When a babe was to be born anywhere for miles around, she was there. Sometimes she was the lone attendant, and again she helped Dr. Taylor, who had been in the valley from the beginning; and more than once she worked with some young doctor who was so panicky because the baby didn't hurry that she would have to tell him to keep his feet on the ground, and that millions of babies had been born before a doctor or a medical college had ever been discovered. One night at midnight she waked up one of the boys, and told him that his father was out saddling the pony, and that he must go for Dr. Woods, who lived about five miles to the west. The boy finally wakened up and got his clothes on, and found that she was just ready to leave with a neighbor for his home, and that someone must go for the doctor. The pony had been saddled by that time, and was tied with a heavy rope to a tree near the door. The boy put on plenty of clothes and then mounted the pony, while his father held the little beast to keep him from standing on his head. The father pointed to the seven stars then showing up in the southern sky and told the boy to keep them to his left and to ride until he had crossed the railroad, and then go up to the first house and yell until someone came out so that he could inquire for the home of Dr. Woods. The directions being given, the pony was untied and turned loose, with the end of the rope fastened to the horn of the saddle.
Tales and Trails of Wakarusa
by A.M. Harvey
My favorite pieces of research material often come from tales written in and around the era I'm writing. The accounts told by the people who walked the Kansas prairies and breathed her air during her beginnings are priceless treasures, especially to someone like me who didn't grow up appreciating the history in my own backyard.
But this post isn't necessarily about Kansas history, it's about a tiny piece of treasure I found within the pages of one of those books. A treasure that could have been found in any book written from any where in the world.
Shortly after I read this little passage, I carried my happy determined-self outside. You see, I grew up under the canopy of city lights. I couldn't imagine navigating my way through the streets using the stars not to mention navigating miles through wooded terrain without a compass.
It took a trip out to the countryside before I fully understoond the idea of using the stars for navigation. Oh, I know men have been using the stars for travel for thousands of years. I'm sure many of us have read similar accounts of sailors sailing acrossed vast bodies of waters, but most of them had some sort of navigational tool. This child didn't carry a compass. He relied on his eyes and the instructions of his father.
If you'd like to explore Tails and Trails of Wakarusa click here.
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