Some of the younger ranch hands ‘round the campfire sat
They liked this time because with Cookie they could chat.
They loved the manner in which the old tales he would tell.
It would keep them bound up in listenin’ for quite a spell.
The fire kept off a chill from the breeze blowin’ in the air
And the old creakin’ windmill could be heard in their ears.
Still of all the old tales, perhaps the story they liked best
Was when Cookie told how Grandpa settled in the West.
“In the spring of 1898 the trek from Lancaster, PA began.
Three Conestoga wagons pulled by six horses was the plan.
Grandpa had built them, so he knew how sturdy they’d be.
There was him, Pa, and Moses, who made the drivers three.
The goin’ was slow as often new wagon tracks were made.
If the weather was bad, then the travel was often delayed.
Granny and Ma each kept a journal, filled with words kind.
Liza and Moses sang spirituals to while away the day’s time.”
One cowpoke spoke up, “Tell us ‘bout Moses ‘n Liza, please.
Weren’t they slaves? How’d they become part of the family?”
“Part of the underground railway, a young couple they were,
Whom Grandpa’s family befriended—their freedom to ensure.”
Cookie paused and said, “More stories about them I can tell,
But first let me explain how Grandpa found and dug the well.
Some three months later, after long, weary travel it seemed
Off in the distance, a range of purple mountains were seen.
Yet as far as the eye could see, the open prairie land laid flat
And silent was the movement as the warm wind blew across it.
Somehow Grandpa knew this was a land they had been seekin’.
Yes, this was the land, which homesteaded, could provide a livin’.
Grandpa was not one to waste time, so quickly he got to work,
As did the others, whose duties, he gave and they did not shirk.
From a lone willow tree, Grandpa took him a stout divinin’ rod,
‘Please show me water below,’ he reverently prayed to his God.
Soon that divinin’ rod twisted, showin’ where water would sprout,
To Moses and Hans, Grandpa gave one ‘Praise the Lord!’ shout.
It took long days of diggin’ among the rock for that water divine.
But when that cool water sprang up--my, how it tasted so fine.
Still their work was not over; they built one tall windmill tower,
Which harnessed that water and the wind’s source for power.
Water was added to dried prairie grass and soil like clay
And made into adobes to build the homes standin’ today.
For the three couples, homesteadin’ was not a simple task.
But Grandpa never once regretted for that which he asked.
He lived to see his dreams came true; he would often say,
That trekking west was one of the best decisions he’d made.”
NOTE: About the characters: Grandpa Walter (1845-1925) and Granny Anna (1850-1930) were German immigrants; Pa Hans (1875-1950), the only son of Walter & Anna and was married to Ma Inga (1880-1955); Cookie--Hans David (1902-1992) was the only son of Hans and Inga; Moses (1845-??) and Liza (1845-??) were runaway slaves from the south and were befriended by Grandpa Walter and Granny Anna. These three fictitious couples are based on a true family who homesteaded on a 320-acre ranch, which became the town of Centerville, Union County, NM. Centerville existed from 1910 to 1945. It was nine miles south of Amistad and north of Nara Visa on SH-402.
Trekking West by Kay A Davis