Chapter Two: The Life And Times Of William Roy Caple – Getting the Claim -1894

     The winter holidays passed before Roy’s dad and Uncle Will saddled up their horses and rode to Guthrie, Oklahoma. There his dad filed an intent to homestead on 160 acres in township nineteen. [i] 

     After they left, his brother Sammy said, “We have to live on that land for the next five years before we can call it ours. And we have to have a house built by May.”

     Tired of sharing his relatives cramped quarters, May, seemed like a long time to wait.

      He asked his father upon his return, “How long before we can move there?”

     His father fingered the ends of his long mustache, “Well, it’s going to be a bit. It has to warm up enough for us to cut the sod. I reckon it will be March before we get it built. There’s plenty of work for us to do in the meantime. I’ll start on the corral tomorrow.” 

     When the weather warmed enough to cut the sod, it surprised Roy how fast his dad with some help from his uncle and cousins got it built.

     Roy’s Dad had brought the boys over to see it the day he and Milo hauled in the cast-iron stove. They installed it at one end of the 18’ x 24’ room. “There,” said his dad, something to keep us warm and cook on.”

     He handed him and Joe paintbrushes, “Your mother wants all the walls whitewashed before we move in. I reckon it’s a job you two can handle.”

    The next day his mother enlisted him and Joe to help her tack the white muslin sheets to the ceiling. After she pounded in the last tack she said, “there, that should help keep the dust and bugs out.” She nodded to the trunk his dad had set in the room that morning. “Roy, go open that up.”

    She reached in and pulled out red checkered curtains. “I made these for our house in Puyallup. They will work here just as good. While I hang these, you two get the rugs out.”

      He and Joe dragged out braided rugs and laid them on the dirt floor. Then his mother pulled out a gilt covered frame. It contained the likeness of both his mother and Father on some kind of certificate. “What is that?” asked Roy.

       “It’s our marriage certificate.” Her fingers traced the outline of the photos. “My, how young we both looked, I can’t believe that was almost 17 years ago.” She hung it on the wall with the pictures of Ida and Bertle. Looking at Ida made Roy miss his sister all over again.

     The boys helped their mother make shelves out of wooden fruit boxes to hold their dishes and cookware. She designated one shelf just for her China teapot and teacups. “There,” she said, “now we are ready to bring in the furniture.”

     The two boys brought in the table they’d dragged along the trail and two chairs. The rest of them would make do sitting on wooden boxes until they could get proper seats.

     In the corner along one wall they set the bedframe for their parent’s feather bed and the trundle his father had constructed for him, Richard, and Joe to sleep on. Sammy and Milo would sleep on palettes on the floor until they could build a bunkhouse.

     On March 20th, 1894, the family moved into the soddy. His father took out a new ledger, dipped his pen in an inkwell and wrote the date down. “We’ll need to this to prove our claim in five years.”

     While his mother was busy making the inside cozy and homey, he and Joe set to digging her a garden patch, while his dad, Sammy and Milo worked from dawn to dusk getting the fields plowed and planted with crops of corn and wheat.

      Since wood was scarce. Roy and Richard often searched for dried cow chips, which they burned along with corn cobs for fuel.

     Roy learned to put up with bugs, mice and snakes that burrowed through their walls and ceiling. Once while eating at his cousins Jennie’s house, she pointed to the ceiling. “Always look up before you eat. One time we had a snake fall on our dinner.”

    After that, Roy checked the ceiling before he sat at the table. He also learned to never stick his feet onto the floor in the morning without checking to make sure the area was snake free. Some of those snakes were poisonous.

     At first they had to haul their water from his uncle’s place. No matter how careful, the barrels always seemed close to dry. His father had to make several trips a week after it. Roy liked to ride along to help. His aunt was a superb cook, she always had something tasty he could eat, and he enjoyed talking to Jennie. For a girl, she was full of interesting stories.

    Bit by bit the family added on to the homestead, first a bunkhouse, then a hen house for his mother to raise laying hens. They obtained more cattle and horses. After 5 years they’d planted an orchard of 150 trees and two thousand shade trees, fenced 140 acres and cultivated sixty-five acres. [1] His brother Milo took up a claim adjoining his father’s and Sammy had plans of adding to the family’s’ holdings as soon as he turned twenty-one.

     Roy spent more time working on the ranch than going to school. He doubted he’d ever get enough school to graduate from the eighth grade. But that didn’t stop him from learning. Whenever they had a spare dime to spend, his parents bought him books to read and study on his own. He’d also learned to lasso a steer, dig postholes, mend fence, plant, and harvest crops, ride a horse and anyone, and build most anything one needed. Still, he cherished the moments he could read and study the most.



Author’s Notes:

The info for their homestead claim comes from the actual claim when it was proved.

At time homesteaders in this area were instructed to plant trees which is why they planted 2000 trees.  The scientific thought of the time was if trees were planted the rains would come. 


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