THE PERFECT CAMP-OUT
Written in 1936 and 1957 In the Words of
Ida Elna Ellis Morris
Daughter of Hiram Ellis and Mahala Trent
Copy Courtesy of Roger Shepherd
Family Tree for Story
Father (Hiram Ellis, brother of Cephas Ellis) believed in taking a vacation with his family. He made what they then called an “overjet” for the farm wagon, making it wide enough and long enough to place the bedsprings in the back of the wagon at the top of the wagon box. Then he had a cover made for the wagon. We placed our boxes of clothing, our tent, and all equipment under the bedsprings in the wagon, put the spring seat on, hitched up the horses, and we were ready to start on our almost annual trip. We had only a wood-burning sheet-iron stove to use when we stopped to camp, but it had an oven and mother used to bake biscuits in it sometimes.
The year I was eight (1884), my father, my two brothers and my brother-in-law, Bennet Moore, each fitted up such a wagon but we used the same tent and stoves. That made four wagons. There were father, mother, my sister, Flora, who was thirteen years old, and myself in our wagon. My oldest sister, Wealthy Jane (Ellis) Moore, had four boys, the oldest nine, so there were six for their wagon, but some of us rode with my brothers most of the time as they were alone in theirs. Father had leased our farm for the summer and we started on a trip through Nebraska and Kansas looking for cheaper land as my brothers wanted to buy farms of their own and father wanted them to see the land first.
It was not much like traveling then as it is now. We made only a few miles a day. We bought vegetables, milk, butter, and feed for the horses from the farmers each day. We always asked the farmers about land, working conditions and so forth, but we found no land to compare with the farms in central Iowa where we lived.
By the time the wheat harvest began, we were in Furnace County in western Kansas. I can see it yet, after all those years, when I think of it. Acres and acres of yellow grain as far as one could see almost.
|Western Dug Out (Hogi)|
Rose Nuernberger Water Color
|Flowing fields of wheat.|
Rose Nuernberger Water Color
Only occasionally could one see a house as so many lived in dugouts. A dugout was a bit like a cave except more above ground- enough to allow windows above the ground. Some were plastered and were very comfortable and also were safe when the cyclones came. I do not know the route we took, but we crossed the Republican River and also the Platte River and then on to Crete, Nebraska, and to Pilger, Nebraska, where my father’s brother, Cephas Ellis and his family lived---not far from the Missouri River. The men all went fishing and had very good luck. We usually visited them or they us once a year. My uncle was a minister and his son-in-law was, also. One of his grandsons, Emery Buckner, was District Attorney of New York City and I had a letter from him while he was there. He would be sixty four years old now (1941).
We left there after a few days to return home and crossed the Missouri River at Omaha. There weren’t too many places to cross at that time. We were home in a few days; now, in 1941, we would have been there in a few hours in a car or on a train.
This had been an all summer trip. It was getting quite frosty at night when we returned. My brothers were happy to buy Iowa land and glad they had been able to see the great advantages of Iowa land over Kansas and Nebraska land. My father lived only a few years after this. He was only 57 years old when he left us, but he left us with the love of the outdoors and also of singing and reading.