quicksand and there waited for the hour of noon to come. When it was 12 o’clock they all gave a loud cheer and then went like a shot, not quite so fast perhaps but still at the heist speed on their horses. We are very well pleased with our place. We have some garden in and some corn. I don’t know what kind of a house we will have, log or frame. If the saw mill comes anywhere near we will have some sawed timber to build with. If not a log house will do. For my part I had just as soon live in a nice log house as I would in a frame.
We are still living in one tent and I think it is pretty crowded. There are two beds, two trunks, a table, meat box, my cupboard (Edd’s tool chest), 3 or 4 tin cans to sit on (we don’t use chairs in this country), and a box of Jim’s, John’s valise, a box of clean clothes and a basket of dirty ones. The cook stove and a big box are outside the door. Now just imagine what my house looks like I hope before long to be in a house, and have thins fixed up a little.
Well, this is Sunday, and so lonesome. No church or any place to go and no one to come here. I tell you girls you may think you are lonesome sometimes, but if you want to know how you feel when you are lonesome, you must move away from your friends to a new country and be by yourself nearly all day. It seems to me sometimes as if there were no one in the whole world that cared anything for me and I just couldn’t stand it any longer.
The first time I came over here Jim (Carpenter) came after me and we were crossing the North Canadian River, Winnie and I tumbled into the river. I went up to my neck in water, and Winnie went clear under but we got out all right and rode the rest of the way in our wet clothes. It didn’t hurt us a particle. I tore my dress and skirt off the band trying to get out and I guess Jim and John McBride) saw my bustle but I don’t care if they didn’t see more than that.
Edd and I was over in the South Canadian River last week after a load of things. It took us a day to go and two days to come back. It is thirty miles across the country, but we went around the road and that made it about 40 miles.
Winnie is getting to be such a big baby now. She grows nearly all of the time. She eats and drinks just like a grown person. I haven’t put her in short clothes yet but intend to do so before long. I think the dress that Aunt Ida sent will fit very nicely. The bonnet that Matt sent is a little too large but she will soon grow big enough to wear it. She has a little white hood that she is wearing at present.
May 23, Wed. Morning…..
Well it has been two weeks since I commenced this letter. Edd brought your letter and one from Ma last night. I didn’t get to read them then but I did before I got up. John went down to your father’s place Sunday morning and in the afternoon Geo. Tine came. Monday morning Edd, Jim, and G.R. started for his (Geo.’s) place leaving me all alone. I expected John home that night but he didn’t come and of course I had to stay by myself and all day yesterday and half of last night for the boys didn’t come until 12 or 1 o’clock. I was lonesome, awful lonesome. I wish you would move down here. We
could see each other a little oftener than we would if you stay up there. And then Ida there is such a pretty place to build on your claim, and on the whole it is so much better and nicer than where you are now. If you could only move your house and all that is in it, it would be nicer still, wouldn’t it? I suppose Ma told you she is going to Ohio to live. If she goes to Ohio and you come here there won’t be anybody that I would care about going to see in Eldorado.
I have thirteen hens and a rooster and get thirteen eggs a day nearly always. I haven’t set any hens because we have been moving around so much and now none of my hens wants to set. I did want to raise a lot of chickens this year but I guess I will have to wait till next year.
Edd’s digging a well, and is down about 20 feet but has not struck water yet. I do hope he will soon for we have to carry our water about a quarter of a mile from the creek.
There! The baby is awake and I must wash and dress her for I have not done that yet this morn!