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June 12 , 2008

Thirty Years on the Frontier


In the following pages I shall tell of much personal experience as well as important incidents which have come under my observation during thirty years on the frontier. As a cowboy, miner and pioneer, I have participated in many exciting events, none of which, however, caused me the prolonged grief that a certain bombshell affair did when I was a boy, resulting in a newspaper experience and habit of telling things, and eventually led to my coming West. My grandfather’s plantation in Kentucky and nearly opposite the town of Newburgh, on the Indiana side, was as much my home as was my mother’s. She being a widow and having my brother and sister to care for, as well as myself, felt a relief from the responsibility of looking after me when I was at my grandfather’s home. The plantation faced the Ohio River, the wooded part of which had been a camping ground for rebel soldiers, until they were driven out by the shells of a Yankee gunboat. While hunting pecans in these woods one day, I stumbled on to an unexploded bombshell, and, boylike, I wanted to see the thing go off. However, I was afraid to touch it until I had counseled with the Woods boys, whose father was a renter of a small tract of ground below the plantation. That night the three of us met and decided to explode the shell the following Sunday morning, after the folks had gone to church. I feigned a headache when grandmother wanted to take me in the carriage with them to church, but when I was satisfied they were well down the road, I hurried to the strip of forest a mile away, where the Woods boys were waiting. They had come in a rickety old buggy drawn by a white mule. It was in autumn and as the leaves were dry on the ground, we were afraid to kindle a fire, and decided to take the shell near the tobacco barn, around which we could hide and watch it go off.
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